Tagged: Shabazz Muhammad

THIS IS WHY YOU NEED TWO CENTERS: Timberwolves thrash Lakers 143-107

Follower screencapped me intently following my Twitter game.
Follower screencapped me intently following my Twitter game.

I don’t even know how to start this recap. I mean, how much is there really to talk about with a 36-point win. Really, the story of one quarter is the same as the next quarter, and the next quarter, and so on. We knew coming in the Timberwolves were the favorites, especially with Pau Gasol sitting out, and they backed that up. However, this doesn’t make for much of a story. Here were some follower ideas for a recap:

(Be glad I forgot about this idea. If I were to re-write this, I’d do this.)

 

 

Out of the gate, the Timberwolves set the tone with their frontcourt. Nikola Pekovic, playing his first game back after rehabbing his ankle bursitis, came out with 12 points in just 7:43 seconds of playing time on 4/4 shooting. Kevin Love did as well, with 12 points and five points, including 3/5 from three. Minnesota shot 65 percent, scored 41 points and held the Lakers to 24 points.

The throttling continued into the second when the Timberwolves padded their lead in part to a 12/19 shooting quarter, but also a five-minute scoreless stretch by Los Angeles. Things were so bad for the Lakers that Nick Young was their leading scorer with 11 points, but it took him nine shots to get there. Yet, the worst part was that I had Daily Dime duty and had to try to seem like an objective observer. But do you know how hard that is when the other team is so terrible?! I really was trying to be fair, but the only consolation I could find for the Lakers was that no one else got hurt.

You know the most exciting part of the third? Not even the fact that they scored 34 points in the quarter — just nine fewer than they had in the first half — but that their scoring was highlighted by Kent Bazemore’s 4/4 shooting. Yeah, that’s it. For the Timberwolves, Kevin Love notched his second career triple-double, and also became the first Timberwolf to do in under 30 minutes. To put it in simple terms: he was the Domino’s of gawdy stats. Or a better pizza place…either way; Love finished with 22 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

Perhaps the weirdest thing was the Timberwolves’ shaky bench not only holding a lead, but building on it. The Lakers porous defense and penchant for contested midrange jumpers on offense made it easy for the reserves to continue to push the lead into the 30′s and even 40′s. When it was all said and done, we witnessed history. The Timberwolves’ 143 points were a franchise record for points in a regulation game. On top of that their point total and shooting percentage (67) were the highest in the NBA all year.

After the game Adelman praised the team’s energy and felt everyone had a solid game, which is always a good thing. Really, this was the perfect way to follow-up Wednesday night’s blowout of the Hawks: with another blowout.

“Wait. I thought you capitalized the title for a reason, but you only mentioned one center? Do your job!” 

Easy. I was working towards that.

It’s been the latest #hotsportstake around these parts to talk about trading Pekovic in favor of starting Gorgui Dieng without really having any real reason whatsoever. I wrote about it on Monday for Hardwood Paroxysm, but can rehash my main points quickly: 1) Good teams have depth and now they do, so why not keep them; 2) Dieng and Pekovic are not redundant skill-wise, so why not keep them; 3) We haven’t seen nearly enough of Dieng to know that he can be consistent, but we know Pekovic will. Then there’s a fourth that Steve McPherson of A Wolf Among Wolves brought up, and that’s the fact that they will cost roughly $14 million dollars combined for the next three years; that’s a bargain.

Tonight we saw each player showcase their strengths. Dieng had 14 points, nine rebounds and a block. Yet, he had five fouls in 22 minutes because he struggled at times to get in the right position. Pekovic on the other hand finished with 26 points on 9/10 shooting and three rebounds. In almost exactly the same amount of time he finished with two fewer fouls. The two players scored in their different ways– Pekovic with his brute strength and Dieng by taking advantage of easy looks.

The Timberwolves are undoubtedly better with both players, and again, no one is making them choose between them! I don’t know if it’s because we’ve been subjected to so many terrible teams and we’re just not used to having nice things, but this is what good teams have. Playoff teams need depth, and while they may not be one this year, they will have the postseason as a goal next season. This is literally what the team has been searching for as long as I can remember and now they have it, so they’re not going to break that up.

While Pekovic may deal with his nagging injuries, it’s nice to know that Dieng could be a reliable spot starter in that event. That way a guy like Ronny Turiaf is now your third center, but also a viable backup for a few games. See, this is how injuries don’t derail your season. It’s awful, I know, having two good players, but we’ll just have to make the best of it.

“I think his experience, playing, it’s going to help him,” said Adelman after the game. “I think he has some confidence and the guys are getting more confident that they can throw him the ball at the basket and he’s going to make it.”

