Wolves’ Tyus Jones, Ryan Saunders share a lot of trust
MINNEAPOLIS -- Ryan Saunders did something that Tom Thibodeau rarely, if ever, did during his postgame press conference after Minnesota’s win over Oklahoma City on Tuesday.
Unsolicited, Saunders praised the play of Tyus Jones.
Jones played a key role in that upset victory, playing the final 16-plus minutes of the contest after Jeff Teague was ejected.
In those situations, Saunders has no qualms over turning to Jones. Saunders trusts his backup point guard.
“I’ve known Tyus for a long time. I’ve spent a lot of time with him. And the team trusts Tyus,” Saunders said. “So having a guy like that who has played on the big stage and who has a will about him in terms of really wanting to win and wanting to do good for the team, it’s a thing that coaches, you dream of. So I feel very confident in Tyus.”
Jones noted he may have a stronger relationship with Saunders than most. Jones had known Ryan’s late father, Flip, since he was in high school at Apple Valley. So he also knew Ryan.
After Flip drafted Jones, Ryan was the coach who worked with the point guard every day.
“We’ve had countless conversations every day since the day I got here,” Jones said. “He’s someone I grew a great bond and relationship with, so yeah, it’s a little more special, I feel like, for me to have his back and continue to try to help this team succeed.”
Thibodeau would often talk around compliments for Jones, to the point where he’d respond to questions about Jones with answers about the team. Meanwhile, Jones said Saunders has told the point guard he believes in him many times, and reiterated as much this week.
“So that gives me the ultimate confidence when I’m out there to just play free, play my game, take shots that I feel are open, make different calls, what I see,” Jones said. “So yeah, I believe that he believes and trusts in me as a player, and there’s no better feeling than that.”
KAT grants wish
Karl-Anthony Towns granted a young man’s wish on Saturday night. Teaming up with the Make-A-Wish foundation, the Wolves’ center was set to meet with 12-year-old Isaac Zude after Saturday’s game.
Zude, who lives in Davenport, Iowa, has leukemia. He watched warmups Saturday and attended the Wolves’ game against the Pelicans with his parents and three siblings prior to meeting Towns.
“It’s amazing,” Towns said of the chance to meet Zude. “When you have the chance to do something like that, you just run with the opportunity. You never think that as a basketball player or just as a human, someone’s wish is to meet you or spend some time with you. For me especially, I don’t ever see myself as anything special. I see myself as a basketball player playing in Minnesota that gets to go out there and play basketball in front of a lot of people, not as people get to come watch me. I’m just very humbled, and I’m touched by the fact that I get to do that.”