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.

New Timberwolves Lights-Out Jerseys

The Timberwolves "Road Alternate" jersey!

The Timberwolves “Road Alternate” jersey!

Tonight’s game at the Target Center had a little bit of an extra bonus/surprise – the new Adidas Timberwolves Lights-Out jerseys with sleeves!  Our rookies, Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng posted pictures of these over the past few days, hinting at their arrival:

 

(Click here for Gorgui Dieng’s Instagram post)

While you have likely seen several teams with the “sleeve jerseys” (we need a better nickname for these please) – The Timberwolves are the only team to don a black colored version.  The team will use these jerseys moving forward as their ‘road alternative’ during certain games throughout the season.  While the jerseys were being developed over the past year, several Wolves players had the ability to provide input on them.

Several teams have released pictures of their “sleeve jerseys” (I’m really begging someone to come up with a new name for these) to “mixed” reviews and feedback.  I tend to like them – particularly the Wolves’ black one here (and the Clippers powder blue version).  I’m glad to see that the Wolves also decided to include the 25 year, anniversary patch on them as well … see the posts from the players above for the patch, as they are not included in the images below.

What do you think of the new “sleeve jersey”, particularly the Wolves version?  Take a look at the images below for a few different shots/angles on the jersey.  For those interested, you can purchase them at WolvesProShop.com now!

 

Adidas Timberwolves Lights-Out Jersey 2 Adidas Timberwolves Lights-Out Jersey 3 Adidas Timberwolves Lights-Out Jersey 4 Adidas Timberwolves Lights-Out Jersey 5

Derrick Williams Traded For Luc Mbah a Moute, Pending Physical

During the second quarter of the game between the Minnesota Timberwolves and Indiana Pacers, Derrick Williams -pending a physical- was traded to the Sacramento Kings for Luc Mbah a Moute.

It’s pronounced Luke, MMMM-BAH-EM-MOOT-AY, (that’s not professional, but you’ll get it soon enough)

Mbah a Moute is 27 years old and in his sixth NBA season. After spending five-years in Milwaukee with the Bucks, Mbah a Moute (WOW, THIS IS FUN TO SAY) was traded to the Kings for two-future second round picks.

He’s not very potent offensively, shooting less than 30 percent from three-point range and just under 50 percent from the field on his career. Though his field-goal percentage is deceptive, Mbah a Moute shoots 50 percent around the rim but less than 40 percent within’ the three-point-arc.

Just this morning Jonathon Santiago of Cowbell Kingdom published a piece on the swingman out of the Cameroon, who was beginning to appear in the starting lineup. Mbah a Moute started in five of nine games as a King. Sacramento’s head coach, Michael Malone, is in his first season at the helm and was warming up to having the tenacious defender in his starting-five.

 

“I wasn’t playing him a whole lot because he missed most of the preseason – six preseason games he was out,” Malone said. “He missed a lot of practice time, so once he put together a string of practices where (I could say) ‘Okay, I can see what you can do and you can do it and you can sustain that’, that gave me the confidence to put him out there and start playing him more.”

“He’s a guy that’s kind of made his name in the NBA as a defensive player,” Malone said.

He’s a hustle junkie, someone Rick Adelman is going to enjoy having very much.

@ZacharyBD grade the trade – how do you feel?

— Andy Whisney (@andywhisney) November 26, 2013

It’s somewhat saddening to see Williams depart without ever making a name for himself in Minnesota, but; this move benefits his development as an NBA player going forward. “D-Will” is going to see more playing time, in a system that isn’t Adelman’s (which he’s never been accustomed too) and the Kings are going to see this “Caged Lion,” released.

The Wolves will pay roughly two-million less over the next two seasons for Mbah a Moute, as opposed to Williams.

Mbah a Moute is a hustle junkie — he’s a perfect fit for this second unit. A lock-down defender who’s going to hustle every minute he’s on the floor, the only concern of mine is the pending physical. Not that I’m worried he’ll ‘fail’ the physical, but the fact he’s been somewhat plagued with injuries in his career.

Mbah a Moute has played all 82 games of the season only once, his rookie year, and any player that’s been injured in the past poses some -obvious- concern.

He was just beginning to gel in Sacramento and will start, another, new beginning as a member of the Timberwolves.