From the sounds of it, Adelman is also okay with having two good players at the same position. This should go without saying, but it gives a coach options and avoids any drop-off at the position when one goes to the bench. When you can alternate between two players who are efficient, can rebound and play proficient defense in their own way, you are in an advantageous position.

Anyway, why don’t I touch on some other things.

- Shabazz Muhammad didn’t check in until the game was well within hand with seven minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, but when he did he played well. Muhammad went 4/4 from the floor for nine points, and scored from all areas of the floor including three; the midrange; and even a Dwyane Wade-esque tear-drop floater while driving baseline. Some lamented his late check-in to the game, but it really didn’t matter when Adelman put him in.

- The Timberwolves committed 21 turnovers to the Lakers’ eight, but won by 36. This is atypical of a team in this game but they made up for it by dominating the second-chance and points in the paint battles.

- There were zero lead changes. The Lakers’ biggest lead was…zero. Conversely, the Timberwolves’ was 41. Tonight’s only tie was at tip-off when it was 0-0. Yeah, the Lakers are bad.

- Tangent: All of this talk about the Timberwolves having to prove to Love that this will be the best shot at his long-term success, but nothing about the Lakers having to prove that they will be good again any time soon? Obviously acquiring Love would speed up that process, but they need more pieces to go with him still. Yeah, his parents and girlfriend live there, and he went to school there, so there are ties, but you would think that this has to come up. Also, “But the Lakers always find a way!” is not a real argument; it’s a seven-word revisionist history on the Lakers’ track record.

- Ricky Rubio’s steal tonight was his 175th of the season, tying Ty Corbin’s record set in the ’89-’90 season.

- If you don’t high-five kids when you come out of the tunnel, you’re a terrible person. Also if you don’t share the media room M&M’s.

There’s a Time and Place for Everything: This Was Neither

You’ve probably heard by now that Timberwolves rookie Shabazz Muhammad was kicked out of the NBA’s rookie program for having a female visitor, as we’ll word it. Which I suppose is relieving to know that it’s not drugs or anything, but it’s still not allowed, and still gets you kicked out. For someone who has been as scrutinized as Shabazz has the last year or so, this was exactly the type of thing that he didn’t need.

It’s not that he had a woman in his room; he is a 20 year old, after all. It’s the fact that he broke a pretty simple rule to understand. I think the other ones are no drugs, no weapons, no fighting or leaving the toilet seat up. Okay, I might have made that last one up…

To his skeptics this is exactly what they were waiting for– Muhammad to do something that could be taken as a distraction. To those following the team, this is a welcome break in a relatively unexciting offseason (Kidding!) And for those who supported Muhammad and believed he had wised up, they’re frustrated.

From everything that I’ve read and watched on Muhammad, he’s not a bad person by any means. In a lot of ways he’s undergoing the same growth that all of is did at that age just on a much bigger platform where each indiscretion is amplified one hundred fold. But still, he broke a simple rule that wouldn’t be a big deal if he literally did it anywhere else but here. Lesson learned: even the small rules are important.

This is one of those things that doesn’t feel like a big deal, but is a big enough deal to be talking about. I mean, was it really worth the likely-inevitable fine coming and having to answer these questions up until training camp starts? Couldn’t you just wait? (Well, maybe not. I guess I don’t really know.) This is one of those things they talk about staying out of your own way since this is entirely preventable.

One way or the other Shabazz got an idea how the NBA works whether or not he stayed for the entire program. Which I think is actually a pretty clever dual, either way, lesson for the NBA to pass on to incoming players.

Shabazz gets booted from NBA Rookie Symposium

Muhammad the chick magnet

I’m a little late to the party here but the news is certainly worth mentioning.

Via ESPN:

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Shabazz Muhammad has been sent home from the NBA’s Rookie Transition Program, the team confirmed Wednesday.

USA Today reported Muhammad was dismissed for violating a rule by bringing a female guest into his hotel room. Muhammad also will be fined, according to the report.

“We have been made aware of the circumstances surrounding Shabazz Muhammad’s dismissal from the NBA’s Rookie Transition Program in New Jersey,” Wolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders said. “The team fully supports the NBA’s rules and policies in all matters pertaining to this situation, and we will abide by the league’s action.”

The four-day program, held in Florham Park, N.J., helps rookies get anointed into the league through a series of seminars, instructions and guest speakers. Nearly 50 rookies or players are participating in the program, which ends Friday.

The report stated that just hours before Muhammad was sent home, players were given rules for the program, which included no guests unless approved by administrators.

