On Friday night, I made passing reference both to the Wolves’ anemic third quarter and to J.J. Barea’s tendency toward overdribbling and playing too fast. Barea tends to play a more even-keeled game when the offense is functioning well, as it was in the first half on Friday; he played within the context of the offense, scored 11 points on seven shots and dropped five dimes. But when the Wolves bog down offensively, Barea tends toward those bad habits. A perfect case in point is that third quarter, in which the Wolves scored 11 points on 19% shooting, committed five turnovers and had four of their shots blocked. It was pretty ugly and Barea was at the center of the ugliness. Two plays illustrate my point.
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From the team’s press release:
Minnesota Timberwolves guard Brandon Roy underwent successful arthroscopic surgery today on his right knee. The surgery was performed by Timberwolves team orthopaedic surgeon Dr. David Fischer at the TRIA Orthopaedic Center in Bloomington, Minn. Roy is expected to be out approximately one month.
“Brandon had been experiencing some right knee pain, dating back to Oct. 26, when he banged knees with a Milwaukee Bucks player in a preseason game,” said Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations David Kahn. “The pain became more pronounced on Nov. 9 during our game against Indiana. We fully support Brandon’s decision to have today’s arthroscopic procedure, and look forward to his return when he feels ready to play.”
Roy has played in five games this season, averaging 5.8 points, 2.8 rebounds and 4.6 assists. Roy was signed as an unrestricted free agent by the Wolves on July 31, 2012.
So what does this mean? What does it change?
Nothing really. The Wolves are still a team that isn’t depending on Brandon Roy, only now there isn’t a question of “will he be back soon?” hanging over the depth chart’s head. Roy has always been and will always be a luxury on this team. By all accounts so far, he’s been a great presence in the locker room and even if that’s all he is for $5 million this season, it’s a nice change from the lack of focus that infected last season’s roster (once the injuries occurred).
I don’t believe Roy is done yet. I think he’ll probably be back well after the approximated “one month” timetable, but I do believe he’ll be back. I think we’ll have a couple of special Roy moments and then he’ll retire after this season. That could just be naiveté talking but I think he’s got more fight left in him. He wasn’t a scorer but he was a distributor during his few minutes with the Wolves so far. If he’s helping them make plays for even 20 minutes a game, it’s worth it.
The reason this isn’t such a disappointment in terms of the team concept is two-fold. 1) I think we all knew we had to temper our expectations with Roy’s return and for the most part, people have done that. 2) Alexey Shved has emerged off the bench and has added much needed depth and playmaking with the second unit and at the end of games.
We don’t know when Roy will be back, but Pek, Barea, Love, and Rubio will all be back within the next month or so. Some (Pek and Barea) will be much earlier than others. This is still a good team and I’m still feeling good about their chances moving forward. Wish Roy a speedy recovery.
Rick Adelman became a broken record last year. Someone for the Wolves would go down with an injury and he’d start talking about how guys couldn’t feel sorry for themselves and had to step up. They had to make the most of their opportunity to help the team. Ricky Rubio went down with his ACL injury. Kevin Love got a concussion. Nikola Pekovic had bone spurs in his ankle the size of Gibraltar. Pick any of JJ Barea’s 27 injuries from last year.
Guys went down and the Wolves went down with them. Nobody stepped up. Nobody cared. Everybody had the calendar circled for their vacation and not for the playoffs. Once Rubio was gone, the season was lost. Once Love was gone, the season was a joke. Once Pek was gone, it was the same old Wolves again. Adelman begged a set of players without anything close to a guarantee of a future with this organization to show some pride and we only saw it one game, when they finally broke their April losing streak. Continue Reading…
This was the first real test of the Wolves’ banged up season.
Yes, the Brooklyn game was fun and the Pacers were a really good measuring stick for whether or not this team could execute against one of the better defenses in the league. Not nobody know defense like the Bulls know defense. There are defensive systems and units in the NBA that can bully you and take away key components of the game for your offense. And then there’s the Chicago Bulls defense.
