At the intersection of my job and my sickness, I present to you: Tuesday, July 11, 2017.
On that date, let it be known that I not only spent two hours at Xcel Energy Center watching a Wild prospect camp scrimmage, but also went home and set my DVR to record a Timberwolves Summer League game vs. Golden State.
Both of those pursuits were part of my job, sure, but I was also happy to do both. Yes, I couldn’t even stay away in mid-July from two sports that really have no business doing anything in mid-July.
I’ll have a couple of things on the Wild later this week. The Wolves Summer League report, though, is a little more urgent (as much as these things can be urgent) given Minnesota’s squad plays again Wednesday (5:30 p.m., ESPN2) against Golden State, the same team I watched the Summer Wolves defeat 78-76 on Tuesday’s recording.
Aside from the impeccable timing of filling in the gap while baseball takes a little break, the Summer League is primarily about one thing: trying to determine if any of the guys you’re watching might have a chance in the fall/winter/spring NBA.
The Wolves, who have a handful of roster spots and not a lot of money left to spend, could be particularly curious about such a thing. So is there anyone on their Summer League roster who might be worth a longer look? Maybe!
It’s helpful, too, that the team operates its own developmental team in Iowa now — and that there are now two-way contracts in the NBA that allow for essentially two developmental players on each roster who don’t count against the cap.
In any event, here is a brief scouting report on four guys who caught my eye:
Marcus Paige, point guard: Paige, who turns 24 in September, was a four-year player at North Carolina before being drafted in the second round in 2016. He has a strong drive-and-kick game and made a couple of deep three-pointers Tuesday. He’s 8-for-20 (40 percent) from three-point range in the three summer games, helping the Wolves to a 2-1 record. Paige spent last year in the development league. If the Wolves don’t find a low-cost veteran point guard they like in free agency as a supplement behind Jeff Teague and Tyus Jones, or if they decide they want a G-League player for depth in case of injuries, they could do far worse than Paige.
Matt Costello, forward/center: Another player who spent four years in college (Michigan State) and is almost 24, Costello played last season with Iowa of the development league after going undrafted. He’s averaging a double-double in the summer league (10.3 points, 12.3 rebounds) and has a Kevin Love-like knack for carving out rebounding space and being in the right spot. Note: That is not a direct Love comparison, just a single skill similarity. But Costello seems like a useful big body at 6-9, 245 pounds.
Perry Ellis, forward: A four-year player at Kansas who is almost 24 (notice a theme here)? Ellis might be a bit of a “tweener” in the NBA — not quite big enough to guard power forwards, not quite quick enough to guard small forwards. But he is a capable shooter and a steady player.
Charles Cooke, guard: A four-year college player who shot nearly 40 percent from three-point range in his final two years at Dayton after transferring from James Madison. He made the game-tying shot late in regulation Tuesday and made me hit rewind on the DVR of a summer league game multiple times with his strong defense. He’s a big, athletic wing who can guard people. Tom Thibodeau and Scott Layden — who were in attendance Tuesday — might agree those are good assets for a player to have.
Again, everything I saw came against other summer league guys. Tyus Jones was named Summer League MVP last year, and I don’t see any of these guys in that category. At best, at least this year, you wouldn’t imagine any of these guys becoming anything except roster fillers at the deep end of the Wolves’ bench. But seeing one or two of them sticking in some capacity wouldn’t be shocking given their skill sets and the Wolves’ needs.
But don’t just take my word for it! Here are 10 minutes of highlights from Tuesday’s game (or just come over to my house and re-watch the DVR).