With all of the overhaul in the front office and on the roster this offseason, there is understandably much hype for the coming season. Despite the upgrades that Flip Saunders has made to the roster, Wolves fans learned last season that you need more than just talent: you need luck. Yes, damn your hard work and in-born talent– sometimes the only thing that matters in the end is not landing on your ankle wrong. It’s unfortunate but, hey, what can you do?
Anyway, the Timberwolves kick off the season on October 30th against the Orlando Magic at home, and then turn around to face Oklahoma City, when Kevin Martin faces off against his old team.
Conversely, the Utah Jazz come to Target Center on April 16th to close out the 2013-`14 regular season. I say “regular season” because I’m hoping they have a post-season. I’m not trying to jinx anything but I’d rather spend May covering the playoffs instead of researching draft prospects for a change. It’s been 10 years and year 25, I don’t think I’m asking too much here!
The Timberwolves have a tough stretch in December that includes playing in Oklahoma City on the first, at “home” against the San Antonio Spurs in Mexico City on the fourth and the Heat make their lone appearance in Minneapolis on the seventh. And Dwight Howard will make his first appearances as a Houston Rocket at Target Center on February 10th and March 20th.
Kevin Garnett returns to Minnesota on November 22nd with the new-look Brooklyn Nets. This will also mark the return of former Timberwolf Andrei Kirilenko.
In February, Utah and the Timberwolves will play a home and away series on the 18th and the 20th. One can only assume the four days off will be because they are traveling by station wagon instead of flight.
As far as back-to-backs, the Timberwolves will play 20 total, including three in February alone. Hey, the All-Star break is for rest for a reason, right?
Ya know what? February sucks. Period. If being the month of the year that is also known as, “The Official Homestretch of Winter” wasn’t enough, the Timberwolves will also spend their longest time away from Target Center going to Utah, Portland, Sacramento, Phoenix and Denver in a stretch that lasts into March. Hey, at least they’ll have their longest homestand of the season (Four(Portland, Houston, Denver and Indiana) and winter is almost over.
One more thing before I go: who wants to go to the Bobcats game with me on January 10th? No one? Fine. I’ll go by myself.
As many of you reading this probably know, I took up covering the Charlotte Bobcats for SB Nation’s Rufus on Fire this season in addition to my work here and at Hardwood Paroxysm. Even when I first started at Rufus I always saw Bobcats fans clamoring for Derrick Williams. And tonight I’m seeing Timberwolves fans trying to figure out how they can trade Derrick to Charlotte to get the number four pick. Clearly these two fan bases have one thing in common: They know nothing about the other team. But since we’re a Timberwolves blog I’m going to talk about why the Bobcats wouldn’t do it– consider this Bobcats 101 or something.
@derekjamesnba tell me more about why Horn-Cats can’t use DWill as much as Wolves. I don’t watch them at all.
C: Brendan Haywood/Mullens/Gana Diop (You don’t know what this was like, you don’t know the things I’ve seen!)
At first glance you may notice that many players on this list are relatively undersized for their position, especially in the backcourt. In fact, the Bobcats played small quite frequently all year. Secondly, Kemba and MKG were lottery picks in recent years, so they’re not going to add another player at their position to take minutes away from them. Third, they’re thin on depth at the four and five, and they were also a very poor shooting team.
Detach from the Timberwolves fan mindset for a minute and think, do you think Derrick Williams would help this team? No, he’s an under-sized tweener-forward that is also a recent lottery pick. This isn’t to say that I don’t think Derrick has a purpose, because he does, it just isn’t best-realized the Bobcats. And since it takes two sides to make a deal, this is a problem.
Certainly, the Bobcats would not like to cut into the precious minutes needed for MKG to develop, but Derrick and MKG both thrived in similar areas this season according to MySynergySports:
- In pick ‘n’roll man situations Williams posted .98 points per possession (“PPP”; 1.00 being average) to MKG’s .94 PPP.
- In plays as the cutter: Williams: 1.06 vs MKG: 1.19
- Off of offensive rebounds: Williams: 1.03 vs MKG: 1.18
- In transition, each player posted 1.18 ppp as well.
If you think their strengths are similar, they each have similar weaknesses, too. It’s kind of weird.
- Both were terrible post-up players this past season, meaning that they could not play together from a skill set standpoint, as well as each player being 6’7-6’8 and 230 pounds. Williams averaged .71 ppp to MKG’s .76 ppp and each player shot under forty percent on those plays.
- Neither player was particularly strong trying to create in ISO situations, evidenced by Williams’ .64 ppp to MKG’s .83
- Nor was either player very good working off of screens, since Williams’ .73 ppp in those situations was about .30 points higher than MKG’s. This is surprising because Williams rated as average-to-above average in pick n rolls, but maybe those two things are completely unrelated and I’m only imagining there should be a correlation.
