Archives For Shabazz Muhammad

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Throughout the season, Flip Saunders has told stories to players and media about his early years with the Timberwolves, specifically his memories developing a young, untapped 19-year-old named Kevin Garnett.

In some cases, telling such stories could be seen as pointless. There’s no way he told these stories to his title-contending Detroit Pistons squads, filled with veterans and guys who grew up playing against KG, and had already gone through the growing pains. One can only imagine what Rasheed Wallace would have thought if Saunders was reminiscing about a guy he was picked ahead of in 1995.

But this year’s Timberwolves team needs to hear these tales. Currently, the Wolves start one teenager, and have had another in and out of the starting lineup.The average age of their two leading scorers is 20 years old. They have 3 rookies on the active roster, and are at a point where guys in the range of 24-27 years old classifies you as a “seasoned veteran”.

Yes, Saunders needs to tell stories to Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine, Shabazz Muhammad, and Anthony Bennett, not just because they’re young, and not just because they’re developing. It’s also because of the way Kevin Garnett played, even when he was 19.

Continue Reading…

WolvesRebuild

It’s safe to say the Minnesota Timberwolves won’t be making the playoffs for the 11th straight season.

With a record of 5-29, the Wolves sit just 2.5 games ahead of the New York Knicks and are tied with the Philadelphia 76ers for the second worst record in the NBA. The Knicks have played four more games than the Wolves and have one-upped the Wolves for the longest current losing streak at 14 games (Wolves are at 13 losses in a row).

The injuries have taken their toll on the Wolves this season, which is the main reason for their record being as abysmal as it appears. Ricky Rubio’s high ankle injury, Nikola Pekovic’s sprained wrist and ankle, and Kevin Martin’s broken wrist have decimated the veteran leadership on the court and the organization needed to remain competitive most nights. NBA.com has the Wolves with the worst defense in the NBA at a rating of 110.2 points per 100 possessions allowed. The Los Angeles Lakers are the second worst at 109.8 per 100. They have the fifth worst offense at 99.2 points per 100 possessions scored. Only the Sixers have a worse net rating (minus-12.9 points per 100) than the Wolves (minus-11.0).

I never thought the Wolves would be good this season and hopes of them approaching what they did last season with a deeper team seemed foolish and too Disney story for my liking. But expecting them to be this bad would also have been crazy, if you assumed this team was going to be healthy. Since they are currently this bad and looking like they’re officially focused more on the future than the present (we’ll see how it goes when the veterans get healthy), I thought we could take a look as we approach the mid point of the season and look at the long-term, rebuilding prospects of each player on this team.  Continue Reading…

Jazz 101, Wolves 89: Energy

Tim Faklis —  January 3, 2015 — 11 Comments

timberwolves-vs-jazz-preview-3599460702

Through the Wolves’ current 11-game losing streak, we’ve heard stuff like this from head coach Flip Saunders. A lot.

Considering the number of injuries the Wolves have compiled (and who, specifically, got injured), it would be easy to dismiss this season as a wash. But when a young team like the Wolves can’t even properly use what may be their biggest tool (young, fresh legs) to their advantage on a nightly basis, things are going to get bad. Losing streaks like this are going to happen. It’s what happened tonight.

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WhosTheBazz

With 4:22 remaining in the fourth quarter, last night’s game was looking like a good road win for a Timberwolves team sorely in need of some positive reinforcement after dropping eight straight. Up to that point, Shabazz Muhammad and Andrew Wiggins had been the standouts, combining to score 49 points on 19-for-34 shooting, including 5-for-6 for Muhammad from 3-point range. Roughly a month ago, I wrote about how no two of Zach Lavine, Wiggins and Muhammad seemed to be able to have a good game at the same time, but this game showed how Wiggins and Muhammad could feed off each other’s games — sometimes literally in the case of an early alley-oop from the former to the latter.

Wiggins also did this: Continue Reading…

UCLA v Arizona State

The trade of Corey Brewer to the Houston Rockets wasn’t just a signal that the Timberwolves are ready to go young, sacrificing a veteran player in the name of draft picks and a young shooter with upside (Troy Daniels). While that type of deal is the one rebuilding teams often make, and while this one made sense for Minnesota’s long-term plan, there was something else motivating the Wolves to move Brewer: freeing up playing time for second-year man Shabazz Muhammad. Continue Reading…

JohnWallIsTheOneWhoKnocks

This game wasn’t as close as the score would imply. However, it was pretty close at various times throughout the night, which makes it a bit confusing as a whole. About six or so minutes into the game, it seemed like I was going to have to find a blowout recap topic for tonight’s game and I even crowd-sourced for a few ideas. John Wall was picking apart the Wolves and we had several instances of big men not getting back on defense.

