Ex-Twin Eduardo Nunez the latest World Series hero for Boston

Welcome to the Wednesday edition of The Cooler, where all we do is give. Let’s get to it:

*Eduardo Nunez has a long way to go to catch a certain other ex-Twins player in Red Sox World Series lore, but he did his best to carve out his spot in Game 1 Tuesday.

Nunez, a Twins All-Star during the lost season of 2016 before being traded after the break to the Giants and eventually landing in Boston the following season, slugged a crucial three-run, pinch hit home run in the 8-4 Red Sox victory over the Dodgers.

Boston never trailed in the game, but its lead throughout appeared tenuous and had been narrowed to just one run before Nunez lined a 1-0 pitch over the inviting Green Monster with two outs and two on in the seventh inning. Those proved to be the final runs of the game, allowing the Red Sox breathing room as they closed out the victory.

And since it was his only at bat of the series so far, Nunez has an absurd 4.000 slugging percentage and 5.000 OPS for now.

That’s, um, not a sustainable pace. But even with a few more hits this series, Nunez could put himself into David Ortiz territory. Ortiz, the more famous ex-Twin turned Red Sox postseason star, had a 1.372 OPS in three World Series (all wins) with Boston.

*The Timberwolves are showing some evidence of a struggle to sell tickets early on this season.

Though they sold out the home opening win over Cleveland on Friday, but their crowd of just 10,371 at Target Center for Monday’s win over Indiana was smaller than any crowd last year and attendance was about 4,000 fewer than a similar game against the Pacers last season.

And Wednesday morning the Wolves announced a one-day sale offering 30 percent off tickets to their three remaining October home games — Friday against Milwaukee, Monday against the Lakers and Halloween night against the Jazz.

Those games aren’t duds. Milwaukee is a strong team, and Friday is a prime night. The Lakers have LeBron. And the Jazz are a playoff team featuring old friend Ricky Rubio.

Ryan Tanke, the Wolves’ chief revenue officer, said in February that early projections were that the Wolves would see an increase of about 1,000 full season ticket holder equivalents from last year’s base of 8,500 to this year. But in a recent interview Wolves CEO Ethan Casson said the team was instead down 500 season tickets from last year to this year.

While teams usually get a boost the year after a winning season, perhaps a jump in season ticket prices and the uncertainty surrounding Jimmy Butler and the overall direction of the franchise are having a negative impact.

Some early success (and perhaps a resolution of the Butler trade situation) could help boost crowds. The Wolves sold out 16 regular-season home games last season, many of them in the second half of the season as fans latched on to their first run to the playoffs since 2004.

*Things are unraveling for the Oakland Raiders. Fast. Just nine more years after this for Jon Gruden!

Here’s why the Vikings — and every NFL team — should never throw a backward pass

NFL offenses are getting closer to mastering the forward pass, with completion percentages and passing yardage totals steadily ascending through the years.

Maybe now is the time to turn our attention, instead, to the worst play in football: the backward pass.

Instances where quarterbacks throw overhand and backward to running backs or wide receivers are high-risk, low-reward plays – with the Vikings offering specific evidence to that overall claim twice in the last three weeks. Let’s take a closer look at the examples and the data:

*According to data from Pro Football Focus, which charts plays from every game, there have been 55 such backward passes in the NFL since the start of the 2017 season.

Those 55 plays have gained an average of 2.06 yards. Considering the average play overall in 2017 averaged more than double that at 5.3 yards and the average running play – which a backward pass technically is – gained almost exactly double that amount at 4.1 yards, you have a low reward.

And because an incomplete backward pass is a live ball as a fumble instead of an incompletion, those 55 plays resulted in three turnovers — roughly one every 18 plays. In 2017, there was a turnover about once every 50 offensive plays overall in the NFL. So there’s your high risk — almost three times the overall turnover rate, albeit in a pretty small sample size.

By contrast, there have been 155 swing passes — similar plays thrown forward — since the start of the 2017 season. Those have gained 5.2 yards per attempt, which is both a decent and safe gain. But again per PFF, six of those 155 attempts resulted in dropped passes. If those were backward passes, they’d be fumbles. Instead, they were merely incomplete passes.

*That said, there is a question of whether a backward pass in some cases is the intended design of a play. Sometimes a running back might run a bad route and find himself behind the quarterback when the ball is thrown, or a QB might not drop back as far as he should.

