Timberwolves Back to .500 After Pair of Blowout Wins

The Wolves crept a little farther up the standings following blowout victories, with the first at home against the Washington Wizards on Friday night and the second in Milwaukee against the lowly Bucks on Saturday night. Leading the way in both contests was Kevin Love, who posted performances of 25 points and 11 rebounds against the Wizards followed by a 33 point, 15 rebound and 6 assist effort against the Bucks.

Minnesota saw better consistency out of its other starters during the back-to-back stretch, as center Nikola Pekovic also recorded two double-doubles. Pek has really hit his stride over the past month and his PER has increased to 19.10 following a slow start to the season. [Read more…]

Clippers beat Timberwolves 120-116 in OT Thriller

Photo Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Photo Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Game Summary

The Timberwolves traveled to Los Angeles on Sunday night for their last game before the holiday break, facing a Clippers squad that had previously defeated them in their two earlier matchups this season. Despite an output of 79 points from their starting frontcourt and a four point lead with 18 seconds left in regulation, Minnesota fell in overtime to the impressively deep Clippers squad who improved to 12-2 at home.

This was no ordinary loss for Minnesota as they were unable to take advantage of a pair monster performances from Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic. Love, playing out of his skull, scored a season-high 45 points (15-23 FG, 2-6 3pt, 13-15 FT) while pulling down 19 rebounds and  dishing out 6 assists in 43 minutes of action. His frontcourt counterpart Pekovic added a career-high 34 points (16-28 FG, 2-3 FT) and grabbed 14 rebounds in 46 minutes. [Read more…]

Heat Defeat Love-less Wolves, 103-82

Photo Credit: Star Tribune

Photo Credit: Star Tribune

Game Summary

The Miami Heat traveled to frozen Minnesota on Saturday night and demonstrated once again why they just may be on their way to winning a third consecutive NBA Finals. The big three needed little more than 2 quarters to put the game in cruise control en route to a blowout road win. LeBron James needed only 31 minutes to post a line of 21 points (9-12 FG), 14 rebounds and 8 assists while Dwayne Wade played through injury on his way to 19 points (7-14 FG), 5 rebounds and 4 assists.

The Heat had a few scares in the first quarter after Chris Bosh took an accidental Shane Battier fist to the eye and not soon after when Wade’s aggravated right knee collided with Kevin Martin‘s. However, both players returned to action and were able to play without restriction.

The Wolves were without Kevin Love, who missed the game due to the recent passing of his grandmother. The superstar’s absence made life very difficult on the offense as they clearly missed his ability to stretch the floor. As one of the best coached defensive teams in the league, Miami did a tremendous job of limiting and slowing penetration, effectively nullifying any attempts by Ricky Rubio or other Minnesota guards.

It goes without saying that last night was Ricky’s worst game of the season as he scored just a single point in 27 minutes while recording six turnovers to his six assists. Our Catalan import missed all four of his field goal attempts while getting completely shut down by Miami defenders. Rubio has been in a funk as of late, and it is fair to say that it revolves around his inability to score efficiently. Opposing teams are beginning to figure out how to game plan for him, and it is going to take more than getting Love back into the lineup to straighten out Rubio’s game.

The sellout Target Center crowd witnessed Luc Richard Mbah a Moute‘s first start as a Pup, but the stellar defender was put in his place against the best player in the league. Minnesota tried using different looks from both Mbah a Moute and Corey Brewer in an attempt to stifle James, but neither were able to effectively contain the king. While they did contribute to his seven turnovers, they did not stop him from getting to the rim at will. Shooting 9-12 from the field, LeBron did not need to attempt a single three-pointer in order to lead the Heat to a blowout victory.

