Seriously, what the hell happened? I still can’t quite wrap my head around it.
Somehow, someway, the Wolves beat the Jazz Monday night in Salt Lake City. Minnesota did it with just 7 healthy players. Of those players, 3 had spent time in the D-League this season (Payne, Kilpatrick, Brown). The only healthy player on the roster who isn’t a rookie or sophomore was Budinger, and should he really even count?
Look, the game certainly wasn’t pretty, but the Wolves inexplicably got the job done. The game featured a combined 39 turnovers, including 7 from Zach LaVine, 6 from Joe Ingles, 5 from Trey Burke, and 4 from Andrew Wiggins. Yet, a game that spent around 47 minutes being a complete mess turned into the Zach LaVine show, as his two 3 pointers in the final minute (one of which came from the parking lot) forced overtime, and the Wolves came away with the victory.
So what did we learn? Not much, but there were a few interesting tidbits from Monday that shouldn’t be glossed over.
1) Zach LaVine is NOT a point guard
This should be glaringly obvious, but in case it’s not, let me reiterate. Zach LaVine is a natural and perfect fit at the shooting guard spot. As insanely fast and athletic as LaVine is, he should not be spending the majority of his time as the teams primary ball handler. His dribbling skills aren’t nearly consistent enough, his court vision isn’t the greatest, and his undeveloped decision making skills make him an extremely poor fit at the point guard.
Monday, LaVine spent quality time at the 2 guard, and as a result had one of his best offensive displays of this season. He didn’t have to worry about calling plays or orchestrating the offense, and it led to him making solid cuts to the perimeter where he draining a career-high 5 threes, while also displaying impressive finishing moves as he had a few acrobatic layups when he did drive to the basket.
2) 3 pointers are good
The Wolves were 12-19 from 3 Monday, which for any other team would be nothing more than a side note. But for the Wolves, a team that averages just 5 made 3 pointers a game, it was a miracle. The craziest part, is that it resulted in a victory! It’s almost as if 3 pointers are a more efficient shot than midrange jumpers. Crazy, right? If this really is the case, the Wolves should be shooting this many 3’s every night, and maybe stop settling for 18 footers.
3) Winning is Important, Even if it Costs the Wolves Draft Position
Let’s face it, the Wolves are not catching New York for the worst record in the league, and they will probably end up ahead of either Los Angeles or Philadelphia at seasons end. But simply because the Wolves are in a tight race at the bottom of the standings doesn’t mean the Wolves should be trying to lose. For a team as young as Minnesota, it’s equally important to keep morale high. A happy locker room is good for everyone – players, reporters, the coaching staff, and fans, so why kill a team’s spirits by intentionally losing.
Just look at Wiggins and LaVine hugging! How could you possibly root for them to lose!
— NBA On Def Pen (@NBAOnDefPen) March 24, 2015