Kevin Love stars in new SportsCenter Ad

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=1R376Qt1enc

We know Kevin Love has been very marketable in the past in his past spots in Pepsi’s Uncle Drew  and Yahoo! Sports’ Fantasy Sports ads, but he has done it again. This time, he’s the in-studio barista for the SportsCenter anchors with his own signature drink: a Double-Double espresso. And you see the effects of Love’s concoction when the anchors take the air.

Here is Uncle Drew and here is the Yahoo! spot, in case you missed them.

(Also, Happy Birthday to Ricky Rubio today!)

Rumor: Timberwolves Considering Bulls’ Teague

Today, The Chicago Tribune reported that the Timberwovles were possibly interested in trading for the Chicago Bulls’ Marquis Teague. As CBS Sports’ Eye on Basketball’s Matt Moore also noted, Teague has struggled with his execution in preseason, which does not make Bulls coach Tom Thibideau happy.

Teague is another point guard who would interest the Wolves as a third point guard behind Ricky Rubio and JJ Barea. The Timberwolves did bring in AJ Price but this tells me that they haven’t liked what they’ve seen from Price so far. And they would really need a point guard if they plan to move Shved to the off-guard spot and view second round pick Lorenzo Brown as more of the same.

As for Teague, he’s definitely an athlete, but struggled shooting everywhere. Seriously. He shot .381 percent from the floor; .174 from three, which didn’t stop him from taking two per game; and .563 from the free throw line. Even at Kentucky he was an average shooter at best, and on top of all of this he had an incredibly high turnover rate during his rookie season.

Teague was the 29th overall pick just a year ago, so his contract is guaranteed, but he is just 20 years old, so there may still be some hope for him to grow into a serviceable player someday. But, sheesh, AJ Price, you really can’t inspire enough confidence for the Timberwolves to not considering giving anything up for Teague?

That’s the other thing– what would they give up for him? Probably not too much. We’re talking a second rounder, probably, so it’s not like they’d be giving up anything of value.

This is really no big deal and probably just the Timberwolves doing their due dilligence. It’s actually really no big deal even if they do wind up making a move for Teague since he likely wouldn’t matter on a team with this depth and not in the project development business at the moment.

Timberwolves Media Day: “It’s a New Season”

If there was one common theme among Timberwolves players at media day it was that this was a new season. The injuries, the missed games and consequential losses are things that the team is looking to put behind them as they move towards the coming season. In fact, most players brushed back most questions regarding the injuries with the same dismissive answers that make you wonder if they got together and planned out their answers. That’s alright. With so much promise to this coming season the Timberwolves have little reason to look back.

Even when pressed about what they thought of injuries already rearing their ugly head as it has with Chase Budinger, the player’s expressed sympathy for their teammate, but were far from dejected. Where some fans have already begun with the “Here we go again…” diatribe, the Timberwolves reminded us that injuries are a part of professional sports and that players will miss some games. In short, they’re not paranoid, and they’re not checking underneath their beds for the Injury Boogeyman every night.

Kevin Love, who arguably endured the most trying season of all last season, was perhaps the fastest to close the door on any questions concerning last season. When pressed about his relationship with former general manager David Kahn and Flip Saunders, Love just said that “The past is the past,” and went on to praise the job that Saunders has done so far. When asked if he had a message for fans for this coming season he just said that it was a new season– a sentiment many of his teammates also wished to stress to their fans.

Love and the Timberwolves know that how far they go will be dependent in part to the growth of their All-Star power forward. Rick Adelman said that he wanted to see Love expand his game to becoming more of a facilitator and more of a factor on defense. This wasn’t Adelman calling Love out, either. Love said he knew what his coach was talking about and added that he knew that he wanted him to setup a few more plays for teammates (Love called his approach to passing as able, but not always willing.) and — along with his teammates — work to improve as defenders. J.J. Barea added in his availability that Love’s leadership will be a big determinant of their success will also be Love’s growth as a leader and that it has to be him to step in to that role.

Adelman himself said that he is looking forward to having Kevin Martin in the fold, who has he coached during much of the guard’s career. Interestingly enough, Adelman said that Martin came to him last season asking when they were going to reunite. Adelman believed this to be indicative of how much Martin believes in his system and said that now that he has the personnel, he is looking forward to adding more Motion sets to their predominantly Pick ‘n Roll attack from a year ago in hopes of being able make their attack more dynamic.