 

Welcome, Luc.

 

 

Recap: Wolves Drain Lakers, 113-90

Scattered about the web during, and before, the season — one phrase in particular lingers about the Minnesota Timberwolves fanbase; Wolves are Coming. Against the Los Angeles Lakers, under the lights and in front the sold out crowd of 19,000 at Staples Center, the Minnesota Timberwolves arrived on Sunday night.

The streak is over. Prior to last night, December 5th, 2005 was the last time the Wolves left Staples with a victory over the Lakers, they lost 22 consecutive games. Think about your life then, compare it to now. Yea — shocking. Because coaches and players are professionals it’s less likely that the streak continued because of failure to overcome a mental hurdle, however, this is Minnesota. Because pessimism and fatalism run rampant in the minds of Twins, Vikings, Wild and Wolves fans alike, the expectation of imminent failure and eventual disappointment lingers like gnats on the summer night of a beer-league softball game; will it be the Wolves that start to break the trend of negativity throughout the state? If something this monumental were to ever begin, the ball started rolling last night in L.A. It’s like the Lakers didn’t exist in the opening quarter.

Corey Brewer caught and finished an 85 foot outlet pass from Kevin Love.

Corey Brewer caught and finished an 85 foot outlet pass from Kevin Love.

 

Kevin Martin and Kevin Love ‘put on a clinic,’ as the cliche goes, shooting a combined 12 of 14 from the field, six of seven from downtown en route to scoring 34 of the team’s 47 points points in the first. Ricky Rubio, quietly (if it was possible for him to be low-key), assisted on seven baskets while snatching two rebounds and three steals. Rick Adelman and the Wolves offensive gameplan exposed Lakers’ center Chris Kaman, who was forced to defend Love on the perimeter, which isn’t easy, and K-Love had an easy time hitting 4 of 5 three-point attempts. K-Love, from the L.A. area, is outspoken whether it’s positive or negative and has been frank with his feelings since coming to Minnesota.

During the second quarter the bench continued it’s struggles and the Lakers outscored the Wolves 25-20, though many were still riding the high from the game’s first 12 minutes. Corey Brewer scored four, Nikola Pekovic had five, Martin added three and Love scored two as the J.J. Barea and Alexey Shved combined to score only four points; we’re left only to scratch our head and wait until the second-unit figured things out, it may not be until Chase Budinger returns.

The halftime lead was 67-48 and feelings of worry, unease and excitement continued to argue on the Twitter Machine. It’s as if nobody knows how to feel when the Wolves are beating the Lakers on the road. Love and Martin combined for 39 points including six more triples on nine attempts in addition to Brewer’s 10 points he obtained doing his usual thing in transition by the half. The Lakers made a push in the third behind the three-point shooting of Steve Blake. Again, the Wolves were outscored in a quarter, 23-28 and Blake converted three of four from downtown to continue fueling any pessimistic fire fearful of an eventual Minnesota Sports letdown. Dante Cunningham and Barea played just under four minutes each and the starting-five stayed on the floor, hinting at Adelman’s lack of confidence in anyone sitting to his left.

“We’re trying to establish ourselves, I don’t want to get our guys playing 45 minutes a night but I wanted to win” Adelman said after the game.

 

At the start of the final quarter his bench had only amounted to four, seemingly meaningless, points and the Wolves led 90-76. Blake and Jodie Meeks led the way for the Lakers, if there was a place to go, with 19 and 14 respectively. The crowd began to clear during the final quarter close to the eight minute mark, the show was over and it was time to head home. Rubio earned his second-career triple-double and took a seat shortly after, ending with a stat line of 12 points, 10 rebounds, 14 assists and 5 steals — nobody gave a ‘quadruple double alert,’ though it had been mentioned throughout the second half. The Wolves defeated the Lakers, 113-90 in a 23 point, no-doubt, show-stopping performance under the lights and accolades hanging in the rafters at Staples — success that started in the state represented by the visitors.

