The Minnesota Timberwolves underwent a significant makeover this offseason, and coach Tom Thibodeau expects to learn more about his new-look team during next week's trip to China, where the Wolves will play two games against the defending champion Golden State Warriors in Shenzhen and Shanghai.
The Timberwolves, who added Jimmy Butler and other veterans including Jeff Teague and Taj Gibson this summer, are looking to end a 13-year playoff drought.
"We have been trying different things during our training camp in San Diego," Thibodeau said during a conference call with Chinese media ahead of next week's NBA Global Games.
"We have a lot of new faces. The two games in China are a team bonding opportunity for us, and players will get to know each other more."
Thibodeau said the new roster combines both valuable playoff experience and much-needed versatility, essential in today's game with so many NBA teams using small lineups.
"We need players who can guard different positions and sizes on the court," he said. "We have lots of players on this team right now who can do this, but the biggest challenge remains whether or not we can have balance between our offense and defense."
With some blockbuster trades this summer in the Western Conference, Thibodeau made it clear that he expects everyone on the team to play a leadership role, instead of relying on one or two star players.
While the China trip is a first for many members of the Timberwolves, it is familiar to Thibodeau, who often traveled to the country while a member of the Houston Rockets coaching staff during Hall of Famer Yao Ming's playing days.
The Timberwolves will open their preseason Saturday against the Los Angeles Lakers.