Additionally, the team addressed concerns over their ability to get defensive stops by saying they expect their to be  a great focus in camp on team defense, not just individual defense. Much of that will be helped by communicating and playing together over time, or as some people may call it: chemistry. Despite their improved offense, the team is aware of their flaws on defense, but it’s encouraging that they appear to be on the same page about how to limit the damage on that end of the court.

If anything, there was a sense of excitement; not just over the new acquisitions or having a new decision maker at the helm, but over the return of last year’s injured players and finally getting an extended look at their three best players on the floor together. Also, you cannot understate the morale boost that Rick Adelman’s return to the bench gave the players. With their best players and one of the game’s best coaches in hand, the Timberwolves have all of the reasons in the world to look at the road ahead.

Weight Watchers

Of course, you can’t talk about the Timberwolves without talking about the weight of their players. Even I fell victim to this trap on Twitter when Love came up to the microphone with his face noticeably slimmed down in what appears to be the best shape of his career. Derrick Williams was also one of the offseason’s biggest losers, having dropped from 250 pounds to 235 pounds with the idea to be better-suited to play the small forward position in a  stacked power forward rotation. Yet, the funniest moment regarding player weight questions was when Shabazz Muhammad and Barea were on the stage together when Muhammad was asked about his weight and Barea turned his head and laughed.

It’s the offseason, JJ. We know it’s not important, but we are out of things to talk about at this point!

Way Too Early, Super-Tentative Opening Night Starting Lineup

This was one thing that Adelman let out that gave us a better idea of where the Timberwolves are headed in the wake of Budinger potentially missing extended time. Adelman said that the guards will probably be Ricky Rubio and Martin; Pekovic and Love at the four and five; but then finished off by saying “probably Corey at the three.” If Budinger winds up missing camp and/or preseason it might make sense to have Brewer start the season as the starting small forward to ease Budinger back into things.

So here is the way too early, super-tentative opening night starting lineup for the Timberwolves:

PG: Ricky Rubio (Duh.)

SG: Kevin Martin (Kinda duh now with Budinger possibly out.)

SF: Corey Brewer (Wasn’t so duh a week ago.)

PF: Kevin Love (Duh)

C: Nikola Pekovic (Duh.)

Ronny Turiaf is the Man (And You Won’t Convince Me Otherwise) 

Seriously. He’s my new favorite player and he hasn’t even played a minute of basketball for the Timberwolves.

Perhaps the best moment was when him and Derrick Williams were supposed to hold their press conferences jointly and Derrick was late, so we proceeded without him. Mid-question, Turiaf notices Derrick standing off to the side and tells him to join us. Derrick says he wanted to make sure he wasn’t interrupting, which is funny because this exchange probably interrupted things more than it would have if he just pulled up a chair next to him.

Turiaf and Williams went on fielding questions from the media for another seven minutes or so. Derrick had the same jaw surgery that Kevin Love had awhile back with the same doctor that corrected his bite and said that he was feeling great because it helped his breathing. Turiaf, was not only an entertaining interview, but also mentioned that he’s made money so he’s only here to make something special happen, which was cool.

As they were getting up to leave, Williams before Turiaf, Ronny calls out, “Thanks for joining us, Derrick!” You might’ve had to be there, but it was perfectly timed.

#TwolfRank: #2 Ricky Rubio

Photo: StarTribune.com

Welcome to the second annual #TwolfRank. It’s one of our favorite times of the year, to say the least. We’re down to our final three players. As always, you can follow Jonah (@howlintwolf), Tom (@Tom_NBA) and Derek (@DerekJamesNBA) on Twitter as well to partake in the fun. If you’ve missed any, you can find them here

(Disclaimer: 1) I’m not saying that Kobe Bryant intentionally tried to hurt Ricky Rubio. Don’t be so sensitive; 2) Read Jonah’s post so you have any idea what I’m talking about here before you read this.)

For two seasons Ricky Rubio has been dazzling Timberwolves fans with his spectacular passes and warming their hearts with his charming personality. Yet, very few people know the true story of the Origins of Rubio. Or the Genesis of Rubio. Whichever sounds cooler.

