Trey Burke: Sewer Hero
Co-authored by Andy G and Patrick J
DraftExpress just posted a bunch of interviews with top prospects who’re possible future Wolves at the NBA combine. Below, Andy and I react to each that was published today. Assuming more are to come–possibly to include Anthony Bennett–we’ll probably hit the wheel on this a second time for comparison’s sake. Full analysis below.
[This is Part 1 of a season review series. This post looks back in time at the season that was. A subsequent post (or two!) will use what we learned this season to take a prospective look ahead at what the Timberwolves should look like in 2013-14 and beyond.]
1. Season Highlight?
Andy G: Win over the Thunder, December 20, 2012
I’ll kick this thing off. The highlight moment of the season is an easy choice for me: the win over OKC on Thursday Night TNT. It was December 20th, Christmas time. Spirits were high with the Wolves moving to 2 games over .500 (the last point in the season in which this was the case) with a 13-11 record. All of Alexey Shved (the lead guard for the Rubio-less portion of the season), Kevin Love, and Nikola Pekovic were dominant. Pek was pick-and-rolling bigger and stronger than the top team in the West could handle. Love spread the floor with three-point bombs, scoring 28 points along with 11 boards and 7 assists (career high?). He was awesome and looked the part of an MVP candidate. And young Alexey Shved was the orchestrator of everything. Pre-ROOKIE WALL Shved was something to behold and legit reason for Timberwolves optimism. His skillset was on display in that win over Russell Westbrook and the Thunder. Shved had a whopping 12 assists that night. Oh yeah, and JJ was GREAT JJ. He killed it during #WinningTime. All in all, that was a major highlight at a point in the season when the team had statewide interest and expectations of a playoff run.
Patrick J: Concur. OKC, December 20th, or “The Proof of Kahncept Game”
The Wolves’ victory over OKC was one the few games this season at Target Center I got to attend–I was back in Minnesota visiting family and had good tickets with Andy G & co to see what I expected to be an overmatched but spiteful Wolves squad take on the best team in the West, the Oklahoma City Thunder. Good JJ came out in full force that night — the goodest JJ that JJ can be. The rest of the team synced that night, the Wolves snapped a long OKC winning streak. Shved was Olympics Shved, Love owned, and it was basically the team we expected to see in 2012-13, minus Rubio. Imagine the potential of that team plus Rubio. I often do, and it’s a pretty amazing highlight given the way things actually turned out.
2. Season Lowlight?
Patrick J: The K-Love/Woj interview immediately prior to Rubio return.
For one quarter of last night’s game, things were made impossibly easy for the Timberwolves. I don’t know if the
Pelicans Hornets players were sweating out last night’s Hurricanes or what, but they came out flat as a pancake and the Wolves took full advantage. Behind a steady supply of steals, Pekovic power moves, and even a flashy dime from Ricky to Stiemer, Minnesota led by 15 points after the opening quarter.
And that’s about when the fun stopped. Well, not quite, but close. Derrick Williams, who checked in near the end of the first, opened the second quarter with three straight moves that looked much more like Carmelo Anthony than the inconsistent “caged lion” that we’ve come to question as a building block for the franchise. Williams, playing out of that square-up, jab-step stance that the league’s premier 4′s attack from, began the second quarter with the following: 1) layup; 2) layup; and 3) layup and the foul. I was excited.
THAT is when the fun stopped.
HOW BOUT THEM
Alexey Shved! What a comeback! I was at my wits’ end in that 3rd Quarter when the barrage of Brooklyn bombs rained down from three-point land and the Wolves couldn’t get a stop to save their life. This bit of resignation sums it up best:
Let’s take it from the top…
Don’t worry, no Invisible Obama here.
The Good – Andrei Kirilenko
This was exactly the type of performance we hope to see from AK47. The energetic Russian was all over the floor, putting together a vintage across-the-board stat line of 17 points (on 6-7 shooting) 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks and 1 steal.
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
In the NFL Draft, they call it Mr. Irrelevant. In your Timberwolves Season Ticketholder draw, it’s the preseason game versus Maccabi Haifa.
Last year’s Timberwolves had a problematic pairing of statistics describing its three-point shooting prowess. The first statistic is 21.6. That’s the average number of three-point shots attempted by the Wolves in a game. That’s kind of a lot; good for 6th most in the entire league. It’s nearly double the number of treys attempted by playoff teams like the Jazz and Grizzlies. Only one team (Orlando) shot considerably more treys per game than this. The second statistic is 33.2. That’s the Wolves’ three-point shooting percentage. It isn’t very impressive; tied for 23rd in the league. There are many reasons why three-point shooting is a necessary weapon for the Timberwolves. One, Ricky Rubio excels at delivering awesome passes to open perimeter shooters. Two, Pekovic is a load in the paint and should attract defenders down low, welcoming jump shots for his teammates. And three, the Wolves are not a team with jaw-dropping athleticism that will consistently win games by slashing to the bucket. In order to be an efficient offense, they’ll need to be somewhat prolific from downtown. In Part I of a series on the Wolves Offense, I investigate the three-pointing shooting issue to see if things might look better in 2012-13.
Rick Adelman can thank David Kahn for the opportunity to coach Ricky Rubio. But what about the rest of this roster?
Let’s do a quick back of the envelope scorecard of David Kahn’s performance.
Selecting Jonny Flynn over Steph Curry. Check.
Trading Ty Lawson. Check.
Selecting Wes Johnson over DeMarcus Cousins or Greg Monroe. Double check.
Hiring Kurt Rambis. Check.
Long-term contract for Darko Milicic. Check.
Each move was, as the saying goes, an “epic fail.” And each is solely attributed to David Kahn, Timberwolves POBO.
Kahn has become something of a sports management sensation, not only for surviving these blunders, but for coupling them with public-speaking gaffes that have provided endless amounts of material for sportswriters and bloggers the world around. Continue reading
Expect more step-back jumpers and less poster dunks from B-Roy this year.
Brandon Roy gave an interview on NBATV where he discussed his new team and return from retirement. You could write most of the transcript without watching the video (“I feel great, the situation seemed right, yada yada…) but Roy said one thing that stuck out as a candid bit of truth. When discussing his current level of athleticism, Roy stated:
You know honestly, right now and all summer long, I’ve been preparing to not have to take a step back with my game. I’ll be honest; some of the lift isn’t quite what it used to be, but I think my explosiveness to get to the basket has been just as good. You know, more than anything I think I’m a lot smarter of a basketball player. I understand that the NBA season is long and my body isn’t what it used to be. But right now I feel great. Me and Coach Adelman are gonna sit down before the season and communicate throughout the year about how I’m feeling and what’s the best way to get the most out of me. Continue reading