And here’s a chart from Basketball-Reference.com:
See, see?! Even with the most basic statistical metrics show they are very similar, with neither player really showing that they’re truly better than the other. Although, considering MKG was the youngest player in his draft class, and his defensive ability not reflected by stats that take into team effort like Defensive Rating, it may be fair to say that MKG would be more worth the Bobcats’ time right now. Especially since MKG is currently a better passer and has a more defined position than “off-of-the-bench-scorer.”
And since you couldn’t play them together either, a trade to Charlotte makes no sense. As far as size go, the Bobcats need more in the frontcourt. Diop, Mullens and Haywood are each seven-feet, but Diop is retiring; Mullens is Mullens; and Haywood is unlikely to be a long-term fixture. The next tallest player is McRoberts at 6’10 before the rest of their centers and power forwards check in between 6’9 and 6’7. Derrick being listed around 6’8-6’9 does not help them, and as we covered above, he would play behind MKG at the three. They need length and size at the 4-5, and Derrick just doesn’t help them with that need.
For now, Derrick is better suited with the Timberwolves. He’s an average rebounder, has a low turnover percentage and now exerts some energy on defense. With the Timberwolves, he can be a successful player because of his productivity in pick n rolls and while he isn’t exactly great in them, he can spot up well enough while he continues to improve his shot. So, Williams has a role on this team and dealing him for an unknown commodity like a 19-year old rookie who may wind up glued to the end of Rick Adelman’s bench.
It’s more likely that if they do make a move it will be one of JJ Barea and Luke Ridnour, but Flip did not sound optimistic about their ability to package one of those players with the nine pick to move up.
Not bad. But I gotta admit, seeing CJ McCollum, the high-volume shooting guard from Lehigh, who sat more than half of the season with a left foot injury, in the top ten is awfully depressing. It only pays testament to how poor this draft is towards the top. And it doesn’t get much better in the 20′s with the Wolves slotted to take Giannis Adetokunbo. International prospects scare everyone because of their mystique and unfamiliarity to fans. I will state that Adetokunbo and Dario Saric are two of my favorite international prospects in this whole draft, and getting our hands on one of them would be nice.
Although the Wolves address two needs with both of these picks, they’re just not very sexy. Sexy will undoubtedly be difficult to come by but some picks (Saric, Glen Rice Jr., Shabazz Muhammed and Gorgui Dieng) radiate on the surface just a little bit more, even if they’re not completely polished.
Despite Kevin Love’s optimism of being cleared today to begin practicing once again at a check up with a hand specialist in New York City, Love got the news that he’s still 2-3 weeks away from just contact. However, they did get the good news that his hand is at least healing well, and with the Timberwolves out of the playoff chase for the season it makes sense to have Love take his time.
Oh, you can’t hurry Love! No, you just have to wait– whoops, sorry; I couldn’t resist.
Out since January, this pushes Love’s return closer to April, leaving the Timberwolves to (hopefully) get a feel for what a full healthy lineup will look like for about 8-10 games since Chase Budinger, Andrei Kirilenko, and Nikola Pekovic should be back as well. This way, hopefully the Timberwolves will get an idea of what they already have on the roster for next season and what they need to do in the offseason. Now, nobody else get hurt (again) in the mean time.
Chase Budinger was cleared today for full-contact practice after suffering a torn meniscus back in November against the Bulls. It goes without saying that the Wolves could desperately use his help even in the mean time with the current season rotting before our eyes.
As a matter of fact, let’s just review some numbers here:
The Timberwolves rank 28th in the league in field goal percentage, shooting just 43% from the field this season.
Along those lines, they rank dead last in 3-point field goal percentage, and it’s frankly not even close; they’re at 29% with the 29th ranked team, Phoenix Suns, shooting just shy of 33%.
The Wolves are 29th in assisted field goal percentage, which tells me that we’re short on spot-up shooters.
Back in January, ESPN Insider released to piece ranking the top corner-3 shooting teams in the NBA. The Wolves ranked 22nd with our best option from the deep corner being Luke Ridnour, who’s recently found himself slumping making just one 3-pointer in the past four games.
It’s no secret that the Wolves are the worst shooting team in the NBA. I can argue that pretty much most of it has to do with the onslaught of injuries but that’s a waste of time. Rather let’s all rejoice in the nearing return of Chase Budinger, right?
Budinger was brought in from Houston because he was a veteran youngster. Just 24 years old, Bud offers a unique mix of experience and youth that very few players on the Wolves currently embody. He’s a well-known shooter but has a special hop in his step that allows him to attack the rim fearlessly. With Andrei Kirilenko still out and Alexey Shved seriously slumping, Budinger figures to slide immediately into that starting 3-role over Gelabale or the first man off the bench, at the very least, once he gets here.