Long ago and an ocean away, there was once a land called, well, España. Since the Middle Ages Kings fought battles in the name of an enchanted unicorn named Ricardo Rubio I Vives. Before the arrival of Ricardo, the water was unpotable and the land had been devastated by famine, poverty and illness.

One day a hoofed, woodland creature emerged from the forest surrounded in an aura of light. Upon his arrival the townspeople warmly greeted the creature as it nourished the land, cleansed the water supply and healed the sick. Additionally, it was a favorite of the maidens of the land, much to the chagrin of the gentlemen of the land. A revelation of this nature would not stay hidden for long and other lands would soon hear the news of Ricardo Rubio I Vives: The Mystical Unicorn of Spain.

Royalty from all over the world came from far and wide to catch a glimpse of the magical unicorn and witness his magical powers. Ricardo Rubio I Vives proved to the skeptics that he was no myth or legend as they watched him heal the land and restore hope, almost singlehandedly.

After several years had passed, the unicorn soon realized that other regions were in greater need of his help than Spain. Soon, Ricardo Rubio I Vives would travel overseas, across the great ocean to a land that had been devastated by the decisions of it’s rulers. Beforehand, he appeared to the great Nikolai Pekorov in a dream to summon him ahead of time to join the natural born King, Kevine Love III, also known as Devine Kevine.

Pekorov and King Kevine had struggled to restore peace to a once great land to it’s past greatness, and before long the great unicorn knew it was his time to make his voyage to the North.

Immediately, the unicorn adapted to his new land. Gracing Pekerov and King Kevine with his presence, their individual abilities grew seemingly overnight upon his arrival. Even in time he would give the young lion Derrick Williamsburg a purpose and direction, in addition to making the rest of the North’s fighters even better with his remarkable vision.

After watching Ricardo Rubio I Vives help Pekerov take down Howardsano the Terrible, the uprising army in the North caught the eye of Los Angelitos emperor, Kobeus Bryantus. Bryantus was the power hungry ruler of the West whose obsession with being the greatest was notorious across the land. And these uprisings, like the one in the North, were viewed by Kobeus as a threat to his potential legacy.

As the days turned to fortnights, Bryantus’ own people became speaking more of this mystical creature spreading joy and wealth across the frozen land. The emperor couldn’t stomach the thought of wealthy peoples and he soon became crazed with jealousy. In his envious mind he convinced himself that the unicorn must be stopped and would soon travel to the North to do battle with Pekorov, King Kevine and Ricardo the Unicorn.

The Los Angelitos army arrived in the snow covered land of the North halfway through the battle season looking to stifle this rebellion once and for all. The unicorn-led militia began to pick apart the invading Los Angelitos army, but soon found to be nearly overmatched by the rebels. The villagers cheered and applauded as their heroes went blow-for-blow with the great army and the invaders were quickly becoming overwhelmed by their surprise attacks.

Emperor Kobeus was exhausted, angry and embarrassed. He had not lost to this nation very much and didn’t intend to again. Desperately, he encountered the unicorn one-on-one in an attempt to stop the heart of the rebellion.

The unicorn majestically galloped around the attacks of the emperor, frustrating the ruler even more. Enough was enough the emperor decided, so Kobeus struck Ricardo Rubio I Vives above the hoof as the onlookers stood in stunned silence as the Los Angelitos army took the advantage and swept through to calim victory over the North once again.

However, Kobeus had only wounded the unicorn, not slayed him. He would return once again to finish the work he had only begun to start.

As the unicorn worked to heal himself following the attack, but gloom soon returned to the North. King Kevine had been struck with his own wounds, as well as Pekorov before the battle season. All of this dampened the spirits of the once jubilant town’s folk as they watched their heroes recover and the losses in battle pile up. Ricardo Rubio I Vives knew he couldn’t be gone long and willed himself to good health just in time.

Upon his return part way through the battle season, Ricardo the Unicorn called upon Williamsburg to help him salvage as many of the battles as they could. Yet, this proved to be a difficult task with no marksmen. Even the rugged, veteran defense master Andrei “The Great” Kirilenkolev could not stop of all of the losing, but the rebuilding group managed to have their best battle season in nearly a decade.

