The challenge of working through his team’s numerous injuries has forced Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman to put a number of players in positions they’re not used to.
That has produced mixed results. But it has given at least one player the opportunity to show his worth to the team moving forward. Backup center Greg Stiemsma was signed to a two-year deal worth more than $5.26 million. But only the first year of the deal was guaranteed, in part because of concerns about Stiemsma’s health.
Stiemsma, who played extensively in Europe after four years at the University of Wisconsin, played 55 games with Boston last season, his NBA rookie year. But he battled foot problems — plantar fasciitis in one foot, a bruise on the other — especially as the Celtics entered the playoffs.
But Stiemsma has played the entire season without any problems.
“Early on we were still pretty careful, through training camp and the first couple of weeks of the season,” he said. “But both feet have been feeling really good. It’s been good to be healthy.”
Stiemsma has not missed a game because of injury. Thrust into the lineup because of injuries, Stiemsma has started 12 games, scoring in double figures in three of them. Sunday he scored 10 points on 5-of-10 shooting and had a season-high eight rebounds in nearly 31 minutes.
“I think he has played well,” Adelman said. “He’s another case where, when you start the year, guys get in a comfort zone. Then you have injuries and you’re asking him to start now and play 30 minutes, be more aggressive. It takes time.”
Stiemsma never will be a high-scoring center. He was signed to provide defense and shot-blocking ability off the bench. Stiemsma is seventh in the league in blocks per 48 minutes (3.99).
And he hopes his production and his health will mean the team picks up his option for next season.
“I’d love to come back and be a part of this again,” he said.
The rookie wall
Wolves guard Alexey Shved continues to struggle as his rookie season progresses. Shved is still second among NBA rookies in assists (3.9) and fifth in rookie scoring (9.7). But his production has dramatically fallen off in the past eight games.
Sunday against Dallas, Shved played 19-plus minutes, missed all seven of his shots — four from three-point range — and had three turnovers to his one assist. Shved has shot 31 percent in his past 26 games. In his past eight he has shot 13-for-59 (22 percent), including 3-for-23 (13 percent) on three-pointers. He has not hit more than one three-pointer in a game since Feb. 1.
“He is really struggling, but he has to find a way through it,” Adelman said. “There is nothing that will get him through it but himself. Everybody on this team has got to find a way to do a little bit more, including him.”