WASHINGTON – They don’t run timed 40-yard sprints in the NBA, but they do have cameras overhead that record every kind of analytical player movement imaginable.
Still, there is no official NBA’s Fastest Man with the ball in his hands.
If there were, it just might be Washington’s John Wall in a photo finish with Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook.
“That’s a great question,” Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau said. “That would be a good activity for All-Star weekend, who’s the fastest with the ball?”
Wall gets Wolves young star Karl-Anthony Towns’ vote, and presumably not just because both played at Kentucky.
“The fastest I’ve ever seen with a basketball in his hands is John Wall,” Towns said before Friday’s game, when Wall had 18 points and 18 assists in a 112-105 victory over the Wolves. “It’s amazing how fast he is with the ball.”
Wolves point guard Ricky Rubio chose a nice seat on the proverbial fence, refusing to choose either Wall or Westbrook as fastest. But he sounded certain that teammate Zach LaVine isn’t quite in their class.
“Maybe a step below,” Rubio said. “Zach is fast, but with the ball in his hands John Wall is really fast.”
You’ll never get Wall to actually do it, but the All-Star — who entered Friday first in the league in steals (2.3), third in assists (10.0) and averaging 23.5 points a game — at least sounded game.
“That would be a good one, wouldn’t it?” Wall said of an All-Star competition with Westbrook. “He’s right up there with me.”
They’re both back
Thibodeau and Washington’s Scott Brooks coached against each other for the first time since each man was paid by their former teams not to coach last season. Like Thibodeau, Brooks said he spent the time wisely: He observed various NBA training camps, spent 10 days with Spain’s national team coach and took his son to a USC-Notre Dame football game in South Bend, Ind.
The two men talked with each other occasionally, too. They’ve known each other since Thibodeau was an assistant coach when the Wolves traded for Brooks in 1990.
“He did a lot of the things I did,” Brooks said. “He’s a basketball lifer and I feel like I’m the same way.”
Doing what he can
Wolves center Cole Aldrich visited the White House and nearby Walter Reed National Military Medical Center during the two days between games. He has visited Walter Reed four times, dating to his college days at Kansas.
His father, brother, cousins and grandfathers all served in the military, primarily in the Marines. Aldrich visited patients his first three times there, and this time the Bloomington Jefferson product took a behind-the-scenes look at what the hospital operates.
“I love doing it,” he said. “I can’t imagine what they’re going through losing an arm or a leg and having their life just dramatically changed. But I can encourage them to keep on fighting and tell them we’re thinking of them.”
• The Wolves’ White House visit on Wednesday was arranged by President Obama’s personal aide, Minnetonka native Joe Paulsen. It was Tyus Jones’ second time visiting Obama in 16 months, after Jones won an NCAA title with Duke in 2015. “It was good to see him again,” he said.
• Wolves guard Brandon Rush played in his first game since Dec. 11 because Shabazz Muhammad was ill and scored 10 points, shooting 4-for-4.
• The start time for the Wolves’ Jan. 15 game at Dallas has been changed from 3 p.m. Central time to 1 p.m. to avoid a conflict with the Cowboys’ NFC playoff game that day.