But the tale goes on. With the future unforeseeable, Ricardo the Unicorn has been granted the gift to spread wealth among his people. The comrades at his side shall never fret for Ricardo’s gift is here. Paired with his will to overcome adversity, the land in the North shall soon rule the land, including that of the evil West.

What? You don’t remember this happening either? This is right around the same period as Jonah’s tale of Nikola Pekovic’s tattoo. Know your history or be doomed to repeat it…or something. Geez.

Anyway, Ricky Rubio is number two on our 2013 #TwolfRank. He may not be the team’s best player. No, he’s really not at all, but he is arguably their most valuable player, especially given the “gifts” already mentioned in his arsenal. With his defense and his incredible passing ability he makes his teammates better by earning extra possessions and then using his vision to setup his teammates for the best possible opportunities. And incredible doesn’t really do what Rubio does justice; it’s like he sees passing lanes that are undetectable to the normal human eye. Everything Rubio does great makes teams become that much better, which is oddly refreshing. Too often have we seen teams revolve around a one-man show (Kobe and the Los Angelitos Army). Rubio’s style equates that of winning basketball, which hopefully turns fortune around in Minneapolis this season.

The weaknesses are obvious such as hit perimeter shooting. But in the mean time, he does enough of the other things well enough to make him well-worthy of his unanimous number two ranking.

More on Ricky Rubio and unicorns.

#TwolfRank: #5 Chase Budinger

Credit: TwinCities.com

Welcome to the second annual #TwolfRank. It’s one of our favorite times of the year, to say the least. Here is the ninth part in this roster-long series and we are officially halfway through. As always, you can follow Jonah (@howlintwolf), Tom (@Tom_NBA) and Derek (@DerekJamesNBA) on Twitter as well to partake in the fun. You can find the rest of the series here

In Chase Budinger’s first three NBA seasons he missed a measly 20 games. Then in his first season in Minnesota, Budinger fell victim to whatever blight was cast upon the roster of the 2012-’13 Timberwolves and missed 59 games after injuring his knee early on. Not just in Houston, Budinger rarely missed time in college as well, making the Timberwolves unlucky or Chase unable to handle the cold (*joke*).

And when he came back from his surgery he struggled to regain his form that he had in his final season in Houston. We knew there would be some bumps in his road to recovery and Budinger consequently contributed to another recurring theme of the Timberwolves season: poor shooting. In fact, as March turned to April and Chase’s minutes were extending, his production dropped off almost across the board.

Here’s a fun fact about Budinger: for his career he shoots .382 percent from three on the road and a much more average .331 percent at home. Same goes for field goal percentage, points, rebounds and assists per game– they’re all better on the road than at home. This is based on 116 career regular season home games and 117 career road games, so it’s a legitimate sample.

I wondered if it was just Target Center when I noticed that his road numbers were superior to his home numbers, but check this out:

  • In the 2010-’11 season while playing the Timberwolves in Houston, Budinger shot 2-7 (.286 percent) from the field, including 0-3 from three. A couple of months later the Rockets rolled into Minneapolis and he went 4-6 from the field and 3-5 from deep.
  • In February of that same season, the Timberwolves went back to Houston and Budinger struggled again at home, shooting just 1-5 from the floor and missed each three point attempt. So, what happened when the Timberwolves and Rockets met up on the last game of the season in Minnesota? Yep, 12-21 and made four of his eight three point attempts on top of that.
  • Rewinding things to his rookie season, Chase went 1-3 at home from the field but then shot .500 percent when the Rockets came to Target Center.

Apparently, the secret for Budinger to improve his shooting at home, at Target Center, is to have him play for the other team, which isn’t the best gameplan. Really, it’s kind of an interesting trend.

So, why is Chase Budinger ranked fifth here on T-wolf Rank? Because of what he is capable of doing and the assumption that last season was the outlier given his past performance and history of good health.

That’s why re-signing Budinger was a priority this offseason and was like the majority of their moves in that they were doing what was expected, or what they needed to. His contract is pretty fair at $16 million for the next three years, or $5.3 million per year, especially if he’s healthy and can shoot between 37 and higher consistently.

Want to take part? Look for one of us to tweet out who the next player will be and tweet us your thoughts on him using the #TwolfRank hashtag and we’ll throw your tweet in the post.

