Archives For Zach Harper

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There’s a certain period of adjustment in expectations when you’ve got a bad team becoming a good team.

You have a time in which the first quarter excellence isn’t such a surprise; it just becomes what you expect. Then the double-digit leads are expected to be kept throughout most of the game. Then you stop telling yourself stuff like, “as long as the other team doesn’t get it below 12 in the next few minutes, we should be fine.” After that, you stop assuming the team is going to not only blow the lead, but the game altogether. It’s such a weird process for dealing with a team going from being perennially bad to being currently good.

I’m not sure the Wolves are officially a good team yet, but the signs are there through the first three games that make me believe they could be pretty soon. Against the New York Knicks Sunday night, we saw everything we’ve expected and feared about this team rolled into one 48-minute contest. It was the same thing we saw when them beat the Orlando Magic, which was more annoying than terrifying because of the caliber of the opponent. But against the Knicks, unraveling on the road sort of became a certainty as the second half progressed and the team panicked before pulling themselves together.

That panic is the period of adjustment with expectations that the team needs to figure out as well. Continue Reading…

The thud you heard at the 10:17 mark of the second quarter in Friday night’s blowout victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder was Ronny Turiaf fracturing the radial head of his right elbow. When a missed Jeremy Lamb missed a push shot in the lane and Ronny Turiaf went up for the rebound, Nick Collison came crashing in to keep the possession for OKC alive. Unfortunately, he crashed Turiaf more than he crashed the offensive glass and it resulted in a tough injury for the Wolves’ backup center.

Here’s the statement from the team regarding the injury:  Continue Reading…

I probably don’t even need to explain why this is amazing.

42BoldPredictions

Right before any regular season begins, you start having ideas pop into your ahead about what a team or player could be with a brand new slate. Everybody has put on muscle or shed fat. They’ve worked on their game and added new components. They’ve played against inspiring competition in the offseason and seen trainers looking to retool these incredible athletes.

Then we see a glimpse of what could be in the preseason, mostly against lineups we won’t see much and schemes so basic we won’t see them in the regular season. That gives us a bit more information to make our preseason predictions and boldly claim what no fan has claimed before. Just to have a little fun with the upcoming season, I thought it would be enjoyable to give some Hot Sports Takes that center around the Wolves and offer up predictions for the coming year. I stole this idea from my CBSSports.com cohort Royce Young that gave Daily Thunder reads 35 statements made with extreme confidence.

I’ve come up with 42 Hot Wolves Takes that can be our measuring guide for what may happen in 2013-14. Why 42 of them? Royce chose 35 because Kevin Durant’s number is 35, so I’m rolling with Kevin Love’s number. When the season is over, we’ll revisit and see how many of these hit and how many of them fell off like Troy Hudson. Let’s have some fun:  Continue Reading…

WolvesTrio

I would like to preface this post with the fact that I have full confidence in Rick Adelman’s coaching abilities, fully believe in his philosophies when it comes to basketball, and think his offensive system is superb. I will never pretend to know as much about basketball theory or even half of the practical applications of said theories in comparison to Rick Adelman.

The offense of the Minnesota Timberwolves is crucial. This isn’t so much basketball theory as an expectation of what’s in store for us this season. I’m not breaking any ground in telling you that the Wolves have to be good on offense. This isn’t news to anybody reading this site. The Wolves need to score points and we expect that they’ll need to score a lot of points in order to neutralize whatever shortcomings are there on defense. We felt this way going into last season. Points wouldn’t be the problem; defense would.

Turns out that was backwards but mostly due to an injury rash that turned into an injury flesh-eating bacteria. Kevin Love went down. Ricky Rubio came back but missed significant time while needing a month or two to get back to where he needed to be. Brandon Roy never materialized. Chase Budinger went down for the middle of the season with love handles on each side of that middle. Nikola Pekovic and Andrei Kirilenko were sporadically banged up. The season fell apart before we could even see how it fit together.