Budinger’s 3-point prowess is a much-needed weapon for Rick Adelman’s offense. I partially blame Ricky Rubio’s awful shooting numbers for the lack of spot-up shooters on the perimeter. Off of pick-n-rolls, due to the lack of able-bodied shooters, Rubio’s been forced to go up the middle and try to finish over bigger, stronger players. That’s not his strength. It should always be an option but his knack is to drive-and-kick, while drawing attention from the perimeter defenders. That’s where Budinger fits in. He’ll be able to give Rubio that extra option as opposed to just driving it himself.
Honestly, can you tell how excited I am to not have to watch Dante Cunningham mid-range jumpers be the only go-to play in the Wolves’ repertoire?! Hooray!!
But as goes the story of all Minnesota sports, there’s always a downside to the good news. Adrian Peterson wins MVP, Vikings trade Percy Harvin. Twins lock up MVP’s Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau only to lose their primes to injury and disease-laden teams the last two years. Budinger is currently an unrestricted free agent set to hit the market this summer. Although the injury didn’t help his value, Bud’s services will certainly be sought after, especially by championship competitive teams looking for that extra shooter (The reason why JJ Redick was such a hot name at the trade deadline). The Wolves already have a whirl of an offseason coming up with the looming decision of what to do with Nikola Pekovic on top of a player option from AK47. The Wolves will be tight on cap space pending what they do with Pek, making Budinger a potentially difficult signee.
So Bud’s return could very well turn into a tryout for other teams, as the Wolves are leaps and bounds away from turning this season around. In the mean time, the Wolves do get to enjoy Budinger’s services and see what he can do with a month under Adelman and alongside Rubio — and soon-to-be Love. There’s no denying that Budinger is a major missing part on the current makeup of the roster but it’s also bittersweet knowing what may lie ahead come this summer.
The Timberwolves will be considering many options to add depth to their frontcourt this offseason, and 1500′s Darren Wolfson has said that Eddy Curry is a name that is being — and I emphasize – floated around as a possible target. Now, before we overreact, the definition of “floated” has not changed to the point of becoming a synonym for “imminent”. It’s an idea, and one that seems pretty typical of the Kahn-Adelman era as a low-cost and low-risk/high reward option. Sometimes those gambles have worked out (Kirilenko) and other times they haven’t (Brandon Roy), and this appears to be another that could potentially be added to that category.
@twolvesfan That’s him. Just a name being floated. Nothing is imminent.
Curry would also come cheap based on the contract he signed with the Mavericks at the beginning of the season that was for the league minimum and also non-guaranteed. With the Timberwolves snug against the cap going forward, these are the types of contracts they’ll be looking to add.
However, Curry, who has played very little in the past years, showed several signs of rust with the Mavericks. In just two games, he somehow managed to post a PER of -0.1 in addition to averaging a comical 10.1 fouls per 36 minutes and just 5.8 rebounds per 36 minutes. As terrible as he was, his .500 FG% would’ve been his best since the ’07-’08 season, but that’s based off of only a two game sample in which he took just eight attempts.
Likely the only reason the 30-year old Curry still gets any mention is because he’s seven feet tall, and size like that will almost always ensure that you’ll continue to pique a team’s interest long after you’re even a worthwhile garbage time player. After all, the Spurs, Heat, and Mavs have all taken a chance on Curry in the past couple of years using the same low-risk/high-reward mentality.
At his peak, Curry was a solid contributor, but those days are long gone. It’s clear that the Timberwolves are turning over pretty much every possible stone to upgrade the backup center position, and apparently Curry’s name has been thrown out there, although that idea could very well be dead by now. Yet, it seems that help in that area will go by a different name and not Curry’s.
It’s safe to say that, while the Rising Stars Game is a meaningless exhibition, last night’s wound up being quite enjoyable for Timberwolves fans as the team’s backcourt of Ricky Rubio and Alexey Shved was showcased very well in primetime for Team Chuck against Team Shaq.
Both players were not only factors in Team Chuck’s163-135 win, but also made the win even more enjoyable to watch.
Even an All-Star Weekend hater like myself had to admit Rubio’s and Shved’s performance was well worth my time. In fact, even the national types took note, with former player and current CBS analyst Greg Anthony opining on Twitter about the performance and potential of the team’s backcourt:
@rickyrubio9 and Alexey Shved looking like one if the best backcourts of the future @mntimberwolves look to be in good hands!
