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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 Logan Paulsen Color Rush 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 Josh Allen Jersey Bills ,” 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,” 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 http://www.texansauthorizedshops.com/authentic-jordan-akins-jersey , 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.”



Tom Brady is staying mum on his status for the AFC championship game after suffering a right hand injury earlier in the week.

Brady said a bit contentiously only ”We’ll see” on Friday when asked whether he would play in Sunday’s conference title game against Jacksonville.

The quarterback wore red gloves and responded to several other questions about how much he practiced or how he sustained the injury by saying ”I’m not talking about that.”

Brady is listed as questionable for Sunday after being a limited participant in practice Friday. He was also limited on Wednesday. He sat out practice Thursday, but wore a glove on his injured hand during the stretching period open to reporters. He usually only wears a glove on his non-throwing hand.

One thing Brady was clear about was the test he expects from a Jaguars unit ranked second in the NFL in total and scoring defense.

”It’s a very unique challenge,” Brady said. ”I think their front three http://www.jetsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-nathan-shepherd-jersey , their linebackers, are very instinctive and very fast. And great cover guys in the secondary. Ball-hawking defense. They strip it off you, they sack you. … So they’re a good defense.”

Brady appeared on the Patriots’ weekly injury report several times during the latter half of this season with injuries to both his Achilles tendon and his left shoulder. The four-time Super Bowl MVP has never missed a playoff start during his 18-year career.

”Tom always tends to show up in big games. This is a big game,” receiver Danny Amendola said. ”(He’s) super tough. The toughest. He’s a warrior, he’s a competitor and there’s really only one reason why he’s here, and that’s to play football. ”

Jacksonville is preparing like Brady will be in the huddle as usual Sunday. Jaguars defensive tackle Marcell Dareus said typical methods of rattling a quarterback don’t apply when it comes to him.

”You can hit Brady, but hitting him isn’t what’s going to get to him. It’s constantly being that gnat in his face. He just hates that gnat just always around,” said Dareus, who might be more familiar than any Jacksonville player with Brady, having spent six-plus seasons with the Bills.

”You sack him he’s going to get up and just keep rolling. He’s that competitive spirit http://www.giantsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-kyle-lauletta-jersey , like, `OK, you got me. Now I’m fixing to go throw this touchdown the next play. Forty yards. You happy about that sack? But there you go.’ That’s just his mentality. I like it. I love playing against the guy. He’s phenomenal to watch.”

If for some reason Brady can’t go – no, the Earth won’t stop rotating on its axis and New England still would show up to play – the Patriots would look to backup Brian Hoyer. His last playoff start was the antithesis of a Brady performance. For Houston in its 2015 AFC wild-card matchup with Kansas City, Hoyer completed 15 of 34 passes for 136 yards, with no touchdowns and five turnovers (four interceptions) in a 30-0 loss.

Hoyer, a former Patriot, was acquired in midseason when the Patriots traded Jimmy Garoppolo to San Francisco.

”I’m always preparing to play because the truth of reality is you never know when your name’s gonna be called,” he said Thursday.

The Patriots haven’t called any QB’s name in the postseason other than Brady’s since the 1990s.

Including the playoffs, the Jaguars scored eight defensive touchdowns this season http://www.texansauthorizedshops.com/authentic-martinas-rankin-jersey , three more than any other team. Cornerback Jalen Ramsey had four interceptions during the regular season and also had one in the wild-card win over Buffalo.

He also fully expects to see Brady on the field Sunday.

”He’s going to be out there, he’s going to play, he’s going to play to his best of ability and do what he does,” Ramsey said.



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