Obviously, I can sit here and digest this early season loss for as long as I want, but in order to be proactive I will point out some statistics that I think most clearly point out the biggest current issues for the Timberwolves:

  • Blocks: MIN 1, MIA 8 – It is becoming a trend for me to talk about the Timberwolves difficulties protecting the rim. Minnesota ranks DEAD LAST in blocks in the league and the addition of Love back into the lineup is not going to change that. The only  player with bona fide shot-blocking potential is Gorgui Dieng, but he has a long ways to go before he becomes a stalwart in Rick Adelman’s rotation.
  • Team FG% – MIN 29%, MIA 55% – Where is the defense? When it boils down to it, good defense comes from pure hustle and effective strategizing from the coaching staff. If there is any way for Adelman to get Elston Turner back onto his coaching staff, I hope that he reaches out to him because Minnesota’s defense has been abysmal against top opponents.
  • Fast Break Points – MIN 14, MIA 24 – What ever happened to United We Run? The transition play has been virtually non-existent for a team that began the season as one of the fastest-paced teams in the league. Slowing down will only hurt this Wolves team as they currently have major deficiencies on the defensive end and have exploitable weaknesses (i.e., baiting Rubio to take jumpers).

This was a bad loss, there is no way around it. However, the Wolves still sit at 9-11 and on Tuesday night will face a Detroit Pistons squad that has plenty of their own problems. We must recognize that this team has not even come close yet to playing to their potential and I believe the addition of Chase Budinger to the rotation will really help to solidify our bench. It is up to the every player and the coaching staff to work their butts off to fix the defense as it will be the key to reaching the postseason.


Timberpups Turkey Day Roundtable

David Sherman/Getty Images

David Sherman/Getty Images

Happy Thanksgiving Minnesota. In light of the holiday we at Timberpups brought together some bright Timberwolves minds to discuss a few key topics currently surrounding our favorite NBA franchise. Our first guest Kyle Ratke (@Kyle_Ratke) is a web editorial associate for the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx. Representing Howlin’ T-Wolf are Derek James (@DerekJamesNBA) and Tom Westerholm (@Tom_NBA), and writer for A Wolf Among Wolves Billy Bohl (@BreakTheHuddle) also joins us. Lastly, both myself (@glenhoops) and Zach Bennett (@ZacharyBD) decided to give it a go as well. Enjoy your turkey day Wolves fans!

1. What has been the nicest surprise so far for Minnesota?

Kyle: The biggest surprise so far is Robbie Hummel being implemented into the rotation after almost missing out on being on the team in Training Camp. His minutes could change with the addition of Mbah a Moute, but at least the Wolves know they have other guy on the bench they can depend on. And Adelman likes him. That’s a big factor, too. He plays the game right.

Derek: Being around .500? No, really. It sounds simple but after a decade of struggling, this is nice to see. Not only that, they’re number one in total assists, number two in total rebounds and third in points per game. And they’ve been an average defensive team, which has been a bit of a surprise so far. All of this has been really nice so far.

Tom: Ricky Rubio’s 3-point shooting. Rubio, who has been shooting extremely poorly overall (34 percent! How?!!) has been largely ignored behind the arc, which has enabled him to shoot 46 percent. Once again: 46 FREAKING PERCENT. That’s simultaneously so bad and so good, but the 3-point shooting has been a nice surprise.

Billy: Corey Brewer’s contributions on the offensive end. Everyone knew what he would bring to the table defensively – and he’s been every bit as good advertised – but he’s scoring at a career rate (14.4 points per game) and doing it efficiently (especially at the rim, where he’s shooting 62%). While Kevin Love gets (and deserves) credit for throwing beautiful outlet passes, Brewer has been the one leaking out at the right time and finishing in transition. Definitely a pleasant and unexpected surprise.

Zach: Kevin Martin’s production. I anticipated him being good, but this good? No, can’t say I envisioned it. Scoring over 20 points a game shooting over 40 percent from the field and the three-point line, not to mention his ability to get to the foul line, has been huge so far.

Alex: When the Wolves signed Kevin Martin, we knew that we were getting a very productive scorer who would immediately help improve the teams three-point shooting. What we did not expect, however, was for Kevin Love and Martin to become one of the most lethal scoring combos in the NBA. Martin, who operates perfectly in Rick Adelman’s corner offense, has been everything we expected and more while sporting around a 20 PER. Even after a rough three game span in which he shot a combined 17-49, he is still averaging 22.5 points per game while providing Ricky Rubio with a legitimate backcourt mate.

2. How big of an issue are Rubio’s scoring struggles and what can he do to improve his efficiency on the offensive end?

Kyle: It’s obviously something the Wolves would like to see improve a bit, but with offensive weapons like Love, Martin and Pekovic (and the return of Budinger), the Wolves don’t need him to score 15. His outside shot looked like it was developing in training camp and who knows, it still might. It’s very early. I always look at a guy like Jason Kidd and get encouraged on his advancements as a shooter. Granted, Rubio hopes to do that a bit earlier than Kidd did in his career. 

