The adidas EUROCAMP will wrap things up on Monday, after spending three days mentoring and training a slew of top notch international prospects hopeful of getting drafted and/or joining the NBA next season.
Though he's hung up his coaching hat and since re-joined the Timberwolves as President of Basketball Operations, Flip Saunders still took time out to venture to Italy and share some of his knowledge with the plenty of NBA hopefuls.
Since coming back to Minnesota as the man with a plan shortly following the end of the regular season, Saunders has taken quite the proactive approach towards helping the Timberwolves sooner rather than later.
From front office changes, to exploring different draft possibilities, trades, and a unique partnership, Saunders appears to be leaving no stone unturned in such an effort.
With regard to this month's NBA Draft, Saunders has been a big part of the team's scouting process, not only staying stateside, but also going overseas to do so as well.
As a team, the Timberwolves have plenty of international flavor, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see Saunders and company take a chance on yet another intriguing player or two from across the globe once again.
That said, though international players often hold a lot of promise, perhaps it serves them better to be developed and eased in to the NBA game, rather than simply thrust into it. With that in mind, could the D-League become a major player in helping Minnesota achieve significant improvement next season?
Of course, a player doesn't have to be an international one for the Timberwolves to be interested in utilizing the NBADL to help them along. Already on the team are some players (such as Malcolm Lee and Chris Johnson) who could stand to benefit from an assignment or two. Minnesota would also be able to closely monitor players who caught through their eye during Summer League, training camp, etc., should they choose to better effectively utilize the minor league.
Perhaps Saunders already agrees with such a concept. In addition to also being the former head coach of the Sioux Falls Skyforce, that unique partnership the Timberwolves are said to be exploring is one with the Skyforce in the form of a potential hybrid affiliation.
There are plenty of ways to tie in an NBADL team to a big league team's culture and hope that it aids the organization in the long run. In addition to simply developing players, the minor league is also often thought of when it comes to rehab assignments. Undeniably a team with many injuries last season, Minnesota could stand to benefit that way as well.
Saunders has been proactive since day one, and appears committed to changing the culture in Minnesota into a winning one. By doing things overseas and exploring a one-to-one D-League affiliation, he's just beginning to explore the many ways to potentially do so.