Monthly Archives: October 2012

Back to Target Center

Alexey Shved makes his Target Center debut tonight versus the Chicago Bulls.

Thank God that the short window of nice Minnesota weather is behind us and we can get back to our usual routine of spending 1 or 2 nights per week inside Target Center watching the Wolves, amiright?  The fun parts of preseason are seeing the new faces and looking for signs of change, good or bad, that could impact the team’s chances at regular (and post!) season success.  Two years ago at the home preseason debut, I was taken by how big and athletic Michael Beasley was, and the ease with which he could rise up for clear looks at the basket.  Though Beas has enough weaknesses to offset this strength, it has been one that serves him well in giving his team a scoring punch.  This was evident in a single viewing of a game that didn’t actually *matter*.  Last year was Ricky’s debut.  We did our best to temper enthusiasm, but the passes he was delivering were unlike anything we’d seen.  Ricky had eyes on all sides of his head, it seemed.  Like with Beasley’s dribble jumpers, Ricky’s passing wizardry carried over into the real games and he’s now one of the league’s most marketable young stars.

What should we keep an eye out for in tonight’s game against Chicago? Continue reading

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Preseason, Take 1

I was really excited to write about last year’s preseason opener.  It was one of the first entries on this blog and it was the first time that I had seen Ricky Rubio play in a Wolves uniform.  Also, the lockout pushed it back to mid-December leaving me and every other NBA fan dying of thirst for some ball to be played.  Tonight’s preseason debut was less exciting but positive nonetheless.  The Wolves took on a Pacers team that sat Danny Granger, George Hill and David West.  Lance Stephenson led them in minutes with 25.  So it shouldn’t come as a big surprise that the “home” team won by 14 points.  Although Rubio and Ridnour sat out for the good guys, mainstays Kevin Love, Nikola Pekovic, and Derrick Williams played substantial minutes, as did newcomers Alexey Shved, Brandon Roy and Andrei Kirilenko.  A few casual observations about a game devoid of significant takeaways. Continue reading

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Preseason Game 1: Wolves vs. Pacers, Fargo-Style

Pek will happily run any Pacer through ye olde wood chipper!

It’s on. It’s what you’ve all been waiting for. Twolves. Pacers. 7:00 tonight. Fargo.

Fargo, baby, Fargo!

Pek and his wood chipper. K-Love and Danny Granger getting chippy. Paul George’s defense.

No TV or radio, so you’ll have to keep ‘specially close tabs on Mark Remme & the carrier pigeons Andy G and I deployed to the Fargodome to bring you the latest news and analysis.

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INBOX: What You Need to Know as the Wolves Enter the Preseason

Can Shved man the point in Rubio’s stead?

Andy G: The team has returned from Mankato with optimism abound.  Is it something in the air?  Or was it Mrs. Taylor’s home cooking?  Why is everybody so jacked up about this Wolves team after only a handful of practices?

Patrick J: We should be optimistic because Rick Adelman is optimistic. Not one to mince words, Adelman was adamant during last season’s training camp about how sloppy the team looked. His words foreshadowed the truth, and the team had a lot of trouble with turnovers and ballhandling in general. This season, we keep hearing things from Team Adelman about how this group “knows how to play.” And not just the vets–praise keeps getting heaped on newcomers like Alexey Shved, who’s in the running to get major minutes at the point, and Derrick Williams, who was anything but an Adelman favorite last year. I don’t think Adelman’s doing charity for these guys’ egos–I think what he sees is what we were all hoping he’d see: a vastly, vastly improved team.

Onto specifics: There are a few key things to watch for in the preseason. #1: Is Alexey Shved a point guard? Should he get the bulk of the minutes there over Barea? (I suppose this question is actually two questions, since it assumes BAREA is a pg, which I’m not so sure about.)

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Over/Under

Beckley Mason piqued my interest with this tweet today:

The gamblers released their over/unders for win totals.  According to his tweet, they were hating on Golden State.  (That line has since moved to 35.5 wins — and maybe even more by the time you click on that link.)  Even though I too expect more of the Warriors than 35 wins, I was more interested in my own team, the Wolves.  They opened at 39.5 wins.  That moved up to 40.5 at the time I am writing this.  In other words, you’re going against Vegas to bet on the Wolves to finish .500.  Continue reading

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MACCABI HAIFA!

In the NFL Draft, they call it Mr. Irrelevant. In your Timberwolves Season Ticketholder draw, it’s the preseason game versus Maccabi Haifa.

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Breaking Camp: The Scouting Report on Derrick Williams

Derrick Williams brings the pain

The early reports on Derrick Williams are coming in, and they are good.

Williams drew unanimous praise after the first two Wolves practices in Mankato on Monday and Tuesday.

“He’s a guy who can attack the basket,” Adelman said. “And he needs to do that.”

Well, he did that throughout the week.  And Bayno, Adelman, and Brandon Roy liked what they saw.

The coaching staff, who worked with Williams in his rookie year, came away touting Williams’ improved conditioning and professionalism.  Roy, a newcomer to the Wolves, simply saw a dynamic player.  On Williams, Roy said:

He’s extremely talented. He makes explosive plays that nobody can guard. I’m trying to tell him to now do it every time.

