Timberwolves practice "got a little testy" on Tuesday.
Anthony Edwards' haranguing after his team lost 107-98 to New Orleans on Monday was the first hint this Wolves team doesn't take losing lightly. Edwards led the crusade on what he perceived as the Wolves' most glaring flaw: ball-hogging.
That age-old complaint has plagued basketball from the schoolyards to the NBA, and 20-year-old Edwards called himself — along with team leader Karl-Anthony Towns and D'Angelo Russell — out as the primary offenders.
"We're making it hard, because we think we can win the game, and we can't win the game," Edwards said after Monday's game. "We've got to trust our teammates, get them the ball. Get them in open spots, open shots, because that'll make the game easier for us."
Edwards specifically pointed to Josh Okogie as a teammate who is languishing offensively while the big three take control. Edwards praised Okogie's defense and rebounding, his willingness to take on the glory-free aspects of the game.
The Wolves (2-1) are shooting just 41% as a team, and Russell is at 32% from the floor.
Okogie said Tuesday that simple way to improve those stats is to be the team the Wolves set out to be in the offseason, one that's fast-paced and capitalizes on quick transitions.
"The person that's open gets the ball," Okogie said. "Obviously, we have DLo and KAT, and those guys are the stars on our team, and those guys get, obviously, more leniency on the shots they do take because they've proved that they can make those shots. But in the normal flow of the offense, I feel like whether it's me, Malik [Beasley], Taurean [Prince], Jaden [McDaniels], whoever it is … if the person is open, I feel like they should get the ball."
Coach Chris Finch agreed, saying the team's shooting woes are a direct correlation to its ball movement, which has been more stagnant than dynamic recently.That changed Tuesday, with Finch pleased with the passing and the demeanor he saw in practice.
"It was a little testy," Finch said. "I think that's a really good sign. We're bothered because we care."
The Wolves traveled after practice to Milwaukee to face the reigning NBA champion Bucks on Wednesday. Okogie, though, said he wasn't thinking of Milwaukee as some early season test or measuring stick against last season's best. For him, it's just another game for the Wolves to fully show what they can do.
"We know it wasn't a great performance from us [Monday]. We knew we under performed," Finch said. "A lot of the guys talking about what could have been done better or different. … I'd rather have that than guys in there who don't care and not say anything, they're not bothered. Then winning doesn't mean enough to you."
Edwards certainly cared enough to speak his mind and put himself and others on blast. Wednesday will show if that appeal fell on deaf ears or drummed up a chorus.