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Timber…Wolves

Essentials

  • Teams: Minnesota Timberwolves (24-44) at Detroit Pistons (24-47)
  • Date: March 26, 2013
  • Time: 7:30 p.m.
  • Television: FSD

What to look for

After earning huge praise for their moves during the offseason, the Minnesota Timberwolves have disappointed.

It was assumed that Rick Adelman would get the club in position to contend for a playoff spot given the talent he had on board. Couple that with his offensive schemes and it seemed like a foregone conclusion his group would be hovering somewhere around the eighth or ninth seed in the Western Conference standings throughout the season.

Ah, but injuries are the great equalizer.

Kevin Love — one of the best power forwards in the league — has missed the majority of the season. Their stud point guard Ricky Rubio missed a third of the campaign, thus robbing Minnesota of their top playmaker.

There was a little hope that Brandon Roy would be a solid and productive player for the Wolves, but quite frankly his stay in Minnesota has been awfully reminiscent of his last few seasons in Portland.

As a Trail Blazer, Roy was forced into retirement because of injuries.

Granted, every team in the league deals with players missing time because of health concerns, but in the case of Adelman, he’s been forced into coaching this season without his best players.

Consequently, one of the most gifted offensive minds in the league is stuck with an offense producing 99.4 points per 100 possessions. That figure is in the bottom five of the Association.

It’s quite perplexing to see them rank so low statistically given all of the things the team does in terms of sets and plays. The Wolves start two point guards in Rubio and Luke Ridnour, which is good for ball movement.

Adelman runs plays with a lot of counters and misdirection, which tends to fool defenses. The constant movement of players makes just about every a player a threat on each possession.

They will run some screen-the-screener action and then follow that up with pick-and-rolls, which gets defenders completely discombobulated. Combine Rubio’s incredible court vision and flair for passing and this team has some serious highlight potential.

There’s just one problem: these guys can’t shoot.

The one constant the Wolves can count on is Nikola Pekovic on the interior. He is a bruising talent that tends to move players. Rumor has it, he once posted up the Equator and moved it further down south by virtue of his superior strength.

He is great in the paint and around the rim. The rest of his teammates though, not so much.

Hence, scoring is quite a chore for this team.

They are an average unit defensively at best. That would have been sufficient for the group to contend for a postseason berth with an above average scoring, but the absence of shooting and talent has torpedoed the offense and consequently the season.

The Wolves have broken the 90-point barrier (!) in four of their past 10 games. That’s hardly a recipe for success in the NBA and not so coincidentally, they have been victorious three times during that same stretch.

It’s sad to watch the Wolves and simply wonder what could have been if not for health.

Read about the Timberwolves

A Wolf Among Wolves.

38 Comments

  • Mar 26, 20136:35 pm
    by gmehl

    Reply

    Yeah i think apart from the Lakers the TWolves are probably the most disappointing/underachieving team this season even if its mainly due to injuries. If Kevin Love wasn’t so injury prone then i’d jump on the trade Monroe for Love train but his health is a worry for me. Love and Drummond together would be a formidable front line which i feel would be a better pairing than Monroe/Drummond. I guess me saying this is a bit short sighted seeming Monroe and Drummond have hardly played together but i’m just off the fact that Monroe hasn’t shown a consistant midrange game which i feel is key to the 2 of them pairing well.

    • Mar 26, 20137:48 pm
      by oats

      Reply

      Monroe has to be aware of how much that mid range shot would open up not only his offense, but also how much it could help his pairing with Drummond. There is absolutely no way the team either hasn’t talked to him about that, or if they haven’t that they won’t do so before this off season. Adding range is actually a pretty common improvement for a young player, and Monroe is a decent free throw shooter. I’m reasonably confident he could get up to about average on that mid range shot, which is probably enough for him to be effective when paired with Drummond.
       
