We are ten games in, so its a decent sample size… to post on this blog (but probably not enough to make any legitimate conclusions). So far we have had some good wins, close loses… and as expected… ugly losses. But overall, I think I can speak for most Timberwolves fans when I say, there is a feel of optimism around the team. Lets be honest, wins and losses count for little other than Flip’s coaching record this year. The more important thing for fans is the development of the young core and seeing just what we have in this ball of 20 something athleticism.
The season started well, with a competitive showing in the season opener away to Memphis. As expected Zbo and Gasol really punished us inside, but we stuck fat with a huge game from Thad Young on debut, and a Mo-Shabazz combo sparking us off the bench. Ultimately, it wasn’t quite enough, but it was undoubtedly a strong start as we smashed the spread betting line and put up a strong showing off Beal Street.
A nice balanced win in the wolves home opener against the hapless pistons, and welcoming Chicago to face our Kuoka’s Bulls. This was arguably the game of the season so far for the Timberpups, with a hard fought last second loss, despite big showings from Martin and Bennett. The ever-improving, and now seemingly clutch Butler, pump faked Wiggins in the last seconds to draw a foul and put the bulls ahead. Smart play by Butler against the Rook, but these things happen, and you can live with your number 1 Rookie being on the court in crunch time when the games on the line. I like it.
A trip to the Barclays centre was next, where a balanced attack and strong showings from both Rubio (near triple double) and wiggins (17-4) lead the wolves to their best win of the season thus far.
Disaster struck two nights later in Orlando during an OT loss to the young Magic, as Rubio went down with a serious ankle injury, which will keep him sidelined for up to 2 months. A back to back on the road in Miami the following night allowed no adjustment time, and despite Lavine’s first start (in the NBA) at point guard, the heat were white hot and got out to a 20+ point lead early. The wolves stuck around and got it back to 4 late in the game, only to falter and lose by 10.
If the wolves hadn’t traveled enough, next on the schedule was Houston…. IN MEXICO CITY! An incredibly entertaining first half, as both teams kept it close and put on a show for the Mexican fans. Massive dunks by Wiggins and Bennett, and some flashy dishes by Lavine, kept the pups in it early, before Houston’s coveted 3 point fire power was unleashed and quickly blew the game open.
The trip wasn’t done however, with another road stop in New Orleans, which saw a record breaking performance by the Pelicans absolutely blow out the wolves, who were without Thad Young after a family tragedy. The one shining light was Wiggins getting a career high 20 points- and still showing flashes of what made him the number 1 overall pick. Oh, and Lavine did this…
The final stop was a visit to Dallas to visit Dirk and Co. A tough matchup at the best of times, the road weary pups were no match for the Mavs, as Thad missed his second game, and Pek sat out the majority of the game with soreness. Martin, Mo, Wiggins, Lavine and Dieng all battled, but were no threat for the rolling Mavericks.
The last of our ten games to start the season was finally back in the Twin Cities against New York and to say the boys were happy to be home was an understatement. No Pek/No Problems. The knicks strolled into an athletic buzz saw, with Lavine, Bazz and Wiggins dunking anything in sight, and Martin lighting up the outside with 7 threes (37 points). Its good to be home…
So here are 5 things to like and 5 things to not like about the wolves in the first 10 games…
From all reports, a Pro’s Pro! With so many young guys on the roster, its invaluable to have a leader like this. The NBA saw in Philly, that he is a no frills guy, who goes to work every night and puts in work. Despite the situation he doesn’t complain, and you never hear a bad word about him. Increased range on his three-ball has made him a legitimate stretch 4, and I would be more than happy if we resigned Thad and kept him around to mentor the likes of Wiggins, Shabazz, Bennett and Lavine.
Rubio’s new contract
Before going down with the bad ankle, Rubio had shown signs of a more aggressive offensive leader, and a more confident (if only slightly improved) jumpshot. Having lost none of the flash on his assists and none of the length that makes his perimetre defence underrated, Rubio is now locked up for the foreseeable future, and this is a strong positive move from the wolves front office.
