Archives For Zach Lavine

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Hi guys. Steve here. One of the great things about writing for A Wolf Among Wolves and not, say, a major newspaper is that we can wear our hearts on our sleeves a little more. Yes, we consider it important to bring you quotes and pertinent stats from games and also to go in-depth with some play breakdowns and analysis in a way that more mainstream media generally can’t, but we can also just tell you how we really feel about things like Zach LaVine in the Slam Dunk Contest.

So let me tell you: That shit was fucking insane. Continue Reading…

MVP

The Wolves had four players in the Rising Stars Game on Friday night. Zach LaVine, Shabazz Muhammad and the USA squad fell 121-112 to the World team, led by Gorgui Dieng and Andrew Wiggins, who took home MVP honors following his electrifying six dunk performance. Wiggins and LaVine tied for the game high in points (22 apiece), Dieng had 14 and Muhammad had 10. Continue Reading…

wolvesceltics4

It’s always fun in the Target Center when the Timberwolves play well.

Even considering the 7 wins the Wolves had coming into tonight, you have to pick and choose which of those wins can be considered “good” wins. When you factor in the Wolves’ 10-game home losing streak coming into tonight, it makes the sample size that much smaller.

A big part the team’s struggles has been with injury, perhaps most due to the severe ankle injury suffered by Ricky Rubio in early November. Rubio didn’t make his return tonight, but there were a couple new(-ish) faces that did make their returns to the Target Center, one of whom from injury. In a lot of ways, these faces may have made the difference in the fun levels of tonight’s game.

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FindAHappyPlace

This isn’t something I normally do, but I was watching that UFC fight night on Fox Sports 1 Sunday night. I’m not a UFC or MMA person. It really doesn’t appeal to me. I used to love boxing and will still watch the big fight cards but I definitely don’t keep up with it like I did in the 90’s. That’s probably because the quality of the product, especially with the heavyweight division is just so down. Perhaps that’s another blowout recap for another day though.

I was at a restaurant, enjoying some lovely ribs on a patio and they had the UFC card on all of the televisions. The NFL games were done and the NBA was smart enough to not schedule against the night of the conference championships in the NFL. Once the action from both leagues was done, the fights were on and I had an apple crisp to put down. During the fight, the camera flashed a picture of Mickey Rourke on the screen. He was wearing an odd hat, had some odd hair, and that meant it was time for Twitter to have a little fun with it.

And fun we had.  Continue Reading…

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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…

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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.

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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…

Corey Brewer, Jeff Green

In preparation for tonight’s game in Boston, I had a chat with SB Nation’s Celtics Blog writer Dustin Chapman, a guy I’ve talked basketball with for a long, long time. Click here to follow him on Twitter. We talked about the Rondo trade, key matchups, and discussed Pek vs Vitor in a battle of the giants.

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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…

Early in Minnesota’s 102-86 loss to the Golden State Warriors, Andrew Bogut was hobbling up and down the floor. It was unclear what was wrong at the time, but it was clear he needed to be taken out. Swiftly, new Golden State head coach Steve Kerr moved to put in backup Festus Ezeli. Bogut would not return to the game.

Golden State came into to the game already a man down, having lost David Lee to a hamstring injury during the Warriors’ season opener. This was not an ideal situation for the Warriors, who have faced the consequence of injury struggles come playoff time the past couple years.

Tonight, however, the Warriors faced off against a Timberwolves team that, when fully healthy, is probably still a worse team than Golden State was short-manned. But Minnesota isn’t healthy right now.

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