And that’s why the offense of the Wolves is so crucial this year. I think we see frustration this early from Rick Adelman for two reasons: Continue Reading…

The NBA’s annual GM Survey hit the stands on the internet today and the Wolves were prominently featured throughout the polling.

As you can see in the tweet above, Kevin Love won the award for doing the most with the most limited of natural ability. We’ll get into more of that later, but for now it’s interesting to see where the lay of the league is in the eyes of the general managers around the NBA. Here’s the full survey from John Schuhmann of NBA.com.

Let’s get into where the Wolves fall in some of these questions:  Continue Reading…

Derrick Williams

It’s rare that we have a lottery pick, especially a pick so high like Derrick Williams, have to worry about the fourth year of their option being picked up but with the new Collective Bargaining Agreement beginning to rear its ugly head, it’s looking more and more common for teams to take a much more cautious look when it comes to extending rookie deals to their fourth year. Factor in that Derrick Williams hasn’t exactly lit the league on fire as the No. 2 pick in the 2011 draft and it makes sense that there was so much discussion as to whether or not Flip Saunders and Glen Taylor would agree to give Williams a fourth season with the Wolves.

Apparently that discussion is over though. According to Darren Wolfson and Nate Sandell of 1500 ESPN, Glen Taylor has confirmed that the Wolves will exercise the team option for $6.2 million in 2014-15 in order to keep Williams. Of course, that could also be exercising the option in order to keep their trade options with Williams open as well. Regardless of what the plan is, the Wolves have committed (for now) to pay the fourth year salary of a guy they’re struggling to find a place for in this system.  Continue Reading…

Kevin Love got his own This Is SportsCenter commercial as the barista who makes the best double-double espressos.

Stan Verrett is pumped about it!

(Via Mark Remme at Timberwolves.com)

WolvesCelticsMontreal

This picture has nothing to do with what I wrote about. (Getty)

Trying to find something to write about coming off of a preseason game against a bad team is really hard to do.

I could go through and critique the play of guys that are doing basic things in basic schemes and playing in a basketball environment that really won’t be similar to the regular season style we see in a week and a half. But really, it’s not actually analyzing anything of substance and it kind of just wastes everybody’s time. Finding a hook for these games outside of “I wonder if Othyus Jeffers and Robbie Hummel have shown enough to make the team” is pretty tough.

However, I saw a brief conversation on Twitter tonight after the game that actually fired up some of those writing juices and made me want to look at a small sample of something the Wolves did and extrapolate that as a bigger basketball theory. Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN posed this subject after the victory Sunday night:  Continue Reading…

This move Kevin Love worked on in the offseason isn't great. (Getty)

This move Kevin Love worked on in the offseason isn’t great. (Getty)

I tried. I really tried to churn out some thoughts on the Wolves losing to CSKA Moscow on Monday night and just nothing appeared. The effort was there for me trying to write about what was an on-the-surface embarrassing loss to a really talented Euroleague team. But ultimately, I just didn’t care enough about the result or what we saw on the court from a team standpoint.

And really, that was the problem with the Wolves in that game as well. I’m not sure they cared enough about their opponent throughout the 53 minutes of action to really want to do what they were supposed to do. There were individual players like Derrick Williams, Othyus Jeffers, A.J. Price, and Ronny Turiaf that appeared to give a damn. They fought through as much as they could against CSKA Moscow and nearly walked away with a victory. But there were too many mental mistakes, too many lazy offensive sets, too many poor defensive rotations throughout the game to end up defeating a quality opponent.

Make no mistake about it either; CSKA Moscow was a quality opponent. They have six guys (seven if Sonny Weems is playing) that can play in the NBA right now. The rest of their team is full of solid players as well. It’s an opponent that even the third string of the Wolves should be able to close out, but you have to have a full game of effort in order to do that. The Wolves didn’t have that and it showed both in their play and in the way Rick Adelman discussed the game afterward.

That wasn’t the case Wednesday night against the Toronto Raptors.  Continue Reading…