Derek: You know, with Kevin Love, Kevin Martin and Nikola Pekovic, I’m not really worried about it. As I mentioned above, the Timberwolves aren’t having problems putting the ball through the hoop, so it’s not like he’s really hurting this team. It would be even better if he could knock that percentage up a few ticks, but he has the benefit of being able to gradually work towards that with the other scorers on this team. What could he do? Continue to work on his mechanics and build confidence as well as improving as a finisher at the rim. As others have said, he doesn’t have to improve by much and that incremental improvement is certainly realistic.

Tom: I kind of covered this above. I don’t know, can he fix the fact that he can’t score around the rim? Like at all? Maybe he should just keep camping out behind the 3-point line until he can figure out how to make a layup.

Billy: He needs to get better at finishing at inside, where he’s making less than 44% of his shots. He’s improved his three-point shooting considerably (43%) but he’s still a mess in the midrange game. I’d still argue he’s an efficient offensive player overall, just not an efficient shooter. Rubio is one of the best defensive point guards in the league, and when you consider his passing acumen, it more than compensates for the fact that his overall offensive game is still a work in progress.

Zach: His three-point shooting was runner-up for biggest surprise, almost. However, he’s still struggling inside-the-arc and especially around the rim. Rubio’s assist account for 20 of the Wolves points per game (According to StatVU) so his contributions there, and on defense, make him very potent. If he could drive and finish with the intent to score, i think he could elevate his game to another level offensively.

Alex: Even with all of the scoring this team has done, Rubio has struggled getting good shots and has conspicuously demonstrated his inability to hit mid-range jump shots at a reasonable rate. Opposing teams have focused on giving him an extra step when he comes off screens, baiting him to shoot. Rubio needs to either (a) dramatically improve his shooting off the dribble, or (b) recognize his struggles shooting the ball and take a more passive approach on the pick-and-roll. I do not believe that Ricky shooting too little will lose the Wolves games, but I do believe that him shooting too much could definitely put the team in increasingly tougher spots against top notch opponents.

3. What do you make of the acquisition of Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and how will he fit into Rick Adelman’s rotation?

UCLA teammates Kevin Love and Luc Mbah a Moute reunite on Minnesota (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill).

UCLA teammates Kevin Love and Luc Mbah a Moute reunite on Minnesota (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill).

Kyle: Anytime you can get a good defender on the team, it’s a plus. D-Will had plenty of potential and I honestly think he’ll do good things in this league. With this team and Adelman’s offense, though, he just didn’t fit. Do you know who does fit? Mbah a Moute, a guy who can guard the 2, 3 and 4. I think he’ll be a big part of the rotation until Chase returns and then we’ll go from there. It will do wonders for Brewer, too. The guy has had to guard the toughest guys in the league. A break is needed. 

Derek: I’m a fan of the trade. Mbah a Moute will provide the Timberwolves with a player that fits Rick Adelman’s vision for the team more than Derrick Williams did. Adelman has praised Robbie Hummel, the player who takes minutes from Williams, for not doing anything that he can’t do, which is where Williams failed and Mbah a Moute succeeds. In addition to Corey Brewer, the Timberwolves will now have another perimeter defender. He’s no scorer, but you have to remember that Chase Budinger is returning from injury soon and will offset that.

Tom: He fits Adelman’s rotation by being a competent wing off the bench. Minnesota’s bench mob has been pretty mediocre, and although LRMAM is not a scorer and won’t help with any of the offensive woes, his defense is certainly above average and will probably range between good and very good against most second units. He also adds a certain amount of flexibility. His post defense is quite good, and the Wolves could be planning on using him to back up Kevin Love as well as Corey Brewer (and eventually, we hope, Chase Budinger).

Billy: I’m a sucker for defense and hustle guys, and that’s what Luc Mbah a Moute is, so I like it. The Wolves save money and acquire a useful rotation player in exchange for someone who couldn’t fit into the system (Derrick Williams). It’s a smart deal.

Zach: Many called for a change and they got one, I’m optimistic about Mbah a Moute and what he can bring defensively. This addition will be huge if the Wolves can make the postseason.

