Archives For 2012 Offseason

Robbie Hummel, small forward from Purdue University.

I’m not sure what you’re supposed to do with a 58th pick. Do you grab someone you can stash away in Europe for a couple of years? Do you essentially pick a guy that can develop in the D-League for you? Is there a way to address a need at 58? Are you just grabbing someone you hope can push the guys on your roster to compete in Summer League and training camp?

Wolves took Robbie Hummel with the 58th pick for two reasons:

1) He can shoot the lights out and this team sucked at shooting last season.
2) He’s torn his ACL twice.

I’m not sure that Hummel will ever be able to truly compete in the NBA after his injuries. We don’t know if it’s completely robbed him of the athletic ability and quickness to stay with NBA talent on a nightly basis. Before he was injured, Hummel was being picked as an All-American candidate and projecting to be a first round pick. He could have probably gone anywhere from late lottery to the mid-20s in the first round. On February 24, 2010, he tore his right ACL in a game here against the Gophers. About eight months later, Hummel tore the same ACL in a team practice on October 16th. Because these injuries happened to him, he fell drastically over the past two years. He essentially ended up in the Wolves’ reach because his ACL tore twice.

Through both of these devastating injuries, he’s come back. After two ACL injuries in the same knee, Robbie scored 16.4 points per game (career-high) for the Boilermakers last season. Sure, he shot a career-worst 41.7% from the field to get those scoring numbers but he also averaged a career-best 7.2 rebounds per game. He doesn’t turn the ball over. He doesn’t make a ton of plays. He just knows how to shoot the ball and find ways to score.

As far as his athleticism, he’s doing okay. Hummel was never the guy to wow you with his movement from a pure athletic standpoint. But when he measured out for the Draft Combine a couple weeks ago, he finished 23rd out of 40 small forwards in the 3/4 court sprint. He finished 25th out of 39 small forwards in the lane agility test. When he had his workout here in Minneapolis, he looked to be in phenomenal shape and moving quite well without even wearing a knee brace.

It’s unrealistic to think the 58th pick is going to come to the team and have an impact. In the last 10 years, only Luis Scola has been the third-to-last player drafted and made a real impact. The second best player in this classification is a fight between Brandon Hunter, Lester Hudson and Derrick Caracter. No, seriously. But Robbie Hummel isn’t your typical end of the draft guy. He was a legit NBA prospect before blowing out the same knee twice. He came back from those injuries to prove he can still play, and he showed enough in the pre-draft workout to let the Wolves think, “what the hell?” and give him a shot.

This week, the Wolves added two really incredible shooters to their roster. This is a good thing considering the Wolves were 27th in FG%, 23rd in 3FG%, 18th in TS%, and 20th in EFG%. If there was a way to measure shooting from anywhere that wasn’t the free throw line, the Wolves pretty much struggled. Now with guys like Chase Budinger and Robbie Hummel on the roster, you can feel a little confident spreading the floor. And when you can spread the floor, you open up driving lanes for Ricky Rubio (when he’s back) and J.J. Barea. You also open up entire sides of the floor for Kevin Love, which in turn opens up the middle for Nikola Pekovic. Adding shooting to this attack is a symbiotic relationship. It allows the offense to be a living and breathing organism.

Chase Budinger and Robbie Hummel may not be the sexiest of moves for this team, but the Wolves are addressing a huge need. They need a specific set of skills (like Liam Neeson in Taken) and are grasping them in the morning sunrise of the 2012 offseason.

 

That’s a good question.

With the Wolves now in possession of a competent wing player and the 58th pick, there really isn’t much commotion on the surface of our draft waters. We can assume that the feet are paddling furiously beneath the surface, but as of right now everything seems calm. What are the options that sit at the Wolves fingertips?

