Archives For Chase Budinger

Rubio leads the offense

On the surface, the question that is the headline of this post may seem preposterous to fans of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Ricky Rubio is one of the best facilitators in the NBA and someone that can turn any offensive weapon into an offensive weapon with an ability to score efficiently. Team him up with Kevin Love and you’ll get a deadly pick-and-pop or pick-and-roll game. You’ll get post-entry passes on point that don’t require Love to give up precious post position. Team him up with Nikola Pekovic and you have one of the better pick-and-roll combinations in the NBA, despite Pekovic not exactly being a threat to drop the hammer down with an alley-oop dunk on the play. And again, the post-entry passes are so choice.

Run one of those fancy pick-and-rolls with Rubio as the initiator while having Chase Budinger and Kevin Martin in the corners and the defense respecting Kevin Love’s ability to stretch the floor and the bulldozer rumbling down the lane that is Nikola Pekovic and it seems like the possibilities for points are endless. Even when you throw some of the bench guys in the game with Rubio and we know Derrick Williams scores better at the rim with Rubio on the court, Dante Cunningham is a great pick-and-pop option in the midrange, and the Corey Brewer-Ricky Rubio fast breaks could be quick and deadly. There’s a lot to love with these combinations.

So what’s with the question in the headline? Continue Reading…

Spurs

Model and process.

The San Antonio Spurs are the model franchise for those places that have trouble attracting free agents to move their families to a less than desirable location. When I say less desirable, it’s in relative terms. It’s hard to equate our lives to those of an NBA player, whose lifestyle will always be a different world to us. When you have the opportunity to live in a lively city that also has complementary amazing weather or unmatched nightlife, that’s going to be more desirable for you as an NBA player. When you don’t have those luxuries, you have to have a core set of values that never get compromised. You have to possess a process to believe in.

This is how the San Antonio Spurs are and it makes me insanely jealous. It’s not even that they’re successful. Sure, it would be awesome if the Wolves had four championships or even one championship to look up at in the rafters of the Target Center, but what I’m envious of is the process for how they look to accomplish their goals for success. Continue Reading…

MiniMart

Now that the Timberwolves have lost out on J.J. Redick, they’ve turned their attention to Kevin Martin as the backup plan for the shooting guard position.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports and Sam Amick of USA Today, the Wolves and Martin have agreed on a four-year, $28 million contract. The awkward but accurate shooting guard is incredibly familiar with Rick Adelman’s system, which he came into the league with in Sacramento and played in with the Houston Rockets for a couple of seasons.  Continue Reading…

Bud

I’ve got some good news and some bad news.

The good news is the Timberwolves verbally agreed to a deal with Chase Budinger for three years and $16 million the same day that Martell Webster and the Washington Wizards agreed to a deal for four years and $22 million. The third year for Budinger is a player option, which I think gives the Wolves great flexibility moving forward.

The bad news is J.J. Redick is officially off the market. He’s agreed to a sign-and-trade as a part of a three-team, four-player deal that will send him to the Clippers. Here is the info from the tweets: Continue Reading…

Shooters

I’ll have something later today that will delve deeper into the philosophy of what could be going on, but there’s some news surrounding the Minnesota Timberwolves and the free agent market. There’s no secret that the Wolves have needed outside shooting the past couple of years. In 2011-12, the Wolves ranked 23rd in the NBA in 3-point percentage at 33.2% but took the sixth most attempts in the league.

Last season, I tried to chronicle the historically poor shooting the Wolves had from downtown. The final damage was 30.5%, which was the lowest in the NBA. The Charlotte Bobcats of 2011-12 had a worse percentage at 29.5%, but they also attempted 4.4 fewer threes per game than the Wolves did, making the Wolves by far the worst 3-point shooting team of all time when you factor in volume. The Wolves need shooters and Flip Saunders made that abundantly clear as a priority during his introductory press conference. Continue Reading…

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…