SAN DIEGO – This many NBA seasons in, Timberwolves veteran Jamal Crawford feels like he knows a little bit about training camps.
This one, by his estimation, is unlike any other in which he has participated because of a guy named Tom Thibodeau.
"Eighteen years, had 18 coaches," Crawford said. "He separates himself."
The difference, according to Crawford: Thibodeau's meticulous nature, his preparation, perhaps even his single-mindedness.
"Eighteen coaches, no other comparisons," Crawford said. "It's different in every way. He's very, very intense about everything. There's nothing off, every single thing. I think that's why he's so good at what he does. His work ethic, his mentality. He has studied everything. He knows with a purpose.
"He has gone through everything front to back, back to front, front to back and back to front again just to make sure. He's so detailed, it's unbelievable. It's almost scary in some ways, honestly."
At age 37, Crawford has come to that conclusion after only five training-camp practices.
"There is no second when you're standing," Crawford said. "You better be doing something, every second, all the time. In my sleep, I'm going 'Stick, stick, stick,' like you better be on it. It's a good thing because he gets you comfortable with being uncomfortable at times."
Crawford has kept count — Thibodeau is his 18th NBA coach — and he said he knew what he was getting into when he signed with the Wolves.
"More so than I thought," said Crawford, who played most recently for Doc Rivers in Los Angeles. "I had an idea, obviously. That was part of the reason I wanted to come, to accept the challenge because it's different from what I've had. … There's no doubt in my mind. He's the most prepared, period."
Forward Nemanja Bjelica came through another full practice of contact work Monday, with a smile.
"I feel great, a little bit sore but it's good to be back," said Bjelica, returning after a summer of rehab from a broken bone in his foot suffered in March. "I feel a little bit fresh because I was out six months. I feel good on the court. I'm excited."
He said just two weeks ago he didn't feel his conditioning was ready for such work.
"The first practice was tough," he said, referring to Saturday's camp opener. "Every day is step by step. Every day I feel much better, so this is important. I don't need to rush. I have time to be ready for the first game of the season."