The Timberwolves Newest Polarizing Player: Shabazz Muhammad

Shabazz Muhammad, 20, is one of the newest draft day additions for the Minnesota Timberwolves. How will the one-and-done swingman from UCLA fare as a role player for the Timberwolves?

Shabazz Muhammad, 20, is one of the newest draft day additions for the Minnesota Timberwolves. How will the one-and-done swingman from UCLA fare as a role player for the Timberwolves?

Following rumors that the Timberwolves were aggressively attempting to move up in Thursday’s 2013 NBA draft in hopes of selecting one of the draft’s premier shooting guards which included Indiana’s Victor Oladipo, Kansas’s Ben McLemore and Georgia’s Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the Wolves found themselves out of luck when it came time for the 9th pick as all three prized shooting guards were off the board.

C.J. McCollum, the highly-touted 6-foot-3 PG/SG of Lehigh State, was apparently not on Flip Saunders’ radar as he ultimately passed up the scoring combo guard and instead took what he saw as the best talent available in point guard Trey Burke, despite  having no intention of keeping him. Flip immediately shipped the Michigan standout to the Utah Jazz in exchange for the 14th and 21st overall picks, despite already having the 26th pick received in a trade made last season with Memphis. Larry Fitzgerald Sr. had this to say about the move: [Read more...]

Timberwolves 2012-13 Player Grades: Guards

Ricky Rubio and Alexey Shved at the 2013 Rising Stars Challenge (NBAE/Getty Images)

Ricky Rubio and Alexey Shved at the 2013 Rising Stars Challenge (NBAE/Getty Images)

Following a disappointing 2012-13 season in which the Minnesota Timberwolves amassed a 31-51 record, it is time to individually break down the contributions from each of the Timberwolves’ guards over the past season.

 

Player: Ricky Rubio

Position: PG

Season Summary

After having his impressive rookie campaign derailed by a torn ACL and MCL, Ricky Rubio missed the first 20 games of the 2012-13 season and made his much-anticipated return with an epic performance on December 15 against the Mavericks, playing 18 minutes while recording 8 points, 9 assists, 4 rebounds and 3 steals.The expectations for Ricky this season were relatively low as few people expected him to have an Adrian Peterson-esque return from ACL surgery. As the season crept on and the injuries compounded – including Kevin Love’s twice-broken hand – the fans focus for Ricky became centered around a cautious approach for the young Spaniard given the future health implications that come from knee surgery. As the playoffs became a pipe dream to even the most hopeful Timberwolves fans, we got much of our satisfaction watching Ricky make small, yet incremental improvements in his game before finally getting back to full speed for the final two-ish months of the season.

Despite playing without K-Love, Tricky Ricky showed us that he can be a game-changer by himself even if he is not an efficient scorer. Playing on a surgically-repaired knee, Rubio proved that he is back to where he was last season as a perimeter defender. In fact, the Catalan point guard recorded the most steals (43) in a ten game stretch since Ron Artest in 2002. Rubio’s length – 6’4″ with a 6’9″ wingspan – paired with his defensive instincts make him one of the top perimeter defenders in the NBA, and he should be a major contender to make one of the NBA All-Defense teams next season if he can stay healthy for most if not all of the season. [Read more...]

What Will the Timberwolves Do With the 9th Pick?

GREGORY SHAMUS/GETTY IMAGES

GREGORY SHAMUS/GETTY IMAGES

Representing the Timberwolves at the 2013 NBA Draft Lottery was Kevin Love, carrying a Ricky Rubio #9 action figure as his lucky charm. However, the Wolves failed to beat the slim odds of moving up and officially own the 9th overall selection in the upcoming 2013 NBA Draft. The news came as no shocker given that Minnesota only had about a 6% chance of moving up into the top 3, while having almost an 82% chance of staying put at their original position.

With new management taking over – led by former Timberwolves president and coach Flip Saunders – it will be imperative for the new boss to make his mark by erasing the infamous legacy of poor drafting left behind by David Kahn. While Saunders has discussed in the media that he is open to discussing trades for the 9th and 26th selections – whether to move up in the draft or to acquire a veteran – it remains to be seen what Minnesota’s course of action will be under the new regime.