That’s just downright hilarious. I mean, I understand the seriousness in the situation, like the fact that this symposium could very well help dictate a young professional’s life, such as Muhammad’s. But as an occasionally inappropriate, immature 20-something myself, I completely understand. Plus, wasn’t he just filling his manly desires to spend a nice, quiet evening in the company of a woman?

Hopefully this isn’t a glimpse into what could be a massive headache for Rick Adelman, Flip Saunders and company, though. Muhammad is known to have attitude issues despite his “gym rat” mentality. He’s the kind of privileged player that will take instances like this for granted and neglect to correct the behavior. Or perhaps he’ll be so embarrassed by the whole fiasco, he’ll take the time to realize his mistake and only work harder to cover up the blemish this will leave heading into his rookie season.

We’ll have to wait and see if this has any short-term effects on his standing as a teammate and future asset to this franchise, but for now, this is just pretty much comical. Well, at least for me it is.

What Happened in Vegas: They Lost (And Game Preview)

This game was pretty forgettable as a whole. On the brightside they’re 0-2 against the D-League Select but 2-1 against everyone else. Really,  no one outside of Chris Johnson really stood out and was terrific at getting to the line again. Othyus Jeffers was pretty good still and so was John Holland, but no one else really stood out.

Robbie Hummel went 2-7. Welp.

Shabazz Muhammad shot 25 percent from the field tonight and some people are clamoring for his retirement. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but I’m pretty sure he didn’t peak yesterday. Or at least I hope not. That wouldn’t be good.

Can we get more than four summer league games before holding a referendum on a player’s career?

No? Okayfinethenwhatever.

Really, you have to give the Select team some credit. They’re undefeated and beat the Timberwolves for the second time in five days, in part because they forced them into shooting 33.8 percent from the field and 26.7 percent from three. Despite also cutting back on their turnovers considerably, they still got beat on the glass, 47-38. Enabling the Select team to grab so many more defensive rebounds enabled them to prevent the Timberwolves getting any second chance points and also keeping them from building more momentum.

It may not have mattered if they had gotten more second chance opportunities given how the entire team struggled shooting, but it could have also given them some rhythm, which they desperately needed.

You Mean I Get a Preview, too? What Value!

Consequently, the Timberwolves will play the Portland Traiblazers team in the consolation bracket instead of the championship bracket. Which is a little unfortunate because it won’t start until 9:30pm central and I have no idea where it will air; NBA TV or ESPN 3 would be my guesses, though.

As for the Blazers, they lost again as well yesterday, this time to the Suns, giving them a 1-4 record. C.J. McCollum has starred for the Blazers with averages of 21 points per game, 4.0 rebounds per game and 3.4 assists for the the rookie guard (His averages are much more impressive if you don’t look at this shooting efficiency.) The Blazers are full of players like McCollum who have nice averages, like Will Barton and Thomas Robinson, but have not reached those marks efficiently.

I will not be there for this one since I will be in the air during game time on my way back to Minneapolis, which is disappointing because this week has been a blast. But you can still follow me on Twitter anyway and use other Timberwolves people who will be in attendance and giving live updates.

 

Happening in Vegas: Timberwolves vs D-League Select Preview

Well, it looks like our heroes have finally found that consistency in being able to play a complete game and not just three quarters after winning two straight games. It’s also no coincidence that Shabazz Muhammad played well as the Timberwolves rolled the Kings last night 92-54. From top-to-bottom the Wolves got valuable contributions from all over their roster.

The Timberwolves let their first game against the Select team get away from them as the D-League got off to an undefeated start. A big reason that game got away was the crazy amount of turnovers the Timberwolves committed that gave the Select team life after a slow start of their own, but they curbed them yesterday and won big time. The Select froncourt with be a source of contention for the Timberwolves given the production of Mickell Gladness and Darnell Jackson to this point. Additionally, Elijah Millsap, brother of Paul Millsap, is a 6-6 guard who is second on the team in scoring.

Tonight’s game is at 5:30pm and if they win they play the winner of Bobcats-Grizzlies at 5pm Saturday instead of the loser of Suns-Blazers on Friday at 7:30pm.

Once again, follow @DerekJamesNBA for live-tweets from media row and look for the recap following the game.

Happening in Vegas: Oh, We’re Playing Again Today

The tough thing about being in Las Vegas to cover summer league is that, for starter’s, you don’t know how long you’re going to have to cover a team, and secondly, after the preliminary games you don’t know when that team is playing. Fast forward to this morning and that’s exactly what happened to me when I awoke to the updated schedule. So, today is game day with the Timberwolves playing the Kings at 7pm CST. I highly doubt this will be televised, so I would recommend keeping Twitter close if you’d like to follow the game, though I’m sure it will re-air later on.