Alex: The news of the trade brought a very bittersweet feeling to me as I am happy that Derrick will be getting plenty of opportunities for a rebuilding team but it also signifies yet another failure by Wolves brass in drafting. I will not sit here and say that picking D-Will was a mistake because I think that I was one of the majority of NBA fans who dubbed him as the consensus number-2 overall pick after Kyrie Irving went to Cleveland. It simply was not a good fit for Derrick in Adelman’s offense and the team could not continue to wait on him to gain consistency in his game with Minnesota setting it’s sights on the postseason. With that being said, Mbah a Moute brings a tremendous defensive presence on the wing and in the interior and should do a nice job of keeping his opponents off the offensive glass, limiting second chance opportunities. A lineup  of Mbah a Moute, Love, and Pekovic should be one of the best rebounding frontcourts in the league.

4. What about this Timberwolves team are you most thankful for?

Kyle: Kevin Love. I think we are truly watching history unfold in front of us with him.

Derek: Kevin Love. It’s so great that we get to watch him play basketball at this level again. Basketball is definitely better with him than without him.

Tom: I’m most thankful that Nikola Pekovic has the pain threshold to sit through massive, violent tattoos because they entertain me to absolutely no end.

Billy: Health. I know Budinger and Turiaf are nicked up, but Love, Rubio and Pekovic have each appeared in every game thus far. After the past two seasons, I’m just thankful the Wolves have that much.

Zach: The ability to score points when shots are falling. It’s just so, so pretty! Adelman’s system running smoothly is a thing of beauty.

Alex: I am very thankful for the teams bill of good health (knock on wood) and hope that our core can stay intact all season long.

Minnesota Timberwolves 100 – Washington Wizards 104

Bradley Beal

Photo Credit: Washington Post

The Timberwolves traveled to Washington on Tuesday night for a matchup with a healthy Wizards squad. Minnesota witnessed first hand the Wizards’ impressively refined offense and saw glimpses of greatness from both Bradley Beal and John Wall. Beal led Washington with 25 points (9-21 FG) and Wall himself tallied 14 points (5-17 FG) to go with a game-high 16 assists and 5 rebounds as the Wizards defeated the Wolves 104-100.

The first quarter was very evenly played by the two teams. Washington focused on running their offense through the post, cycling Nene to the high post where he hit a few jump shots right off the bat. On the opposite end of the floor, Kevin Love had himself quite a first quarter. Coming into tonight’s game, Love ranked third in the NBA in first quarter scoring with just under 9 points. He nearly doubled his first quarter points average as he finished the period with 16 points on 5-6 shooting.

Into the second quarter, Minnesota’s bench (which has been particularly problematic this year) helped to extend the Wolves lead putting it at 53-37 with nearly 6 minutes left in the first half. The Wolves were able to maintain around a 10-point margin until the 2:30 mark, when a Nene layup brought the game back to single digits. However, the Wolves came right back and headed to the locker rooms with a 63-51 lead.

The second half consisted of absolutely spectacular play from the young Beal. The former number-3 overall selection put on a shooting clinic beginning with around 8:00 in the quarter when back-to-back three-pointers by the former Gator brought Washington to within one point of the Wolves. Behind more hot shooting from the Eric Gordon clone, Washington knotted things up at 81 heading into the final quarter.

The Wolves missed countless opportunities in the fourth quarter and ultimately fell 104-100, despite a strong bench performance from rookie Robbie Hummel. Hummel, who fought for and won a roster spot back in training camp, looked very sharp as he tallied 7 points (2-2 3pt) and 6 rebounds without turning the ball over once in 22 minutes. K-Love really cooled down in the second half and ultimately posted a casual 25 point (8-17 FG) and 11 rebound line while Ricky Rubio was largely ineffective throughout much of the game, finishing with only 10 points and 2 assists. Martell Webster deserves a lot of credit as he hit the go-ahead three-pointer which effectively won the game for the Wizards.

