Archives For 2012 Preseason

Here we are.

Last preseason game to get our role players finely tuned and guys more connected with the system in real-time action before the games actually mean something. We’ve had a contentious preseason so far, mainly because of the injuries. Obviously, there was Rubio and his injury. Then we had Luke Ridnour up and down with his back, Love breaking his hand, Pek hurting his hand when he knocked out George Washington on Mt. Rushmore for giving him a funny look, and Andrei Kirilenko had a hammy issue for a moment.

I’m not quite sure that we’ve learned a whole lot from the preseason action. Derrick Williams is still a question mark for us, we have no clue if Brandon Roy will remain moving the way he has so far, and who knows how the first month of the season will go? We have learned that Dante Cunningham is an awesome role player, Kirilenko is going to make this team look fun on both ends of the floor at times, and Chase Budinger is a better shooter than you.  Continue Reading…

This is what effort looks like.

This is also what the difference between playing a top defense and a young team that struggles at defense looks like.

The payoff is somewhere in between these two realities.

Yes, the Detroit Pistons are a bad team and it’s preseason. These are all things to take into account until November 2nd gets here and we get to duel at 10 paces with the Sacramento Kings. But we should still love the effort we saw from a Love-less basketball team. Continue Reading…

Image taken from @MNTimberwolves

Just two more games are left in this preseason before we get to see some real action on the court.

Now if we could just get through this without having anybody else get injured, we might just make it through the first month of the season when we see how tough and resilient our second and third units are. If the Wolves start out 2-8, I won’t be singing the same tune but there is something nice about seeing which players belong because of a big injury.

I’ve mentioned this before but last season we got to see who belonged and who didn’t belong once Rubio, Pek, and Love got hit with injuries. It was probably better than if the Wolves had made the playoffs and pretended Darko, Beas, and Wes were long-term options on this team. It allowed for a changing of the guard outside of the core of this team. Situations like this make me think that there are small glimpses into if you actually want a player on your team.  Continue Reading…

The annual NBA GM survey was released on NBA.com today and as per usual, it’s kind of confusing in places and complimentary in others.

The Wolves were mentioned quite a bit throughout the survey of the 30 GMs around the league, and you know it was outside forces voting nice things about the Wolves because you’re not allowed to vote for your own team or personnel. Some of the nice things said about the Wolves:  Continue Reading…

I’ve made the case before that Derrick Williams’ development–either in becoming a consistent three or being traded for one–is essential to the Wolves’ coherence. With a consistent, dynamic wing scorer, the Wolves’ newly acquired white boy stew actually makes sense; without it, the team still feels to me haphazard and misshapen, an oblong collection of Stiemsmas and Shveds and Budingers and Kirilenkos.

I still hold to that notion, but if you want a genuine picture of incoherence, you should try that same collection of players without Kevin Love at its center. Because the Wolves’ lineup that showed up in Chicago on Friday night was about as wayward and rudderless as a team could be. Of course, in terms of sheer gloomy apathy this crew doesn’t hold a candle to last season’s daydreamy Wes Johnson/bored Anthony Randolph nadir. But when it comes to not-an-actual-NBA-team lineup collage, its pretty hard to beat the Wolves’ Barea/Roy/Kirilenko/Cunningham/Stiemsma starting five. Or how about this one: Conroy/Shved/Budinger/Williams/Amundson? I don’t even know what those words mean but those dudes did actually share the floor during Friday night’s third quarter.  Anyway.

Continue Reading…

I’d like to talk to you about a serious pandemic that is hurting this great planet we inhabit.

It’s called Knuckle Pushup Prehensile Fracture Disorder, or KPPFD. KPPFD literally affects dozen of power forwards each year, crippling their hands for month at a time. The key to battling KPPFD is to make sure workouts for star athletes are being done in a safe and secured environment. You want to have a soft floor of carpeting or a yoga mat to soften the force affecting the carpal bones in your hands. If not done properly, you can suffer from KPPFD and send thousands of fans into a panic.

We have not found a cure for KPPFD but with even a donation of just $15 million per year, we can support those who suffer.

Continue Reading…

 

Well, that’s good news. Apparently Kevin Love was doing knuckle push-ups with his trainer in his condo and that’s how he broke his hand. No word yet on whether or not he had JJ Barea on his back while he did them.

If Kevin Love misses six weeks from today, he’ll be back for the game against Milwaukee on November 30th. If he’s out just five weeks, he’ll be back for the Blazers showdown on November 23rd. This would mean he’ll miss roughly 10 to 14 games or 12-17% of the regular season. That sounds a lot better than everybody thinking he’d be back in mid-December.

So while it’s not good news still, it’s definitely not the Lovepocalypse many of us had feared yesterday when the news came down.

LoveMonster

UPDATE: Statement released by the team isn’t the same time table as Woj’s source. Now I’m just confused.

Minneapolis/St. Paul – Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love was examined today by hand specialist Dr. Andy Weiland of the Hospital of Special Surgery in New York for further evaluation of the fracture of the third and fourth metacarpal in his right hand. The evaluation revealed that surgery will not be required on his hand and confirmed that his expected return will be in 6-8 weeks.

The following is a statement from Wolves Kevin Love regarding his injury:

“Yesterday, I had a post-practice commitment and decided to work out at my home with my personal trainer before heading to Target Center. While doing various pushups, including knuckle pushups, which are part of my regular workout routine, I hurt my hand. I immediately knew something was wrong and called head athletic trainer Gregg Farnam.