It’s a franchise guy, potential MVP and league superstar like Love that needs to perform well in order to change the culture of a city and it’s fans. The Vikings’ Adrian Peterson, the NFL’s MVP last season, is an example of an athlete that optimists in the Twin Cities hold tight to in ‘turning perspective around,’ he’s not due to be a free-agent until 2018. Love’s situation, and dominance, isn’t proven to be the same as “All Day’s” yet, K-Love will be a free-agent in the summer of 2015 — fans of the Lakers twisted his performance last night into ‘The Audition” for his eventual arrival back to the City of Angels.

How long will Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love be the All-Star Tandem in Twin Cities?

How long will Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love be the All-Star Tandem in Twin Cities?

 

It’s about winning, period. Players, fans, coaches and even writers such as myself want to see local teams succeed whether it’s against or with the odds. Heading into last night the Wolves were the better team on paper, during the game they were on the court but Laker faithful and even some local skeptics refuse to accept one thing — the Wolves are here. They’ll play the Los Angeles Clippers tonight, 9:30 CST (Fox Sports North)

 

Zach.

 

 

(Photos are from the Minnesota Timberwolves website and may be found in the photo gallery)

Man Your Post: Wolves Lacking Low Block Presence

The Minnesota Timberwolves are missing a dominant post-presence, to put it kindly. The harsh reality is Kevin Love isn’t there yet and Nikola Pekovic hasn’t been the answer, either. The Wolves miss Ronny Turiaf — plain and simple.

Pek’s averaging 12 points and 10 rebounds per game but in back-to-back losses against the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors he’s struggled, in particular, scoring around the basket. Thanks to the new SportVU player tracking system on NBA.com, we’re able to find some data that may pinpoint the issue.

  • Pek ranks eighth in the league in Close Shot PTS Per Game (Points that are scored by a player on any touch that starts within 12 feet of the basket, excluding drives) with 5.4 points per game. However; he’s 181st in Close Field Goal Percentage (Field Goal Percentage on shots taken by a player on any touch that starts within 12 feet of the basket, excluding drives.) shooting
  • This signifies that although Pek is getting his points but isn’t finishing around the rim efficiently.

Here’s his shot chart (NBA.com)

Shotchart_1383856294228

 

It’s not because he’s not getting his touches, either. Pek leads the league in ‘Close Touches’ are touches that originate within 12 feet of the basket, excluding drives with 7.8 close touches per game. However; he’s not making the most of these — only averaging .42 Points Per Half Court Touch (The amount of points a player scores per half court touch.)

This isn’t all Big Pek’s fault. Prior to the season SB Nation’s Mike Prada wrote a piece explaining what makes Pek such a load offensively. On of the constants in Prada’s piece is that every time Pek is fed the ball — ball movement and spacing has been on-point. This hasn’t been the case this season. After signing such a large contract in the offseason opponents have taken notice to the type of threat he provides, making it difficult for him to score after touching the ball.

The defender can afford to leave Corey Brewer space on the weak side, Brewer is not a premier or even average three-point shooter.

The defender can afford to leave Corey Brewer space on the weak side, Brewer is not a premier, or even an average, three-point shooter. His man is essentially fronting Pek.

Rubio looks to feed the beast, however, fellow Montenegrin Nikola Vucevic does a good job of bodying Pek and the perimeter defender is still lurking.

Rubio looks to feed the beast, however, fellow Montenegrin Nikola Vucevic does a good job of bodying Pek and the perimeter defender is still lurking.

Rubio passes to Brewer on the wing because of the help defense preventing the pass to Pek on the inside.

Rubio passes to Brewer on the wing because of the help defense preventing the pass to Pek on the inside.

He manages to get the ball on the inside, only it's further away from the basket than Pek would like it -- forcing him to take a dribble, rather than keeping the ball high and laying it in off the backboard.

He manages to get the ball on the inside, only it’s further away from the basket than Pek would like it — forcing him to take a dribble, rather than keeping the ball high and laying it in off the backboard.

The Gig is UP! Pek is doubled by the Magic's Jason Maxiell and Pek makes a bad pass out of this doubleteam resulting in a turnover.

The Gig is UP! Pek is doubled by the Magic’s Jason Maxiell and Pek makes a bad pass out of this double-team resulting in a turnover.

It’s this type of defense opponents are throwing at the Wolves center making it difficult for him to score. Pek is not the best passer, so far this season he’s averaging one assists per game but his NBA lifetime career assist average is less than one assist per game.

