Stay up late to watch the Wolves frustrate en route to a 107-99 loss to the Spurs? If you did, you likely saw the Spurs make things seem easy, while the Wolves looked like a team made up of you and four people you've never met before at open gym.
It was ugly. But there were plenty of bright spots. Here are five reasons to stay optimistic for this season.
1. Teague-Jones might be a nice 1-2 punch
Thibs went with Tyus Jones over Jeff Teague late in the game, which shouldn't be an indictment on Teague. Sure, he wasn't great (11 points, 6 assists), but he's a proven point guard in a league of point guards.
And the fact that Jones looked good (he finished +9 with 3 points, a couple boards and an assist) should increase confidence about the position, not decrease it.
2. Butler wreaked havoc on defense
My coworker Shaymus said this to me: "Butler on defense is ALWAYS doing something. He's always leaning into passing lanes, sticking his arms out to give a little help to whoever is defending the ballhandler."
There were a number of times he interrupted a San Antonio breakout simply by sticking on defense a split second longer, or tipped an outlet pass. The dude has chops on that end of the floor.
3. Crawford is a nice option off the bench
17 years in and Crawford looked as spry as ever. He drew a foul on a 3-point attempt (he holds the NBA record for most and-1 3s), got to the line on an and-1 runner, and distributed the ball really well.
It went unnoticed last night, but the veteran guard finished with 5 assists.
He's also the third true scoring option off the bench, giving Minnesota a better chance every night to get production from at least one bench piece – the other two are Shabazz Muhammad and Nemanja Bjelica (who looked solid with the ball in his hands).
4. Wiggins looks bigger and more potent on offense
Wiggins is still a lean 6-foot-8', 202 pounds, but he looks more muscular, and smoother with the ball in his hands.
He scored almost every possible way: deep 3s (4-of-6 for the game), slashing to the rim, dunking, pull-up jumpers, and one sweet finger roll. Not only that, but he actually looked energized compared to a lot of his teammates.
5. It was never going to be a quick adjustment
Everybody knows that it takes time for guys to gel. Teague, Butler, Taj Gibson, and Crawford have never played with KAT, Wiggins, Jones, Bjelica and Muhammad. Shoot, last year's Warriors got rolled by the Spurs by 29 points in their first game with Kevin Durant.
Plus, the Wolves hadn't played another team in 10 days since leaving China. Rust was being shaken off every player last night.
I bet we see a completely different team Friday night at home against the Jazz.