J.J. Redick would be — among realistic possibilities — a GREAT addition to the Timberwolves roster. His ability to not only catch and shoot, but do it while cutting hard off of a pick is the sort of thing that scrambles a defense. Two have to guard one, leaving three to guard four. That’s the general quality that we hope to see, someday, from Shabazz Muhammad. It would not only widen passing lanes for Ricky, but also allow more offensive rebounds for the opportunistic Kevin Love every time that he sets the free-up screen and his man has to jump out and hedge on the sniper peeling around for a shot.
If Flip Saunders can figure out a way to get Redick slotted between Ricky Rubio and the Kevin Love/Nikola Pekovic front line, I’ll be impressed.
(Now, back to ignoring free-agent buzz until something actually happens…)
If Magic fans want to enjoy this season, they should learn to appreciate J.J. Redick.
Let’s start with the simple: The Magic are bad. I don’t care if they arrived at MSP International with a 2-1 record and a Big Baby Davis MVP Campaign in full swing. By trading away Dwight Howard and Ryan Anderson and getting nothing but Arron Afflalo of value in return, the Magic are a gutted roster headed straight to the lottery. Even with Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love missing, the Wolves needed to win this game. Oh, and I didn’t even mention that Jameer Nelson, the Magic’s veteran point guard, was out with an injury. Nelson was replaced by former Purdue star and not good NBA player, E’Twan Moore. So yeah, this was a game the Wolves should win.
The B.S. Report podcast, when NBA-focused, is probably my favorite going right now. Joe House, a Wizards fan and funny dude, makes a good sidekick for Simmons when talking all the latest in pro hoops. But in their recent discussion about Ray Allen, Simmons said something that I took issue with:
Simmons: I think the thing people miss with Ray and the reason him and Rondo struggle to play together and struggle to get along.. Ray’s a… you know… everybody.. has to chip in to help Ray succeed. He’s runnin’ off double and triple screens. The point guard’s gotta pound the ball, twenty-five feet from the basket, for five, six seconds waiting for Ray to come around all these different things. And I think Rondo is starting to get frustrated. That, you know, they’re devoting so much time to helping Ray succeed, almost at the expense of his game. And when [Avery] Bradley was in there and Rondo could just do whatever he wanted, Bradley’s doing backcuts, all that stuff. That was such a better fit for Rondo’s game. I think that was part of the problem.
House: But that was just something that came to light last season. It’s not like that’s been going on for a long time. And it happened to coincide with, you know, Ray’s physical aging curve. He’s right at, kind of, the end of his career.
Even though Joe House did a solid job of quickly explaining Simmons’ comment away, it still bugged me when I listened to it. For two reasons: Continue reading
Like recent seasons past, the Wolves are beginning to develop negative trends that play out over the course of an extended losing streak, this one now at four games.
- Everybody (certainly this must include the bench and front office) knows that the team lacks a competent shooting guard. Luke Ridnour missed tonight’s game at Orlando for personal reasons. All the best to Luke and whatever he has going on, but his play at the off guard has not been good recently. Martell Webster didn’t help much tonight, scoring 5 points and turning it over twice in 22 minutes.
- Everybody knows that the Wolves struggle to take care of the basketball. They had 18 turnovers tonight, with the increasingly erratic J.J. Barea leading the way with 7 of his own in only 23 minutes.
- A new area of concern is three-point shooting. Against the Magic, Wolves players shot 6 for 21 (28.6 percent) from downtown–this following recent games of 6-19, 6-23, and 4-19. For the losing streak, they are a combined 26.8 percent from downtown, a rate that would put them dead last in the league by more than a couple of percentage points. Ricky creates a ton of three-point opportunities, but the Wolves won’t win many games if his teammates can’t convert them.
- Why is Wes Johnson still starting? This is the question that nobody has a good answer to. He isn’t even playing good defense, anymore. Jason Richardson scored 17 tonight, 5 over his average and many while baiting Wes into bad fouls or slamming him off screens for open jumpers. Wes’ 3 for 7 shooting night was good for him, but his minutes need to go elsewhere. Michael Beasley had a pretty average night by his standards (13 points in 25 minutes, a (-2) in a 13-point loss) and could play the same mediocre defense with better offensive punch.
I’m already beating dead horses, so I’ll keep this brief.
The Magic spread the floor around Dwight Howard and shoot a lot of threes. They make a lot of threes. In fact, they lead the league by a wide margin in made 3’s per game (9.9, next in NBA is New Jersey with 8.8). They made 12 tonight, and shot at a 40 percent clip.
J.J. Redick could run a basketball camp solely dedicated to using screens. He’s really made it into an artform. It’s silly what he does to defenders by running them off picks in all directions.
Ryan Anderson spreads the floor by being a 6’10” sharpshooter. All of this works beautifully around Superman Howard. It’s a shame that he’s going to leave the Florida Sun and this nice team chemistry. In a season as wide open as this one, Orlando has a real chance to win an improbable title, just as Dallas did last year.
Bottom line: the Wolves lost because they a) didn’t take care of the ball; b) didn’t defend the three ; c) took and missed lots of jumpers; and d) don’t have an NBA shooting guard.
Until next time.
Season Record: 13-16