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…
Archives For Derrick Williams
Is Derrick Williams a bad player who doesn’t belong on the Timberwolves?
The growing sentiment with an impatient fan base seems to be yes, he is. And that’s what we are right now; it’s an impatient fan base because the biological clock of Kevin Love’s potential early termination option is ticking like a time bomb. There is a presumed small window to get this team into the elite ranks of the Western Conference or we’ll be back at the first step again in a few years. Through impatience comes great desperation and understandably so. Continue Reading…
The rosters don’t look similar and it’s only a couple weeks into the season so take this in the spirit that it’s intended, but this Bobcats team reminds me a lot of the way the Timberwolves played last year.
After so much mediocrity, the Wolves became a scrappy bunch that played an exciting brand of basketball. The Wolves were fueled by Kevin Love’s emergence as one of the top players in the NBA, Ricky Rubio’s creativity and electricity, and the discovery that Nikola Pekovic was a wrecking ball out of nowhere. This Bobcats team doesn’t really have any of that. They have a coach who decided losing wasn’t going to be acceptable anymore. They have a guard trio that has fueled their offense most nights, and their offense most nights is really good this season. They have a rookie swingman who is probably going to be the next great defender in the NBA.
The Bobcats don’t have much in terms of interior scoring or presence. Byron Mullens and Bismack Biyombo are the two key big men for them. Brendan Haywood is playing a lot of competent minutes. And this team is doing a fantastic job of hitting the offensive boards, taking care of the basketball, and finding a way to get shots at the rim. The Bobcats scrappiness and frenetic style are what reminds me of the Wolves of yesteryear. 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.
Remember how the Wolves took such great care of the ball against the Kings, which was a huge contrast to the careless nature with the ball last season? Apparently, there is a big difference between playing a Keith Smart coached team and playing a Dwane Casey coached team.
The Wolves were disgustingly careless with the basketball. They didn’t seem to value their own defensive boards enough, giving up 16 offensive rebounds to the Raptors. Those offensive rebounds led to 21 second chance points. And then there are the turnovers — my god the turnovers! There were 24 turnovers by the Wolves in this game that resulted in 32 points for Toronto. That’s 53 points off of carelessness by the Wolves. Half of the Raptors’ points came off of carelessness. That’s disheartening. Continue Reading…
A funny thing happened on the way to Nikola Pekovic’s contract year: Kevin Love broke his hand and gave Pek the chance to show just how much he’s worth.
The timing of this injury — in line with Pek’s last season before restricted free agency — couldn’t have been more perfect for the third-year center. In fact, it’s a complete win-win for him. If he plays well and helps carry the team for the first month or more, he probably guarantees himself a max offer in restricted free agency, just to put pressure on the organization to match (I see you, Paul Allen). If he doesn’t play well and help carry the team, nobody would fault him at all for not being up for the task.
Pekovic came into this season with the preseason buzz phrase “best shape of his life.” He looked like a lean pitbull, ready to patrol the dog run without a glimmer of fear. With eight-ish pounds shed off his immense frame, Pek has not only taken the pressure off his surgically repaired ankle, but he’s allowed himself to move a lot freer than before. And somehow he even got stronger. Continue Reading…
I’ve made the case before that Derrick Williams’ development–either in becoming a consistent three or being traded for one–is essential to the Wolves’ coherence. With a consistent, dynamic wing scorer, the Wolves’ newly acquired white boy stew actually makes sense; without it, the team still feels to me haphazard and misshapen, an oblong collection of Stiemsmas and Shveds and Budingers and Kirilenkos.
I still hold to that notion, but if you want a genuine picture of incoherence, you should try that same collection of players without Kevin Love at its center. Because the Wolves’ lineup that showed up in Chicago on Friday night was about as wayward and rudderless as a team could be. Of course, in terms of sheer gloomy apathy this crew doesn’t hold a candle to last season’s daydreamy Wes Johnson/bored Anthony Randolph nadir. But when it comes to not-an-actual-NBA-team lineup collage, its pretty hard to beat the Wolves’ Barea/Roy/Kirilenko/Cunningham/Stiemsma starting five. Or how about this one: Conroy/Shved/Budinger/Williams/Amundson? I don’t even know what those words mean but those dudes did actually share the floor during Friday night’s third quarter. Anyway.
Despite much searching, I wasn’t able to catch Friday night’s preseason loss to the Pacers in Indiana, bringing to mind that old Buddhist paradox: if the Wolves lose in the preseason and I can’t watch it on TV, does it make a sound? Apparently it did, because our friends at 8 Points 9 Seconds have a nice little summary of the decisive action:
An early lead dwindled to 1 by the end of the 1st, then became a double digit deficit after Minnesota hung a 13-2 run on the Pacers to start the second. The teams went to the half with Minny up 11, but that was quickly erased as the Pacer starters (playing against the Minnesota bench) scored the first 10 points of the third.
The T-Wolves pushed it back to 6-to-8 points, and held that lead for the rest of the quarter, entering the 4th with a 7-point cushion. Trailing by 7 with just over 10 minutes left, a unit led by the backcourt of Ben Hansbrough and Gerald Green rattled of 19 straight points to give the Pacers the lead for good. Hansbrough, who finished the game with 10 points, collected 4 of his 7 assists during the 4-minute stretch, while Green scored 5 points and dished an assist. The big man tandem of Miles Plumlee and Jeff Pendergraph combined for 10 points and 4 rebounds, and fun was had by all.
Ah yes, the dreaded Hansbrough/Green/Plumlee/Pendergraph quartet. Here are some other things you should know:
- Kevin Love played 12 minutes; Brandon Roy played 8 minutes; Big Pek played 12; JJ Barea played 16; Luke Ridnour, Andrei Kirilenko, Danny Granger, Roy Hibbert and George Hill did not play. Thus the decidedly D/Summer League flavor of the box score.
- Derrick Williams did play, though. He played a lot: 38 minutes to be exact, scoring 25 points on 9 of 19 shooting. Here’s what Rick Adelman had to say about that (via the Star Tribune):
I thought [Williams] played pretty good…What I liked about him was he made two or three efforts. He’d go to the basket, they’d bother him and he’d go right up and get it. That’s good to see. … If he plays that hard all the time at both ends, that’s a completely different circumstance for him.
This is amazing news for the Wolves. An aggressive, efficient Derrick Williams could make the difference between the Wolves remaining an oddly formed curiosity and a legitimately threatening team. Keep doing this, please.
- Look at the ridiculous stuff Gerald Green was doing to the Wolves. And it even looks like Shved was sticking him pretty hard on some of those. Man Pacers fans, get ready for an amazing ride.
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…