Three Stars of the Game

  1. Bradley Beal: The 20-year-old shooting guard showed us why he was taken with such a high pick as he shot lights out despite facing fairly decent close outs by Timberwolves defenders. The backcourt of Wall and Beal should be fun to watch for many years to come.
  2. John Wall: With a game-high 16 assists, Wall is proving that he knows how to play the point guard position extremely well and knows when to act as facilitator and when to attack the rim. And while he may need some work done to his jump shot, he is currently a much more developed all around player than La Pistola.
  3. Kevin Love: It has become customary to see Love put up ridiculous numbers in games that aren’t necessarily considered great games for the big fella. Love did a lot with little support from his teammates tonight and provided sparks when the team needed them. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t Minnesota’s night.

Key Takeaways

  • Marcin Gortat was a nice offseason pickup for Washington. He adds a defensive presence to Washington’s frontcourt to help compensate for the rebounding deficient Nene.
  • What’s up with Nikola Pekovic? He seems to disappear for long periods of time during games so far this season and I am seriously wondering if it has something to do with Bill Bayno being gone as an assistant coach. Pek and Bayno clearly had a solid connection and it is a real bummer they were unable to retain him. One thing is clear: Pek needs to regain his confidence if the Wolves are to seriously compete later on this season.
  • It was a very nice game for the former Pup Webster, who shot 5-10 from beyond the arc on his way to 17 points and 9 rebounds. Webster, who is finally healthy, enjoyed a breakout season for Washington last season shooting over 40% from three.
  • Was it just me, or was Jan Vesely pretty impressive out there tonight? The former 6th overall pick just a few seasons ago who has largely been considered a bust shot 4-4 from the floor while grabbing 6 rebounds and even being the beneficiary of a couple of sweet alley-oops in transition.
  • Off night for Rubio. Wall played solid defense and did a good job at not allowing Ricky much penetration, effectively containing him.

Recap – Warriors 106, Timberwolves 93

AP Photo/Jim Mone

AP Photo/Jim Mone

On Wednesday night, the Timberwolves hosted the Golden State Warriors (3-1) in a matchup that included two of the fasted-paced teams in the league. Minnesota (3-1), coming off their first loss of the season to Cleveland on Monday night, shot a mere 37% from the field as a team and was out-played on both ends of the floor despite Warriors star Stephen Curry missing much of the second half with a bone bruise. The Warriors relied on some hot shooting by Klay Thompson in the fourth quarter to ultimately win 106-93, winning for the fifth consecutive time at the Target Center.

Game Summary

The Timberwolves once again went with the starting lineup of Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin, Corey Brewer, Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic. Minnesota fans got their first live glimpses of the Warriors slightly revamped lineup which now includes tremendous all around player Andre Igoudala, as well as Curry, Thompson, David Lee and Andrew Bogut.

Led by the defensive-minded Marc Jackson, it was immediately clear that the Warriors defensive focus was to stymie Rubio’s penetration by baiting him to take open jump-shots running off screens. With both teams trying to push the ball in transition, the game quickly turned sloppy as this was highlighted on Minnesota’s end with Brewer missing three easy layups in the first five minutes of the game. Despite several turnovers by Golden State, Minnesota was unable to capitalize on the Warriors mistakes and failed to score on any of the 6 Golden State turnovers. As Rubio had trouble navigating the Warriors defense, Love played the role of temporary facilitator as he tallied 3 first-quarter assists to go along with 8 points and 6 rebounds. Meanwhile, Martin showed off his creativity on the offensive end leading Minnesota with 9 points heading into the second quarter. On the other end, Harrison Barnes led Golden State with 8 points off the bench. Minnesota held a 28-26 advantage after one.

With Pek getting some rest, Gorgui Dieng‘s presence on the floor was conspicuously perceived in the second period after committing three quick fouls against the veteran backup center Jermaine O’Neal. The Timberwolves’ raw rookie center brought tremendous energy, but looked lost on the offensive end. The second unit began the second quarter for Minnesota, and they were particularly ineffective as the offense quickly turned stagnant. Golden State quickly went on a 9-0 run to begin the second quarter, and the Wolves were forced to cut short several of the starters early game breathers. With the offense continuing to falter, the Warriors jumped ahead 40-33 with 6:16 left in the first half prompting a frustrated Rick Adelman timeout. Despite being one of the top three-point shooting teams in the league, the Warriors shot a combined 0-8 from long-range in the first half allowing the Wolves to claw back in the minutes leading up to halftime. As the players headed into the locker room the Warriors held a 50-47 lead.

