The Timberwolves aren’t making the playoffs. Let’s put that idea behind us.
The Wolves underachieved this year.
It doesn’t matter how many more games they win or lose. Making the playoffs this season was a benchmark – the benchmark – for that nebulous but real concept known as “success.” And this season, the Wolves were unsuccessful.
I’m not going to get into why the Wolves failed. We’ve talked all about the draft picks, free agent signings, the failings of the second unit, Adelman’s rotations, Barea over Rubio, close losses, and everything else, ad nauseum.
Lots of Wolves fans will check out. It’s no secret that interest in the team waxes and wanes with the team’s highs and lows. When the team is winning, fans take interest. When it isn’t, they don’t. This isn’t an indictment of fair-weather fandom. It’s just human.
The real question is whether the Wolves will also check out as a team.
Will they play with the same sense of urgency? Will they play with any defensive intensity at all? Will players be more intent on hunting their own shots rather than moving the ball? Will real or phantom injuries result in extended stays on the bench for the likes of Nikola Pekovic (ankle), Kevin Martin (finger), Kevin Love (general fatigue; various leg issues), Ricky Rubio (punishment for not fitting into Rick Adelman’s system), or J.J. Barea (brain)?
Will we get to see more Shabazzketball? Will we get to see if Gorgui Dieng can play extended minutes without getting into foul trouble? Will we get to see if Alexey Shved can run the point and run the pick-and-roll like he did in the 2012 Summer Olympics and the first half of his rookie season? Will Chase Budinger look like a player who can pose a *real* threat to opponents as a three-point assassin? Will we lose enough games not to forfeit our first-round pick to Phoenix?
Now’s the time to find out. We know what the team is. We don’t really know what it isn’t, or what it could’ve been? Adelman hasn’t had the “luxury” of experimenting with unproven personnel this year, except when forced to because of injuries. Will he do so now, or is he too stubborn? If this is his last stand as an NBA coach, will he be too proud to go out by symbolically raising the white flag, running these experiments, and losing more games than if he’d ride out the lineups we’ve seen all season long?
Wolves vs. Kings
Tonight the Wolves play the Sacramento Kings at home. Tip is at 6:00 P.M. CDT. Views are on FSN, sounds on 830-AM.
What’s interesting about the Kings?
Demarcus Cousins, Isaiah Thomas, and Rudy Gay get buckets. Ben McLemore and Derrick Williams can dunk good. And Royce White.
Last week, the Kings re-upped Royce White to a second 10-day contract. White is still an interesting prospect. Unfortunately for Minnesota basketball fans, White won’t be playing tonight. He’s back in Sacramento working on his conditioning. His first game in a Kings uniform might come on Tuesday against Randy Wittman’s Washington Wizards. I’ll be watching that tilt with as much interest as this one.
Until then, here’s some Royce W. to pregame to.
If you want more dunkage, here’s some Ben McLemore to pregame to.
Enjoy the tilt.