It was just preseason. It was just preseason. It was just preseason.
With that out of the way, here are some thoughts on last night’s much-anticipated debut of Wolves rookies Ricky Rubio and Derrick Williams:
* HOLY $%!# is this team fun to watch! Rubio’s floor vision was everything advertised and more. He quickly showed Minnesota how to rocket a skip pass to the opposite wing after peeling around a ball screen. That pass isn’t there for many NBA guards. For Rubio it just seemed like the natural choice. It was the open man. His bounce passes were flashy–sometimes unnecessarily so–and always on the mark. The alley-oop to Williams is what fans will remember from the debut, but Rubio served a steady supply of dishes that–for one night–seemed to justify the hype. Again though, just preseason. What is refreshing to see is that while Rubio clearly can dominate the ball and make plays, he’s equally happy to push into the offense and make the simple pass. He’s a true point guard.
* Derrick Williams shot the lights out. He catches the ball ready to fire. I was surprised to see him on the bench for such a long time to begin the game, but he took advantage of the minutes given to him. Adelman used a small-ball lineup for much of the second half with Williams at the 4, and Tolliver at the 5. Whether that group can rebound and defend remains to be seen. What can quickly be gathered, however, is that surrounding Ricky Rubio with four lights-out shooters is a recipe for offensive success.
* Mike Beasley and Kevin Love were the star forwards that we saw for that early stretch a season ago. Love’s jumper was in midseason form, and he pulled down his usual 15 boards in limited minutes. Beasley was moving without the ball! If there’s anything to gather from last night’s game in terms of the Adelman Effect, it is how Supercool Beas was being utilized. He was curling off screens, drawing fouls, and burying the same dribble jumpers that make his talent special. On defense, Love seemed to bang with Andrew Bogut okay. That’s the sort of center that I envision Love defending. His physical nature and low-center of gravity help hold position on strong posts like Bogut. Beasley went under a screen or two and left his man open in the corner for a trey. But, his overall effort was okay and he never became a problem on that end.
* Not such a great night for Wes Johnson or Anthony Randolph. Wes’ offensive limitations were on full display once again, last night. His ticket to the starting lineup will be through defense or nothing. AR15 was pushed around by physical Bucks, and invited to take 13-footers on offense, only to force a dribble drive that wasn’t there. These two are all kinds of long-and-athletic, but didn’t look comfortable in Game #1. To crack the regular rotation, Wes is probably up against JJ Barea, and Randolph is fighting with Anthony Tolliver. After one meaningless game, I don’t like either of their chances.
The next and final preseason tilt comes on Wednesday, at Milwaukee. Here’s hoping that Rubio-Jennings II looks much like the first match. Until then…