RubioWilliamsLaVine

When a team is 14-48 and playing out the string, digging for interesting angles to write about can become rather burdensome. Such is life for the Wolves’ scribe nowadays. The novelty of Kevin Garnett’s return has worn off. The always entertaining Shabazz Muhammad, who was in the middle of a breakout year, is done for the season. Gorgui Dieng has sort of plateaued lately. Gary Neal is playing pretty well, hoping to earn a nice contract this summer, but that topic doesn’t move the needle much. It’s always fun to dive into how Andrew Wiggins is playing, but that’s been done beautifully in many places already.

Thanks to the magic of NBAwowy, I was able to find something rather intriguing. (Note: I don’t know any of the people behind that website, nor am I being compensated to plug it. I just think it’s cool as hell, and a great tool for deep dives like this.) Because Ricky Rubio sat for 42 consecutive games, we’re able to split the season into a few different segments: 1) early season with Rubio, 2) Rubio’s absence, 3) Rubio’s return. During the times Ricky’s been available, he’s been the primary point guard, and when he wasn’t, it was Mo Williams. The common thread behind the two was Zach LaVine, who made a few spot starts, but has mostly served as a backup.

How has the offense functioned under the direction of each guy? Continue Reading…

Watching the parade of personal and technical fouls that characterized Monday night’s Wolves-Clips matchup got me thinking about one of my favorite Elliott Smith covers, “Jealous Guy.” At the beginning, Smith asks the crowd, in his uniquely timid way, if there are any whistlers in the crowd. “This is your big chance,” he says, “there’s a whistle solo.” Which is basically what a Clippers game is: a chance for referees to strut their stuff as whistle soloists, because hot damn, the games take forever and their high-pitched “tweeeeet” sounds are constantly in the background. Continue Reading…

damian-lillard-ricky-rubio-nba-portland-trail-blazers-minnesota-timberwolves1-850x560

For some reason, the 14-win Timberwolves have found a relatively strange level of success against the 41-win Portland Trail Blazers this season. They managed to beat the Blazers back in December amidst the flurry of injuries to Ricky Rubio, Nikola Pekovic, and Kevin Martin, ending what was a 6-game losing streak.

While injuries and losing streaks were also there for last night’s win over the Trail Blazers, the situation was different this time around. Rubio, Martin, and Pekovic are back and playing. Andrew Wiggins, who is still discovering what he is (really) good at, is further along in his development. Kevin Garnett is here now.

None of this is to say the Wolves came into the game projected as favorites, but it would explain the high level of confidence they displayed as early as the opening tipoff.

Continue Reading…

JustinHamilton

The Minnesota Timberwolves announced yesterday that they were awarded 7’0 center Justin Hamilton off of waivers from the New Orleans Pelicans. Hamilton played collegiately at Iowa State for one year before transferring to LSU before the 2011-12 season. He was selected in the 2nd round of the 2012 draft by the Philadelphia 76ers, who promptly traded his draft rights to the Miami Heat. Hamilton spent his first professional season in Croatia and Latvia before he returned to the States to make an attempt at cracking the Heat roster. Continue Reading…

Shaw and Hunt

Q: Did you think Denver would come out with life and zip after the previous two days?

A: “No, to be honest, they quit on Brian Shaw and they’ll quit again. A quitter is a quitter. That was my take on that.”

 – Kevin Garnett

This directed to whoever in listening range

Yo the whole state of things in the world bout to change

Your head is throbbin and I ain’t said shit yet

The Roots crew, the next movement, c’mon!

- The Roots

Clearly, Brian Shaw was the problem in Denver.

That’s tongue in cheek, of course, but it was interesting to see the Nuggets play so well on Wednesday night, mostly because they looked entirely different than the reanimated corpses that wore their uniforms for most of Brian Shaw’s tenure as coach. Shaw was fired on Tuesday morning, ending his, um, checkered tenure in the Mile High City. Between rapping scouting reports to his players (oy vey), routinely calling out his players (to no effect), and admitting that he was reading books on millenials to “try to connect with his players (*facepalm*), it was painfully obvious that a change was necessary. Continue Reading…

Think about the first song you shared with someone. And here’s what I don’t mean: The song that was perfect for the person you pined for or the song you share now with someone. No, I mean a song that was shared property between you and someone else and is no longer — a song that you couldn’t have been more sure meant the same thing to both of you.

Now think about how it probably didn’t. Continue Reading…

Wolves and Grizzlies

A few weeks ago, the Wolves stole a game at home against the Grizzlies in rather dramatic fashion. It was Ricky Rubio’s third game back after his two and a half month absence, and it was immediately clear that Minnesota is a different team when he’s on the floor. The offense becomes functional, the perimeter defense becomes pretty damn good, and perhaps most importantly, there’s a certain level of grit that permeates throughout the roster.

Grit, moxie, chutzpah, toughness, fight – call it what you want. Although statistically immeasurable, it is a vital component to a franchise that is attempting to build a winning culture. The virtue of true toughness, in this sense, isn’t validated by the result. It is present no matter the situation, however good or bad things are going on the floor. Contesting shots, fighting for rebounds, working through screens, communicating with teammates, executing on both ends of the floor – all of it matters.

In that sense, the Grizzlies are a terrific barometer by which to measure these young Timberwolves, because they have it down to an art form. Continue Reading…

02-bulls-kgCredit for this 1995 photo goes to Timberwolvestimeline.com

It was 90’s night in the United Center. In a perfect world, such a night would have coincided with Kevin Garnett’s first road game as a returned member of the Timberwolves. But, despite the nice digs the United Center bring, it’s still not a perfect world, and Kevin Garnett opted to rest tonight in preparation for tomorrow’s home game. To be fair, neither Michael Jordan nor Luc Longley suited up for Chicago, so the playing field was evened out a bit.

Continue Reading…

20150225-NBA_20150225_Washington-1-2-2

Often times, you can judge the hype surrounding an NBA team by its ceremonial player introductions. Typically, the louder the fans are, the better.

In Minnesota, this can be traced back to Kevin Garnett’s first stint with the Timberwolves. During the team’s 8-year playoff stretch, it was typically impossible to hear Garnett’s name when it was called by Rod Johnson during at the start of games. After the Cassell/Sprewell era was over, the noise started to fade, and Garnett’s name grew clearer during the introductions. After he left, as the team fell into a 10-year playoff drought, the crowd noise faded even more.

Tonight was Kevin Garnett’s first game back in the Target Center after the much-discussed deadline deal with Brooklyn, and with it came an opening of a magnitude that hadn’t been seen in, well, ever.

Continue Reading…

Welcome back, KG

Zach Harper —  February 24, 2015 — 11 Comments

While there are differing opinions on the merits and the impacts of this move, I’d like to think Wolves fans can put all that aside for one night and just enjoy Kevin Garnett’s return to the Target Center as a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves. He last played for the Wolves on April 9, 2007.

He’s the franchise leader in games, minutes played, field goals made and attempted, free throws made and attempted, offensive rebounds, defensive rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, and points. The Wolves have never had a winning season without him. The Wolves have never made the playoffs without him. It will be a surreal sight to see him back in a Wolves’ uniform, and just for a night we should soak it in and enjoy the moment.

Welcome back, KG.