Halftime Notes:

  • It is hard not to focus on Pek’s struggles so far this season as he is having a tough time getting into any sort of rhythm on either end of the floor. Even with Bogut in first half foul trouble, Pek was unable to take advantage when matched up with the aged backup O’Neal. I wonder if he is missing Bill Bayno…
  • Both Lee and Love put up big numbers in the first half, with Lee posting 16 points (7-9 FG) and 8 rebounds. After a big first quarter, Love went into the break with 10 points (4-10 FG) and 8 rebounds.
  • Rubio needs to stop taking contested long jumpers when running off of screens, as his shot is still very far from even being considered average in the NBA.
  • Brewer missed a total of four layups in the first half. Absolutely unacceptable.
  • The Wolves were doing nothing on the offensive glass despite there being plenty of misses to turn into second chance opportunities.

The teams came out of the break by trading baskets to start the first few minutes of the third quarter. With just under 9 minutes left in the quarter, Thompson hit the first three of game for the Warriors as they had previously missed their first 8 in the first half. A scary moment for Golden State fans came at the 8:41 mark, when Curry came up limping off an inbounds pass and had to leave game with his team ahead 61-52. After getting his right leg worked on by a trainer, Curry  tried coming back in approximately three minutes after the injury occured. However, he was clearly affected by the injury and would eventually head to the locker room and leave the game. With an injury to their star, the Warriors frontcourt made things worse by getting into more serious foul trouble midway through the third as Lee and Bogut received their fourth and fifth fouls, respectively. With Curry hurting, Igoudala manned the point and did a fine job at that. With just seconds to go in the period, the Warriors were able to quickly rush down the floor finding a wide-open Marreese Speights for a three-pointer to end the period giving the Warriors a 79-71 lead. The Wolves had 16 turnovers through three quarters.

During the fourth quarter, Thompson came alive and was lights on from nearly every spot he got the ball. The Warriors extended their lead to 12 on back-to-back three-pointers from the young sharpshooter, putting the Warriors ahead 89-77. The Timberwolves showed virtually no ability to create plays in the half-court offense and their 19 total team turnovers led to 26 points by Golden State. Some late garbage time buckets for the Wolves made this a 13-point loss, but it felt like quite a lot more.

Three Stars of the Game

  1. Klay Thompson: 30 points (11-21 FG, 6-9 3pt), 0 turnovers
  2. David Lee: 22 points (10-16 FG), 15 rebounds
  3. Kevin Love: 25 points (10-25 FG, 1-4 3pt), 16 rebounds, 6 assists

Key Takeaways

  • Tough game for the Wolves second unit as they scored only 10 points. Minnesota cannot rely on their starters to do everything if they are to be a playoff team this season.
  • Pek is pressing and needs to settle down and get back to grabbing offensive rebounds. He needs to trust his abilities and be more aggressive in the paint.
  • The Wolves only scored 10 points off 21 Golden State turnovers, and they will need to improve this number if they want to play teams like the Warriors competitively
  • Igoudala looks like a great fit for Golden State, and he could potentially be the missing piece for a Warriors team that is a true contender in the West.

Recap (OT): Timberwolves 120, Magic 115

Photo Credit: Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images

Photo Credit: Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images

Well, so much for an anticlimactic start to the season. It took the Timberwolves 53 minutes, but they ultimately held off the Orlando Magic winning by a score of 120-115. After appearing in only 18 games last season, Kevin Love rose to superstar status as he posted yet another 30-point, 15-rebound performance while hitting the game-tying three-pointer to send the game into extra minutes.

Game Summary

With the 2013-14 NBA season officially underway, the Wolves played host to the Magic (0-1) on Wednesday night for their home and season opener. Wolves fans got their first looks at the revamped roster that was effectively arranged and put together this past offseason by new President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders.

The Target Center was fresh with optimism following an exciting offseason of player and management turnover that has so far been positively received among the fan base. The team also experienced a relative bill of good health during much of the offseason and preseason, despite the setback of Chase Budinger as he continues in his recovery from corrective surgery. While the loss of Budinger was untimely, the core of the team remains intact while the depth has vastly improved due to multiple key free agent signings and the drafting of first-round draft picks Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng[Read more…]