      I feel like pointing out that Monroe’s passing is a large part of why that mid range shot isn’t as big of a deal as people think. He can pass out of the high post, and that is enough to force people to come out to him. Drummond could also be used as a cutter from that high post spot, similar to how the Clippers have used Griffin and Jordan before Griffin started hitting that shot at a reasonable rate. Monroe won’t need to become a knock down shooter, I think a merely average mid range jumper would be enough.

      • Mar 26, 20138:31 pm
        by gmehl

        Reply

        That mid range shot I feel should be the difference between him getting a max or close to max contract (from us). The problem with Monroe’s shooting stroke/style is that when he takes a jump shot he is very flat footed kind of like how you’d shoot a free throw. When you shoot like that the ball will more often than not either: 1) rim out due to a low arc due to lack of elevation 2) come off the back of the rim hard due to lack of elevation. Unless his shot goes straight in (swish) then most of the time his shot is not soft enough to drop or bounce around and in. Can Monroe ever develop a consistent jump shot? I hope so and if we do decide to re-sign him then he better or else we’ll be screwed.

        • Mar 26, 20138:38 pm
          by oats

          Reply

          I think he gets a max deal regardless. He’s this productive at this age, you just can’t let him go for nothing. He’s restricted, so if no one else offers him a max deal then Detroit might not need to do it to keep him. That said, if someone offers him the max then Detroit has to match it even if he hasn’t added that mid range shot by next season.

          • Mar 26, 20139:15 pm
            by gmehl

            “I think he gets a max deal regardless”

            Oh I totally agree but if he doesn’t develop that mid-range shot then we are stuck with a guy on a max deal that might be hard too move via trade if he doesn’t end up fitting with Drummond. Roy Hibbert got a max deal and if he stops them from going to the next level how do you think they’ll go moving him?? It’s definitely something to be concerned about.

          • Mar 26, 20139:43 pm
            by oats

            A young defensive anchor? They’d be able to move Hibbert just fine. Same with Detroit if Monroe doesn’t get much better. At least through his first post rookie deal Monroe will continue to get a decent return even if he doesn’t get considerably better.

  • Mar 26, 20137:35 pm
    by Blocks by Dre

    Reply

    The only thing I want to look for is a way into the top 3 of the draft. If that means losing the rest of our games so be it. btw not sure if its just me, but I’m not really interested in us acquiring Shabazz in the draft. I think he’s highly overrated To be honest. Good scorer but nothing else. Add that to him being a selfish player and I rather us go after Porter, McLemore, Oladipo or Burke.

    • Mar 26, 20137:57 pm
      by oats

      Reply

      Muhammad’s 3 point shooting has been steadily dropping, and he’s looking more and more like an inefficient chucker. I’d go further than those guys though. I have Noel, Bennet, Harris, and even Poythress ahead of him right now. So no, it’s not just you.

      • Mar 26, 20138:25 pm
        by tarsier

        Reply

        I’d put Poythress and Harris on the same tier with Shabazz. The particular order between them is  pretty fluid. I’d probably take Muhammad over Harris, though, just because he fills a position of greater need.

        • Mar 26, 20138:41 pm
          by oats

          Reply

          He’s in the same tier, but I have him as the back end of it. I’m also not convinced he’s a small forward, which means he doesn’t necessarily fill a bigger position of need. Harris is the far superior defender, and I would project him as the better 3 point shooter so I think he fits the team needs better than Muhammad.

          • Mar 26, 20138:58 pm
            by tarsier

            He pretty much looks like a generic wing. These days, there are more of those SG/SFs than there are SGs or SFs.

          • Mar 26, 20139:06 pm
            by tarsier

            And Harris certainly has the higher floor. But Muhammad’s ceiling is significantly higher. however, I doubt the comparison will ever be relevant because Shabazz is probably off the board well before Harris, someone will be suckered into thinking he’s the next Carmelo.