#TwolfRank: #8 Derrick Williams

Credit: LandmarkTemporary.com

Welcome to the second annual #TwolfRank. It’s one of our favorite times of the year, to say the least. Here is the seventh part in this roster-long series and we are officially halfway through. As always, you can follow Jonah (@howlintwolf), Tom (@Tom_NBA) and Derek (@DerekJamesNBA) on Twitter as well to partake in the fun.

I really can’t believe this is my first time writing about Derrick Williams this summer. Especially since I seemingly spent all last summer debating his weight and what fucking position he was going to playing during the upcoming season. Which of course went from me saying that I didn’t see him being a small forward now based on what I had seen, to what some interpreted as: “Why do u h8 him? He’s still young and can git better…looser!”

Which of course led to many exasperated sighs and facepalms as I had to explain that I was not holding a referendum on a player’s career after just one season, but that he wasn’t showing that he could be a small forward right now. I mean, small forwards typically have to shoot from distance, which he struggled to do in his rookie year and that’s all I had to go on. And at that time he looked like a better power forward, so that’s what I said and– my word, why was this so important to people anyway? If he’s good who cares where he plays?

I never said he could never, ever, ever be one no matter how hard he tried. Hell, he could become a firefighter, mailman or own a landscape company. Maybe he could even be a small forward. Or still a power forward.

It really became the epitome of an internet argument: I get asked a question about the present and give an answer about the present that magically morphs into a conversation about what Derrick will be doing in five years. It’s like the summer heat had gotten to everyone, causing a surge in heat stroke cases as reading comprehension levels plummeted.

I’m not saying that it wasn’t my comprehension that was in question, either, because it’s entirely possible.

And stop telling me young players get better, because I know that. Besides, that wasn’t even the question.

Really, I had no idea and neither did the people asking me had no idea if he’ll ever be one. But that stopped no one from wanting to launch a full-scale debate over it. The funny thing is that I spoke to Demetri McCamey who was on the Timberwolves’ summer league team and he re-buffed me when I asked if he was a point guard, shooting guard or combo guard. His answer: They, positions, don’t matter– it’s all basketball. You may enter a set at a certain spot, but as the play unfurls, your role changes. And, consequently, shooting guards, power forwards, small forwards…etc. all become irrelevant and things like Basketball IQ and a player’s ability to adapt to the game situation become far more important.

Anyway, Derrick’s rookie season left us with more questions than answers, which is not exactly what you want out of a number two overall pick.

The first question was his shooting, and really his ability to shoot efficiently from anywhere. No, really:

Williams 12

Courtesy of basketball-reference.com

As you can see he struggled as a rookie from everywhere. Remember, .632 percent at the rim only sounds high; league average is typically right around .700 percent. Most of Williams’ struggles were attributable to him being as to dribble or create a shot for himself in any manner. Which is also usually a characteristic of an NBA small forward, as well as being able to stretch the floor. And as a result he barely managed to eke out a .400% field goal percentage — which is still bad for a power forward, even, if we’re still talking about positions — in addition to not being able to shoot .300 percent from three.

In season two we needed to see some improvement for Williams for the good of the team, and it came, as incrementally as possible.

Williams 13

Courtesy of basketball-reference.com

The first thing that immediately stands out is the fact that he managed to shoot a lower field goal percentage within three feet of the rim despite taking 100 more attempts from that spot, which is impressive in its own way. He even managed to get worse from within 3-10 feet of the hoop which, again, is amazing since these are supposed to be higher percentage, ergo, easier shots.

You’d be more upset if he didn’t improve his midrange game up to a respectable near-forty percent, up from barely-thirty in his rookie season. The same thing for the next two spots– improvement — most notably his three point percentage from year 1 to year 2. All of this is good and encouraging for a player with aspirations of being a perimeter player someday. Except the missing shots within three feet of the basket thing; quit bricking dunks!

And did you notice?

I know you saw it.

You didn’t? I mentioned it earlier.

Yes, that!