  • The team could do nothing, try to grab a guy with a decent chance of making the roster with the 58th pick and prepare for the qualifying offer deadline that is June 30th.
  • The team could trade up in the second round (Wes Johnson, anybody?) and try to grab a coveted big man like Miles Plumlee. Team is big on Plumlee and it doesn’t look like there’s a chance of him lasting 58 picks. I know most people are underwhelmed by him and you probably should be. But he is an imposing figure, athletic as all get-out (as the kids say) and could maybe be a decent fourth big man in the rotation.
  •  The team could trade Derrick Williams and try to grab someone in the first round. What’s kind of crazy is D Dub’s value seems pretty low after a mediocre rookie season. If he were going in this draft and hadn’t played in the NBA yet, he’d be a lock for the second pick. The news yesterday that Derrick has lost roughly 12 pounds so far this off-season and is looking to get down to 225 bodes well for trying to maximize his ability with this team. If the Wolves tried to trade him to get into the Top 5, they’d probably be laughed off the phone lines. Personally, unless we’re getting a good wing veteran in return, I’d like to see what Derrick Williams 2.0 can do for this team with a full training camp.
  • (Obligatory point guard joke that isn’t made by anybody but people who haven’t paid attention to the team since Draft Night 2009 and have no idea the Wolves didn’t select Ty Lawson but that Denver did)
  • Targuy Ngombo 2: Electric Boogaloo

There is a list of second round picks that I’d love the Wolves to be able to pluck. Kim English is the top of my list because I think he’d be a great addition to this locker room and to the attack of the Wolves. But he’s projected to go near the beginning of the second round and the Wolves may not have the enticing pieces to move up 25-ish spots in the second round. When the Wolves seemed to not be working out many prospects in the weeks leading up to the draft, I assumed tonight would be kind of insane for us. With the Budinger trade, that Draft Night storm seems to have quelled itself.

Ultimately, it might be a really quiet evening here in the Twin Cities. And I’d be fine with that. I like where this team is (assuming Ricky comes back healthy) moving forward and I think the flexibility of the roster and cap space can be used properly this off-season to help the team greatly improved, depending on which guy is really making the moves (Team Rick).

Wolves have taken themselves out of the 18th pick fiasco that I babbled about yesterday by dealing it to the Houston Rockets for Chase Budinger and the rights to Lior Eliyahu.

The Eliyahu aspect of the trade shouldn’t really matter. He’s a good athlete that really can’t shoot or do much with the ball. I guess a guy like Rubio could make him valuable in the open court on some level, but he really shouldn’t have a real chance at making the team if the Wolves are serious about filling out this roster. He’ll be at Summer League and we’ll see how he’s progressed.

As far as Chase Budinger goes, I love this deal for the Wolves. Is Chase Budinger a future star in the NBA? No. It’s also unlikely the Wolves would have picked up a wing player at 18 that would have provided the instant production that Chase will bring to the team. Terrence Ross falling to the Wolves seems like the only way the team could have maximized this pick. Otherwise, it’s a lot of square pegs into holes that already have square pegs there.

Chase Budinger is as good of an athlete as anybody that will be available, so let’s not pretend they downgraded there. He’s also a guy that shot 40.2% from 3-point range last year. Not only did he shoot 40.2% from 3-point range last year but he can make corner 3s as well.

Check out the next three shot charts.  Continue Reading…

Our friend Darren Wolfson at ESPN 1500 has reported that the Wolves are going to offer Brandon Roy a two-year contract and that the money is not known.

I don’t even know if I’m ready to deal with the idea of Roy’s knees actually being healthy enough to be a serviceable player in the NBA. It’s not even like he had a catastrophic injury that left him in deep Shaun Livingston type of territory. He had injuries that were manageable (relatively speaking of course) and the wear-and-tear-and-more-tear just deteriorated the situation in his middle-leg-joints (medical term) past the point of no return.

But there apparently is a return in sight. With that return, it means the Wolves have to woo him with money over those proposed two years in order to convince him Minnesota is more attractive than a more instant title contender. So how much money do they have?

For committed salary heading into next year (courtesy of Sham Sports), the Wolves currently stand at $52,874,151. That is with the understanding that Brad Miller’s retirement paperwork has all of the Ts crossed and the lower case Js dotted. But that number can be deceiving.  Continue Reading…

Befuddled by the process

Zach Harper —  June 25, 2012 — 3 Comments

The Timberwolves are confusing me.