          • Mar 26, 20139:57 pm
            by oats

            Eh, Harris has a reasonably high ceiling. He’s a good enough athlete that he could still develop a penetration game, and that would also open up his passing a bit, which combined with knock down shooting and top notch defense makes for a really good player. Think a more athletic Afflalo. That’s Afflalo in Denver since his shooting has been down on that awful Orlando team. I see Shabazz having a ceiling as somewhere around Rudy Gay, which is not much better than what I just described for Harris.

          • Mar 27, 20139:41 am
            by tarsier

            I agree with your comparisons, but before this season, Gay has been excellent. A lot better than Afflalo.

            Afflalo in the lottery just isn’t good value. 

    • Mar 26, 20138:00 pm
      by oats

      Reply

      Sorry, I forgot Smart. Both Noel and Smart probably have more value to someone else than Detroit so hopefully a trade can happen, but I just like them both more than Muhammad.

  • Mar 26, 20138:42 pm
    by oats

    Reply

    Monroe’s playing pretty well, but man I can’t wait until he no longer gets matched up on guys like Pekovic. That is an awful match up for him defensively.

    • Mar 26, 201310:00 pm
      by oats

      Reply

      Nice of Monroe to shoot terribly in the second half and make my complement of him look worse. Still, 12 rebounds and 4 steals. I’m still looking forward to him not matching up on guys like Pekovic.

  • Mar 26, 20138:54 pm
    by haydzzz

    Reply

    perimeter defense, perimeter defense, perimeter defense….

  • Mar 26, 20139:10 pm
    by tarsier

    Reply

    Well, this is looking like a loss. Good stuff.

    • Mar 26, 20139:21 pm
      by gmehl

      Reply

      And for some silly reason there i thought we had a chance to win this game. Seriously though i think a lot of teams in the lottery don’t care if Detroit picks above them because they will be after Center’s or PF’s.

  • Mar 26, 20139:12 pm
    by Al

    Reply

    Wow…. I think they just gave up in the 3rd qtr smh

  • Mar 26, 20139:13 pm
    by Lorenzo

    Reply

    Some heads might need to roll…laying down like this over and over is unacceptable.

    • Mar 26, 20139:26 pm
      by gmehl

      Reply

      I can think of a couple of names

  • Mar 26, 20139:17 pm
    by haydzzz

    Reply

    Its funny because at the start of the season Tom Gores was thinking playoffs, i wonder what hes thinking now hahaha

  • Mar 26, 20139:21 pm
    by Blocks by Dre

    Reply

    We are getting destroyed out there…I think it’s safe to say EVERYONE deserves an A for helping us get a higher draft pick! Thanks guys!

  • Mar 26, 20139:33 pm
    by Brandon Knight

    Reply

    What a waste of time watching this game. I hate frank!…. at least have Monroe and Knight on the floor. SMH

    • Mar 26, 20139:38 pm
      by Brandon Knight

      Reply

       Monroe, Knight and Drummond are the only ones that you can watch and enjoy on this team.

      • Mar 27, 201312:28 am
        by tarsier

        Reply

        Who is the “you” this is directed to? I and many others always enjoy watching Bynum.

  • Mar 26, 20139:34 pm
    by Jopl

    Reply

    Do we have 3 point defense?

    • Mar 26, 20139:40 pm
      by Brandon Knight

      Reply

      Yeah, you never heard of Calderon!

      • Mar 26, 201310:12 pm
        by oats

        Reply

        Calderon is definitely not the only problem. He might be the second best perimeter defender on the team for crying out loud. He’s been better than Stuckey, Singler, Maggette, Middleton, and English. Bynum is basically about the same as Calderon. Knight’s the only perimeter player who has clearly been outperforming Calderon on defense, but even he is worse at defending spot up shooters. This team is just awful at defending the perimeter.

