If you don’t already know about the Minnesota TimberTrolls, consider this your wake-up call. This rabid group of Spaniards is not only responsible for some of the finest Timberwolves Photoshops, videos and GIFs out there, but have designed this rather handsome set of images based on the “Keep Calm and [X]” meme. I’ll be honest: I loved the original Keep Calm and Carry On poster, but had gotten kind of sick of the whole thing. Until now. Barea’s is particularly cheeky and awesome. Continue Reading…
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David Thorpe is a guy who knows basketball, so when he talks (or in this case, writes) everyone would do well to listen. Here’s his take on Alexey Shved’s game so far in the NBA:
Shved’s moxie, toughness and basketball IQ have helped him fit right into Rick Adelman’s offensive system. But by no means has he been a sharpshooter. More troublesome, though, is that he’s been less than average on ball screens.
First of all, his decision-making with the ball in his hands on ball screens is bad. He often settles for long 2s or 3s after dribbling sideways across the court, or even a bit backward. The 3-point shot is already long without having your momentum flow backwards before shooting it. That’s the biggest reason he’s much better in spot-up shots than off the dribble.
His angle of attack on ball screens is also too often flat, instead of sharp, meaning he isn’t attacking the lead foot or shoulder of the big man hedging on defense. When he does, he gets into the lane easily and good things follow: short runners, layups or easy kick-outs to wide-open shooters. But poor angles mean he is not a threat to score or pass, and therefore the defense stays solid.
I’d also like to see Shved lower his hips at the point of attack, which will enable him to split the defenders easier or beat them with speed. He’s far too upright now to do so without being a huge turnover risk.
The numbers bear out what Thorpe says about Shved’s 3-point shooting: According to Synergy, he’s shooting just 27.6% on 3-pointers when he’s the pick-and-roll ball handler versus 36.5% when he’s spotting up. And I wouldn’t take issue with Shved’s angle of attack being too flat in the pick and roll, but I think you also can’t ignore the fact that the Wolves legendarily awful 3-point shooting also means that teams can clog the paint without fear of reprisal from distance. As Ben observed in his wrap-up of last night’s game, when the Wolves went small and forced Asik to cover Love on the perimeter, it opened up driving lanes for Shved, which he feasted on. Check out this pair of beautiful lay-ins:
But Love went 0-7 and the Wolves as a team only shot 25% from downtown, so the paint closed up eventually. It would behoove Shved to get lower and attack sharper, but it would help everyone if the Wolves could buy a basket from deep more than once every four times.
The ever-indispensable Synergy Sports has a pretty nifty little Interactive Scouting report function that lets you take two teams and compare how they work various aspects of their game to see how they match up. I did this for the Wolves and Knicks game that’s coming up later this afternoon and found a couple of interesting things.
First, let’s look at their success with different play types and how much of their offense they make up: Continue Reading…
In sharp contrast to their swing through Florida earlier in the week, the Timberwolves showed against the Thunder how everything can work when everyone is doing their job, in ways that are both quantifiable and unquantifiable. On the quantifiable end of things, you have the numbers from mainstays like Love (28 pts on 9-20 shooting, 11 rebs, 7 asts) and Pekovic (24 and 10 on 10-18 shooting), plus huge contributions from Shved (his first NBA double-double with 12 pts and 12 asts to go with 7 rebs) and Barea (18 pts—14 in the 4th—and 3-4 from deep).
What the straight numbers don’t show, though, is how those numbers came in chunks as the Thunder struggled to shut down what was working for the Timberwolves. Interestingly, the Wolves lost every quarter except the first, which they won 30-18. But as each avenue for scoring ran its course, another seemed to open up. Continue Reading…
So it wasn’t such a great game for the Wolves or Rubio, but that doesn’t mean you can’t kick back and enjoy the artistry. The drop-off to Love in transition for the 3 and the behind-the-back number to Williams for the jumper were real throwbacks to last season.
Because you know you want to watch them back-to-back.
Today the Wolves confirmed reports aout Malcolm Lee and his injured right knee.
The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced that guard Malcolm Lee has suffered a chrondal injury in his right knee and will be out indefinitely. Lee and the organization are in the process of further evaluating the injury to determine the next steps for treatment. Once a determination is made, an update to his status will be provided. The injury occurred in the second quarter of Minnesota’s 108-105 win vs. Denver on Wednesday night.
Lee, a second-year guard from UCLA, is averaging 4.9 points and 2.4 rebounds in 18.1 minutes per game this season. He has started 12 of the last 13 games for Minnesota and has appeared in 16 games overall. Lee scored a career-high 10 points at Philadelphia on Dec. 4.
For those of us who aren’t med students, a chrondal injury is one to the articular cartilage of the knee. Not helpful? Basically, without knowing the severity of the injury, it’s hard to know what this means for Lee’s prospects. According to this website (which has a picture of snowboarding, so you know they know what’s up), treatment could be non-surgical or go all the way up to debridement (which is what Roy had done on his arthritic knee) or microfracture surgery. Time will tell. For what it’s worth, chrondal injuries are degenerative, which doesn’t sound very good.
What this does, however, is clear the way for Alexey Shved to start at shooting guard. According to Jerry Zgoda over at the Star Tribune, Shved wore the white starter’s jersey in practice today. Coincidentally, that’s same color as the whole starting lineup now.
With Ricky Rubio’s return from last season’s ACL injury growing ever more imminent (possibly as soon as Wednesday against the Nuggets), considerations about what it will mean for this team going forward have blossomed. One of the most exciting is the prospect of Rubio and Alexey Shved playing together in the backcourt. But that excitement doesn’t come without a healthy dose of trepidation. After all, pairing Rubio with a player like Kevin Love is a no-brainer as far as fit goes: One handles the ball and distributes, the other shoots and rebounds. There isn’t a lot of overlap in their games. But then you watch a clip like this of Shved’s highlights against the Bucks, and you might be forgiven for wondering how they’ll work together with games that can appear so similar.
But never fear: I’ve been listening to the Allman Brothers Band. Continue Reading…
First of all, his name is Alonzo Gee and he likes to dunk.
Little known fact: The Timberwolves were in Gee’s first NBA team. After going undrafted in the 2009 NBA Draft, Gee was signed by Minnesota on September 24, 2009, then his contract was put on waivers on October 6. It was a brief run that, sadly, did not contain any dunks.
But back to the matter at hand. No one would call this a pretty win, but it was a game in which the Wolves never trailed, and that’s encouraging. After games in which they’ve wilted against teams both superior and inferior, sometimes coming back and other times never climbing out of that hole, the Wolves hung tough even when Cleveland tied the game at 35-35 with 2:12 left in the second quarter. They went on a run to end the first half and kept the lead stable until about halfway through the fourth quarter when they started to push it out and Cleveland seemed to pack it in. It was a slow game, but that’s the way the Wolves have preferred to play this year; they came in under their season average of 93.2 points per game, which is 25th in the league. Continue Reading…
Yesterday, Kirk Goldsberry wrote an interesting post for Grantland about the Kobe Assist. I recommend reading it yourself, but the gist of the Kobe Assist is the idea that not all shot attempts are created equal. Some (specifically, those that Kobe takes from close to the basket) are very nearly assists because the way the Lakers play means that an astonishing 52% of his misses turn into offensive rebounds, and 32% of them are immediate putbacks. This means that 73% of Bryant’s close-range shots turn into points for the Lakers.
This, of course, immediately made me think of J.J. Barea. Looking at shot attempts through the lens of the Kobe Assist could finally help me make sense of why Barea’s play can be so often frustrating.