He’s going to need to learn to either spot up from the 10-12ft range and shoot over the recovering defender before the double arrives, OR, keep his composure and pass away from the double team. Pekovic is an essential part of this team’s game plan offensively.

By comparison, Love is more efficient than Pek in close shot percentage (53%) but doesn’t take many looks within the 12ft area — he’s only averaged 3.8 close shot points per game. K-Love’s strong suit is shooting facing the basket or following up an offensive rebound; not the post-game. Here’s his shot chart.

Shotchart_1383860227399

Notice the area to the left of the basket — this is where Love, LOVES to post-up, however, he hasn’t been successful through five games this season.

 

After shooting performances like Love’s 10 for 25 last night — team’s are going to focus on stopping Pek first and encourage K-Love to beat them shooting jumpers. Last night against the Warriors the Wolves shot a horrid 38 percent from the field and, an even worse, 25 percent from three-point range.

There’s still no timetable for Turiaf’s return, so until then, it’s uncertain how the Wolves are going to fix the problems scoring in the post, BUT, keep in mind these are small sample sizes and Rick Adelman’s team will make adjustments accordingly to address these issues.

 

 

Zach.

 

Ronny Turiaf Suffers Fracture

The Timberwolves announced today that Turiaf, who signed with the team during the offseason, suffered a radical fracture to his right elbow during last night’s 100-81 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder (More on that later).

The following is from the website of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS)

  • Pain on the outside of the elbow
  • Swelling in the elbow joint
  • Difficulty in bending or straightening the elbow accompanied by pain
  • Inability or difficulty in turning the forearm (palm up to palm down or vice versa)

There are three types of fractures and different ways of treating each. Even the simplest of fractures will probably result in some loss of extension in the elbow. Regardless of the type of fracture or the treatment used, physical therapy will be needed before resuming full activities.

  • Type I fractures are generally small, like cracks, and the bone pieces remain fitted together.
  • Type II fractures are slightly displaced and involve a larger piece of bone.
  • Type III fractures have multiple broken pieces of bone, which cannot be fitted back together for healing.

Turiaf will be evaluated later next week before a timetable is placed on his return. He may miss anywhere from three to six weeks.The Wolves lose on his presence on the court, but off the court will still have his veteran leadership.

 

Welcome Gorgui Dieng to the rotation.

Dieng averaged nearly 13 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks, per 40 minutes, in his final season with the Louisville Cardinals. He ranked 23rd in the NCAA blocks per game, helping the Cardinals boaster the number-one ranked defense in the nation. The season before he averaged just short five blocks per game, eighth most in the country. He’s not quite reached game-speed during his breif time with the Wolves, but was able to average two blocks per game during the preseason.

On offense.

Dieng shot 53 percent from the field last year with Louisville. He scored on 28 percent of possessions with his back to the basket and 48 percent on possessions in which he drove to the basket or attempted a jump shot. (per DraftExpress)

Hopefully we’ll get the same shot-altering presence Dieng provided Louisville  will be the same presence defensively; the Cardinals were Champions of the the NCAA Tournament last season.

 

gorgui-dieng-260x185

25 Moments in 25 Years

25 years of Timberwolves basketball!

25 years of Timberwolves basketball!

The 2013/14 NBA season is a time to celebrate for Minnesota Timberwolves fans, as the franchise is celebrating their silvery anniversary in the NBA.  I wanted to celebrate these 25 years with 25 special moments from the franchise’s history.  Are you ready for this?  Let’s get started with the countdown … because everything in the world today has to be done via countdown and ranking apparently.

(Quick note: YouTube clips are also hyperlinks below and will open in a separate window.)

#25 – 2008 NBA Draft night trade that yields Kevin Love for the Wolves

While I still would have demanded a PG (Lowry, it worked within the cap) in the trade, the Wolves traded OJ Mayo to the Memphis Grizzlies for Kevin Love with other pieces all around.  This trade would have been ranked higher if Mike Miller didn’t stink up the Target Center for two seasons.

#24 – Isaiah Rider’s circus shot in Sacramento

Preface: I loved Rider.  There, I said it.  You’ll see him again in this countdown.  This shot was on national TV and I talked about it for two days in school.  Have a look.