There are some things we know for sure:

- This team plays at the Target Center.
- They currently have a team with two star-quality players in Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio.
- Rick Adelman is the head coach.
- Glen Taylor is the owner.
- David Kahn is the president of basketball operations.
- The Wolves currently possess the 18th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. They also have the 58th pick.
- They’re currently running one of the oddest draft processes a lot of people have ever seen.

I came back earlier from the Wolves’ workout of Will(ie) Barton, Ramone Moore, Yancy Gates and Garrett Stutz. This was Moore’s second time working out with the Wolves, so maybe they really like his chances of being available at 58 for some backcourt depth. Gates and Stutz are most likely irrelevant and just workout filler to get some big men in here to run some 2-on-2 sets that test guards.

This was Barton’s first workout with the Wolves. He’s been through so many workouts over the past month that he said he actually forgets what city he just came from most mornings. He’ll be in Indianapolis tomorrow and trying to remember that he was just here today. Barton has also been shooting up draft boards throughout this draft process.

When the Wolves pick at 18, it’s possible he’s the guy. When the Wolves pick at 18, it’s also possible Royce White will come home to make his NBA debut. It’s also possible that Fab Melo’s workout with the team Tuesday will vault him into being the 18th pick. Or maybe Draymond Green from Michigan State will get the nod because of his prior workout with the team.

Or what if… um… who else was here… Drew Gordon… yeah… what if Drew Gordon ends up being the pick for the Wolves? Is that a possibility?  Continue Reading…

Some players drafted second overall in the past decade or so: Darko Milicic; Michael Beasley; Stromile Swift; Hasheem Thabeet. Marvin Williams: a perfectly fine player and all but is markedly less fine when one considers that he was drafted ahead of  both Chris Paul and Deron Williams. Yes Kevin Durant and LaMarcus Alridge were second picks, but so was the unfortunate Jay Williams. (I suppose it depends on your perspective whether you consider experiencing a hellaciously awful motorcycle crash that ruins your career and nearly kills you, but does not kill you, fortunate or unfortunate.) Steve Francis was a second pick.

And so was our very own Derrick Williams. In the second pick pantheon Williams will surely find himself somewhere in the hazy middle between Darko and Durant. Better, I truly hope, than Mike Beasley. Better than Williams? As good as LaMarcus? Now it’s getting tricky.

Williams’ first season in the league was recognizable to anyone who keeps tabs on young talent in the NBA. It consisted of a handful of sobering, only-a-few-humans-alive-can-do-what-he-just-did kinds of plays, a handful truly wincingly awful plays and a large portion of stuff in the middle. Williams certainly doesn’t fall into the “insanely athletic/talented but has no idea what he’s doing category” but in the more even more tantalizing “insanely athletic/talented and almost (but not quite) knows what he’s doing” category. There are a lot of perfectly mediocre NBA players in that latter category.

Continue Reading…

Martell Webster’s season will most likely be remembered with agonizing humor.

His blunder at the end of an overtime loss to the Denver Nuggets on February 20th was a frustrating mistake that potentially cost the Wolves a victory when the season still had life. He stole an inbound pass from Julyan Stone with the Wolves down three and just under four seconds left in the game, drove to the basket, and slammed it home. Rick Adelman said it was possibly emotions getting the best of Martell.

Martell explained his thought process as “But what was going through my mind was go to the rim and possibly get fouled. The contingency to that shot was get a bucket, get a foul, they miss free throws and we get another shot. It didn’t work out that way.” By the time he flushed the ball through the rim and the Wolves fouled Corey Brewer, there was only half a second left in the game and the Nuggets held on for victory.

He was the butt of the joke for the rest of the season whenever Wolves and end-of-game situations came up. In reality, it was a microcosm of sorts for how the Wolves played at the end of basketball games. Webster rushed through the motions and tried to extend the game. When the Wolves found themselves in “clutch situations” (plus/minus five points with five or fewer minutes left in the fourth or overtime), they had one of the highest paces in the league.

Considering the Wolves and their up-tempo DNA, it’s possible that was by design. They wanted to continue to run teams out of the building, no matter what the situation. But their execution in these situations left a lot to be desired.

