Minnesota Timberwolves at Memphis Grizzlies: And so it begins…


At last, Game 1 of 82 is here!

After an action-packed off-season featuring a bevy of moves via free agency and trades, the 2014-2015 NBA regular season kicks off this week. While a trio of season openers took place Tuesday night, the majority of teams play their first regular season contest tonight. Among those games is the Minnesota Timberwolves traveling to the FedEx Forum to take on the Memphis Grizzlies at 7 p.m.

The Wolves, of course, lost perennial all-star power forward Kevin Love over the summer, and officially kicked off their intriguing youth movement under “new” head coach Flip Saunders. Number-one overall draft pick Andrew Wiggins will make his regular season debut, and Ricky Rubio and Nikola Pekovic will return as starters and leaders for this young roster.

The Grizzlies are coming off of a fourth consecutive playoff appearance, yet took a small step back last season, finishing at 50-32. After reaching the Western Conference Finals in 2013, Memphis was dispatched in the first round under new head coach Dave Joerger. The Grizzlies return much of the same roster from last season and are expected again to compete for a playoff spot in the West.


Minnesota Timberwolves

PG – Ricky Rubio (82 GS, .381 FG%, .802 FT%, 4.2 REB, 8.6 AST, 2.3 STL, 0.1 BLK, 9.5 PTS in 2013-2014 season)

SG – Kevin Martin (68 GS, .430 FG%, .891 FT%, 3.0 REB, 1.8 AST, 1.0 STL, 0.1 BLK, 19.1 PTS in 2013-2014 season)   

Oct 7, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Thaddeus Young (33) dribbles on the baseline against Indiana Pacers forward David West (21) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

SF – Corey Brewer (81 GS, .481 FG%, .718 FT%, 2.6 REB, 1.7 AST, 1.9 STL, 0.4 BLK, 12.3 PTS in 2013-2014 regular season)

PF – Thaddeus Young (79 GS, .454 FG%, .712 FT%, 6.0 REB, 2.3 AST, 2.1 STL, 0.5 BLK, 17.9 PTS in 2013 regular season)

C – Nikola Pekovic (54 GS, .541 FG%, .747 FT%, 8.7 REB, 0.9 AST, 0.6 STL, 0.4 BLK, 17.5 PTS in 2013-2014 regular season)

Key reserves

Andrew Wiggins (SG/SF) – If Wiggins isn’t starting game one, he will almost assuredly be inserted into the starting five at some point in November or December at the absolute latest. While Game One is taking place in Memphis, don’t be surprised if Wiggins gets the most flashbulbs to pop during the contest.

Mo Williams (PG) – One of the few new Wolves that did not come over in the Love deal, Williams was arguably the most impressive Wolf during the preseason. The veteran averaged a team-leading 12.8 points per game in the seven contest slate, including 19 pts/7 ast/6 reb stat line against Philadelphia on Oct. 10.

Gorgui Dieng (C) – Might this be the final season-opener for Dieng coming off of the Minnesota bench? Some trade rumors have begun swirling around regarding Pekovic and if a move were to be made, Dieng would slide into the starting lineup, giving the team an even more profound athletic prowess.

Memphis Grizzlies

PG – Mike Conley (73 GS, .450 FG%, .815 FT%, 2.9 REB, 6.0 AST, 1.5 STL, 0.2 BLK, 17.2 PTS in 2013-2014 regular season)

SG – Courtney Lee (79 GS, .480 FG%, .884 FT%, 2.0 REB, 1.5 AST, 0.8 STL, 0.4 BLK, 9.6 PTS in 2013-2014 regular season) 

SF – Tony Allen (28 GS, .494 FG%, .628 FT%, 3.8 REB, 1.7 AST, 1.6 STL, 0.3 BLK, 9.0 PTS in 2013-2014 regular season)

PF – Zach Randolph (79 GS, .467 FG%, .742 FT%, 10.1 REB, 2.5 AST, 0.7 STL, 0.3 BLK, 17.4 PTS in 2013-2014 regular season)

C – Marc Gasol (59 GS, .473 FG%, .768 FT%, 7.2 REB, 3.6 AST, 1.0 STL, 1.3 BLK, 14.6 PTS in 2013-2014 regular season)

Key reserves

Oct 24, 2014; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies guard Vince Carter (15) celebrates during the game against the Miami Heat at FedExForum. Miami Heat beat Memphis Grizzlies 98 – 104. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Vince Carter (SG/SF) – The 38-year-old was picked up by the Grizzlies in the off-season presumably to be a sixth-man. No longer the high-flying dunker, 20 points per game-plus athletic freak he was earlier in his career, “Vinsanity” has still averaged double-digits in scoring during all 15 of his NBA seasons.

Beno Udrih (PG) – Udrih played just 10 regular season games for the Grizz after coming over from the Knicks mid-season last year. After splitting his first seven NBA seasons between San Antonio and Sacramento, Udrih is now on his fourth team since 2011.

Kosta Koufos (C) –  The big man appeared in all but two games last year for Memphis, making 22 starts during Gasol’s recovery from injury. Koufos is a rebounding machine and could probably start on a handful of teams in this league.


  • Kevin Martin missed the first three preseason games with a strained left adductor, but should be good to go.
  • Shabazz Muhammad was practicing at 100-percent Sunday according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune after recovering from a sore right Achilles.
  • The Star Tribune also noted Wiggins’ full participation in Sunday’s practice after his recent recovery from a lower back contusion.

3 things to look out for

1. Young vs. Old – The Grizzlies are the fifth-oldest team in the league with an average age of 28.1 on their roster. The Timberwolves are tied for the fifth-youngest roster, at an average age of 24.9 years. This, according to hispanosnba.com.

2. The PG match-up Two of the more impressive defensive point guards square off in this one. Rubio (2nd) and Conley (10th) both ranked in the top 10 in steals per game for points guards a season ago.

3. Wiggins vs. Carter?  Andrew Wiggins has a lot of Vince Carter circa-2000 in him. Both of these guys could be coming off the bench in game one and could be a match-up to look out for at small forward, if only for the historical aspect.


The Wolves draw a tough assignment in the season opener, facing off against a veteran-laden, playoff-tested team. With the home crowd surely anticipating another season leading to playoff basketball in Memphis, the Grizzlies should win this one, but in a close game.

Depending on how Saunders decides to allocate playing time to his young team, it will be interesting to see how the on-court chemistry is for the first game. If the Wolves were to pull off the upset against a superior Western Conference team on the road though, it would certainly make an early statement.