Yes I named my keeper league team after him, so I’m a little biased, but boy has he shown signs early. Already a legitimate defender, Wiggins has shown the explosivness getting to the ring that made him so highly touted coming out of school. His jumpshot is better than advertised, and while he still floats in and out of possessions, he is only going to mature and improve over the next few years. Im glad he is used to the snow, because I think he is here to stay.
Not sure if the big fella spent a little time in Texas this off season with the big fundamental, but Im enjoying this new wrinkle to his game. I think most forget that basketball is a relatively recent part of his life, and the constant improvement and experience as he continues to work on his game is slowly showing on the hardwood. His hustle has been there from day one, but the help defense, post game and mid range shot/bankshot are really impressive. If you can snag a legitimate starting Centre from the 20th pick (seems like the one thing the wolves are good at is drafting underrated C’s…NIKOLA!) you’re doing ok.
Seems like this guy has really grown emotionally and mentally. An offseason of getting in serious shape, working on his game, and no pouting and bad body language during games is starting to really show in his limited minutes. Its time to free the bazz! He rebounds incredibly well for a guard, and his bigger and stronger than just about everyone he matches up on. He has had a number of highlight plays and I’m all for him getting some more minutes to show what he can do.
I DON’T LIKE…
Its time to just trade these two guys away. Right now they are eating (obviously Brewer more so than Chase) into court time for other young wings. Maybe trading one of them away for a young point guard so that Lavine can shift back to a shooting guard role (see below). Both the Rockets and the Cavs have reportedly shown interest in Brewer, however what they are willing to give back in return is unclear. It seems these guys are on the block and the wolves will be hoping to get back something for them. Whatever the argument, I think it’s time for Brewer and Chase to be moved – dont get me wrong I love a guy who owns a goat as a pet and I named my puppy after the other guy!
Lavine playing point
I could be wrong. In fact I’m often wrong, but Im just not sure about Lavine ever being a point guard. While all reports are signalling that Lavine is doing all that he can to move from a scorer’s mentality to a facilitator’s mentality, it’s not an easy switch to flip. A season of this experiment is probably tolerable, but anything more without improvement and Im out!
Note: Probably doesn’t help if Mo is you’re veteran teaching you to be a distributor!
178 point loss to the Pelicans
The other losses were bad… but this was UGLY! Giving up 80 in the first half to a team that probably wont make the playoffs and is coached by the ‘offensive guru’ known as Monty Williams isn’t a good sign for our defensive capabilities. I’m hoping this can be chalked up to a long road trip and return from Mexico City.. let’s hope… I’m all in for competitive losses.
Robbie Hummel > GR3
I like Robbie – I really do. He does all the intangibles, hustles, and shoots corner 3’s reasonably well. But lets be honest – he wont be on an NBA roster in the next 18-24 months (Philadelphia isn’t currently an NBA roster). So why are we wasting a roster spot here? Glenn Robinson III has played a total of 9 minutes in the last two games (his only two appearances), after having a decent showing in the pre-season. The argument can’t even be made that he is earning his chops in the D-League a la Shabazz last season. I think its time to change the depth chart.
KG buying the wolves.
This is blasphemous I know, but did we forget what happened when the last Hall of Famer purchased a team? If you have been living under a rock for the last decade, MJ’s stake in both the Wizards and Bobcats was disastrous for the most part. Just because you are a genius on the hardwood, doesn’t mean you will translate to a genius in the front office. I think maybe we should stick to billionaire IT moguls- they seem to do a pretty decent job.
For now the wolves are 3-7 and sliding into the lottery yet again. We knew this was going to be a build over project, we just need to hope this time its a quick one and we can break this playoff drought as soon as possible. At least things are more exciting in the Target Centre than they have been in a long while.Follow @smcphers0n
ALL VINES BELONG TO THE ORIGINAL POSTERS.