Archives For Denver Nuggets

Shaw and Hunt

Q: Did you think Denver would come out with life and zip after the previous two days?

A: “No, to be honest, they quit on Brian Shaw and they’ll quit again. A quitter is a quitter. That was my take on that.”

 – Kevin Garnett

This directed to whoever in listening range

Yo the whole state of things in the world bout to change

Your head is throbbin and I ain’t said shit yet

The Roots crew, the next movement, c’mon!

- The Roots

Clearly, Brian Shaw was the problem in Denver.

That’s tongue in cheek, of course, but it was interesting to see the Nuggets play so well on Wednesday night, mostly because they looked entirely different than the reanimated corpses that wore their uniforms for most of Brian Shaw’s tenure as coach. Shaw was fired on Tuesday morning, ending his, um, checkered tenure in the Mile High City. Between rapping scouting reports to his players (oy vey), routinely calling out his players (to no effect), and admitting that he was reading books on millenials to “try to connect with his players (*facepalm*), it was painfully obvious that a change was necessary. Continue Reading…

Getty

Getty

At a certain point, I feel like I’ve really got to make a conscious effort to pace myself with writing about Andrew Wiggins. Ideally, I’d get to break down every game of his, possession by possession. Like an overzealous father with a camcorder (I guess an iPhone in today’s modernity), I want to show not just the first steps of Wiggins’ career and break down how they’re better than the steps of just about anybody else we’ve ever seen at that age. That’s a weird feeling too because I am in no way related to Andrew Wiggins, so really I’m just breaking down someone else’s child.

This is the excitement that he brings. I wrote about his improvement earlier this week for CBSSports.com (SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT! THIS IS NOT A DRILL! SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT!) and in it I showed how his improvement in attacking the basket has really transformed his scoring ability. He’s so good absorbing contact and finish right now that it’s also helping him draw fouls for easy points at the line too. What I failed to mention in the article is that he’s simply not taking bad shots unless he’s forced to at the end of the shot clock. Everything is within the natural flow of the game and Wiggins’ basketball IQ is shining through with his shot selection.

In the Minnesota Timberwolves’ 113-105 road victory over the Denver Nuggets, Wiggins set the tone early by knocking down his first six shots and eventually settled on new career highs with 31 points, four made 3-pointers, and three blocked shots. He went 11-of-17 from the field, 4-of-5 from 3, and even had nine rebounds, four assists, and a steal. He’s just the second teenager in NBA history (LeBron James is the other) to rack up 31 points, nine boards, four assists, and three blocks or better in a game.

That’s officially good.  Continue Reading…

giphy

Last night was tough.

It wasn’t just basketball, either. On my way into the Target Center to see the Wolves play the Denver Nuggets, I came to find that the already-freezing outdoors had added some precipitation to the equation, making the drive into downtown that much slower and less enjoyable. Considering the Wolves’ 11-game losing streak coming into last night’s game, the weather/traffic combination made my personal entrance to the Target Center a bit more angsty than usual.

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…

Rubio in Sleeves

You probably need some cheering up, so here’s Ricky Rubio (in the Timberwolves’ sleek new v-neck shirsey) with a neckerchief, courtesy of Steve McPherson.

There are plenty of reasons why the Timberwolves lost to the Nuggets on Wednesday night. Denver scored 60 points in the paint, exploiting Minnesota’s questionable perimeter defense and lack of a rim-protecting big man to compensate for it. The Nuggets erupted for a 36-point second quarter, extending the halftime lead to nine (64-55), a difficult hole for any team to crawl out of. Ten (10!!!) different Denver players logged 18 minutes or more, keeping fresh legs on the court at all times, their capable bench unit outscoring the Wolves’ bench players 47-10. Minnesota’s assist-to-turnover ratio was 19-16. Shall I go on?

