kevin-garnett

As soon as ESPN’s Marc Stein reported that the Minnesota Timberwolves were involved in a late push to bring back Kevin Garnett from the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Thad Young, a particular drumbeat began that went: “Wolves traded a first round pick for a 38-year-old KG.”

I’m here to tell you why this is a stupid way to think about this, whether or not it happens. And it’s not because trading for Young in the first was not a mistake — because it might well have been — and it’s not because trading for Garnett is not a mistake — because it might well be.  It’s mostly because of a little thing called the fourth dimension, so let’s travel back through it to when Minnesota traded for Thad Young for a first round pick this past summer.

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Hi guys. Steve here. One of the great things about writing for A Wolf Among Wolves and not, say, a major newspaper is that we can wear our hearts on our sleeves a little more. Yes, we consider it important to bring you quotes and pertinent stats from games and also to go in-depth with some play breakdowns and analysis in a way that more mainstream media generally can’t, but we can also just tell you how we really feel about things like Zach LaVine in the Slam Dunk Contest.

So let me tell you: That shit was fucking insane. Continue Reading…

MVP

The Wolves had four players in the Rising Stars Game on Friday night. Zach LaVine, Shabazz Muhammad and the USA squad fell 121-112 to the World team, led by Gorgui Dieng and Andrew Wiggins, who took home MVP honors following his electrifying six dunk performance. Wiggins and LaVine tied for the game high in points (22 apiece), Dieng had 14 and Muhammad had 10. Continue Reading…

"Stephen Curry, Thaddeus Young"

When a comparatively raw team like the Minnesota Timberwolves (average age 24.5, plus they’ve had Ricky Rubio back for about 6 percent of a whole season, Kevin Martin for 10 percent, Nikola Pekovic for 16 percent) runs into a well-oiled buzzsaw like the Golden State Warriors (average age 26.7, best record in the league, 2nd in offensive rating, 1st in defensive rating) and struggles early, it sets up an interesting problem. Continue Reading…

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In somewhat of a surprise flurry of moves, Timberwolves jack of all trades Flip Saunders made the first splash in the NBA’s annual February trade season. Let’s start by looking at what exactly went down:

Deal 1:

Charlotte receives: Mo Williams, Troy Daniels

Minnesota receives: Gary Neal, 2nd round pick

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Deal 2:

Atlanta receives: 2017 1st round pick (Lottery-protected from 2017-2020)

Minnesota receives: Adreian Payne

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The title of this piece may lead some to believe I’m going to let the Wolves off the hook tonight. That’s not the case.

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MOTOWNPEK

Photo credit: Raj Mehta

Ain’t nothin’ holdin’ me back nothin’
I’ll keep right on, right on truckin’
Ain’t nothin’ holdin’ me back nothin’
I’ll keep right on, right on truckin’

– Eddie Kendricks, Keep on Truckin’

Steph Curry and Kevin Durant launching heat check threes like trebuchets of fire is fun to watch. LeBron James and Russell Westbrook barrelling towards the rim on fastbreaks, unstoppable freight trains of power and agility, is fun to watch. Anthony Davis and Giannis Antetokounmpo catching impossible lobs with go-go-gadget arms is fun to watch. Rudy Gobert and DeAndre Jordan meandering over from the weakside, lurking, before springing up to swat away a shot attempt with authority is fun to watch. Kyrie Irving and Chris Paul putting the ball on a string and tripping up helpless defenders is fun to watch.

I don’t know how much fun the casual fan has watching Nikola Pekovic play, but hell if it isn’t fun for me. He’s not any of those guys above; he’s a below the basket center who is going to feed you a steady diet of seal, turn, catch, post move, shovel or hook shot. I imagine as a competitor, there’d have to be something satisfying about everyone on the floor knowing exactly what you’re going to do and physically imposing your will to do it anyway. Continue Reading…

 

grizzlieswolves9“We’re not going to lose this game.”

In the NBA, phrases like that are uttered by a team’s leader. In addition, a leader is able to take those words and make them come true, even if it means he has to put the team on his back and willing his team to a victory.

That phrase, according to Flip Saunders, is what Ricky Rubio said to his team during tonight’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies.

If it wasn’t clear before, it became completely clear during Rubio’s injury-ridden absence: he is the clearcut leader of this team.

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Here it is. This here Vine is the one thing you must know about last night’s 102-101 win over the Miami Heat if you want to know anything. It is the acme of pure joy, the bellwether of future highlights to come, the spark and grace and fun that promises to one day become a regular occurrence for this team.

But that day is not today. Continue Reading…

RUBIO

While Ricky Rubio was gone – 87 days, 42 games – the Wolves went 6-36, sporting the 4th-worst offense and worst defense (by more than 3 points per 100 possessions) in the NBA over that stretch. There were plenty of injuries to go around and all of them contributed to the slide, but Rubio’s absence was both the longest and most critical.

Without him, Mo Williams was thrust into a starting role, the extremely raw Zach LaVine had to play minutes he wasn’t ready for, Corey Brewer and Robbie Hummel had to make out of position cameos at the point, and a recent D-Leaguer on a 10-day contract (Lorenzo Brown) had to play all but 5 seconds of Saturday night’s game. Point guard defense was nearly nonexistent. The offensive playbook shrunk to 5-15% of its original size (according to Flip Saunders).

Not only were the Timberwolves much less functional without Rubio, they were also a hell of a lot less FUN. There were moments of joy while Rubio was out, most of them provided by Andrew Wiggins, but also random nights from Zach LaVine (in Staples Center versus the Lakers), Mo Williams (52 points at Indiana) and tough battles against the Suns, Rockets, Pacers and Kings. But the consistent spark was gone.

So it was a sight for sore eyes to see reports that he’d make his return on Monday night in Dallas, and especially so when he was on the floor at the opening tip. The minutes restriction aside (more on that later), Ricky Rubio was back, as was the concept of fun. Continue Reading…