        • Mar 26, 201310:21 pm
          by haydzzz

          Reply

          Agreed, however i think Kim English is a better perimeter defender than Jose and hes only a rookie. Also knight is a caple defender but he is definitely not a great one. Joe Dumars needs to move away from his offensive mindset and remember what defies all of the Pistons championships and it has always been defense… the fact that we have only one great defensive player in Drummond (hes a rookie!) is unacceptable.

          • Mar 26, 201310:52 pm
            by oats

            English projects as a better defender, but his defense has actually been really awful. According to points per possession ratings on mySynergySports.com, English has been the worst of the perimeter defenders on the roster. Maybe that’s due to small sample size, or maybe those ranking are missing something. I personally think English has been better than Maggette was, and right around the same as Stuckey. Singler, Bynum, and Middleton have been pretty equal, but I think Calderon’s been slightly better and unfortunately that makes him the second best defender in the group. Even if you disagree, everyone should agree this is not a good group of defenders and Caldeon is not even close to being worth fixating on.
             
            I expect English and Middleton to improve as they get older, they are both solid athletes and it’s understandable that rookies would play so terribly. That said, this team is in desperate need of an upgrade on defense. Knight’s been solid, but he isn’t able to carry this sorry bunch.

  • Mar 26, 201311:39 pm
    by gmehl

    Reply

    Ok someone has to point out the silver lining in today’s loss and i’m more than happy to be that person so here goes. With todays loss it puts us at 24-48 just in front of Phoenix (23-48) and Cleveland (22-47). I also did some research on what happens if we were to end up with the same record with other teams come season end as there were rumours going around that head to head match ups were used as tiebreakers and then points for and against to decide lottery position. If that was the case then our lottery odds would take a huge hit. Here is a snippet of what i read.

    With so many teams bunched together in the fight for draft lottery position, a myth has started to emerge. That myth is that a team like say the Cavaliers can “win” a tiebreaker against a team such as the Pistons by virtue of losing 3 of the 4 games against them this season. This is 100% false. Here’s how the NBA does tiebreakers for the NBA Draft Lottery:
    In the event that teams finish with the same record, each tied team receives the average of the total number of combinations for the positions that they occupy. In 2007, the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Portland Trail Blazers tied for the sixth worst record. The average of the 6th and 7th positions in the lottery was taken, resulting in each team getting 53 combinations (the average of 63 and 43). Should the average number not be an integer, a coin flip is then used to determine which team or teams receive the extra combination(s). The result of the coin flip is also used to determine who receives the earlier pick in the event that neither of the tied teams wins one of the first three picks via the lottery.

    • Mar 27, 201312:31 am
      by tarsier

      Reply

      I always thought the team that gets the lower draft position in the event of neither being selected in the lottery should get the extra combination, not vice versa.

      • Mar 27, 20131:12 am
        by gmehl

        Reply

        This is just something i read on SBnation so I thought i’d share with you guys because the playoff race is so close but i was hoping someone else could justify if it is true or not.

        If a tie breaker was determined by head to head games, then points for and against our splits against these teams look like this:
        Minnesota – Detroit losing season series 1-0 (-23 point differential)
        Cleveland – Detroit winning season series 3-0 (1 game to go)
        Phoenix – Detroit won season series which was tied 1-1 (+37 point differential)
        New Orleans – Detroit lost season series 2-0
        Sacramento – Detroit won season series which was tied 1-1 (+4 point differential)

        As you can see if we went by the above tiebreaker then we are either win/winning our series with Cleveland, Phoenix, Sacramento and will lose/lost our series agains Minnesota, New Orleans. I am hoping that its the tiebreaker from my earlier post.

        • Mar 27, 20131:57 am
          by oats

          Reply

          The original post is correct. They split up the combinations evenly with a coin flip(s) to determine what to do with the remainder if necessary.
           

          • Mar 27, 20134:45 am
            by gmehl

            I think our schedule is a lot easier than Cleveland, Phoenix and New Orleans so its probably good the tiebreaker is done this way. That is as long we’d win the coin flip if it came to it :-)

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