Chase Budinger has been a disappointment so far in 2014-15.
Andy G wrote a nice mid-term report yesterday that assessed the team via “superlatives” rather than letter grades. It’s an excellent post. Read it now if you haven’t yet.
I’d have given LVP to Chase Budinger, not LaVine, but a case can be made either way. LaVine has certainly hurt the Wolves more, on average, than any other player–at least among the ones who’ve been playing. But if you think about “Least-Valuable” in relative terms, based on some expectation of (solid-to-good) performance–like voters for the NBA’s MVP seem to–then I think I’m on firmer ground to argue that Budinger has been a huge letdown, while LaVine has been a sometimes-pleasant surprise, despite the spasms of mistakes he’s prone to making in rapid succession, especially when not playing in transition.
Simply put, Budinger is touted to have one “plus” NBA skill–his three-point stroke–and he has shot poorly all season while generally playing tentatively and lethargically. He’s only shooting 33.3% from distance so far. Really, Wiggins and Muhammad have been the only bright spots from distance in an offense that generates few three-point shots. Muhammad was just beginning to get comfortable looking for shots from behind the arc when he went down with his current injury.
Wolves three-point shooting percentages, minimum 20-games played.
Andy kind of got at this concept of “relative to expectations” with his “Most Disappointing” superlative, which went collectively to the Power Forwards.
With a playoff run out of the picture, will Nikola Pekovic play out the rest of the season?
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.
The NBA should allow James Harden to play with that pick in his beard during All-Star Weekend.
The Houston Rockets (34-17) are in town to play the staggering (Punch-Drunk?) Wolves (24-27) tonight. Tip is at 7 P.M. Central. Views via FSN and NBATV. Sounds via WCCO 830. James Harden’s beard is traveling with the team and will be in the Rockets’ starting lineup.
We discussed some of the issues heading into this game during our first Punch-Drunk Podcast. (Eds. Note: We’re planning on adding podcasts to our repertoire on a semi-regular basis. More details on that to come.)
A few notes on tonight’s game below the fold.
Last Night’s Game
Andy G: So, last night. The Wolves lost a game they needed to win. The Pelicans have talent (Anthony Davis, Eric Gordon) but they aren’t very good yet (22-27 after the win) and they are without point guard Jrue Holiday and shooter Ryan Anderson. (The Pellies miss Jrue Holiday more than any other player, losing to opponents by 3.6 points per 100 poss. when he’s out.)
If you can believe this, the Wolves got destroyed in the fourth quarter, giving up 37 points and scoring just 20.
Their season in a nutshell, in other words.
With the loss, the Timberwolves fall to 2 games below .500 and 5.5 games outside the playoff picture. And Memphis is between the Wolves and the playoff teams.
In short, the Wolves are not going to make the playoffs, barring something unforeseen in the trade and/or injury scene.
Anything you feel like adding about that game, specifically?
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.
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…
What’s in store for the Wolves this season?
Sometimes you just want to know what the future holds. You look into your crystal ball, but all you see is fog, so you ransack your house looking for that Ouija board you got in college. You don’t find it, so you go on a peyote-fueled drive through the deserts of Mexico, looking for that shaman who your buddy says changed his life. You make it back into the States in one piece.
It’s three games into the Wolves preseason, and you’re now wondering if the Wolves are going to be any good this year. “Will they make the playoffs?” “What will Adelman’s rotations look like?” “Will Nikola Pekovic raze a village in frustration after a tough loss and get slapped with a season-long suspension?”
At Punch-Drunk Wolves, we have the answers. A few emerging impressions about this year’s team are below the fold.
There isn’t a high volume of meaty information coming from Timberwolves training camp. But there are interesting tidbits here and there.
One such tidbit involves Alexey Shved. Shved is a talent, but coming into camp there were question marks about his frame and his lack of experience, despite the skills and composure he put on display at the Olympics.
But Shved has kept on truckin’ during the first two days of camp.
Joan Niesen has the choice firsthand info on Shved:
“Yes, Shved is thin, but he’s also taller than Adelman expected, and he’s not getting manhandled on the court. He looked good in 5-on-5 on Tuesday, playing smoothly and quickly,” Niesen reports.
Wolves coach Rick Adelman concurs.
“I just don’t see him getting pushed around,” Adelman said. “I said before, the thing that will be the biggest adjustment is at the defensive end. He’s just going to have guys coming at him all the time, and that’s where he’s going to make his adjustment. He’s going to get better offensively because he has skills.”
So does teammate and fellow Russian Andrei Kirilenko.
“He’s a young, talented guy who can really run and bring you a lot of energy on the floor,” Kirilenko said. “He’s not afraid to take a shot in the crunch moment, which is needed on every team in the NBA. He’s young, with the potential to keep growing.”
Other training camp tidbits that got my attention are below the fold.
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.
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.
Williams dunks from far places
This blogger says no.
I decided to rank the dunkers, based on how well I expect them to do in the contest (that is, NOT on their in-game dunking ability). My list is below the fold.