Last season the Timberwolves figured that less of Derrick handling the ball and being asked to make something happen with that ball, the better. A lot more of his shots were assisted in his sophomore year, and I mean a lot– in some cases 20-30 percent, especially from 16 ft.-<3pt. This means that Derrick was employed as a catch-and-shoot player instead of being a creator. On top of that Derrick also did well as a cutter and in transition, managing to be efficient and keep the offense moving. Basically this is a nice way of saying that he played best when he played within the offense, which is like calling a quarterback a game manager. It’s a compliment, even if a little backhanded.

In fact, in Isolation plays last season, Williams shot just .295 percent and just a 0.64 points per possessions  in such situations (per MySynergySports.com), ranking 182 in the NBA. Even in post-ups, he managed a 0.71 PPP and made just a third of his shots, good for 132 in the entire league.

Even the fact that Derrick was asked to create less this season led to a slightly lower Turnover Percentage despite winding up with a higher Usage Rating. Ball-handling is another area he will have to continue to improve upon, but in the mean time he can still be used effectively in other ways that ISO’s and Post-Ups. This is perhaps the most encouraging sign for a player who had efficiency concerns coming into the season and hopefully this trend will carry into year three.

To review, Derrick passively involved in the offense, good; Derrick actively involved, not-so-good. Yet, anyway.

The other issue was his defense, which he worked hard to address in the offseason and it wound up paying off. No matter which category it is, Derrick just about improved in all of them, according to Synergy. As a rookie, he had a 0.89 ppp against Isolations, which became a 0.70 last season. He also improved in hand-offs and both pick ‘n roll man and ball handler situations. As a whole he dropped his ppp from 0.95 to 0.91, which is notable improvement.

Although points per possession is not kind to Williams in the post, his post defense last season is actually defensible, no pun intended. There was a slight uptick in that metric as a whole and his Defensive Rating showed little if any improvement, but it reflects in his Defensive Win Shares as well as the court. See, with the plethora of injuries the team suffered, Williams was often asked to guard bigger and more athletic players, like the Detroit’s Greg Monroe. This is problematic because no matter how much you try, it will be tough if you’re less athletic, shorter and weaker than the person backing you down. And often times Williams would body up his opponent on the block properly only to have them back him down and flip the ball in over his head. The team tried to send help, but that’s risky to do for an entire game and tough to do when you send that help after the opponent picks up his dribble. Really, that’s a matchup that Williams shouldn’t have to see again unless there are more injuries, which there shouldn’t be.

Williams made some good strides last season, certainly more deserving of this ranking. Still, he hasn’t truly carved out a role yet, but it appears he’s something. Whether he’s a power or small forward not only doesn’t matter too much, but it’s also way too early to tell. While Williams needs to continue to improve the things he did last season, he needs to continue to do so while also improving his other weaknesses. For now, #8 is fair for Williams for now. Maybe not for always, but for now.

#TwolfRank Comments:

@OmidFerdowsi: @DerekJamesNBA Some lions need more time than others to adapt to their new environment. I think he’s finally adapted to his and is ready.

@88mugsy88: @DerekJamesNBA he can dunk two handed, not one handed though

@88mugsy88: @DerekJamesNBA he likes shoes

@Moesquare: @DerekJamesNBA He has a D in his name, and D is for Dunk

#TwolfRank: #11 Alexey Shved

Source: AWolfAmongWolves.com

Welcome to the second annual #TwolfRank. It’s one of our favorite times of the year, to say the least. I bring you the third part in this roster-long series.  As always, you can follow Tom (@Tom_NBA), Jonah (@howlintwolf) and Derek (@DerekJamesNBAon Twitter as well to partake in the fun.

I think it’s safe to say that Alexey Shved’s rookie season didn’t wind up being what we or himself initially thought it would be. As a result, Shved’s performance turned into a source of frustration for fans and the rookie himself. And unfortunately we saw the side of Shved that we were afraid of and the one that Shved worked so hard to improve himself.

See, because of injuries Shved was asked to take on a larger role than anyone originally expected him to, and when things went sour, so did Shved. And it’s not entirely unfounded.

No, no I’m not condoning pouting, but Shved hit his rookie wall, and hit it hard.

See, in December Shved shot .420 and .355 percent from the floor and three on his way to averages of 11.4 points per game and 5.8 assists per game. I know what you were thinking at the time. You were thinking, “Oh, what a great sign from a rookie 27 games into his career! What a steal!”