If you’ve followed me on Twitter and ever seen anyone make even a passing mention to me about the Sacramento Kings’ Isaiah Thomas, who I’ve been a huge fan of since his days at the University of Washington, then you know how much I loved seeing him throw up this alley-oop to Shved.
With the game nearly in hand, and the entire defense literally just standing and watching (Ugh. H8 U, All-Star Weekend), Shved just missed a wide open windmill dunk. Still fun, and watching eventual game MVP Kenneth Faried finish with a windmill of his right after was still pretty neat:
Shved finished with 12 points, 1 rebound, and 4 assists on 5/8 shooting.
Saving the main event, Ricky Rubio, for last, last night’s exhibition was really the perfect platform for Rubio to show off his passing talents on a national stage. Seriously, Rubio’s game was Taylor-made for this kind of thing. Of Rubio’s ten assists, a couple were quite notable, beginning with this alley-oop to Manimal right here.
As if that weren’t enough, Rubio left perhaps an even better pass for later as he drove towards the baseline, guarded closely by Golden State’s Harrison Barnes of team Shaq, and flipped an incredible no-look (Actually, he was looking at the crowd behind the basket!), perfectly-timedpass between Barnes and Team Shaq’s Damian Lillard that found the Wizards’ Bradley Beal on a cut for the slam. Here, just watch here and here.
Rubio may have been the only Team Chuck member not to score in double figures, but let’s be honest, we’re not here to see him shoot. We want to see his remarkable court vision, and watch him hit passing lanes no one else knows exist. And no one is complaining about Rubio’s 5 points (2/4 shooting), 10 assist and one steal performance this morning. Nobody.
Yeah, it may not even have been in the big game (/snickers), but last night was pretty thrilling from a Timberwolves fan’s perspective. Seeing Rubio and Shved play well, and get recognized for their performances was great to see. Kevin Love may not have been able to make the All-Star team this season, but the Timberwolves were still well-represented last night.
I should really know better than to post on this since I know that the people who want to be paranoid and believe what they want to no matter what I, or anyone else say. In fact, I should probably impose a posting moratorium on the subject after this one. Although, I thought I’d still share this because today Kevin Love told the AP’s Jon Krawcynski that he, “loves being in Minnesota,” as you can see in the tweet I embedded above.
Being a lifelong Minnesota sports fan I completely understand the mindset of fans, and the “Woe is me attitude.” But after twenty years of being a fan, I just can’t hold that victim mentality. I guess having your own misery to hold on to is better than having nothing to hold on to.
I also understand that the Yahoo! article with Adrian Wojnarowksi happened. Maybe that never rubbed me the wrong way because I didn’t disagree with anything Love said, but Love did also say that there were positive comments that were omitted from the story. This is possible because 1) Love has made positive comments about the team recently, and 2) omitting the positive comments really set the tone of Woj’s piece from a writing standpoint, and may or may not be reflective of any personal bias, but that’s just my opinion.
Upon RTing the above tweet on my account I immediately had my mentions flooded with tweets of, “But the Yahoo! article,” and “We’re Minnesota fans! Can you blame us?!” Which is just frustrating even though I know that there is likely nothing Love can say or do to convince fans that he really does like being here. I mean, if he says he likes it here, how do you know he doesn’t? So what if he says he wants to win; presumably, so do the Timberwolves.
I suppose this was a waste of 400 words since the people who didn’t have an issue with Love’s comments are just going to go on with their lives while the people who are dead set on being negative and paranoid will go on not believing Love no matter what he says. Take him at his word, or don’t– I guess it really doesn’t matter.
Once you retweet that, you’ll be automatically entered in our contest to win 2 Wolves’ Tickets! We’ll announce the winner on this blog and on Twitter a few days before the game.
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The Minnesota Timberwolves report that Kevin Love is undergoing surgery tomorrow to repair the third and fourth metacarpals on his right hand that he injured over a week ago in Denver. Recovery time is estimated between 8-10 weeks.
Interestingly enough — and incredibly ironic but still very sad — Love’s original doctor, Andrew Weiland, M.D. at New York City’s Hospital for Special Surgery, was unavailable when Love originally sustained the injury. That’s the reason for such a long delay on the surgery among others. But the other interesting development is that he’s not even performing the surgery anymore. No, actually, Dr. Michelle Carson will now work on Love, which leads me to question why the decision to switch surgeons happened this late. Obviously the Wolves are in no rush to get Love back onto the court but why not rush to at least get to the rehab, the most important aspect of the injury?
Also, Malcolm Lee will undergo his second surgery in just three days to repair both his hip and knee that will have him out the rest of the year. Lee has been constantly troubled with injuries since joining the Wolves in 2011 and now faces a long road ahead to rehabilitate to get back to playing at a pro level.