With last night’s loss to Denver, the Wolves extended their losing streak to 7 games. Since we last checked in, they’ve fallen to the Hornets (16-42; dead-last in West), been destroyed by the Suns at Target Center, and dropped last night’s game while losing Kevin Love to a scary head/neck injury. So, things aren’t going so hot.
Since Rubio went down, the Wolves are 4-14. Three of those losses have come against horrendous teams from Charlotte, New Orleans and Golden State. They’ve lost by over 20 on the home floor on two occasions (Boston, Phoenix). The schedule gets difficult now, with the Clippers, Thunder, Pacers and Grizzlies next up. An 11-game losing streak–particularly in light of Love’s injury–seems inevitable.
I suppose the positive from last night’s game was that, after Love went down, Anthony Randolph and Derrick Williams nearly led the team to an improbable victory over a good Nuggets team. AR had 28, Williams had 27, and the game was tied with 1:40 to go. Without Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio, and Luke Ridnour, that is actually a pretty great effort. Randolph won’t be here next year, so his efforts will only serve to help keep himself employed in the league, but Williams needs to show scoring bursts with increasing frequency and intensity to justify his draft position, and possibly even to boost his trade value, depending on what the front office decides to do about the redundancy at the 4 position with he and Love.
Mike Beasley, who only played 10 minutes in last night’s game, told reporters that he was not injured and that he’s “just not liked, I guess.” I think it’s fair to say Beas will be wearing a different uniform next season. His qualifying offer of over $8 Million is not something that the team will (or should) offer, given the needs of the roster and the free agent pool they’ll be exploring.
Both Pat and I have taken an interest in the Knicks resurgence under acting coach, Mike Woodson. He’s been playing Carmelo at the power forward position which has done wonders for the player and the team. His physical positioning blended with square-up dribble penetration has all the look of what I hope Derrick Williams can become. Where Williams currently falls well short of Melo is in his mid-range jumpshooting. But this undersized 4 scorer can be a lethal weapon and Williams would be wise to watch Melo tapes of this recent stretch of games. He’s been absolutely killing it as the Knicks fight for a playoff spot. (Oh, and Wolves fans would be interested to know that the Knicks might have as dire of a situation at the wings as we do. Iman Shumpert is an aggressive defender, but makes more head-scratching decisions with the ball than a playoff team could seemingly afford. Landry Fields is similar to Martell Webster in terms of being decidedly mediocre. J.R. Smith is J.R. Smith. If you’ve watched him play then you know what I mean by that. The Knicks are leaning on Melo and Tyson Chandler as heavily as the Wolves were leaning on Rubio and Love for much of this season.)
We’ve been working up some post ideas on rookie production, in light of the recent news that David Stern would like to increase the league age minimum to 20 (from 19). Hopefully the Wolves will provide some meaningful performances to write about, as well.