Having played 28 games (13-15) our Wolves are now exactly 42.42424242… percent complete with this shortened regular season. What better time to visit the Basketball Reference team page and see where we’re at with numbers?
The first (and second and third and fourth…) thing that jumps out is Kevin Love. Without even checking, I’m sure that his 25.6 points per game is a franchise record, if continued for the rest of the season. To pair that with 13.8 rebounds per game is pretty amazing. When compared to the best scorer-rebounder power forwards of the past (as these numbers require) the one statistic that seems lacking is the assists per game (1.7). Last year, Love had a career-high 2.5 apg, which still isn’t all that high, compared to other power forwards who generate so many points and rebounds with consistency. Charles Barkley and Kevin Garnett were usually over 4 assists per game, and Blake Griffin currently assists over 3 times a night, despite playing with Chris Paul who would seemingly handle the creating for the Clips. Love’s assist-to-turnover ratio of 0.63/1.00 (1.7 to 2.7) is one area for him to improve on. Should he focus on getting more assists, or fewer turnovers? I think that’s a fair question. Some of his high-turnover games (like Friday’s versus Dallas) coincide with ugly Wolves offense, geared away from Rubio passing and Pekovic/Beasley post ups and more toward Love trying to draw fouls that aren’t there. But this is a small point in the grand scheme of the great year he is having. Based on season performance to date, Love was deserving of a starting spot on the All-Star Team.
Scanning down the roster, the low shooting percentages stick out. Seven players are currently shooting under 40 percent from the field. Two of those players (Rubio & Johnson) are starters. The team is shooting 42.9 percent, good for 24th in the NBA. If Pekovic and his whopping 63 percent are removed from the equation, the rest of the team shoots 41.6 percent, which would be good for 28th in the league. Speaking of Pek, should he be getting the ball more? The natural response is “obviously” except that the way he gets those buckets at high efficiency is not an easy scenario to create. He seals his man directly under the basket, commencing the three-second timer that has been his offensive kryptonite in the early part of his career. With such a wide lane, the opportunities to find Pek in his money zone are not as easy as it sounds. Still, the team should look as much as possible to exploit what is becoming a matchup problem for opponents, with Pek’s interior scoring.
Staying with Pek for a moment, check out his per-36 numbers (18.3 points, 10.5 rebounds) and consider that he could become an All-Star center with enough playing time. Crazy, huh? The obvious area for improvement is turnovers. Pek turns it over 3.5 times per 36, despite only dishing out 0.5 assists in that same time. An assist-to-turnover ratio of 1 to 7 is horrendous. He’s improved greatly from last season at limiting the 3 seconds calls, and offensive fouls, but both remain big areas for learning and adjusting to NBA rules.
As far as regressing to the mean goes, Michael Beasley and Ricky Rubio seem to be doing exactly that, in opposite directions. Much was made about Rubio’s imroved shooting when he started the year hot. That has changed for the worse, as he is currently hitting 37.1 percent of field goals, and 31.7 percent of 3′s. Apparently he’s working hard with Terry Porter and Shawn Respert on his jumper. I don’t doubt that, but for now I’d rather see him limit the jumper attempts in games. Beasley was shooting under 40 percent before his foot injury. That has climbed up to 42.7, and will probably continue to rise some at least into the mid-40′s. His three-point shooting is hot right now, hitting 45.7 percent from downtown. He would be wise to do as he did on Friday versus Dallas, and set up shop in that corner. Ricky will find him there plenty.
What numbers stick out to you? What do you expect to change?