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NBA's best teammate? It's Timberwolves guard Conley

Timberwolves point guard Mike Conley has won the NBA's Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year Award for the second time in his 17-year career, as voted by his peers.

The league on Wednesday named him the winner of an award that it deems the best teammate based on his selfless play, leadership as a mentor and role model on and off the court to other NBA players and his commitment and dedication to the team.

He won it for his 2018-19 season with Memphis. He also has won the NBA Sportsmanship Award a record four times.

Conley's teammates applauded him after Wednesday's practice when they were told of the award.

"I'm honored, as always," Conley told reporters. "Being mentioned amongst all those guys up for the award and to actually win it, means a lot. It says a lot about my family, my mom and dad, my brother and sister, everybody around us who helped us realize who we are as human beings. That award is in part for all of them. I'm just thankful."

The 12 finalists included Denver's Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, New York's Jalen Brunson, Boston's Al Horford and Sacramento's Harrison Barnes.

Current NBA players chose the winner from the list of finalists.

"It's his professionalism, his empathy, his understanding," said Wolves center Rudy Gobert, who also was Conley's teammate in Utah for three seasons (2019-22). "He's the definition of a true leader by example without faking anything, without trying to be someone he's not. He's consistent every single day."

Conley inadvertently collided with coach Chris Finch on the Wolves' bench late in Sunday's clinching Game 4 playoff victory at Phoenix. Finch sustained a ruptured knee tendon that required surgery Wednesday. How and from where he'll coach a Western Conference semifinal series against Denver that starts Saturday has yet to be determined.

Assistant Micah Nori will coach from the sideline, as he did in last Sunday's final minutes.

"They must have counted the votes before he took out his head coach," Nori quipped about Conley.

Nori said he knew what a coach gets from Conley even before Nori coached him here in Minnesota the past two season.

"He's one of those guys when you coached against him, you just look at Mike Conley and you can tell he's a good person," Nori said. "He's exactly what you think is what he is. He's never about himself. Shoot, the guy has never got a technical foul in the NBA. He is the consummate leader, the consummate pro."

The game's the same

Nori has done this once before: He coached the Wolves to a 113-104 loss at Cleveland in March when Finch was ill.

"Even thought it was only the one game, having gone through it in Cleveland [helps]," Nori said. "The difference is, obviously, the stakes are much larger. … The players have been great. I told them nothing's going to change. It's more of the same."

Mile High

The series' first two games will be played at altitude in Denver. It says so painted right on the Ball Arena court, 5,280 feet.

The Wolves plan to fly there Thursday night, giving their bodies almost two days to acclimate. Conley said he doesn't expect the thinner air to impact the series.

"I don't think [the players are affected] as much in the playoffs," Conley said. "Maybe in the regular season when you're bouncing city to city, back-to-backs, stuff like that. But I don't think anybody lets stuff get to them too much in the playoffs."

Add to his collection

Conley was asked where he keeps his awards such as Wednesday's new one, a bronze sculpture of a player helping up a teammate.

"Next to my video games in my office," he said. "When I play, they are all there on the wall. I'll add another one there."

Thinking globally

Starting Saturday, the Wolves face a soon-to-be three-time NBA MVP in Nuggets center Nikola Jokic.

Sometimes Gobert will defend the unstoppable; sometimes centers Karl-Anthony Towns or Naz Reid, or forward Kyle Anderson, among others, will do so.

"I always say that when I'm not directly guarding him, I'm always guarding him," Gobert said. "I feel the same way with anyone who's on the floor. Phoenix with K.D. [Kevin Durant], all these guys. I see the game not in a direct matchup way, but more in a global matchup way. I just want to try to make him work."