A new season means new features and new ideas. Debuting this fine Monday morning is a collection of (mostly) great, (mostly) Wolves-related content. If you’ve been out of the loop or under a rock, or just super busy at work and unable to surreptitiously browse the web when your boss wasn’t looking, we’ve got you covered.
AROUND THE WORLD WIDE WEB
Zach Lowe, Grantland
Most young guys struggle on defense, but some of it is instinctual and LaVine was behind the curve — even for a rookie. He’ll get better — he shows good footwork and balance changing directions — but at 6-foot-5, he’ll be at a size disadvantage against lots of wings. He can’t afford an intellectual disadvantage.
If he remains a defensive liability, perhaps LaVine’s destiny will be as a hot lava bench guy in the mold of Crawford or J.R. Smith — a hybrid scoring guard who survives defending backups and mixes in a ton with starters. LaVine is a better pure athlete than either of those guys, and he should resist the temptation to dawdle with the ball like they do. If he manages that, LaVine can grow into a modern NBA wing — at least on offense.”
Lowe is almost always a must-read, and if he turns his gaze towards the Wolves, it will certainly be featured in this space, even though most basketball fans gobble him up as soon as his digital ink hits the presses. He does a fantastic job of fairly exploring both sides of the LaVine versus Martin debate.
Jim Cavan, The Cauldron/Sports Illustrated
Forget basketball youth in revolt; these Wolves are basketball revolt in youth: still years away from realized aims, but imbued with the kind of verve, lust, and vivacity capable of raising cyclones in their wake. They’re young, hungry, and impossibly talented. They’re upside personified, hemmed by hope enough to bind even more deeply these forever Twin Cities.
While the Wolves plot their hoped-for hoops ascension, Flip Saunders fights for his life in a Minneapolis hospital. Diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma on August 11, Saunders was forced to take an immediate leave of absence from his dual position as Minnesota’s head coach and team president.
Mr. Cavan is one of our favorites at A Wolf Among Wolves. Just about everything he writes is terrific, but this one is on a whole other level. It’s personal, heartfelt and sad. Have a tissue ready.
Kevin Pelton (print), Ethan Sherwood Strauss and Amin Elhassan (audio), ESPN
The perennially wretched Timberwolves won a grand total of 16 games last season, which somehow ranks as only the third-worst total in franchise history. But finally there’s some good news: The team broke its 25-year run of unbelievably bad luck in the NBA lottery to land No. 1 pick Karl-Anthony Towns, who will pair with 2014-15 Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins to form potentially the best on-court duo in downtown Minneapolis since the days of Kevin Garnett and Stephon Marbury.”
That’s the most concise paragraph on the state of the Timberwolves I’ve ever read. The entire article (which appeared in the October 12th issue of ESPN The Magazine) is a great snapshot of the franchise, both on and off the court.
THE LOCAL CREW
Andy and Patrick, Punch-Drunk Wolves
I don’t know if it is because he struggles to understand the plays at this stage, or if the Wolves are intentionally running different sets to utilize his skillset or because he is just purposefully hijacking the offense, BUT:
When Bjelica checks into the game he tends to get the team playing smarter offense.
As a 6’10” forward who can shoot from 27 feet out with ease, he stretches the opposing defenses out, and thus creates more room for his teammates to operate in space. Along with the simple “he’s a threat to shoot from way outside” factor, Bjelica is also a facilitator of screen-and-roll sets both as a screen setter, and also as a dribbler who will call for ball screens to come his way, too.
Thorough, smart analysis of how the Wolves’ latest overseas import (Bjelica) and highest-paid player (Rubio) might be able to save Minnesota’s offense from itself by fostering ball movement. By steering away from the dull ‘pindown-post entry-contested two’ plays we’ve seen all too often, Bjelica and Rubio can help drag the Timberwolves a bit closer to something resembling a modern NBA offense. Great stuff from the PDWolves guys, as always.
Britt Robson, MinnPost
Sure, it’s from a couple of weeks ago, but like Lowe at the national level, Robson is a must-read on the local level. A good rule of thumb is to read everything he writes.
Derek James, Hardwood Paroxysm
Lucas, The Long Two
Derek takes the big picture view of both teams during the Wolves-Raptors’ preseason game from last week, while Lucas dives into the good and (primarily) bad of Minnesota’s defensive effort.
It’s our website, and we’ll shill if we want to, shill if we want to, shill if we want to…
Zach, for CBS Sports (catch his full recent archive here):
Steve, for Rolling Stone:
Tim, for Sporting News:
and Tim, again, for Vice Sports:
Bill, on Twitter:
I think K Love saw “The End of the Tour” over the summer and decided he wants the David Foster Wallace look pic.twitter.com/mwUvCmoOtN
— William Bohl (@BreakTheHuddle) October 3, 2015
Since I don’t really like to brag about my work at Fear the Sword, an enemy website full of mean people, I’ll fill this space instead with the most (fire emoji) tweet I’ve dropped lately. Lots of recent contenders for this honor, but this Love/DFW comp takes the cake in week one.
and Bill, again, who somehow managed to have cute offspring: I’ll close these out with an update on the basketball skills of my son, Lexcen. Dunking acumen: off the charts, though he needs to work on his hands.
I’ve created a monster. A video posted by William Bohl (@breakthehuddle) on