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…
Is that Josh Howard or Marlo Stanfield? I can’t tell either! (Good thing.)
The Wolves have a new player. And it just feels right. It’s like we were destined to get him as part of a Ndudi Ebi exorcism after Brandon Roy’s five-game trial failed to redeem Roy-Foye. On Josh Howard’s future with the Wolves, go check out Oceanary’s post at Canis Hoopus.
In other news…
In the interest of getting some much-needed, early-in-the-week sleep, I’m doing this wrap in two parts–first and second half splits. So the first half is being written at halftime.
1st Half Notes
The first half–and especially the first quarter–was dominated by the Wolves two best healthy players: Andrei Kirilenko and Nikola Pekovic. [Eds note: In hindsight, I should not have phrased that sentence that way. More on that in the 2nd Half.] Pek showed off a move that he’s clearly been working on with Coach Billy Bayno, the standard jump hook. He buried three of these with his right hand in the opening quarter and finished the half with an impressive 13 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists. It’s hard to understate the importance of this new skill, because as defenders become forced to defend it honestly it will open up his go-to favorite, the drop step. We’ve seen Pek taking a hard right-hand dribble into the paint when defenders cheat to his right (baseline side/left block) shoulder and try jump hooks. He makes them sometimes. What we saw in the first half tonight was on the right block–more of a standard post hook. Pek improves at things. That’s mostly a credit to him but also to Rick Adelman’s coaching staff.
Paul George is a baller
Illustration by Howard Shum. Go check it out.
Paul George is good at professional basketball. Really good.
We’ve raved before about George’s underrated defensive prowess, but it’s worth reiterating: George can defend the hell out of the ball. George has those extremely long arms, that effortless footwork, and excellent positioning that, on a good day, might remind you of Scottie Pippen.
The Wolves will have to contend with George tonight, when the Wolves take on the Pacers at Target Center at 7 PM. But they won’t just have to plan for George’s disruptive defense…
Can Andrei Kirilenko really be the key to this year’s team? Who knows! The season hasn’t started yet!
In Part 1 of our Wolves preview, Andy G delved into several issues that will have key implications for the team’s success this season. I come back with my takes on these topics, as well as a few other things he didn’t look at closely.
Find out what below the fold.
What will David Kahn do next??
With training camp just around the corner, there are a bunch of top-level questions that remain unanswered as October 2nd approaches. There’s been a ton turnover on the roster, and many players’ roles are anything but clear. Long story short, the team’s success this season will likely hinge on the answers.
In a two-part series, I look at the ten questions I think are most important heading into the 2012-13 season. More below the fold.
photo by David Sherman/NBAE (via espn.com)
It strikes me that even if Hassan Whiteside becomes a Timberwolf in the coming days, the playing roster is probably complete. It also strikes me that there is far from a clear-cut starting lineup, or even playing rotation. Rick Adelman does not strike me as a coach who worries about going deep into his bench to appease reserve players. At least not in big games when he’s coaching his best teams. Before speculating about this year’s rotation, let’s look back at last year’s:
Point Guard – Ricky Rubio (34.2 minutes per game)
Shooting Guard – Luke Ridnour (33.0 minutes per game)
Small Forward – Wesley Johnson (22.6 minutes per game; 64 starts)
Power Forward – Kevin Love (39.0 minutes per game)
Center – Nikola Pekovic (26.9 minutes per game)
Reserve Guard – J.J. Barea (25.2 minutes per game)
Reserve Wing – Martell Webster (24.3 minutes per game)
Reserve Forward – Michael Beasley (23.1 minutes per game)
Reserve Power Forward – Derrick Williams (21.5 minutes per game) Continue reading
Since I decided to get up and watch our favorite new TWolves at 3:00 this morning, I might as well do a brief game wrap. Russia handled the Chinese from start to finish in what was perhaps a more-impressive victory than the opener versus overmatched Great Britain. While the stat lines of Alexey Shved and Andrei Kirilenko were a bit more modest than the first game, the players looked just as good and played as important of roles in another one-sided affair. Continue reading
Andy G: According to Jerry Zgoda and other sources, the Wolves are hotly pursuing former Jazz (what are you supposed to call a Utah Jazz member?), Andrei Kirilenko, willing to give away Wes Johnson and a future first rounder to clear space for a large Kahntract; something in the neighborhood of two years, $18 Million.
How do we feel about this one? Continue reading