Archives For Andrei Kirilenko

MetrodomeCollapse

Let’s say you were trapped in a cabin somewhere. No, this isn’t some bizarre R. Kelly musical idea; I’m serious.

Sometimes I watch this team shoot 3-pointers and I feel like I’m trapped in a cabin. I typically get this feeling when I review all of the 3-pointers from the past month, chart down the results, and realize progress hasn’t been made. For a while, I thought it might feel like a zombie apocalypse survival journal, but I ultimately determined this wasn’t the feeling. Continue Reading…

RubioFace

For the final play of the Wolves-Blazers game, Rick Adelman drew up a play that gave Ricky Rubio a fairly basic pick-and-roll set with the floor spread and plenty of options off of that play. And the Wolves actually ran it really well. They ended up with Dante Cunningham pump-faking, nearly traveling, and then having to rush a jumper just a bit against his defender.

After the game, Adelman described the play they ran:

“The last play was a bang-bang play. I thought it was the best play we had. Pek might have been open rolling down the middle. At least he was going right to the basket and forcing the action. Dante made a nice pump fake, missed the shot but he’s not used to having the ball in his hands like that.”

Cunningham had made eight of his 10 shot attempts in the fourth quarter and was 20 for his last 25 heading into that final play. The Wolves options on the play were essentially spot-up shooting from Barea and Shved on the two sides, Rubio driving to the basket, Pek rolling to the basket or DC pupping near the top of the key.

“When Rick draws up a play, it’s not only one option,” Rubio said in the locker room after the game. “You never know what’s going to happen. It was like a different option and I felt that was the best option because he was shooting pretty good. But they defended it pretty good too.”

How good was the play and could it have been better? Let’s take a look.  Continue Reading…

AndreiKirilenkoBlockShot640

Earlier this week, I posted a profile of Andrei Kirilenko over on HoopSpeak, but there was plenty of stuff that didn’t make it into the post, so I’m posting the full transcript of Kirilenko’s side of the conversation here. He talks some more about his reading habits, who he looked up to as a young player and also sheds some light on Rubio’s development from his perspective. Continue Reading…

Let’s break them down, kids.

  1. It’s pretty incredible how Ricky sets guys up with the simplest of passes. Derrick Williams has been pretty great about setting his feet over the past 15-20 games and really looks like a good spot-up shooter out there with Rubio. Rubio mentioned after the game that he’s looking to make the extra pass if it’s there, and if not then he’s looking to take the shot himself. Right now, the extra pass is the way to go.
  2. This play got me so excited for a healthy Rubio teaming up with Andrei Kirilenko. Rubio often can beat his man baseline, dribble through the paint and find a cutter. AK is so good at cutting from the weak side that it opens up a lot of possibilities. The great thing about this play is Kirilenko does a slight fake to the baseline before cutting more toward the hoop. I had a great angle of it from the other side and DeShawn Stevenson was looking toward the side, just searching for movement that way from Kirilenko. That slight fake to the baseline moved Stevenson out of the way and opened up an easy lane for Kirilenko to receive the ball. It’s just brilliant basketball.
  3. Ricky and Derrick have tried this spin-off-the-high-post lob play like four or five times this season and Ricky has come up short on every pass, which is odd. This time, he made up for it right away by stealing the pass and finding Barea for a wide-open 3-pointer.
  4. The Wolves were 1-for-2 on lobs to Stiemsma that he tries to bank in with a tap tonight.
  5. I don’t see why you’d ever trap Ricky off the pick-and-roll. It’s not like taking away his jumper is a key to stopping them. You leave someone open and he’ll find it. Or he’ll start the ball movement for a hockey assist.
  6. I can’t believe Rubio actually got an assist for this pass. D Dub takes two dribbles before finishing and wasn’t exactly on the move when he caught the ball. But it makes up for this thievery in New Orleans last season.
  7. Making the extra pass is fun, kids.
  8. Derrick Williams is going to get a lot of this pick-and-pop chances with Rubio. His feet are set so he’s going to knock it down.
  9. This last pass wasn’t an assist, but good lord it was fun. He tried it once, threw it off of John Jenkins’ thigh, chased down the ball, and threw basically the same pass again. Pek didn’t finish the play but he got to the free throw line.

sad puppy

A few of the readers from the last 3-point shooting audit suggested that this should be an updated post every month. All of the numbers for this post are through the win over the Suns and don’t include last night’s debacle to the Utah Jazz.

At a certain point, the 3-point shooting has become laughable to me. Part of me is frustrated but part of me is Rene Russo in the movie Tin Cup as I watch Kevin Costner egotistically club golf ball after golf ball into the water hazard as he tries to prove through machismo and grit that he doesn’t have to layup on the par-5 18th hole at the U.S. Open. He’s good enough and strong enough to clear the water and get onto the green. Russo (his girlfriend/shrink) in this scene at one point just starts laughing and cheering him to keep at it, even if it means he sinks all of his golf balls into the water and he isn’t allowed to finish his one final shot at glory by being disqualified from the tournament.

The Wolves are such a historically bad 3-point shooting team right now that I’m now finding myself maniacally laughing whenever a long distance shot clangs off the iron. There are two teams in NBA history who have attempted more than 13 3-pointers per game while shooting under 30% from beyond the arc. One of those teams is the Charlotte Bobcats from last season. That’s right; the worst team in NBA history shot 29.5% from downtown while attempting 13.5 3-point shots per game. The other team? You’re currently rooting for them.

The Wolves take 19.5 3-pointers per game right now and are making just 29.3%. At a certain point, you start wondering if actual wolves could make a higher percentage of these shots or if the team could make some by accident when trying to throw alley-oop passes. The fact that they’re historically bad at this just floors me for some reason.