But other times, the intent is clear: The QB turns and fires a backward pass — basically a longer overhand version of a toss pitch to a running back — in an attempt to exploit a defensive coverage on the outside.

The benefit of any pass — forward or backward — that is completed behind the line of scrimmage is that it allows offensive linemen to block up the field.

And it should be noted that a backward pass can be used as part of a trick play because the player catching the pass can still throw a forward pass from behind the line of scrimmage.

*So there are clearly intentional and unintentional reasons backward passes happen. But it seems just as clear that the risks outweigh the benefits when they happen.

The data in the first section mashes together all the intended and unintended consequences of 55 backward passes since the start of the 2017 season, but you can’t just discard unintended consequences when examining results.

In the case of the Vikings’ backward pass Sunday against the Jets that lost seven yards but could have been so much worse if not for Stefon Diggs’ heads-up play, New York’s strong-side linebacker disrupted what the Vikings were trying to do by peeling outside instead of blitzing.

Kirk Cousins admitted some blame, saying he was trying to just throw the ball away and should have made sure the pass was forward or just ran forward for a short loss.

But watching the replay shows the intent appears to be a backward pass. Cousins sets to throw from between his own 26 and 27, while Diggs is running parallel to the 25-yard line.

And on the other recent Vikings example against the Eagles, when Roc Thomas dropped the short backward pass from Cousins – and immediately knew it was a live ball but couldn’t recover – the Eagles had four defenders charging at Thomas with just three blockers to handle them. Even if he handled it cleanly, he might have been dropped behind the line of scrimmage.

If one small disruption or error can cause a potential disaster instead of merely an incompletion – particularly when the potential upside of a successful play is likely a modest gain at best – the flaw lies with the design more than the execution.

The Vikings covered their mistakes in both cases, getting a defensive stand after the turnover against Philadelphia and a long punt to change field position after avoiding a turnover against the Jets.

But the best plan for offensive coordinator John DeFilippo and the Vikings going forward would be this: don’t throw it backward.

Okogie’s energy seemed contagious in Wolves’ win over Pacers

Welcome to the Tuesday edition of The Cooler, where there’s a surprise around every corner. Let’s get to it:

*One of Andrew Wiggins’ greatest assets in his four-plus years in the NBA has been his durability. He’s missed just one game — early in his second season — and regularly logs among the most minutes in the league.

It was a little stunning, then, to see him exit Monday’s win over the Pacers with what is being termed a right quad contusion. It doesn’t sound serious and Wiggins could even be back by Wednesday in Toronto (a hometown game he surely doesn’t want to miss), but it limited him to just eight minutes Monday.

What that meant was an increased role for a second game in a row for rookie wing Josh Okogie. He played 28 minutes Saturday in Dallas with Jimmy Butler resting and was in for 24 minutes Monday in the 101-91 win over Indiana.

Small sample sizes being what they are, I don’t want to draw any hard conclusions from what happened at Target Center on Monday, but this much is a fact: It was easily Minnesota’s best defensive game of the season, helping vault the Wolves from No. 27 to No. 21 in NBA defensive rating with just 48 minutes of work.

And Okogie’s impact within the context of a complete team effort was undeniable. He finished with three steals and four rebounds while playing with the sort of pestering energy that can be contagious on that end of the floor.

Anyone who has ever played against someone like Okogie knows how annoying it can be. Anyone who has ever had someone like Okogie on his or her team knows that it can impact the effort level of everyone involved.

Tom Thibodeau has said he likes a nine-man rotation, so it remains to be seen what Okogie’s role will be once Wiggins is healthy. But I’d sure like to see him, even in small bursts, in every game. He kind of plays like a more under control — but just as energized — Corey Brewer.

Here’s one of Okogie’s highlights from Monday — a deflection that led to his fast break dunk:

*A Timberwolves fan account from France tweeted an image of a possible Wolves jersey that’s an homage to Prince. I have no idea if it’s real — I’ll work to find out — but even if it isn’t I’ll take two.

*Get ready for a long World Series. The Red Sox and Dodgers tied for the longest average game time in MLB this season at 3 hours, 13 minutes. The Dodgers were No. 1 in pitches seen per plate appearance (4.05) while on the other end the Red Sox threw the second-most pitches per plate appearance (3.98).

For reference, by the way, the last time these teams met in the World Series was 1916. The clinching Game 5 Boston victory was played in 1 hour, 43 minutes.