Then, unfortunately for Shved, the rest of the NBA figured him out quickly and his minutes dwindled as his production did. Seriously. He never shot above .400 percent from the floor for the rest of the season, and only shot over .300 percent from three again once, when he shot .300 from distance in April. Before we knew it the once promising start was beginning to look like an anomaly, or a flash in the pan. Was it the attitude? Was it his smallish frame? Both?

However, it wasn’t all doom and gloom as soon as the calendar rolled from 2012 to 2013.

Shved still managed to finish fourth — third if you don’t count Brandon Roy — on the team in Assist Percentage, demonstrating a willingness to set up teammates while also posting a near-average Usage Rate. Additionally, although his efficiency at the rim may have been perfectly average, it was still his best floor shooting spot, which may or may not be a good thing after all.

The answer for Shved may be to take on a smaller role– which he will. Well, so long as Shabazz Muhammad, the player ranked one spot below Shved in #TwolfRank, can prove to be a productive contributor. If each player can help each other adapt to the NBA slowly,the team will be better for it. If they both falter…I…I…don’t want to think about that right now. When you think about it, the Timberwolves don’t actually have much of a choice with their bench guards than to put their faith in two young players with questions concerning their maturity.

With the Timberwolves mass-injury troubles hopefully behind them, they can finally bring Shved along at the more deliberate pace they intended to last season. If a smaller role can bring back December Shved while simultaneously boosting his confidence long-term, Shved could possibly ascend up this list sooner rather than later. As for now, there are questions about which Shved is the real Shved, and how much more a 24 year old guard can improve since young guards mature quicker than bigs.  I’m not saying he can’t improve, especially since there is an adjustment period from Europe to the NBA, but historically, guards are approaching their apex at his age, which would be troubling if this is near Shved’s.

Sometimes, it’s important to — HERE COME THE CLICHES — walk before you can run! Take baby steps! Less is more! Actually, “less is more” is a good one to keep in mind with Shved, because that may just be the key to re-unleashing December Shved once again. Or better, because I’m too excited about average production.

#TwolfRank: #14 Gorgui Dieng

Photo: TwinCities.com

Welcome to the second annual  #TwolfRank. It’s one of our favorite times of the year, to say the least. Here is the first installment in the series.  As always, you can follow Jonah (@howlintwolf) Derek (@DerekJamesNBA) and Tom (@Tom_NBA) on Twitter as well to partake in the fun.

Gorgui Dieng is ranked this low because, well, he isn’t expected to be making meaningful contributions to this team this season. And with the way this roster is built, that’s just fine, but the future is certainly what matters as far as Dieng goes. Really, this isn’t a bad thing, and although the Timberwolves are hard up for depth behind Nikola Pekovic, they will survive a 2-3 developmental years for Dieng.

At 6’11 and 245 pounds, he has the tools to matter someday. In college, he excelled in offensive efficiency, defensively ability, and on the boards, so he has the ability to become Pekovic’s backup someday as long as he develops properly. I mean, he may not be ready today, but there’s a reason the team invested a first round pick in the guy.

Until Dieng is ready, the Timberwolves will continue to feed themselves on short term deals for journeymen centers to solidify the backup center position. Perhaps a stint in the D-League, which Flip Saunders is a major proponent of, would benefit Dieng better than watching Pekovic and Ronnie Turiaf play ahead of him. Because no team with serious playoff expectations ever really gives a developing center major burn– those things just don’t go together.

What’s encouraging is that Dieng was still the same efficient player he was in college from the field and at the line during summer league, despite averaging 3.5 fouls and 2.2 turnovers in 15 minutes per game. But that’s what young players are supposed to do in places like summer league. Landing in Minnesota as a whole will be great for him because he can be brought along slowly instead of being thrown right into the wolves (excuse me.)

For now, Dieng is number 14 — last — but the idea is that he eventually ascends at least a few slots higher.

 

 

@OmidFerdowsi: @DerekJamesNBA I think he has the skill set to be like Ibaka. I see a lot of upside for him on both ends of the floor.

Want to take part? Look for one of us to tweet out who the next player will be and tweet us your thoughts on him using the #TwolfRank hashtag and we’ll throw your tweet in the post.