Barring any serious injuries, the Timberwolves expect to have a fully healthy roster by the time training camp arrives. With the probable starting lineup of Rubio-Ridnour-Kirilenko-Love-Pekovic returning, the glaring need for a shooting guard will be the top priority to be addressed either through the draft or in free agency. [Read more...]

Flip Saunders to Become Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations

Washington Wizards v Atlanta HawksFollowing a tumultuous four seasons for David Kahn as president of basketball operations for the Minnesota Timberwolves, owner Glen Taylor has decided against exercising Kahn’s team option for the 2013-14 season thus ending his tenure with the organization. The now infamous Kahn has been the pin of jokes throughout the basketball community due to his disastrous job drafting, but let us not forget that the man was able to strike gold on franchise cornerstone Ricky Rubio and even helped to bring Rick Adelman to Minnesota and should be given credit where it is due.

Although Kahn was able to reshape the team’s roster and helped to bring excitement back to the state’s NBA team, his misfirings in the draft severely cost the organization. In 2009, Kahn drafted Jonny Flynn sixth overall over the likes of Stephen Curry, Brandon Jennings and DeMar DeRozan, and drafted Ty Lawson with the eighteenth pick in the same draft, only to trade him for a future first-round selection which was ultimately traded for Martell Webster. Stephen Curry set the all-time record for three-pointers made in a season this year, and Lawson has become a fringe All-Star point guard leading the Denver Nuggets. [Read more...]

Minnesota Timberwolves 80, Utah Jazz 96

Photo Credit: Greg Smith, USA TODAY Sports

Photo Credit: Greg Smith, USA TODAY Sports

Game Summary:

The Timberwolves returned home on Monday night to take on the Utah Jazz for the second time in four days. Coming off a career-high 40 points against the Pups on Friday night, Al Jefferson looked to will his team to another victory with the Jazz continuing to fight for the eighth seed in the Western Conference with less than a week to play in the regular season.

In their second to last game of the 2012-13 season, the Wolves went with the starting lineup of Ricky Rubio, Luke Ridnour, Andrei Kirilenko, Derrick Williams, and Greg Stiemsma. Nikola Pekovic sat out his third consecutive game with a left calf contusion.

The Jazz got off a hot start, outscoring the Wolves 14-2 in the first four minutes prompting Rick Adelman to call a timeout. The Pups had initial difficulty swinging the ball in the half court offense with no Pekovic in the paint to keep Utah’s perimeter defenders honest. [Read more...]

Minnesota Timberwolves 105, Phoenix Suns 93

Photo Credit: Jim Mone, Associated Press

Photo Credit: Jim Mone, Associated Press

Game Summary:

Having lost their previous three games on their West coast road trip, the Minnesota Timberwolves came home on Saturday night to host the Phoenix Suns in their last matchup of the season with fomer Wolf Mike Beasley missing the game due to the birth of a new child. Congrats, Beas.

The Wolves faced off against their former fourth overall selection Wes Johnson who has become a starter for the dreadful Suns. While I will admit that the former Syracuse star has somewhat expanded his game since his days in a Timberwolves uniform, he is still a long ways away from being a productive player on a competitive NBA team as evidenced by his 10.31 Player Efficiency Rating.

Ricky Rubio looked much more comfortable against the soft defense of Goran Dragic than he did the previous night against the Utah Jazz. The Wolves immediately had an easier time gaining penetration in the half court and found openings in the short corner on back cuts from Derrick Williams and Andrei Kirilenko. [Read more...]

Minnesota Timberwolves 100, Utah Jazz 107

AlJeffersonGame Summary:

The Minnesota Timberwolves travelled to Utah on Friday night to battle the Jazz in a critical game for Utah’s playoff hopes. With the Los Angeles Lakers and Jazz fighting it out for the final seed in the West, the Jazz looked to their bigs to help them past the lottery-bound Timberwolves.

Nikola Pekovic sat out Friday night’s meeting against the Jazz with an injured left calf. The frontcourt matchup was made increasingly more difficult with the absence of the Wolves starting center. Minnesota defended the interior well in the first period despite facing mismatches in Utah’s favor. The Jazz led 11-10 after the first timeout about midway through the first quarter.

Utah began to expand on their lead following Ricky Rubio’s second foul with around four minutes remaining in the first. The starting Jazz bigs of Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap did a nice job of running the floor in transition. [Read more...]