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Michael, it looks like you’ve truly enjoyed your time here in Minnesota. I watched as you broke from your shell, hardened by your years in Miami under superstar Dwyane Wade and sensei Riley, and it really helped you grow as a human being. You seem more mature which has helped lead to your growth on the court over the course of this season.
But I have still some issues.
You love shooting that mid-range jumper. And, by golly, it’s silky as ever when it flutters through the hoop but it’s not a shot I completely advise taking. You attempted 360 shots from that distance, a distance generally associated with the most inefficient spot on the floor. That needs to stop. Your game has slowly become one-dimensional because of it — catch ball, jab step, pause… SHOOT! Defender or not, you take that shot too often. If you’re going to settle for jumpers from that far away, why not take a step back to the arc? You had your best year from three-point land (36%) and some of those were absolute daggers. We brought you in here because this city lacks that dynamic offensive star, who can take the big shot when needed. But why not make it easier on your self and limit your shots from 19-23 feet and start making your game more impulsive and unpredictable.
Let’s start with this: We really want you to get the rim much more next season. With your new buddy Kevin Love under the hoop, taking your shots at the rim allow us a much better chance of producing points. This year you only had 270 shots from the rim, 33 shots down from last year, but where the real problem lies is that your percentage went down. Significantly. By 9-percent! Only 55-percent of your lay-ups and dunks were converted this season. Michael, you’re a strong, athletic and long type of player — just what we’re looking for — and you can’t finish at the rim? You need to harness that energy you fail to exert on the defensive end and jump that much higher to slam the ball home on the rim! If you can start to do that, maybe we’ll let you stop playing defense entirely. I’m joking…
Actually, let’s talk about your defense for a bit. We brought you in here with the common knowledge that you struggle on defense. And, even though we did witness you improve on the defensive end, it still needs to get better. Your improvement on defense will only aide your offense that much more. The problem I’ve noticed with your defense is your too reactive. You only react to the ball and your opposition which leads to blown coverages and open shots. What needs to develop is your intuitiveness. If you start predicting what will happen while on defense, you’ll learn the art to be much easier than just relying on your reaction. Defense based on reaction is too slow and mechanical and because of it, you blink once and you get burned; defense based on prediction and aggressiveness results in pressure and, ultimately, turnovers. Study Corey Brewer. He’ll teach you the way to play active and intuitive defense. It’ll help your game immensely.
So those are a couple things we need to see from you next season on the court. But there’s still one more glaring weakness: Your stability. You struggled keeping your head on straight after mistkaes often this year. It led to technicals, turnovers and poor decisions. Coming out of college you were depicted as a beast, and rightfully so. But no matter how powerful, gifted or extraordinary you may be, it’s never going to translate properly into the NBA until you can calm yourself down and play technically sound basketball. Within those confines, you can use your beastly abilities to take over games on your own, but it all starts with the fundamentals. Learn those, hone those and become the best NBA player you can be. Until then, you’re never going to anything more than a #1b, or #2 option on any squad, even the Timberwolves.
That’s all for now, Michael. Get a head start in the gym and we’ll see you later this summer.