#23 – One of two 2nd round draft gems: Nikola Pekovic

Perhaps for the 30 year anniversary, this is ranked a bit higher.  You know how (12 adjectives worse than…) bad the franchise’s draft history is.  This pick also wasn’t too much of a “find” for McHale, as Pekovic was a 1st round talent that teams knew wasn’t coming over for a few years and the team swooped him up as the first pick of the 2nd round in 2008.

#22 – Two of two 2nd round draft gems: Doug West

In the franchise’s first draft (1989), the team wound up with a pretty decent backcourt consisting of Pooh Richardson and Doug West.  While his career got off to a slow start, West did overtake Tony Campbell as the franchise’s leading scorer for a while and had several solid seasons for the club.

#21 – 1992 Slam Dunk Contest w/ West

We really won’t talk too much about the early days and for good reason; Doug West simply appearing in the Slam Dunk Contest is a top 25 moment in franchise history.  Around the 8:45 mark of the clip below you will find the start of West’s performance.  However, you’ll miss Grandmama, Plastic Man, and Shawn Kemp if you skip ahead.  (In other words, watch the whole thing!)

#20 – Ricky Rubio’s first triple-double

Any time a Pup throws up a triple-double against the Spurs, you have my attention.  But when the Unicorn does so in spectacular fashion, it is a top moment for the franchise.

#19 – 2009 NBA Draft – Hello Ricky!

David Kahn somehow convinced the Washington Wizards to give up the 5th pick of the draft for Randy Foye and Mike Miller.  Sure, we picked up Stewie Griffin and a few other spare pieces, but the Wolves were able to land Ricky Rubio with the pick and the rest will become history.

Let’s forget about the 2009 draft in its entirety though: Point Guard-apolooza, Kevin Love’s “What are we doing?!?!?!” tweet, etc.  It never happened, OK?

#18 – Timberwolves fire David Kahn

Yep, this is a franchise highlight.  We’ve covered off on the 2009 draft, but we didn’t mention the selection of Wes Johnson the following year – the worst draft pick in the history of the Timberwolves.  Trust me, I’ve been watching this unfold for a long time.  There were none worse.  Throw in trying to freeze Kevin Love out of Minnesota and you have a train wreck for the ages that needed to be fixed.

#17 – Timberwolves hire Rick Adelman

Where Kahn deserves an iota of credit is in the hiring of Rick Adelman, by far the greatest basketball mind to ever grace the sidelines of the Metrodome or Target Center 41 times a season.

#16 – Isaiah Rider blocks Patrick Ewing

Earlier I mentioned talking about Rider’s shot in Sacramento for two days.  Being from the NY area, this play allowed me a full week of gloating in high school.  This was AWESOME

#15 – “Loser, Loser, Loser, Loser, Loser, Loser, Loser, Loser, Loser, Loser, Loser, … Winner!” – The Timberwolves select Christian Laettner in the 1992 NBA Draft

Look, everyone will focus on the negative: we missed out on Shaq and Zo, Laettner was a locker room cancer (as referenced above perhaps?), that he wasn’t around for the long term, etc.  All of this is valid.  However, where would I be without the Wolves selecting Laettner in 1992?  I can assure you that I wouldn’t be writing for a Wolves blog.

As I started to hone in on the NBA around 5th-6th grade, the franchise came into existence.  That was a nice way for me to get a fresh start on a new NBA team.  What distinguished the Wolves over the three other new teams?  1. Team colors and 2. My dad was making business trips to the area every month and could bring home souvenirs.  Relatively sold, but not completely …

What took my fandom to the next level?  “With the third pick of the NBA Draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves select … Christian Laettner from Duke University” – Stern, David.  How is this for a history lesson?

There is one more thing I want to cover here, completely realizing that I’ve already spent too much time on #15 in this list.  How is this locker room speech not more popular than Derrick Coleman’s “Whoopty-damn-doo”?  I mean, this should really be closer to Iverson’s “We talkin’ ‘bout practice?!  Not a game, not a game, but practice!”  Honestly, this can be used in so many aspects of life, at the very least in Minnesota.  Example: imagine giving the “Loser, Loser … Winner” speech for any of the following:

  1. Leaving a board meeting
  2. Quitting a job
  3. Leaving the bar
  4. Exiting a holiday house party
  5. Deflecting blame when caught by multiple boy/girl-friends

Seriously, this needs to become a more acceptable way of living your life.  Do it!  Vine it!  I will pay you at least $1.

