This has been an offseason of turnover throughout the Wolves’ basketball operations department. They want to make sure that concept doesn’t spill over to the floor.
The Wolves debuted their faster-paced offense Tuesday in Phoenix and worked again on improving it Thursday against Golden State in their second preseason game.
A feature of the offense is more shots, specifically more three-pointers, in transition. The potential bug in the system is a propensity to commit more turnovers thanks to the frenetic pace.
Coaches sometimes can’t tolerate turnovers because it’s a sign of carelessness, but in this case, Ryan Saunders has said he needs to have patience while the Wolves get used to playing at this pace and with each other.
“We’ve had to be both aware of understanding that’s going to happen, at least initially, and being a little bit accepting of that and also knowing when to have a balance,” Saunders said. “When to stress to guys when it’s time to say, ‘OK, we’re not pushing it four straight times, because we turned it over three.’ Things like that. It’s going to be a feel thing.”
The Wolves tested that attitude against the Suns and had 27 turnovers. Saunders’ reaction to that was blunt.
“I don’t like that we had 27 turnovers,” he said.
But for now, the Wolves might have to live with some nights like that.
“We’ve done a number of things in practice, really reiterated when we want to run, and what situations are the best to look for those opportunities,” Saunders said. “And then what are the best situations where you might pull it out.”
Adding to the Wolves’ turnover worries is a renewed emphasis from the league on traveling. That seemed to assuage their concern with Saunders against the Suns, saying “16 or 17” turnovers came from travels. However, a check of the boxscore revealed only eight.
Emphases like that can sometimes fade over time once the preseason is over and the games start counting. But for now, the Wolves are trying to feel their way around how officials will call it.
“They’re going to be looking out for a lot this year,” forward Robert Covington said. “It was crazy … but ultimately we just got to get better with keeping our footwork down and anticipating because they’re trying to be more cognizant of certain things.”
Saunders has tried to mimic the rate at which the Wolves will play in his style of practice, which he called “frantic,” in an attempt to help the younger players get up to speed with their terminology and familiarity with the Wolves’ concepts.
“We’ve tried to generate that pace,” Saunders said. “We’re moving through things really quickly for that reason. With young guys, they have to find a way to keep up, I guess.”
But that actually applies to everyone.
“It’s good to get your feet wet,” center Karl-Anthony Towns said. “Seeing how fast we can truly play.”
The pace isn’t likely to decrease, so the turnovers must.