Here’s a snapshot of what the Wolves’ offensive sets have often looked like. Hi-Tech stuff here (don’t mind the DVR pause bar).
THE WOLVES SO FAR
So, there’s been a lot written already about the Wolves and the players’ individual performances so far during the preseason.
Patrick J: One angle that has gotten less attention is some of the sets that the Wolves have tried to run – with, shall we say, “mixed” results.
The set basically looks like this: Ricky takes the inbounds pass, dribbles past half court, quickly passes to a wing and cuts through to the strongside corner. The idea is that a post–often Kevin Love–will make himself available for a high-post entry. Then, the ball is in Love’s hands and the offense flows from there. The idea, I think is that Love will either be able to score the ball from the elbow, take a dribble and pass or score, or drive the ball off of a jab fake and get to the rim.
This offensive set seems to meet with limited success. The fly in the ointment is Ricky. Two reasons: (1) he isn’t great without the ball in his hands, and (2) he isn’t a credible threat to make a kickout catch-and-shoot opportunity from the corner. So, his defender can basically fade to crowd the high post and make the options for the high-post man that much more difficult to execute.
So, if this is to be one of the Wolves’ go-to sets, can it work? Should Kevin Martin basically have the Rubio responsibility–if and when he’s healthy again–to put a real threat in the strong-side corner? What gives?
Slim Shady Kevin Martin is the newest member of the Minnesota Timberwolves
Insane news about Kevin Martin. He’s a Wolf. 4 years, 28 million. Wow.*
What does the Martin deal mean for the Wolves? A bunch of things.
First, management issues.
- Slick Rick: It looks like we can’t write off Rick Adelman after all as a player in the Wolves front office. First Chase is re-signed (more obvious), and now Martin is acquired (less obvious). Adelman clearly shaped these moves, which will have implications that are likely to outlast Rick’s tenure in Minnesota.
- C2: It appears that we now have an AdelFlip in the stead of our AdelKahn. But the chain-of-command and command and control structures in the organization seem less clear than in Kahn’s last season in ‘Sota. Does anyone else smell an impending deathmatch?
Second, on Martin specifically: as with most of the least-worst choice deals you make in life, there’s both some good and some bad here.
Andrei Kirilenko sounded off on his decision to opt out of his contract in Minnesota. Bottom lines:
- AK thinks he has gas left in the tank
- He isn’t averse to returning to Minnesota
- But he wants a longer contract – at least a three-year deal
Anyway, choice quotes below the fold:
Will OJ Mayo be making treys in ‘Sota next season?
Fresh off of the NBA Draft and the subsequent Shabazz mania, NBA free agency is upon us. Here’s what we know so far:
The Wolves have already talked with OJ Mayo’s camp. Mayo, in fact was Flip’s first stop in his free-agent shopping.
Reading the tea leaves on stuff like this is never easy, but it appears that at the very least, there may be some “there” there to the earlier RUMINT about Flip & co.’s interest in Mayo. Like it or not, Mayo is a professional, starting-caliber shooting guard who would bring veteran experience to the position that a rookie whose upside might be higher lacks (cough, C.J. McCollum, cough).
Still, given that an unhealthy Brandon Roy played in only five games last season and was replaced the rest of the way by Luke Ridnour and J.J. Barea–point guards masquerading as shooting guards–it’s really tough to project how Mayo or any other traditional SG would fit into Rick’s offense.
Given what else is out there in free agency, I like Mayo the best of a bunch of imperfect possibilities to fill this area of need.
The Knicks are in town tonight for a 7 PM CST tilt against the Wolves. By way of preview, a few things:
- The psychology of streaking: It’s time to talk about streaking, and the weird effects it can have on people. No, not that kind of streaking. I’m talking about the kind where someone does something many times consecutively. In this case, the Knicks have won 15 of the last 16 against the Wolves. They’ve basically been streaking against the Wolves. I hate streaks like that, because they play into teams’ psychology, even if the players won’t admit it. Continue reading
When I saw that the Wolves were a 8.5-point dogs, my naive optimism dwindled pretty significantly. Vegas usually knows what’s up. In this case, Ricky Rubio was sitting out. The Wolves were on the tail end of a road back-to-back. Miami was rested. Miami has LeBron James. The Heat are the world champs. After dropping a winnable one last night, this would be a challenge. How’d it play out? Check it out below the fold.
Ty Lawson and the Denver Nuggets take on the Twolves tonight in Minneapolis
One day after Kevin Love’s disgruntled comments about the Timberwolves were published (see Andy G’s and my analysis here), the Wolves play the Nuggets at Target Center tonight at 7 PM CST. Love is expected to be in the starting lineup. Despite the much anticipated return of Ricky Rubio, it currently appears as if that won’t happen for at least a few more days.
So what do we have in store tonight?
As my preview post made clear, I thought the Wolves should beat the Cavs without too much difficulty. That is, unless they came out lethargic or complacent against a heavy underdog. Cleveland is a developing team that was playing without its go-to guy. So the Wolves’ 18-point victory in last night’s game is less cause for celebration than relief. Along with Kevin Love’s return to form (36 points and 13 rebounds, importantly regained free-throw stroke) Andrei Kirilenko’s return to the lineup prevented a letdown. AK47 never stands still. Even if he’s stationary in a set, it’s like he can’t keep himself from bouncing on his toes. Never long strides. Short, choppy steps, and quick, short jumps. Rarely flashy. Always efficient. He continues to cut at an elite level, and it seems that his teammates are following suit. Kirilenko sometimes defers on easy passes, knowing that a backcut is only a moment away. He had just 4 baskets last night, but on 5 shots. He had 6 assists, some for backdoor layups. His defensive energy manifested itself with 4 steals and 3 blocks that set the tone that lasted for most of the game. In 31 minutes, he was a team-best +23. It’s natural to wonder what the Wolves’ all-important “ceiling” is. (Other fan bases are doing the same about their own teams.) I don’t know whether it’s an 8-Seed, or a Larry O’Brien Trophy. But I suspect the answer depends strongly on keeping Andrei Kirilenko healthy and allowing his habits to influence his ‘mates.
The Wolves (6-8) take on the Milwaukee Bucks (7-6) tonight at 7:00 PM CST at Target Center.
Milwaukee started 6-2, and leads the Central Division. But the Bucks are fading, having lost four of its last five game. Having gone 1-6 in their last 7, the Wolves are a half game out of the cellar.
(In case you didn’t know, the West is way better than the East.)
Injuries are again the key story.
Twitter was going wild on the Timberwolves Injury Report front in the hours leading up to tonight’s game at Staples Center. First, the good news:
Such. Great. News. I can’t wait to see Minnesota’s most-entertaining athlete back on the floor at Target Center. Should only be another week or two.
Now, the bad (for tonight’s game anyway):
That hurts. Through 13 games, AK47 is the team’s MVP. Without him, taking on a title contender, on the road, on 0 days rest, is not a winning proposition. But as Chris Berman might say if he were segueing into a game in which an unexpected result occurred, “That’s why they play the games.”
To the action…