You have a slight chance against the Bulls, offensively. They’re going to give you jumpers, and some of those will be open. But like a pack of wild dogs in a Snausage factory, they’re going to be swarming you. They contest nearly everything and any time you get an open look against them, you have to make them pay. If you don’t, you’re wasting a modicum of good scoring opportunities. The way they pressure you is impressive. Continue Reading…
As I alluded to last night, one of the most encouraging elements of the Wolves nice start has been their basic competence on defense. That doesn’t sound like much, but if you’re a Wolves’ fan of long standing you know the thrill in the blood induced by those simple words. Great defense isn’t truly satisfying until you’ve been made to watch (and cheer for) hours and days of awful defense; and lord knows we have. Its true that the team hasn’t played many offensive juggernauts so far–of the Wolves’ five opponents, only the Nets have managed to crack the top-25 in offensive efficiency. Still: the Wolves are allowing just .93 points per possession, good for seventh in the league. That is happy news no matter who you’re playing.
Ah yes, Gerald Green. I remember him. The stunningly talented, emotionally immoderate young wing the Wolves landed in the Kevin Garnett haul. The slam dunk champion at the exact moment of the contest’s baroque low-point. The totally vacant defender. The unconscionable gunner, preening and exultant after making a jumper and inconsolable after missing.
More recently, we found him willing the Pacers to victory over the Wolves this preseason, showering his former team with impossibly reclining fades and zero-angle turnarounds. Late October, the final minutes of blowouts, random chunks of early second-quarter: these are Gerald Green’s moments. So it was striking, and a striking testament to Indiana’s lack of backcourt depth, to see Green on the floor preparing to defend in the final seconds of Friday’s tie game. Striking also–but unsurprising to anyone familiar with the above antics–to see how egregiously he lost track of Chase Budinger on that last possession, allowing the Wolves’ guard to stroll unimpeded from the three-point line to the hoop, receive a pass from the well-guarded Andrei Kirilenko and softly lay the ball in as the horn sounded.
I really can’t believe the comeback that happened tonight for the Wolves in Brooklyn. Without their two best players, Minnesota went on the road, got down by 22 on unbelievable shooting from the Nets, and still managed to pull out a victory.
Alexey Shved and his new haircut became a real pro player tonight, Dante CunningHAM continued to woo us with his incredible energy and valuable movement off the bench, and the 3-point field goals finally began to fall. This is such a cliché but this was a total team effort on all counts. They were getting blown out as a team and came back as a team. Their mistakes were corrected during the course of the game and the regression eventually smacked the mean in the face and challenged it to a duel at ten paces.
Rick Adelman can’t receive enough credit for the coaching job he did. He trusted guys who were getting the job done, and gave them the tools and scheme to get it done. Check out the night’s grades after the jump.
(Note: if you’re not seeing grades show up, try looking in Firefox. There have been issues with Chrome and the recap generator.)
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…
It wasn’t a pretty preseason opener in many ways, but the Wolves got to debut some new faces and beat up on an incomplete Pacers team for the victory.
Between the poor 3-point shooting, the grainy Fargo television feed coming through NBA League Pass, lots of turnovers, and a lot of missed free throws, it would have been pretty easy to want to look away from our first glimpse at what the Wolves have to offer this year. Plus, D.J. Augustin was the main point guard for Indiana due to George Hill sitting out and nobody wants to watch him play starter’s minutes. However, we got to watch Wolves basketball once again and it was pretty fun to see the new direction the team is going.
I’m not going to try to find an overarching storyline with a preseason game and look for how it affects the team moving forward. It’s preseason after all. So let’s just try to look at what each individual player did and file it away for later use. Continue Reading…
Andrei Kirilenko and Alexey Shved sat down with Kirilenko very much in the driver’s seat. Shved mostly hung back, responding only when addressed directly and looking a little sheepish. Kirilenko seems convinced he’ll speak most loudly with his game.