The Minnesota Timberwolves used the draft to add a pair of players possessing the skills they want for the wing positions.
Even if Josh Okogie and Keita Bates-Diop prove they are capable right away of a place in the rotation Jack Youngblood Jersey , though, there is a question about how much they will actually play as rookies. This is, after all, the team run by Tom Thibodeau, who is as likely to prefer experience over potential as any head coach in the NBA.
”Practices are important. Playing time is based on performance. You earn that,” Thibodeau said. ”That’s not just something that is given to you.”
Okogie and Bates-Diop, during their introduction at a news conference Tuesday, sounded like they understand the climb they face. All five starters for the Wolves last season averaged 33 minutes per game or more and ranked among the top 36 most-used players in the league, with Jimmy Butler third and Andrew Wiggins ninth.
”Everybody wants to play a lot as a rookie, but that comes with trust and learning the system and being productive out there,” said Bates-Diop, the Big Ten Player of the Year award winner at Ohio State last season who dropped into Minnesota’s lap with the 48th overall pick in the second round after most projections pegged him much higher on the board.
Okogie, who was selected 20th overall out of Georgia Tech, also expressed a willingness to accept the no-nonsense, tough-love supervision that comes with playing for Thibodeau.
”I’m definitely comfortable with it Jaelen Strong Jersey ,” Okogie said. ”I’ve never really had a coach who wasn’t hard on me.”
Both players will go through an adjustment phase with their offensive game, beginning with the longer 3-point shot. Bates-Diop led the Big Ten in scoring (19.8 points per game) and Okogie was fourth in the ACC (17.9 points per game), though, so they’re not coming to the league without any shooting prowess. They’re not one-and-done prospects, either. Okogie will be 20 before the season starts, and Bates-Diop will turn 23 in January, just two months after Wolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns.
What will help them the most toward working their way onto the court is the athleticism, tenacity and versatility they’ve exhibited while playing defense. That’s at the top of reasons Thibodeau and the front office targeted these two, enamored by a high leap and a long reach that makes switching from a 6-foot-4 classic shooting guard to a 6-foot-10 stretch power forward doable. Bates-Diop and Okogie were two of the four non-post players with a ”wingspan” of 7 feet or more at the NBA scouting combine last month.
”You can kind of be in two places at once,” Okogie said.
The other factor in their favor? The roster. Butler and Wiggins don’t currently have any backups in place, with Jamal Crawford’s decision to opt out of his contract and become a free agent. There’s nobody else who played on the wing last season who is under contract entering the start of free agency this weekend.
So just how important is it for a rookie to play right away?
”I think it’s important,” Okogie said. ”Is it the most important thing? Probably not. But if I was given a chance to produce and to help this team win nothing would give me more joy than that. So hopefully it happens, and I’ll work and do everything in my power to make it happen.”
NFL players demonstrated during the national anthem at several preseason games Thursday night, protests that again drew a rebuke from President Donald Trump.
Writing on Twitter from his New Jersey golf resort, Trump said Friday players "make a fortune doing what they love Nick Martin Jersey ," and those who refuse to stand "proudly" for the anthem should be suspended without pay.
He contended "most of them are unable to define" what they're demonstrating against." Instead, he said, players should "Be happy, be cool!"
In Philadelphia, Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins and cornerback De'Vante Bausby raised their fists during the anthem, and defensive end Chris Long placed his arm around Jenkins' shoulder. Jenkins had stopped his demonstration last December.
Defensive end Michael Bennett walked out of the tunnel during the anthem and walked toward the bench while it played. It appeared all the Steelers stood.
"Everybody is waiting for what the league is going to do," Jenkins said. "We won't let it stop what we stand for. I was very encouraged last year with the direction and that obviously took a different turn.
"I think it's important to utilize the platform as we can because for whatever reason, we have framed this demonstration in a negative light, and often players have to defend why we feel the need to fight for everyday Americans, and in actuality we're doing the right thing."
At Miami, Dolphins receivers Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson and defensive end Robert Quinn protested during the anthem. Stills and Wilson kneeled behind teammates lined up standing along the sideline. Quinn stood and raised his right fist. There were no apparent protests by the Buccaneers.
"As a black man in this world, I've got an obligation to raise awareness," Quinn said. "If no one wants to live in unity, that's why we're in the situation we're in."
Stills kneeled during the anthem during the 2016-17 seasons and has been vocal discussing social injustice issues that inspired the protest movement by NFL players.
Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, a leader of the movement Matthias Farley Jersey , tweeted support for Stills and Wilson.
"My brother @kstills continued his protest of systemic oppression tonight by taking a knee," the tweet said. "Albert Wilson joined him in protest. Stay strong brothers!"
And in Seattle, three Seahawks players ran into the team's locker room prior to the playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner."
Defensive linemen Branden Jackson and Quinton Jefferson, and offensive lineman Duane Brown left the field following team introductions and before the start of the anthem. They returned to the sideline immediately after it concluded. All three were among a group of Seattle players that sat during the anthem last season.
Brown and Jefferson said they intend to continue the action all season. Seattle coach Pete Carroll said the team discussed the topic and decided to support individual decisions. Brown said he didn't believe there had been much progress made from the demonstrations of last season.
"Everyone was clear on my decision and understands and supports it," Brown said. "We all have different realities in this country and they understand my perspective. We're all on good terms."
In Jacksonville, four Jaguars remained in the locker room during the national anthem, and team officials said it would be up to the players to explain why they weren't on the field. Cornerback Jalen Ramsey, linebacker Telvin Smith, and running backs Leonard Fournette and T.J. Yeldon joined teammates on the sideline after the anthem.
"As a man, I got certain beliefs," said Smith, who wore "Salute the Service" cleats. "You know what I mean? This is not going to become a distraction, and Jacksonville's not going to become a distraction for this team. I got beliefs. I did what I did. I don't know if it's going to be every week, can't answer if it's going to be every week.
"But as a man I've got to stand for something. I love my team, I'm dedicated to my teammates Deacon Jones Jersey , and that's what we're talking about. I did what I did. It was love. I hope people see it and respect it. I respect views."
At Baltimore, both teams stood, but while most of the Ravens lined up shoulder to shoulder on the sideline, second-year linebacker Tim Williams stood alone in front of the bench with his back toward the field.
All players on each team at New England appeared to stand for the anthem, some bowing their heads and others placing their hands on their hearts. The Patriots observed a moment of silence beforehand for Weymouth, Massachusetts, police officer Michael Chesna, who was killed last month in the line of duty.
The league and the players' union have yet to announce a policy for this season regarding demonstrations during the anthem after the league initially ordered everyone to stand on the sideline when the anthem is played, or remain in the locker room.
"The NFL has been engaged in constructive discussions with the NFL Players Association regarding the anthem and issues of equality and social justice that are of concern to many Americans," league spokesman Brian McCarthy said in an email.
"While those discussions continue, the NFL has agreed to delay implementing or enforcing any club work rules that could result in players being disciplined for their conduct during the performance of the anthem.
"Meanwhile, there has been no change in the NFL's policy regarding the national anthem. The anthem will continue to be played before every game, and all player and non-player personnel on the field at that time are expected to stand during the presentation of the flag and performance of the anthem. Personnel who do not wish to do so can choose to remain in the locker room.
"We remain committed to working with the players to identify solutions and to continue making progress on important social issues affecting our communities."
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