Jazz 101, Wolves 89: Energy

Tim Faklis —  January 3, 2015 — 11 Comments

timberwolves-vs-jazz-preview-3599460702

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…

If you’re a fan of any one team in the NBA, there are players on other teams that strike fear in your heart. These can be particular to your team — the Trail Blazers’ Wes Matthews has attempted more 3-pointers against the Wolves (125) than any other team and has his best true shooting percentage (.643) against them — but there’s also that more general sense of unease that comes with watching Kevin Durant, LeBron James or James Harden handle the ball against your team in a close game. Anthony Davis is beginning to develop some of that, although the Pelicans’ general inability to consistently get him the ball is tempering it for the time being. These players are, in a word, threats, and that kind of threat is precisely what the Wolves do not have right now and haven’t for quite some time.

At their best, Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love together had some of this, but they had to do it together. Rubio with the ball in his hands is a threat only so long as the players around him can consistently make shots and Love with the ball in his hands is a direct threat only so long as he’s catching it with space to shoot. Neither is capable of engendering that feeling that they could take a defense apart at any moment all by themselves. While it might be dangerous to build your whole offense around the kind of iso-heavy, hero-ball type game implied by this idea of being an offensive threat (viz. Knicks, New York), used correctly, this kind of threat can distort defenses and force them into mistakes.

In his last two games against the Cleveland Cavaliers and Denver Nuggets, though, Andrew Wiggins has shown the promise of developing into that kind of threat. Continue Reading…

wiggins-love-bennett

Before anything else happens, watch this Vine of Andrew Wiggins dunking on a drive from the perimeter tonight. Get lost in a moment of pure basketball joy, observe this talented young man sky above the floor for two points in the most stylish way you can, levitating for half an eternity before slamming the ball through the rack:

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UCLA v Arizona State

The trade of Corey Brewer to the Houston Rockets wasn’t just a signal that the Timberwolves are ready to go young, sacrificing a veteran player in the name of draft picks and a young shooter with upside (Troy Daniels). While that type of deal is the one rebuilding teams often make, and while this one made sense for Minnesota’s long-term plan, there was something else motivating the Wolves to move Brewer: freeing up playing time for second-year man Shabazz Muhammad. Continue Reading…

Invisible

If I had the Photoshopping skills of a Steve McPherson or a Zach Harper, you’d see Andrew Wiggins’ head on Harry Potter’s body, but alas, I do not. So you get a regular photo instead.

It’s got to be unnerving to be the center of a media machine that is constantly wondering where you’re headed next, but that’s exactly where Andrew Wiggins has been since he was 16 years old. People wondered where he’d go to high school, then wondered where he’d go to college, then wondered who would win the lottery so they could draft him, only to wonder if the Cavaliers should trade him to the Timberwolves for Kevin Love. They wondered at his awkwardness during a stupid interview that he should have never been forced to give in the first place, then wondered when he’d finally arrive in Minnesota, and now they wonder when he’ll finally realize the superstar potential we all hear about, but still wonder about. Continue Reading…

Last night, the Minnesota Timberwolves and Boston Celtics played a game with the knowledge that one of their respective teammates wouldn’t be there anymore. Players often remind us that the NBA “is a business”, but even with that in mind, NBA players are still people. When personalities as bright and fun as Ronnie Turiaf and Corey Brewer permanently exit your locker room, you’re going to think about it when you’re playing, at least right away.

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Brewer

Reports surfaced about a week ago that the Houston Rockets were determined to use their $8.4 million trade exception by December 19th. When they struck out on Rajon Rondo, they turned their attention elsewhere, which apparently meant Corey Brewer.

Adrian Wojnarowski was the first to confirm what Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN and Jonathon Feigen of the Houston Chronicle have been discussing for days: the Minnesota Timberwolves have sent Corey Brewer to Houston in exchange for shooting guard Troy Daniels and a pair of second round picks. Continue Reading…