*LeBron James forced overtime with a three-pointer at the end of regulation … but he missed two free throws and a potential game-winning shot in the extra session as the Lakers lost 143-142 to the Spurs. The Lakers are now 0-3 — hardly what would have been predicted after adding LeBron in the offseason.

Packers are biggest underdogs of the Aaron Rodgers era

One team is the only undefeated squad left in the NFL. The other has a future Hall of Fame quarterback and a winning record but also some questions this season.

Given that buildup, perhaps it shouldn’t be so surprising to see the opening Las Vegas spread on the Rams (Team A) vs. Packers (Team B) game slated for Sunday in Los Angeles.

But this is at least interesting: If the opening line of the Rams being favored by 8.5 points holds throughout the week, it will mean Green Bay is the biggest underdog it has been with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback.

Counting playoff games, Rodgers has started 164 games for the Packers in his career. The most an opponent was favored by as of now came in the playoffs following the 2014 season, when the Packers and Rodgers were eight-point underdogs at Seattle for the NFC title game. (The Packers were on the verge of winning that game, you might recall, before Seattle rallied late thanks to an on-side kick and won in overtime. Green Bay did, however, cover the spread).

The Rams, who already defeated the Vikings this season, are 7-0 and have been favored by at least 6.5 points in every game this year.

Vikings fan’s rental car destroyed in Jets parking lot fire

Welcome to the Monday edition of The Cooler, where we should all pause mid-morning for a precautionary rest. Let’s get to it:

Much was made nine months ago about the awful treatment Vikings fans endured from Eagles fans during the 38-7 NFC title game loss in Philadelphia.

To the best of my knowledge, though, not a single Vikings fan had his or her car burned to a crisp in the Lincoln Financial Field parking lot.

That treatment — albeit accidental — was saved for Sunday’s game at the New York Jets and included especially unlucky Vikings fan Gina Smith.

Smith was on a trip to Boston to celebrate her birthday and decided it would be fun to make a day trip to New York for the Vikings/Jets game since the schedule lined up nicely. She said her group bought a parking pass at a MetLife Stadium lot and went into the game — a sometimes dull but enjoyable 37-17 win for the Vikings, at least from the perspective of a Minnesota fan.

“It wasn’t until the game was over and we went to go find a car where we were like, ‘Hey where’s our car? It should have been right where this burned out junker is … oh,'” Smith said. “No one gave us any information, but there was someone’s grill right on our car, so we could tell what happened.”

According to NJ.com, there were two separate fires in MetLife Stadium lots on Sunday impacting seven cars. Both fires were blamed on hot coals from tailgaters. 

Smith said she is inclined to believe it was a terribly stupid but careless accident. It was a typically windy day (just ask Vikings kicker Dan Bailey about that), so the notion that someone didn’t put out a fire completely and that it spread to her car (and others) is very plausible.

“I would like to think that it was just people being stupid and careless,” Smith said. “Being so windy out, I think it was extremely careless to just leave hot coals out there like that. Definitely not the way I wanted to celebrate a Vikings win.”

With her rental car burned beyond recognition, Smith’s bad day was just beginning.

The rental company suggested she and her group take a taxi home instead of getting a new car, which wasn’t exactly possible given they were coming from four hours away in Boston.

Police arrived and made a report but, according to Smith, said the incident is beyond their jurisdiction because it happened on MetLife Stadium property — but they also told her the stadium isn’t liable for things that happen on their property.

The only kind soul: A parking lot attendant took pity on Smith and her crew and gave them a ride to the Newark Airport to get a new rental car.

The kicker: Smith didn’t purchase additional insurance through her rental car company, so she’s currently battling with MetLife Stadium folks to cover the cost of the deductible through her insurance.  

“Honestly, when getting our rental car the thought that we should get the extra insurance because Jets fans might burn our car to the ground never crossed my mind,” Smith said.

Case Keenum silences critics in Denver (at least for now)

Welcome to the Friday edition of The Cooler, where it pays not to look backward if you want to go forward. Let’s get to it:

*This week’s slate of NFL games gives us another reason to examine the four-team QB carousel that took place during free agency.

