The Wolves went from a team with little experience, with tons of experience. And while experience doesn’t necessarily equal leadership, it certainly helps. Minnesota transformed from a team of Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and Ricky Rubio as the go-to guys for leadership and advice, to Towns, Wiggins, Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, Jeff Teague and Jamal Crawford.
There are a lot of different personalities in that group. Towns and Butler are a bit more vocal. Gibson, Wiggins and Teague are quiet, and Crawford is a little bit of both. Leaders are different. Last season, Tom Thibodeau backed Andrew Wiggins’ quiet demeanor saying that leaders come in all shapes and sizes. “I think that’s great. It means more when it comes from different people,” Crawford said after the team’s practice Wednesday’s in Shenzhen. “If it’s just one voice all the time, you tend to tune that out a little bit. But when it comes from different people and you see different guys lead by example or if you see someone pull someone to the side, I think that leadership is welcomed.” What kind of leader will Crawford be?
“A positive leader,” Crawford said. “I’m a guy who’s going to tell the truth. Sometimes it’s good. Sometimes it’s bad. But it needs to be said. And with this new leadership and voices, comes winning.
Crawford and Gibson have made the playoffs seven times. Teague has eight appearances in eight seasons. Butler has five appearances. Winning is a form of leadership and the Wolves have plenty of players with winning history on their roster. Now they just need to translate that to a team that hopes to make the playoffs for the first time since 2003-04.
“We have so many different guys day by day. Everyone’s stepping up to help out,” Gibson said. “Young guys are so mature, they’re helping out the veterans. Nobody’s been complaining. Everyone’s just been jumping from drill to drill. Everyone’s just been receptive to listening to coaching.”
A Hectic Wednesday
Talk about a busy day.
The Wolves’ schedule was jam packed in Shenzhen. First the team opened with a practice, followed by 30 minutes for the media to watch. Then there was a 30-minute media section, in which players sat at stations and were asked anything from playoffs to the Chinese culture.
The team was able to go to their hotel for a bit before heading back to the gym for an NBA Cares Event. That lasted about an hour before Crawford, Teague, Towns and Gorgui Dieng headed to an NBA 2K Event (more on this later). Then it was back to the hotel to suit up for the NBA’s welcome ceremony for each team.
What a day.
It’s the team’s last day in Shenzhen Thursday. They’ll take on the Warriors before taking off to Shanghai.