The biggest thing now is to get his motor going. He’s a good guy by nature, so he’s kind of laid back. He just needs to get that mentality that he wants to dominate. He should want to be a dominant player.

It’s nice to see Williams getting praise from Roy, the team’s natural leader. But the big question is, can Williams get clock over Wolves incumbents and new acquisitions who are vying for minutes at his natural position–power forward–and the position he’s trying to learn, small forward?

At the power foward, Kevin Love showed up to camp out of shape.

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Sunday Musings

Having broken camp in Mankato, the Wolves begin their preseason schedule this Wednesday in Fargo, North Dakota.  They’ll take on Kevin Love’s favorite team, the Indiana Pacers.  While the coaching staff looks to implement a pass-and-cut offense and sharpen up the defensive focus, they might just be happy if the game is completed without fisticuffs with Danny Granger and David West.  A few rambling observations as we head into the fun part of the year. Continue reading

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What J.J. Worry?

The NBA announced on Wednesday that it will fine players guilty of “any physical act that appears to have been intended to cause the referees to call a foul on another player.”  The league elaborated just a bit: “The primary factor in determining whether a player committed a flop is whether his physical reaction to contact with another player is inconsistent with what would reasonably be expected given the force or direction of the contact.”  In other words, flopping.  You all know what it is.  It’s not suitable for legal definition, but like Justice Potter Stewart said of pornagraphy, “I know it when I see it.”  When Chris Paul is dribbling, the slightest touch from a defender is met with his body flailing backwards as if he had the body weight of a feather and balance of a drunk.  European and South American players are sometimes blamed for bringing this tactic to American hoops, with their respective nations’ soccer tradition poisoning our sport.  Luis Scola, Anderson Varejao and Manu Ginobili carry on the torch passed down from Vlade Divac. Continue reading

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All-League Pass Teams

A month or so ago, we plowed through six posts with our “All-League Pass Teams.”  That was jumping the gun a little bit, since many had turned off their NBA blog radars.  Now that training camp is underway, we’re noticing an uptick in readers of the site.  With that in mind, here are the links to our All-League Pass Team series:

Volume 1: Rookies you want to watch

Volume 2: Rookies you (might) want to watch

Volume 3: Eastern Conference League Pass Team

Volume 4: When bad teams happen to good players, and the East’s new stopper (REACTION POST)

Volume 5: Western Conference League Pass Team

Volume 6: The “So Bad They’re Good” Team

Enjoy.  (If you haven’t already.)

 

 

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Training Camp Murmurs, Take 1: Shved, Williams, Love, Roy, Budinger

There isn’t a high volume of meaty information coming from Timberwolves training camp. But there are interesting tidbits here and there.

One such tidbit involves Alexey Shved. Shved is a talent, but coming into camp there were question marks about his frame and his lack of experience, despite the skills and composure he put on display at the Olympics.

But Shved has kept on truckin’ during the first two days of camp.

Joan Niesen has the choice firsthand info on Shved:

“Yes, Shved is thin, but he’s also taller than Adelman expected, and he’s not getting manhandled on the court. He looked good in 5-on-5 on Tuesday, playing smoothly and quickly,” Niesen reports.

Wolves coach Rick Adelman concurs.

“I just don’t see him getting pushed around,” Adelman said. “I said before, the thing that will be the biggest adjustment is at the defensive end. He’s just going to have guys coming at him all the time, and that’s where he’s going to make his adjustment. He’s going to get better offensively because he has skills.”

So does teammate and fellow Russian Andrei Kirilenko.

“He’s a young, talented guy who can really run and bring you a lot of energy on the floor,” Kirilenko said. “He’s not afraid to take a shot in the crunch moment, which is needed on every team in the NBA. He’s young, with the potential to keep growing.”

Other training camp tidbits that got my attention are below the fold.

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Looking at the Wolves Offense, Part III: The Princeton Edition

The Wolves offense was heavily reliant on Ricky Rubio’s dribble game last year.

“We’re the Miami Heat, and he’s Jeremy Lin.” – President Barack Obama, referring to his campaign versus Mitt Romney’s

Story time, kids. Continue reading

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Legacy Team

If each was in his prime, is this the greatest starting five ever?

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League Pass Alert: How You Know The NBA Season Is Just Around The Corner

League Pass makes us happy

I’m jones-ing for hoops something bad.  Some of it’s cabin fever – I’m not a football fan, and baseball’s less fun when the Twins suck – but when I go this long without watching hoops, I get twitchy and need a fix.

My drug of choice is NBA League Pass. This morning, I got a little taste. It wasn’t a fix – that’ll come when the preseason starts – but it wasn’t nothing, either.

“Yeah, yeah, whatever,” you’re saying. “All basketball bloggers say they’re hoops junkies. Get over yourself.”

Point taken. But the thing is, it’s true–we’re *really* jonesing for hoops. Like, *really*.

Show, don’t tell–that’s what every book on writing ever written advises. So, to show you how depraved our hoops addiction is here at Punch-Drunk Wolves, I chronicled the aforementioned “taste” below the fold so you can decide for yourself.

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