There were multiple plays in the first couple of minutes in which Thaddeus Young and Gorgui Dieng were slow to either get back in transition, only to get beaten down the floor by Marcin Gortat and Kris Humphries, or to locate their defensive assignment once they did get back. You don’t give space to John Wall’s passing targets and win to talk about it. He’s too good at this stage in his career and as the Wolves found out a few times, you can’t just play 10 feet off of him and expect him to Kemba Walker that jump shot. His game doesn’t break like that anymore.

Since this was a blowout that wasn’t a blowout, let’s actually recap instead of me just rambling for 1,400 words about Pauly D from Jersey Shore or something along those lines.  Continue Reading…

shabazz-muhammad-timberwolves-hazing

Fully healthy, the Timberwolves would still not be as good as the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder have Russell Westbrook back, and he went for 34 points, 6 assists, 6 rebounds and could essentially get to the rim whenever he wanted by turning on the jets. The Thunder have eight players 6-10 or taller (if you count Durant, who is at least 6-10); the Wolves have one healthy player over 6-10 (Gorgui Dieng). No surprise, then, that Oklahoma City outrebounded Minnesota 47-30. The expected disparities were there: the Wolves took 7 3-pointers and made just one; the Thunder made 6 and took 23. If the Portland game the other night had everything going against the Blazers and for the Wolves — a genuine outlier — this was much more routine. Continue Reading…

“This ain’t reality TV!”

That’s one of the big lines from the movie The Departed, delivered by Jack Nicholson in a bizarre role that both fits, doesn’t fit, and falls everywhere in between. It comes during a scene in which (SPOILER ALERT) the tension surrounding a Boston crime boss, an undercover cop, and a bunch of lackeys has built to an uncomfortable level. The undercover cop (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) is on the verge of being found out and murdered by the crime boss (played by Nicholson). DiCaprio’s character just watched a fellow henchman die when Leo was close to getting busted and soon after the death, DiCaprio, Nicholson, and several henchmen watch a news report revealing that the body had been found and the deceased had been identified as an undercover police officer.

The henchman responsible for burying the dead body is wondering how the police found the body so quickly, and Nicholson is furious at everything going on as his empire is starting to unravel. As Nicholson berates him for not doing his job properly, the henchman laughs at the colorful analogy Jack offers up for where the body was dumped. The laughter adds to the vitriol and frustration suffocating Nicholson and he screams:

“Don’t laugh! This ain’t reality TV!” Continue Reading…

FREE SHABAZZ 2

If you haven’t seen “The Boondocks”, it’s on Netflix. Watch it.

The NBA (and every major professional sports league) is composed of proud, competitive and supremely talented athletes who have worked extremely hard and sacrificed a great deal in order to attain (and maintain) their employment at the game’s highest level. This reality doesn’t stop sportswriters and fans from questioning the dedication or commitment of athletes or even entire teams to their craft, whether it’s “effort”, “heart”, “focus”, “energy” or any other euphemism.

Of course, coaches and players themselves will mention “effort,” “heart”,”focus,” and “energy”, often as buzzwords in stock answers to routine questions about why they’ve won or lost a particular game. After a victory, it’d be unbecoming to simply say, “Well, clearly we’re superior to the team we beat, we have better players, this really isn’t a surprise.” After a loss, it’d be disheartening to admit “We never really had a chance anyway, those guys are way better than we are.” So instead, everyone relies on effort-related jargon, vows to either improve (after a loss) or maintain (after a win) their level of intensity and focus when the next game rolls around.

Fans and media see the effort put forth on the basketball court and make judgments about players based on that alone; for coaches, however, games are only part of the equation. Exemplary effort or energy when the lights are on is one thing, but knowing the playbook and understanding the subtle aspects of your offensive and defensive assignments is another. Practice habits are key. A simple, cliched way to put it: the process is more important than the results, and people outside the locker room and front office are only afforded glimpses of the process.

Which brings us to Shabazz Muhammad. Continue Reading…

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

This was a weird game. It was a fun game. It was a game that showed just exactly where the Minnesota Timberwolves need to be this season while seeing just how dire things are for the Los Angeles Lakers. In a 120-119 win over the Lakers, we saw just how horrendous the Lakers can be and how energizing and cathartic their defense can be for struggling opponents. And that’s what the Wolves have been since Ricky Rubio went down with his ankle injury — they’ve been struggling.

It’s probably why the Lakers felt like they’d get an easy victory at home against the Wolves. This is a Wolves team missing three starters and three important starters at that. We all know how important Rubio is and have seen that night in and night out since his injury. Nikola Pekovic is the type of post scorer that can make a frontcourt like the Lakers’ feel like quitting basketball with his punishing post play. And Kevin Martin can torch Kobe Bryant at this stage in their respective careers just as easily as Kobe can torch Martin. It’s all about putting pressure on an embarrassing defensive effort that looks to be historically poor.

You mostly hurt the Lakers’ offense in two ways: Continue Reading…