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Throughout the season, Flip Saunders has told stories to players and media about his early years with the Timberwolves, specifically his memories developing a young, untapped 19-year-old named Kevin Garnett.

In some cases, telling such stories could be seen as pointless. There’s no way he told these stories to his title-contending Detroit Pistons squads, filled with veterans and guys who grew up playing against KG, and had already gone through the growing pains. One can only imagine what Rasheed Wallace would have thought if Saunders was reminiscing about a guy he was picked ahead of in 1995.

But this year’s Timberwolves team needs to hear these tales. Currently, the Wolves start one teenager, and have had another in and out of the starting lineup.The average age of their two leading scorers is 20 years old. They have 3 rookies on the active roster, and are at a point where guys in the range of 24-27 years old classifies you as a “seasoned veteran”.

Yes, Saunders needs to tell stories to Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine, Shabazz Muhammad, and Anthony Bennett, not just because they’re young, and not just because they’re developing. It’s also because of the way Kevin Garnett played, even when he was 19.

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The-Rime-of-The-Ancient-M-001

This is my third year covering the Timberwolves as a credentialed media member and in that time (and in the year when I was still a season ticket holder writing on my own blog and, come to think of it, in most every year since Kevin Garnett left) the texture of a Timberwolves season has never wavered. Here it is: preseason hope and promise – whether for the playoffs or simply not being abjectly terrible at basketball – gives way to a swoon due to a.) injury b.) an intractable problem borne of i.) personnel or ii.) scheme or iii.) both and then there’s this stretch of nothingness, the horse latitudes, the doldrums, a bardo region, the heat death of anything interesting to talk or think about with regard to this team.

That’s where we are right now. Continue Reading…

BucksWolves

Remember that weird game against the Portland Trail Blazers earlier this season?

The Minnesota Timberwolves beat the Western Conference powerhouse with some gritty effort and a lot of luck. I don’t want to diminish from what the Wolves did to the Blazers that night, but Portland shot just 17-of-51 (33.3%) on uncontested shots that night. They shoot 43.8% this season on uncontested jumpers, so you could say that was a bit below their normal production. And because of it, the young, scrappy Wolves walked away with a victory that night. There are two significant things about that game:

1) It was the Wolves’ last victory.
2) It was exactly a month ago today.  Continue Reading…

WolvesRebuild

It’s safe to say the Minnesota Timberwolves won’t be making the playoffs for the 11th straight season.

With a record of 5-29, the Wolves sit just 2.5 games ahead of the New York Knicks and are tied with the Philadelphia 76ers for the second worst record in the NBA. The Knicks have played four more games than the Wolves and have one-upped the Wolves for the longest current losing streak at 14 games (Wolves are at 13 losses in a row).

The injuries have taken their toll on the Wolves this season, which is the main reason for their record being as abysmal as it appears. Ricky Rubio’s high ankle injury, Nikola Pekovic’s sprained wrist and ankle, and Kevin Martin’s broken wrist have decimated the veteran leadership on the court and the organization needed to remain competitive most nights. NBA.com has the Wolves with the worst defense in the NBA at a rating of 110.2 points per 100 possessions allowed. The Los Angeles Lakers are the second worst at 109.8 per 100. They have the fifth worst offense at 99.2 points per 100 possessions scored. Only the Sixers have a worse net rating (minus-12.9 points per 100) than the Wolves (minus-11.0).

I never thought the Wolves would be good this season and hopes of them approaching what they did last season with a deeper team seemed foolish and too Disney story for my liking. But expecting them to be this bad would also have been crazy, if you assumed this team was going to be healthy. Since they are currently this bad and looking like they’re officially focused more on the future than the present (we’ll see how it goes when the veterans get healthy), I thought we could take a look as we approach the mid point of the season and look at the long-term, rebuilding prospects of each player on this team.  Continue Reading…

ILLMATIC

Down two points with 5.5 seconds to go, Thad Young rebounded a missed Isaiah Thomas free throw, pushed the ball up the floor, passed it to Chase Budinger, who darted diagonally across center court from left to right, ultimately finding Andrew Wiggins for a good look from the right wing with the clock winding down to zero.

It didn’t go in.

If you have been following the Wolves closely lately, you probably know how often Flip Saunders has repeated something to the effect of “Developing and seeing signs from the young players is nice, but it’s important to have positive reinforcement and win every once in awhile.” So while everyone was ready to talk about Andrew Wiggins’ terrific night – 25 points on 10-of-16 shooting, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals and several big plays down the stretch – Saunders was clearly frustrated with the loss, offering only measured praise for outstanding individual performances and commenting that he’ll spend time going over the events of the night, particularly the final 30 seconds, in his head. The loss stung him. Continue Reading…

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Last night was tough.

It wasn’t just basketball, either. On my way into the Target Center to see the Wolves play the Denver Nuggets, I came to find that the already-freezing outdoors had added some precipitation to the equation, making the drive into downtown that much slower and less enjoyable. Considering the Wolves’ 11-game losing streak coming into last night’s game, the weather/traffic combination made my personal entrance to the Target Center a bit more angsty than usual.

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Jazz 101, Wolves 89: Energy

Tim Faklis —  January 3, 2015 — 11 Comments

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Through the Wolves’ current 11-game losing streak, we’ve heard stuff like this from head coach Flip Saunders. A lot.

Considering the number of injuries the Wolves have compiled (and who, specifically, got injured), it would be easy to dismiss this season as a wash. But when a young team like the Wolves can’t even properly use what may be their biggest tool (young, fresh legs) to their advantage on a nightly basis, things are going to get bad. Losing streaks like this are going to happen. It’s what happened tonight.

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JANUS

Contrary to popular belief, the month of January is not named after the Roman deity Janus, the god of beginnings and transitions, who is often depicted with two faces because he’s able to see both the past and the future. It’s a shame, too, because it’d be so poetic. New Year’s Eve and Day, the passage from one year to the next, provides everyone with a chance to look back and look ahead, to evaluate the past year and make resolutions for the next one.

No, January is named after Juno, who was the patron goddess of mouthy, pregnant teenagers or something. Perhaps inspired by this, the Wolves and Kings had plenty of mouthy moments in their New Year’s Day battle at the Target Center. Or it could have been the delicious blend of a Timberwolves team desperate for a win, crappy officiating, a somewhat salty home crowd fighting off the remnants of their hangovers by shouting mean things at the crappy officials, and the beautiful disaster of meddlesome ownership also known as the Sacramento Kings. Continue Reading…

WhosTheBazz

With 4:22 remaining in the fourth quarter, last night’s game was looking like a good road win for a Timberwolves team sorely in need of some positive reinforcement after dropping eight straight. Up to that point, Shabazz Muhammad and Andrew Wiggins had been the standouts, combining to score 49 points on 19-for-34 shooting, including 5-for-6 for Muhammad from 3-point range. Roughly a month ago, I wrote about how no two of Zach Lavine, Wiggins and Muhammad seemed to be able to have a good game at the same time, but this game showed how Wiggins and Muhammad could feed off each other’s games — sometimes literally in the case of an early alley-oop from the former to the latter.

Wiggins also did this: Continue Reading…

RADU

Yesterday, Shams Charania of RealGM.com reported that the Wolves are in the process of giving Serbian big man Miroslav Raduljica a guaranteed contract for the remainder of the season. While the team’s primary beat writers (Jerry Zgoda and Jon Krawczynski, to name a couple) have yet to confirm the report, Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN said via Twitter that signs were “pointing to it happening.” Continue Reading…