“Although I’m disappointed that this injury happened, I will work extremely hard to stay in shape and return to the court as quickly as possible. We have added a lot of depth to our roster this season, and I have complete confidence in my teammates and coaching staff that they will step up and we will be successful during this time. I’m looking forward to supporting our team and helping out any way I can until I get back on the court.”

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Malcom Lee and the rest of the Timberwolves know this will take time. (Pic from our friend @cjzero)

Before Tuesday night’s warmup game against Maccabi Haifa, Rick Adelman seemed pretty intent on reminding folks that he really wanted to see his key players together on the court so he could see what they’ve got. While the Wolves have had glimpses of good things in the brief preseason so far, one thing we haven’t seen a lot of is the probable starters playing together, and the bench unit getting to be the bench unit in a game setting.

Thanks to Luke Ridnour’s back, Andrei Kirilenko’s hamstring, and Kevin Love’s horrible use of a Sleep Number bed, the Wolves haven’t had much of a shot at continuity in the first three games of the preseason. With everybody available against Haifa, coach Adelman was finally going to get to tinker with some lineups. When I asked him during pregame if he felt like the team was getting more accustomed to the system, he said, “Well, we had a good practice yesterday. I think that helped having practice and I hope it carries over to today. We had those three in four nights, were missing guys in the lineup, and we didn’t play well offensively so hopefully we’ll see an upgrade in that today.”  Continue Reading…

After tonight, we’ll be halfway through the preseason madness, which means we’re halfway to the start of the regular season. Hooray for hoops!

I don’t know that there is much I have to say after last game that won’t be said in a Pekovic article I’ve got posting sometime tomorrow. So I’ll turn your attention to the Hollinger forecast for the Wolves he posted today. He’s got the T’Wolves finishing 45-37, third in the division, and seventh in the Western Conference. This sounds like a pretty great scenario for the Wolves.

We don’t need to get into a lot of preseason predictions but every advanced stats person seems to be projecting the Wolves for big things this year. And by big things I mean making the playoffs and winning a healthy number of games. Here’s an excerpt from the Insider article from Hollinger:

The biggest reason for optimism in Minnesota has less to do with Rubio and Love, and more to do with Darko and Johnson.

Here’s why: If the Wolves can just replace all the crappy players they used last season with average ones, they should have a really good team. It’s pretty amazing how many minutes this team gave players who had no business being in a rotation, let alone prominently figuring in one. Milicic started 23 games; Johnson, unbelievably, started 64.

That’s not all. Go down the list, and you’ll see Tolliver, Milicic, Johnson, Ellington and Webster all had single-digit PERs, and those five players played nearly 5,000 combined minutes. Beasley and Williams killed the Wolves with their shot selection, but they played another 2,500. That’s 7,500 minutes devoted to nonperformers. To put that in perspective, it nearly quadruples Love’s playing time.

This season the Wolves are replacing a lot of that performance with real basketball players: Kirilenko, Budinger, Shved, Cunningham and Stiemsma all should be improvements on the players they replaced. The new wing players provide particularly massive upgrades, while also allowing the Wolves to play a more traditional backcourt. (They started two point guards for most of last season because the wings were so bad.)

While I don’t have high expectations for Roy, anything he gives them will be gravy. And then there’s Williams, who one has to think will show more shot discipline (and, hopefully, accuracy) in his sophomore season.

There’s a lot of good stuff in there, so I recommend clicking the link and checking out John’s entire preview (if you have Insider, of course). I’m trying to remain cautiously optimistic. Over/under for Wolves’ wins this year seems to be around 39.5 for a lot fo places and I think 40 or 41 seems like a fair estimation without going overboard. If Rubio was going to be healthy all year, I’d be through the roof and being completely insufferable preaching the Wolves’ success.

But alas, I can’t bring myself to those lofty exultations just yet.

For today’s 3-on-3, I brought back Noam Schiller of Hardwood Paroxysm. He’s a noted Israeli basketball fan, who loves cheering for a horrible Hapoel team. That Hapoel team employs old friend, Craig Smith. He knows the Wolves’ opponents tonight better than just about any basketball writer there is out there. I also had Steve McPherson come back for some 3-on-3 action, mainly because he’s a newbie to the site and didn’t have a choice he just did a great email exchange with Noam about the matchup and the greater state of everything Minnesota and Israel basketball.

Let’s get it on. Continue Reading…

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I wish I had something to add to last night’s affair against the Pacers, but I sadly didn’t get to watch the game. It looks like the Wolves let Derrick Williams be the man and sat the majority of the main guys to give them some rest. This is to be expected during the preseason. Maybe the key the rest of the preseason is to see if guys like Amundson, Cunningham, Derrick, Chase, and even Shved, Barea or Conroy can develop any chemistry as a second unit of sorts.

These guys need to learn how to play together, as much as they need to learn how to play in the system. Especially in an offense that is so reliant on feel of what the defense is giving you and how you’re going to exploit it away from the ball, the Wolves’ bench guys will need to learn the mannerisms of their teammates when a backdoor cut is coming or it’s better to pop or roll after the pick.

I’m very interested to see if we see any progression throughout the preseason with the second unit.

For today’s 3-on-3, I’ve grabbed Matt McHale of Bulls By The Horns and Basketbawful fame. I’ve had the pleasure of hanging out with Matt before and I can tell you he’s a very funny guy, a smart basketball mind, and someone that literally just throws drinks on the floor in an effort to announce his presence with authority. Ben Polk is also joining us for the 3-on-3, and while I’ve never watched him throw drinks at people, I’m confident he can acquire this skill.  Continue Reading…