The Vikings signed Kirk Cousins, who took less money than he would have received from the Jets (leaving some in New York with some hurt feelings). The Jets signed ex-Viking Teddy Bridgewater in the offseason but traded him to New Orleans in the preseason to pave the way for rookie Sam Darnold to start. Darnold has shown promise for the 3-3 Jets, who host Cousins and the 3-2-1 Vikings on Sunday.

The Broncos and Cardinals also wanted Cousins, but both settled instead for the other two ex-Viking free agents. The Cardinals got the worst of things, paying Sam Bradford $15 million guaranteed this season only to bench him quickly and demote him to third string so they don’t have to pay him weekly bonuses. The Broncos took Case Keenum as a stopgap, and it’s been a mixed bag of results so far.

Case Keenum, who was exceptional filling in as the Vikings’ starting QB for most of last season and guided Minnesota to the NFC title game, was booed by the home fans last Sunday in a loss to the Rams, but fans are presumably happier after Keenum directed a 45-10 road victory over the hapless Cardinals on Thursday night.

Keenum posted a strong total QBR of 89.4, by far his best of the season, in the win. But overall he’s near the bottom of the NFL among starting QBs in that metric. He’s also thrown at least one INT in each of his seven starts (and stands as of now with 8 TDs and 9 INTs) and left Denver fans thirsty for new guy Chad Kelly.

Overall, I’d say of the four teams: The Vikings made the right choice and are getting what they paid for in Cousins; the Jets landed in a good spot; the Broncos are getting a back-to-earth performance from Keenum; and the Cardinals are taking their lumps with rookie Josh Rosen after reaching for Bradford.

One more thing: Bradford set an NFL completion percentage record in 2016; Keenum had a career year in 2017; Cousins is on his way to a career year this season. All three had Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs as their primary receivers, adding more evidence of the elite status of those wideouts.

*Former Wolves watch: Zach LaVine went for 30 points for the Bulls on Thursday, but he was also a minus-10 and contributed to a dismal defensive display in a 127-108 loss to the 76ers. Included in that was this abysmal play in the second quarter:

*Possible future Wolves watch: Josh Richardson had 28 points and ALSO played defense for the Heat in a 113-112 victory over Washington on Thursday. Richardson remains the most likely centerpiece of a Jimmy Butler trade involving the Heat, which is not happening right now but still could happen if we read the Pat Riley tea leaves correctly.

*The Red Sox, who won the World Series 100 years ago, are back in it again after defeating the Astros in the ALCS. Slight difference in how long the seasons are now compared to then: When Boston defeated the Cubs in six games in 1918, the clincher was on Sept. 11. This year’s World Series wouldn’t end until Halloween if it goes seven games.

Also: The Game 6 World Series win in 1918 took 1 hour, 46 minutes. Game 4 of the ALCS against Houston took 4 hours, 33 minutes. Both were nine-inning games.

Oh, for cute: Vikings players read ‘Minnesota nice’ tweets

Spend any amount of time on Twitter — even just 8 seconds or so — and you’re likely to come across some extreme negativity. Some of it is just an accurate reflection of the times we live in, but a lot of it is unnecessary and out-of-left-field anonymous vitriol.

Athletes are in the cross hairs of plenty of the most vapid and hurtful critiques from the fringes of egg avatar Twitter, particularly if they have the temerity to lose a game, make an error, drop a pass or some other such thing that happens all the time even when everyone is trying their hardest.

The worst of these “mean tweets” are so vile that they aren’t worth digging up, while the dumbest involve some sort of unoriginal GIF — those few-second clips that have somehow become an unofficial language for those unable to articulate thoughts with words.

Against that backdrop, you might find the video I’m about to show you … refreshing? Maybe uplifting? At least amusing?

See, on a recent episode of Vikings Connected, hosts Chris Hawkey and Erin Newburg had Vikings players read actual tweets that were sent to them. But instead of having them read MEAN TWEETS, as has become the custom on Jimmy Kimmel Live, the Vikings players were instead asked to read positive tweets that they received.

Not every one is a gold mine, but there are enough good ones to make watching it very much worth your while — if for no other reason than to remember that not everyone on social media is a jerk and that some fans just want to give a shout-out to their favorite players.

Wolves opener was entertaining, strange and ultimately meaningless

Welcome to the Thursday edition of The Cooler, where everything is back to normal again. Let’s get to it:

*If you were a Minnesota sports fan who had been somewhere else for the last month — say, taking a bicycle trip through Europe or watching an entire MLB playoff game — and had no idea what had transpired with the Timberwolves from mid-September until tip-off Wednesday night against the Spurs, you might have watched the game and thought to yourself that nothing, really, was amiss.

