Patrick Beverley wasn't at Target Center for the Timberwolves' season-opening win because he was serving a one-game suspension for shoving Chris Paul during last season's Western Conference finals.
"Served my time like a grown man," Beverley said after practice Friday.
Though he wasn't present, Beverley still had an impact on the Wolves' defensive effort, with coach Chris Finch saying after the game Beverley was the one who helped "set the tone" for their effort at that end of the floor even without being there.
That has been a common theme throughout training camp. Teammates have credited Beverley with bringing the leadership and focus on the defensive end the Wolves haven't had in recent seasons. Now Beverley gets to show some of that in person in a game that counts as he makes his Wolves debut Saturday against the Pelicans.
"Excited to get out there and compete, of course, go out there and get better," Beverley said. "Build it brick by brick until we have a nice, pretty house at the end of the year."
One of the bricks in that house is the team camaraderie Beverley said he saw on Wednesday night. Beverley pointed to one sequence as one of his favorites of the night. It happened when Malik Beasley tried unsuccessfully to save a ball near the Wolves bench. He went flying into it and his teammates picked him up and cheered him back on the floor afterward.
"If we get a lot more of those situations, a lot more of those types of things to happen, we'll be a successful team," Beverley said.
Beverley, 33, is the oldest player on the team but he doesn't need the benefit of experience to be one of the leaders and most vocal players on the team. That has always been his personality type since he was a younger player.
"Born leader, came natural for me since I was a kid, very outspoken," Beverley said. "Even some of my ex-Clippers guards, teammates [Thursday] night after their loss to Golden State, they called me and we chopped it up a little bit. I always have a good positive spirit, positive energy. That just kind of rubs off on people every night."
Finch said Beverley always knows "the right thing to say."
"He's super intelligent. He's been through it all, seen it all," Finch said. "Holds the guys accountable. He's like another coach on the floor out there defensively. Both ends of the ball. But defensively he has a real quarterback mentality."
While the Wolves played a strong game defensively against Houston in forcing 24 turnovers, there were still mistakes Finch said they could correct. New Orleans, in town for two games, will be without Zion Williamson but still has Brandon Ingram and Jonas Valanciunas, who have given Karl-Anthony Towns battles over their careers.
Now Finch gets to mix Beverley into the rotation. Beverley figures to be on the second unit, whether playing as the primary ball handler or off the ball with either D'Angelo Russell or Jordan McLaughlin. As good as the Wolves played Wednesday, Beverley is there to remind them that won't automatically carry over to Saturday.
"Played a good team [in Houston], played a young team though," Beverley said. "Don't want to get caught up in that. Again, we obviously had 81 more games to go. It's just one game. This year you're going to have your highs and have your lows. It's about weathering the storm and staying even-keeled through the whole process. That's my job to make sure we do that."