Andre Miller will turn 40 before this Wolves season is over. Tyus Jones won’t even be 20 yet (unless the Wolves make the playoffs, which we’ll get to in a minute).
They are the oldest and youngest players on a team of extreme veterans and extreme youth, a point underscored during Monday’s training camp media preview session that felt a lot like the first day of an internship.
With fun and self-interest in mind, I asked both point guards the same question: In a 3-on-3 game featuring Jones, Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins on one team with Miller, Kevin Garnett and Tayshaun Prince on the other, who would win?
Their answers weren’t surprising, though in combination with other things said Monday they did illustrate the crux of this Wolves season.
Said Jones: “There’s a big age gap, for sure. But you always go with yourself. I’m going to say we would come away with the victory, but it would be a big difference in style of play for sure.”
Said Miller: “The vets will win. We’re tougher, we’re older and meaner.”
The Wolves have plenty of other young players and a few other veterans, but that hypothetical game was picked to match a mentee against a mentor: Miller vs. Jones at the point, Prince vs. Wiggins at small forward and Garnett vs. Towns in a big-man battle.
Much of media day was spent on questions about how much those three young guys could learn from the old guys, and how much the old guys could teach the young guys. How quickly the lessons are absorbed — and how willing everyone is to accept a slow building process — will go a long way toward determining team chemistry and a victory total that is anyone’s guess but still secondary to long-term plans.
“Most definitely the vision is still to develop our young players,” GM Milt Newton said. “We’d love to make the playoffs, but we’re not going to circumvent the process that it’s going to take to be a perennial playoff team.”
Interim head coach Sam Mitchell is on board, even if he knows it might be a challenge in end-of-game situations.
“Kevin’s not going to be here three years from now. Andre’s not going to be here three years from now. Tayshaun’s not going to be here three years from now,” he said. “I have to make sure I’m doing right by the organization first. Doing right by them is making sure these young guys get a chance to learn how to play in certain situations. It’s tough as a coach because you want to have a chance to win. Obviously veteran guys give you a little bit better chance to win.”
Telling that to the young guys on the court, selling that to the old guys on the bench and yelling fans in the stands who want wins AND development … that very well could be your fascinating and fun 2015-16 Wolves season.