There wasn’t really many clutch situations in which they were that close to having an advantage. When the defense was good, the offense seemed to not be able to match it. When the offense increased as the time ticked away in close games, the defense became pitiful.

Not all of those can be blamed on Martell Webster. In fact, very little of it can be blamed on him. Webster was not good this year. In fact, other than the five-minute season he had in 2008-09, he’s only had a worse PER once (9.9 in his second season) and WS/48 twice (.039 and .036 his first two years) than the 10.0 PER and .064 WS/48 numbers he put up this season. He also tied the second worse true shooting percentage of his career with a 53.3%.

Some of this could be chalked up to frustrating decisions with the basketball. Some of this could be due to the back injury he’ll pretty much have to live with the rest of his career. He’s a lottery pick that has never produced relative to his draft position, but he’s also a guy that can be a valuable veteran in the right role. And it seemed like for most of the season, Webster was accepting of and thriving in that role.

He has young players’ ears and even though he’s just 25 years old, he’s a seven-year veteran that has learned how the league works. He’s here to help the team but he’s also here for veteran stability.

Unfortunately on that particular February night in Denver, Martell will be remembered for not playing with stability or poise. He’ll be remembered for that embodiment of frustrating Wolves’ play at the end of clutch games this year. They made strides, finishing 7-7 in games decided by three points or less. But to be a serious playoff contender, the Wolves need all of their guys to continue to grow.

Webster is a reminder that grit and determination can get you on the court in the NBA. But he’s also a reminder to this young Wolves team that you have to keep your head when the game gets tight.

With just $600,000 of his $5.7 million contract being guaranteed before July 1st, we’ll find out in the next two weeks if he’ll get more chances with this team to learn how to close out games in the future.

The plight of Wayne Ellington was befuddling to many Wolves fans throughout the season.

We were a team full of shooters who could no longer shoot. After blistering the NBA with 3-point baskets when down double digits in 2010-11, the Wolves either regressed to the mean, had a lockout-induced outlier, or thought the new CBA brought about horseshoe rules in which close was good enough. Whatever the reasons were, Wayne Ellington seemed like a decent answer for a team that wasn’t making long-range shots.

He started out the first month of the season seeing solid minutes on the floor. Through the first 19 games of the season, he averaged 21.2 minutes per game and was providing an adequate threat for spreading the floor. Granted, these were all small sample sizes after a chaotic start to the season, but after going 1/6 from 3-point range in the first game of the season, Wayne hit 39.4% (13/33) of his 3s in the month of January while the team managed to make just 34.6%.

The team was still playing good defense during his extended minutes on the court as well (102.3 defensive rating in January; 99.5 as a team overall). Wayne’s defensive effort was often commendable even though he was a bit shorter than the wing scorers he was asked to defend. His footwork was solid and his effort to keep up was consistent. Unfortunately, he simply wasn’t tall enough to truly bother a lot of shots.

As Ben Polk mentioned in his Wes Johnson post, “But what’s really strange is that, given the depth of his offensive struggle, given his great athletic gifts and given his stated desire to be a great NBA defender, he would be so noncommittal on the defensive end.” The weird thing about the Wes Johnson experience is his minutes stayed consistent over the course of the entire season. He never dropped below 20 minutes per game in any month of the season. He couldn’t make shots and he didn’t seem engaged on defense. And yet he was consistently on the floor, perhaps in the hopes that Ricky Rubio could figure out how to make Wes work.

When February hit, Wayne Ellington’s minutes vanished. In back-to-back games from January 23rd and 25th, he logged 71 minutes. Over the next 13 games, he played just 96 minutes total. Why did Wayne fall out of favor with Rick Adelman’s rotation? Perhaps there were practice issues, although the team didn’t really have a lot of time to practice. Perhaps there were personality clashes, except nothing ever seemed to get out about Wayne or Rick being unhappy with one another. Perhaps it was the hope that greater “talents” in Martell Webster and Wes Johnson would figure out how to play in a budding rotation that was starting to take off even when their wings remained grounded.