What I feel like is we’re watching one of those “coin pusher” machines you find in casinos.  Continue Reading…

Donde Esta el athletico

This game was crap.

Complain about officiating or the effort or the energy or whatever. Doesn’t really matter. The Wolves played like absolute crap in this game. It happens every once in a while in this league. You hit a road game, you don’t have anything to offer that night, and the home team blows you out. The Wolves have been on the winning side of this equation before and they’ve been on the losing side of this equation before.

Tonight was the losing side and the Jazz just absolutely outplayed them in nearly every way. There isn’t much analysis that can go into it. The team still can’t make 3-pointers. They shot 2-of-17 from the field. It was the eighth time in team history they’ve shot worse than 12% from 3-point range while taking at least 17 3-point attempts. They’re 1-7 in those games with the only win coming on opening night against the Kings this season. It’s not a recipe for success and at a certain point, you have to wonder if they should even take more than a few 3-pointers in a game anymore.

But we’ll get into the 3-point debacle of the season more in the next post.

I don’t really want to talk about the game directly because it was just a bad game. We can eviscerate the people involved with it, but I’ve never been one for overreacting to a small sample size of “evidence.” What I really want to talk about is the lack of athleticism within this team right now.  Continue Reading…

Timberwolves sign Lazar Hayward

Zach Harper —  December 31, 2012 — 1 Comment

LazarHayward

With the final roster spot vacated because of Josh Howard’s torn ACL, the Timberwolves have settled on Lazar Hayward to provide some depth on the wing. After working out James Anderson, Joey Graham and Hayward this past week (according to the Star Tribune), the Wolves have settled on Hayward after James Anderson went to the Houston Rockets.

As many of you may remember, Hayward scored 160 points in 42 games as a rookie for the Wolves in the 2010-11 season before being dealt to the Oklahoma City Thunder last December. Personally, I would have preferred James Anderson because he does more offensively and would fill more of the shooting guard role the Wolves need when they decide to go small or even just to have backup for Shved at times. Anderson can also play the 3 in a pinch. However, Hayward will most likely provide a few minutes here and there to save Andrei Kirilenko’s legs and back and allow Adelman to not lose too much size at the backup small forward position, if he decides to keep Derrick Williams more at the 4 when he plays him.

The deal is non-guaranteed, so it wouldn’t surprise me if he was only here for a week or two as they try to acquire or sign someone else to fill in for the rest of the season.

So yeah… that’s pretty much all there is to this story.

Oh wait, there is one more thingContinue Reading…

LoveDunk

The makeup of what this team is good at and what they struggle to do still confounds me a bit.

Going into this season, I don’t think there were many people who assumed the Wolves would struggle offensively (22nd) and be a defensive juggernaut of sorts (6th). A big part of the reason is the outside shooting of the Timberwolves. This team is still under 30% on the season and no team in the history of the NBA has taken more 3-pointers per game while making under 30% of them. The Wolves just can’t shoot the 3-ball right now and probably won’t shoot it well until Kevin Love gets back into rhythm and Chase Budinger gets back onto the court.

Until that happens, the Wolves have to go inside and they have to be clever about the way they go inside. Just straight pounding the ball into the post with Love and Pek is too basic to be consistently effective against opposing defenses. The Wolves have an advantage in the frontcourt that most teams don’t seem to have around the league. Between Andrei Kirilenko, Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Love, there are few SF/PF/C hydras as crafty at scoring the basketball as the Wolves’ trio.  Continue Reading…

Sleeping unicorns are the least fun unicorns.

What a fantastic win for the Minnesota Timberwolves last night. I wrote yesterday that to be a really good team, you have to win games that should be wins. The Wolves need to win games like this against the Magic and that’s exactly what they did. Kevin Love was phenomenal in his performance. It was great to see him back to being himself.

He knocked down 3-pointers as the trailer in transition, he scored out of the post, and he was active going to the basket. Andrei Kirilenko’s passing was incredible and it seemed to be contagious with Love. This was by far his best passing performance of the season. It didn’t result in any assists, but I thought he moved the ball extremely well. He helped Nikola Pekovic dominate the paint inside. The Wolves didn’t finish at a high rate in there, but you could tell they were determined to break the will of the Orlando interior and that’s exactly what they did.

I was disappointed that Ricky Rubio didn’t really have much impact on the team when he played, but you can’t expect him to be a unicorn at all times. Sometimes unicorns have to sleep and that seemed to be what he needs to do. But overall, I think we can be extremely proud of the tenacity, execution, and effort that the Wolves showed us. This is what good teams do. They take care of lesser teams in a destructive and matter of fact manner.

What’s that? No, I didn’t watch the second half. Why? What happened? Did Ricky have a great second half I should be talking about? Did Love end up with 40-20? Did Pekovic eat the Epcot Center and then reconstruct Disney World into Euro Disney with all of failed robots from the Pirates of the Caribbean ride?  Continue Reading…

PekMeatGrinder

There should be pitchforks and torches headed toward #42 at the Target Center right now.

After “spouting off” in a national column that he assumed would include many of the positive things he allegedly said about the team, Kevin Love had a horrific night of basketball. The 3-of-17 from the field doesn’t really even begin to show the struggles Love had in this game against the Denver Nuggets. He got the shots you’d want him to get: spot-up jumpers, half hooks six feet from the basket against poor post defenders, basically everything he’s supposed to be good at.

The ball awkwardly came off his finger tips, often coming up short or looking like he was shooting the ball off of his wrist. His touch wasn’t there and he didn’t really know how to make up for it. He heard heckles from fans, although it was nothing to attempt to really write about. He was neutral about the things that were said to him, not giving in to prodding questions hoping for a sound byte.  Continue Reading…