A loss causes fans, coaches, media members and players to look beyond the box score an into the realm of the abstract for explanations. Postgame, Rick Adelman repeatedly stressed his disappointment with the team’s effort, especially early in the game, and hinted that his players may not be handling their early-season success very well: “There’s been all this talk about what kind of team we can be. I don’t care what people talk about… we have done nothing.” Corey Brewer, candid as always, echoed his coach’s sentiments and elaborated on the mental state of the Timberwolves: “We’ve got to get some kind of swag, or energy. I was in Denver last year, and we thought we were the greatest team ever, even when we weren’t. We need to get an identity. We don’t have an identity yet.” Continue Reading…

WolvesTrio

I would like to preface this post with the fact that I have full confidence in Rick Adelman’s coaching abilities, fully believe in his philosophies when it comes to basketball, and think his offensive system is superb. I will never pretend to know as much about basketball theory or even half of the practical applications of said theories in comparison to Rick Adelman.

The offense of the Minnesota Timberwolves is crucial. This isn’t so much basketball theory as an expectation of what’s in store for us this season. I’m not breaking any ground in telling you that the Wolves have to be good on offense. This isn’t news to anybody reading this site. The Wolves need to score points and we expect that they’ll need to score a lot of points in order to neutralize whatever shortcomings are there on defense. We felt this way going into last season. Points wouldn’t be the problem; defense would.

Turns out that was backwards but mostly due to an injury rash that turned into an injury flesh-eating bacteria. Kevin Love went down. Ricky Rubio came back but missed significant time while needing a month or two to get back to where he needed to be. Brandon Roy never materialized. Chase Budinger went down for the middle of the season with love handles on each side of that middle. Nikola Pekovic and Andrei Kirilenko were sporadically banged up. The season fell apart before we could even see how it fit together.

And that’s why the offense of the Wolves is so crucial this year. I think we see frustration this early from Rick Adelman for two reasons: Continue Reading…

rubio smile

It’s frustrating, right?

For two years, we’ve had hope that the misfortunes of this franchise, which have often been used as setups to punch lines about the Wolves, were going to turn around. The Wolves have a roster that includes the number two pick of a recent draft, the best power forward in the NBA, a point guard prodigy that has been competing at a professional level since he was 14, and one of the best coaches of the past 25 years. We’ve had a big man made of granite emerge from the depths of the roster.

But the Wolves have also had a horrible run of injury “luck” in the past calendar year. Ricky Rubio tore his knee, Nikola Pekovic had bone spurs, Kevin Love had a concussion, Love broke his hand, Chase Budinger tore part of his knee, Brandon Roy had the same issues, Andrei Kirilenko got dinged up, Ricky Rubio had a back issue, Kevin broke his hand again, Pek strained his groin, AK hurt his calf, then his quad, Pek strained his abdominal, etc. Let’s not forget the scary stretch for Rick Adelman in which his wife had medical issues, which she hopefully can put far behind her very soon.  Continue Reading…

On the surface, the Nuggets and the Wolves in their current state of frontcourt decimation seem to share a common profile. Both teams run radically simplified half-court offenses and generate many of their best looks off of opponents’ turnovers. Both teams rely heavily on the energy and wiles of their backcourts and depend on dribble penetration to create looks. Neither team shoots threes well; both teams require on heavy outputs of energy to play their game.

But two crucial differences make those commonalities merely superficial. The first is that while Denver is absurdly deep, rich with players who fit the profile of their team’s game, the Wolves are down to their last nine ragtag dudes, many of whom are not what you might call All-Star material. Its a lot easier to sprint up and down the floor when you know that a breather is right around the corner and that your team won’t be the worse off for it. The second is that the Wolves play that way by necessity, out of desperation, while the Nuggets do so by design. When you play with such simplicity, chaos and pace, you are in the Nuggets’ wheelhouse. And nobody does it better; if you get drawn into their game, particularly on their home floor, where the thin air seems to corrode your lungs and turn your legs into noodles, the Nugs will run you through the thresher.

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…

KEVIN-LOVE

When Jon Krawczynski broke the news that Kevin Love was coming back to start for the Wolves tonight, a brief hush fell over press row, or at least, my end of it. It was about an hour before gametime and we were suddenly filled with an admixture of uneasiness and excitement. Love was supposed to be back in six to eight weeks, but here he was taking the floor in just a little over four. The way Love described it after the game didn’t make it seem like a medical miracle. “The doctor said, ‘When’s your next game?’ and I said, ‘Tomorrow.’ He said, ‘If you want to give it a go, go ahead.’ And I said all along that when I have a chance that I was going to be out there first game and I didn’t want to wait.” Continue Reading…