For going 1-2 in pool play the Timberwolves earned the 13th seed, which is second of all teams with the same record and differentiated by things like quarter-by-quarter scoring (You get points in the tournament for things like wins, obviously, but a half point for things like winning quarters, which the Wolves have; they’ve just blown a couple of late leads, which is somewhat advantageous.) The winner of this game will play the undefeated D-League Select team at 7:30 CST tomorrow evening.

The Select team was the team that also defeated the Timberwolves in their first game.

Ben McLemore is of course a player of interest for the Kings. However, before yesterday’s terrific perormance McLemore look lost; you could almost say he bough his game at a “Thrift Shop”…eh….eh? No? Okay then.

Ray McCallum has also looked good for the Kings. The guard has shot .444 percent through three games with averages of 14.3 points , 4.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game.

As for the Timberwolves, they will need better from Shabazz Muhammad after yesterday’s win despite their victory. It looked like one of those days where nothing you throw up goes in, so this could very well be a return to the Shabazz that we saw against the Suns on Saturday.

I’m also counting on a Robbie Hummel redemption game today, as well as more strong play by Chris Johnson.

Additionally, while the Timberwolves have done a good job forcing turnovers, they really need to curb their own turnover issues. Through three games they are averaging 23 turnovers per game, which is in credible; the team finished with 28 alone yesterday. If they hope to play more games, enabling them to give their prospects more reps to grow with, then they need to take care of the ball better. Minnesota has lost momentum in each of their last games by giving up a couple of turnovers where the other team turns them around for easy baskets, and suddenly that once dormant team has found new life. Even things like Solomon Jones having three illegal screens on Saturday count and matter. In fact, Jones averaging 3.0 turnovers per game in 13 minutes per game is a big part of the problem, but he’s also far from the only one.

This may sound like a lot of thought put into a summer league, but it’s actually important. It matters to the Timberwolves and their future to get their prospects the developmental reps and it matters to the fringe players who aren’t just trying to woo NBA teams, but also those that are trying to impress D-League and overseas scouts also in attendance. So for guys like Lorenzo Brown, Demetri McCamey and John Holland, these games are huge for them, so that makes them a little more interesting.

Anyway, Timberwolves-Kings at 7pm CST. You can always follow along as I live-tweet from Cox Pavilion from @DerekJamesNBA or check the site following the game for my recap.

What Happened in Vegas: Timberwolves-Heat Recap

Evidently the third time is the charm as the Timberwolves finally earned a summer league victory with an 80-79 victory over the Miami Heat. Normally when you commit 28 turnovers you should have no business winning, but the Heat committed 20 of their own that, when combined with their subpar shooting, kept them from getting back into this game.

Shabazz Muhammad struggled shooting once again, going 3-10 from the field including a few missed hooks off of the basket. Shabazz clearly wants to be a dynamic inside-out player, but in order to do so he is going to have to convert those high percentage looks. Perhaps some that can be attributed to nerves or just typical ups and downs, but no matter what the Timberwolves will need him to hit those looks.

Gorgui Dieng looked better than yesterday, shooting 4-5 for six points and five rebounds. The Timberwolves still had a frustrating habit of leaving Dieng at the top of the key with the ball with no other player movement, leaving Dieng with two options that don’t play to his strengths: take the jumper or attempt to drive the rim. Typically these plays have ended in a turnover or a forced pass. It would’ve been nice to see more activity and communication in these sets because it seems like they stop running the play as soon as Dieng receives the ball. And I can promise that is not the play call.

Demetri McCamey (who played well yesterday) and John Holland started and gave meaningful contributions as the Wolves took the victory.

After a strong summer league to that point, Robbie Hummel struggled; shooting 1-5 and just three points, although he did manage to bring in seven rebounds.

After the Timberwolves nearly let a lead slip away last night but learned from their game last night by not letting their mistakes mount. For instance, if they committed a turnover they would turn around and force one or get a stop on the next possession– mitigating the consequences all together. Or they would miss a shot, but instead of getting frustrating they would go right back to the same player and the same spot to make it. It’s called having a short memory and not allowing the previous play to affect the future of the game. It’s a trait of team maturity, which feels weird to talk about while referring to a summer league game, but it can absolutely make the difference between a win and a loss as it did today.

This only matters if the members of this summer league team that will play next season for the Timberwovles carry this over to 2014. At the least, it’s encouraging, and will be needed given the various improvements many NBA teams have made, especially those in their own conference.