Archives For Chase Budinger

The Timberwolves have had their share of splashy injuries, the kind that lead on Sportscenter and receive their own Twitter hashtags, injuries that date models and endorse Nikes. But the Wolves also boast injuries that are less gaudy and heavy-trending but that were nonetheless essential to last season’s disappointment and frustration. Because for much of the season, while the Wolves were desperate for perimeter players who could a) capably execute the corner offense and b) hit a three more than 30% of the time and c) be taller than 6’1″, they had just such a player sitting behind their bench in a slightly ill-fitting suit.

That player, of course, is the fair Chase Budinger. Like most things involving the Wolves this year, Budinger’s season was disfigured and disjointed. He was felled after six games by torn meniscus in his left knee; and when he finally returned, 59 games later, he looked like he was running with a ten-pound weight on his left ankle. He had no explosiveness, no lateral movement and no rhythm in his jumper.

Still, when he returned to the lineup in March, his effect on the team was palpable. Because the Wolves’ lineup was so depleted during the heart of the season, Rick Adelman radically simplified the offense, abandoning most of his corner sets, putting the ball in the hands of his guards and asking them to make plays. This was out of necessity–the Wolves just didn’t have enough talent to run sets with multiple options–but this distillation of the offense made it one-dimensional and awfully easy to defend. When Budinger rejoined the team, his ability to move without the ball, to hit midrange jumpers off of flare screens and to even marginally threaten the defense from beyond the arc significantly improved the Wolves’ spacing and offensive continuity. After all, if you want to run the pick and roll, its helpful if the defense is forced to do something beyond packing five players into the paint.  It was no magic bullet–certainly nothing that balanced the loss of Kevin Love–but the Wolves’ offense was noticeably better when Budinger was on the floor (about two points per 100 possessions better according to 82games).

What’s more it underscored the importance of skilled, savvy role players to a team’s makeup. When those roles go unfilled, especially a role as essential to success in the contemporary NBA as outside shooting, a team’s offensive idea collapses in on itself. You get what you saw in the Wolves this year: a team forced to improvise and scrape just to keep its head above water.

This summer, the Wolves will be scouring the draft and the free-agent market for shooters. Despite his struggles last season, Budinger is still shoots 36% from distance for his career, will likely once again be able to dunk like this and is still tall. All that, plus he isn’t likely to command much more than $3 million per year. I’d advise them to look into it.

Correction: In an earlier version of this post, I said that Budinger was unlikely to command “much more than the veteran’s minimum.” The 2013/2014 minimum for a five-year vet will be just over $1,027,000. Clearly, in real world dollars, $3 million is quite a bit more than that. Certainly, the difference is enough to buy and sell you or me many times over. Still, my point remains: for a player with the potential to help the Wolves offense so much, in NBA money, $3 million a year is a solid bargain.

It's a boy.

It’s a boy.

Something you hear a lot of commentators say is that the NBA is a “make or miss” league. I don’t get this. Or rather, I understand that the game is decided by who scores more points, and thus that the team that wins has—by design—made more shots than the other team. But is that all there is to this cliché? If anyone has some deeper insight to it, I’d appreciate it.

But another thing that makes a lot more sense to me that people often say is that the NBA is all about matchups. Consider this: This season, the Timberwolves have a winning percentage of .366, while the Thunder have a winning percentage of .726. And yet the season series between the two teams is even at 2-2. And last season—even though the Wolves were 0-3 against the Thunder—the games were hard fought. Minnesota lost their season opener to OKC 104-100 in 2011-12, and that was before anyone really knew what Rubio could do on a basketball court. And then, of course, there was that magnificent double overtime game in Oklahoma City that saw Barea and Durant notch triple doubles and Love score 51 while pulling down 14 rebounds. Continue Reading…

You can see pretty easily where things started to work for the Timberwolves in this game by looking at this handy game flow chart, courtesy of ESPN.com.

gameflow

First, the bad news: Obviously, neither teamed scored 140 points. Continue Reading…

WolfBull

“A broken clock is right twice a day.”

This is one of those sayings that is supposed to be clever and profound, but all it does is make me irate when people use it as a crutch for a terrible argument. Sure, a broken clock is correct twice a day, unless you’re in the military — then it’s correct only once a day. And the rest of the 1,439 minutes, you’re left looking at a time holder that is incorrect and you start wondering how you can get this clock fixed. Or maybe you’re wondering if you need to get a new clock altogether.

The point is a broken clock needs to be fixed. Depending on the type of clock, it could just need new batteries or it could need to be wound up. Or maybe there is a gear that’s completely disconnected. Regardless, if you want that same clock to work then you need to figure out what’s wrong with it and how to get it back to keeping the intended time.  Continue Reading…

Although in our hearts we always suspected it to be true, we couldn’t help feeling a little distressed over Rick Adelman’s admission yesterday that he is considering walking away from the Wolves this coming summer. (Though you certainly can’t blame the guy for wanting to actually live with his ailing wife, especially after a pair of seasons as cosmically aggravating as these past two.) We can talk all we want about Derrick Williams’ development or Nikola Pekovic’s contract, but the truth is that the middle-term future of this franchise rests entirely upon the relationship between Rick Adelman, Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love. Take out one vertex of that triangle and, one suspects, the entire spindly structure might collapse.