Jimmy Butler played well and gave a good effort. The defense wasn’t great, but it wasn’t awful. Jeff Teague was excellent. Andrew Wiggins had a discernible pulse. Gorgui Dieng provided a nice lift.

It would have been an acceptable performance even under normal circumstances, but the 112-108 loss at San Antonio took on epic moral victory status because these are not normal times. (Combined with the Gophers football team and Wild’s recent moral victories, Minnesota is on quite the moral victory winning streak).

But if you were here for the last month of drama and nonsense, there was no other option but to watch the game with a certain level of puzzlement and detachment as well.

The Wolves are trying to impossibly thread some sort of needle whereby they try to promote the enjoyment of Butler while actively trying to accommodate his trade request. FSN’s halftime show was a mix of highlights — many including Butler — and an interview with owner Glen Taylor (who also owns the Star Tribune) discussing how they are working to trade Butler.

The only newcomer who played as part of Tom Thibodeau’s nine-man rotation was veteran Anthony Tolliver, who vowed at media day to come out firing from three-point range but didn’t attempt a single long-distance shot in his 19 minutes on the floor.

Six different players — including Derrick Rose, who played 31 minutes off the bench — attempted more field goals than Karl-Anthony Towns, who went just 2-for-6 and scored eight points in 22 foul-plagued minutes. Butler took a team-high 23 shots (making nine of them).

What did we learn Wednesday? The Wolves have a collection of talented individuals, led by Butler. They suffer when Towns is ineffective. Rookie Josh Okogie has good energy … but not enough to get off the bench in the opener.

In other words, we learned nothing new. The overall takeaway after watching the game was that the product for now is fine, but none of it really matters because Butler is going to be gone at some point anyway. That was only underscored by a postgame exchange captured by our Chris Hine in his game story:

We did what we were supposed to do,” Butler said. “We came up short. We did do that. But you learn from it. We got 81 more of these.”

As if realizing what he let slip out, Butler flashed a sly smile. Does he have 81 more games with this team?

“You got 81 games, baby. That’s all that matters,” Butler said. “We got to lock in on today. What tomorrow brings, see where we’re at. If that comes to be that comes to be, there’s nothing I can do about it. But in the meantime, I got to figure out a way to help us win some games.”

Until the Butler situation is resolved, the Wolves as an organization have hit a bizarre pause button. They might be able to pull things together for 48 minutes every couple of nights — the next test will be Friday’s home opener, where a returning all-NBA player will almost certainly be booed on his home court — but nothing about this feels normal.

*Feel free, by the way, to provide your best photo caption in the comments for the above image from last night’s game.

*In case you are wondering how things went for Miami — the other locker room being disrupted by Butler drama since the Heat has been reported as his primary suitor — it lost 104-101 at Orlando in Wednesday’s opener.

Josh Richardson, the reported centerpiece of any Butler deal, took a career-high 21 shots (making eight) and finished with 21 points, five rebounds and three assists in 38 minutes.

*Zach Lofton, who starred locally at Columbia Heights in high school but bounced around to five different colleges — including the Gophers, where he never played a game — made his NBA debut and played four minutes for Detroit on Wednesday.

The Detroit Free Press had a nice story recently on Lofton’s long and winding road to the NBA.

Gopher Hole also noted a rather dubious stat for Minnesota:

Interesting Taylor nugget: Layden is handling Jimmy Butler trade now

Welcome to the Wednesday edition of The Cooler, where it’s almost finally time to watch the local NBA team play a game. Let’s get to it:

*Sid Hartman was *probably* the only 98-year-old member of the sports media to get a scoop Tuesday when he got Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor, who also owns the Star Tribune, on the record about several subjects related to the team and Jimmy Butler.

Taylor confirmed to Sid that the Wolves are actively working to trade Butler, saying: “Yes. I think [Butler has] made it very clear that he would not re-sign with us at the end of the year and therefore it is in our interest to get a trade so that we can get a player or two to replace him that helps our team.”

When asked if Tom Thibodeau is coaching for his job, Taylor said: “No, no, the only thing now is that we are starting to play games and I am asking him to concentrate on coaching.”