Whatever the reason was, the Wolves’ best shooter was left for rotting on the pine during a key month of the season. It wasn’t a good move and it wasn’t a bad move. I don’t even know that it was a move at all. It was just confusing to watch one of the team’s best shooters struggle to find time on the floor when his shot had been threatening and his effort to play defense has shone through.

Wayne would regain minutes after Ricky Rubio’s injury but his shooting touch was inconsistent over the last two months of the season. It’s weird to think that Wayne Ellington was actually the answer at shooting guard during the season because he probably wasn’t. He’s a backup kind of guy and even then I’m not sure you have to have him in your rotation.

It’s also weird to think a guy that was providing a need and needed effort at a consistently struggling position for the Wolves would just stop playing without much explanation or proven alternative available.

Long-term, this isn’t a big deal but in the short term, it was pretty puzzling.

Brad Miller’s swan song wasn’t a feel good Disney movie that ended up leaving everybody with a warm tingly feeling. He didn’t give us the John Salley in Eddie where he squeezes every ounce of game out of his scar tissue-addled knees to help bring this team the playoffs after years of down-and-out malaise.

Brad Miller was acquired to help bring some veteran leadership to a team Rick Adelman was taking over. He was supposed to come in here and be a competitor, teach these guys how to win. He was supposed to be a coach on the player roster. And to many degrees, he did those things.

He only played in 15 games during his final season in the NBA, but he seemed to show every bit of pride he possesses in all of those games. He was out of shape, gasping for streams of oxygen as he labored up and down the court. His silhouette wasn’t as lean as it once appeared. He was doughy, relying on the same type of adapted strength you’d see from a steelworker of 30 years rather than the finely tuned power you commonly see from NBA athletes married to the weight room. His skills were still present as he dropped bounce passes to backdoor cutters and rained down seven 3-pointers in 15 attempts this year.

Brad Miller’s knee probably was never truly healthy enough to play this season. He labored in most actions he performed, but he did try to gut through the pain and discomfort to show the younger guys how you’re supposed to be a professional. He talked to guys on the bench, attempted to joke and rally with them in the locker room, and help teach the big guys how to operate in Rick Adelman’s system. He wasn’t good and he wasn’t bad. He wasn’t really anything at all. He was holding onto one final gasp, dangling above the pit of retirement that so many athletes dare to avoid. While he didn’t provide much tangible production on the court, his spirit and leadership helped root out those that should and shouldn’t be on this team moving forward. If you weren’t able to get ahead of Rick’s guy in the rotation at the end of the year, you probably shouldn’t be long for this team.

Brad Miller helped separate the real from the potential on this roster. He showed Rick who was a fighter and who deserved minutes. Brad Miller was the colander that kept the good in and let the bad wash itself down the drain. He may not have given the Wolves what he used to have, but he definitely gave them all he had left.

We are 23 days away from the NBA Draft and we’ve already seen the Wolves invite 26 different players into Minneapolis to have a gander at what they can possibly add to this organization.

For the most part, we’ve seen players that probably aren’t good enough to be taken with the 18th pick in the draft and yet too good to fall to the 58th pick in the draft. This makes it a bit hard to construct our draft board. However, I’m going to attempt to do just that.

A lot of times, you’ll see a draft board for a team that includes anybody you’d like to see on the roster. You’re picking out names that you hope fall to the Wolves or any given team and hopeful that they’ll take a look at these prospects. Our draft board at AWAW will be a bit different. We’re only going to rank those that have come through for workouts and try to figure it out from there.

It’s too early to have a good idea of the actual options that will be there three weeks from now, especially considering we haven’t even had the Draft Combine yet (June 6-10, and on ESPNU at 9am on 6/7).  In both of the Mock Drafts since the lottery unfolded, Chad Ford has the Wolves taking Austin Rivers at 18. But we won’t really know how likely that is until much closer to the draft and if the Wolves end up working him out.

So here is the AWAW Draft Board for 2012 considering only the players that have been brought in so far and it will be updated as more workouts happen for our beloved T’Pups:  Continue Reading…