Continue Reading…

Love Plunge

Let’s go with the sad news first, that way I can tear us down before I build us back up! Strategy!

Kevin Love told Jerry Zgoda that he knows missing the rest of the season is a real possibility. He’s able to admit that to himself, knowing that while he definitely wants to get back onto the court for the team, he still has to listen to the doctor and wait for clearance with the clock on the season ticking away.  Continue Reading…

This is the guy behind the guy behind the guy. And the model Wolves shooter. (Getty Images)

This is the guy behind the guy behind the guy. And the model Wolves shooter. (Getty Images)

It’s that time again.

There was a certain point in which I realized tracking all of the Wolves’ futile 3-point shooting was simply the “rubberneck effect.” You know the rubberneck effect, right? It’s when you’re driving on a freeway and traffic becomes unbearably slow. There’s a sick part of you that wants to know exactly how bad the carnage is. You want to know if it’s going to be like the Red Asphalt videos you had to watch when you went through driver’s training (or maybe that’s just in California; I’m not sure). Or maybe you’ll see an unharmed family looking at their wrecked car and wonder how everybody got out unscathed.

Regardless of what you’re looking for, it’s pretty much the same idea. You’re slowing down to see what the holdup was. Traffic is a mess because people have the same idea you will have when you come across whatever the issue was. You want to see just how bad the damage is that is causing everybody’s day to be delayed by 10-30 minutes. Frustratingly (but lucky) enough, it’s typically nothing. It ends up being a flat tire or someone pulled over on the side of the road because they crossed the carpool lane double lines in front of a highway officer or maybe it’s just ducks crossing the road. Whatever the cause of the delay is, it rarely satiates that sick part of you that thought the worst.

I realized I was going through the rubberneck effect when I was sitting between Britt Robson and Ben Polk the other night. I had my spreadsheet for February up on my laptop and turned to Ben to inform him of the unbelievably low open 3-point shooting numbers. He responded with something like, “Why? Why must you do this to me?” I don’t even know if you guys want to know how bad the shooting is anymore. Ben certainly doesn’t want to know. I think Britt had a sick fascination with knowing the numbers because of how bad they are.

If anything, I think it’s still a cathartic thing for me. I want to see the carnage. I want to see if we had a four-car pileup or if it’s just someone getting pulled over for expired tags. And maybe you suffering through the numbers with me is something you want to do. Everybody likes to feel crappy together, right? Isn’t that what the internet and message boards and comment sections and Twitter were invented for? So we can all revel in the crap-fest of certain aspects of life?

Well the Timberwolves’ 3-point shooting is still a crap-fest. After the month of February, the Wolves were back over 30% from 3-point range. In fact, they were 30.03% after February’s games. So let’s get into the rubbernecking, shall we?  Continue Reading…

RickAdelKahn

The trade deadline is schedule for 2pm CT on Thursday and the Wolves are said to be buyers right now by enticing prospective trade partners with Brandon Roy’s salary relief and a future first round pick. This makes sense for the team if it means they’re adding a piece they can take into next year that helps balance out the roster without taking on too much money. While I don’t believe Glen Taylor to be a cheap owner by any means (when the team is good and producing, he historically spends the money and even flirts with the luxury tax), the Wolves do need to be cognizant of cost right now (more on that in a bit).

So what could the Wolves be targeting?  Continue Reading…

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…

The NBA 3-point line has been around since the 1979-80 NBA season. Even the rule change was supposed to help usher in a new era of basketball from the 1970s to the 1980s, it wasn’t exactly an accepted practice to start chucking 3-pointers like we see teams doing today. Instead, it was a seldom-used arrow in the quiver for most NBA teams.

Because it wasn’t a widely practiced action in the NBA and used more for shooting games after practice than anything else, we saw some hilariously low 3-point production from NBA teams during the first 13 seasons of the 3-point arc. The 1982-83 Los Angeles Lakers have the lowest 3-point percentage in NBA history. They shot just 10.4% from the 3-point line that season. Sounds absurdly low, right? Well, they only took 96 attempts that season and made 10 of them. They also went on to win the Western Conference Finals because they had Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

From the 79-80 season through the 2011-12 season, there have been 171 teams in NBA history who have shot less than 29% from 3-point range in a season. But the problem with this statistic is the 3-pointer wasn’t really a thing until the 1992-93 season. In the first 13 years of the NBA 3-point line, only three teams (88-89 New York Knicks, 90-91 Denver Nuggets, 91-92 Milwaukee Bucks) took more than 1,000 3-point attempts in an NBA season. That total doubled after the Suns, Hawks, and Rockets all attempted over 1,000 3-pointers in the 92-93 season.

In the lockout-shortened 2011-12 season, only seven teams DIDN’T attempt at least 1,000 3-pointers.

Why this little bit of 3-point history?  Continue Reading…