Along the lines of the last part is an interesting — though maybe not surprising given the timing — bit of information in which Taylor says more than once that GM Scott Layden, not Thibodeau, will be handling the day-to-day calls with other teams regarding a Butler trade.

“What I said to him in the meantime is our GM, Scott Layden, will be talking to other teams to see if there is a trade that works,” Taylor said when asked what he and Butler talked about in a recent meeting. Later, Taylor added: “GM Scott Layden will help to see if any trades are available.”

This makes sense because Thibodeau will have more than enough to keep him busy as the head coach with the season starting Wednesday (particularly given that the Wolves are playing catch-up with their chemistry after Butler was absent almost all of training camp). But if there has been a sense that Thibodeau, in his role as president of basketball operations, was in charge of this deal throughout camp, that sense has changed now.

One other item of note: Taylor was asked if the Wolves would be able to give Butler the max contract (five years, $190 million) he covets next offseason if Butler had wanted to stay.

“We would have to make some changes on our team in order to keep Jimmy,” Taylor said.

That’s vague, but it goes back to the notion brought up when Butler was acquired last year that the Wolves — assuming they maxed out Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns, which they did — would be in a tough spot if they wanted to have three max players.

*Butler posted on Instagram on Wednesday about being excited for the season to start, which I’m sure is genuine.

I had to laugh, though, when Butler referred to the offseason and the “so called ‘drama'” of it.

In Butler’s choreographed ESPN interview last week, he chided people in the Wolves organization for their lack of honesty. In this case, Butler needs to be honest. It wasn’t so-called drama. It was drama. It still is drama. And he’s driving it.

*The Gophers haven’t won a Big Ten football game yet this year, but Nebraska hasn’t won a football game of any kind this year. So it’s maybe a little surprising the Huskers are favored by four points as of now in Saturday’s game vs. Minnesota in Lincoln. Those are points earned on brand reputation only at this point.

Let’s appreciate Derrick Rose’s honesty about the Timberwolves

Before we get into the NBA regular season, which starts Wednesday for the Wolves, or get too deep (again) in the now four-weeks-old Jimmy Butler trade talks, let’s pause for a moment and appreciate the candor displayed by veteran guard Derrick Rose during his session with reporters on Monday.

Rose has played with Butler and under coach Tom Thibodeau before, both in Chicago and last year with the Wolves. He’s a veteran who has bounced around lately and seen a lot of situations. He’s here on a one-year contract.

All of these things added up to some refreshing honesty out of Rose — not necessarily controversial statements but a frank assessment, for better or worse, of where things stand after a very strange month.

Rose was asked if the Wolves — who struggled through a 1-4 preseason with Butler sitting out — will be able to change their course when the real games start.

“I think so. But … I’ve been on teams that we won — what it used to be eight preseason games? — we won seven of ’em and a had a (bad) year. And we had preseason where we won one or two games and had a great year. It’s all about what you take out of it,” Rose said. “As long as you personally as a player are out there playing hard and you’re doing what you supposed to do that’s for the betterment of the team. Everybody’s not gonna have that chemistry right now. It’s gonna take time, period.”

Other Wolves players have said practices have been intense since Butler returned, but they tended to also say practices were also high-energy without Butler.  When I asked him if practice was different now that Butler has returned, Rose again was honest.

“Of course. The intensity of practice changed with talkin’ (trash) to one another,” Rose said. “I mean, that’s what you need. Even when he did the thing the first day when he came back everybody else was probably shook but I played with Joakim (Noah) and Taj (Gibson). Taj was with the second unit most of the times when I was in Chicago so they used to talk (trash) all the time. And we were used to it. If anything we need that energy and we need that intensity.”

When asked how Thibodeau has handled tough situations in the past, Rose said this: “I mean it’s rare to get a reaction out of him. Especially one with everything going on. He’s been in this position for two or three years to try and control the front office or whatever. …  It doesn’t seem like it’s bothering him much. He’s more concerned with how hard we’re playing when we’re out there. That’s his biggest concern: he just wants guys to play hard.”

And finally, in regards to where the Wolves are chemistry-wise at this point, Rose was perhaps most honest of all.

“I mean we got room for growth. We don’t even have an identity of how we’re going to play offensively and defensively, so you just gotta build those things along the way,” he said. “But every day when we come in here you have to get your job done, get your body right, get your personal workout in. We all know it’s going to take some time. It’s going to take all of us being on the same team and fighting through the hard times together.”