#14 – Final home game of 1990 at the Metrodome

The third largest NBA crowd (49,551) packed the Metrodome for the last home game of the inaugural, 89/90 season.  The Wolves drew over 1 million fans into the stadium for the season!

#13 – First Franchise Win – 11/10/89

It took four tries and overtime, but the Timberwolves earned their first win in franchise history on 11/10/89 against the Philadelphia 76ers, 125-118.  Tony Campbell and Tyrone Corbin = Monsters!

#12 – Michael Williams Free Throw Record

What better way to get a jolt through your body than covering off on one of the few places you will find a Pup in the record books?  In 1993, the PG broke the record for the most FT’s hit in a row, finally ending the streak at 97.  (More fun facts on free throws)

#11 – Kevin Love’s double-double streak

Continuing a run of streaks (ba-da-bum) there aren’t many more impressive performances compared to the 53 games in a row in which Love put up a double-double.  From November 2010 through March 2011, Love poured it on night in and night out.  However, the run came to an end against the Warriors.   Oddly enough, the streak ended because Love only scored 6 points in a blowout loss.

#10 – A double overtime loss to OKC – 3/23/12

Wow, a loss winds up being a top moment in franchise history.  Why?  This is my list and I’ll do as I please.  This is the best regular season game I can remember.  From the opponent’s side, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook each went for 40+ points.  JJ Barea put up a triple double.  Kevin Love put up a modest 51 and 14.  This game was spectacular … including Wesley Johnson’s 0-1, 0 points effort.  Have I talked about him before?

#9 – Glen Taylor saves the Timberwolves

Say what you will about Taylor, and you have/will, but he saved this franchise back in 1995.  With the owners looking to sell the team to a group down in New Orleans, Taylor swooped in to purchase the club and leaving it in the Twin Cities.

#8 – Timberwolves retire Malik Sealy’s jersey

I debated whether or not this belonged in the countdown because the reasons that led to the jersey retirement suck, but also thought it might provide some perspective for some of the younger fans as to why the #2 hangs in the rafters.  We covered this tragedy in a VOTW last year.

(I’m still surprised that the entire halftime ceremony isn’t on YouTube.)

#7 – The original Big Three?  KG, Marbury, and Gugliotta

A second VOTW of focus in the top 10 … of course!  Before he ate a jar of Vaseline on YouTube, Stephon Marbury was a phenomenal addition to the KG-led Wolves.  Therein lied the problem, it was KG’s team and ‘Starbury’ wanted nothing to do with that.  Naturally, before a resolution could be found there, Tom Gugliotta decided that he had enough and went to greener pastures.  But before all of this … these three were awesome!  (Where are my Tums?!)

#6 – 1997 – Playoffs?  Playoffs?!  You kidding me?!

It took a while, but the Timberwolves made their first trip to the playoffs in 1997.  The team was quickly swept off the floor by the Rockets … but still … progress!

#5 – KG leads the Timberwolves in … everything in ‘02/’03

For just the third time in NBA history, a player led his team in points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks for the season.  KG was good.

#4 – Kevin Love’s 30/30 game against the Knicks

The only reason this is #4 and KG’s season above is listed at #5 is because it was against the Knicks.  I’ve never claimed to be fair or unbiased.  Early on in the 2010 season, Kevin Love went off … way off … on the Knicks, to the tune of 31 points and 31 rebounds.  I don’t think this needs any further description.

#3 – The ‘East Bay Funk Dunk’

The NBA All-Star Weekend came to Minneapolis in 1994 and Isaiah Rider stole the show, winning the Slam Dunk Contest with his ‘East Bay Funk Dunk’.  A crowning achievement for the franchise who had yet to make the playoffs.  This too was awesome!

#2 – The 2004 Playoffs

Since 1989, the Timberwolves were the team to beat in the NBA exactly once, in ‘03/’04.  Everything was in place for a deep playoff run and more.  The team disposed of the Nuggets rather easily and then had an epic battle against the Kings.  KG jumping on the top of the scorer’s table after game 7 anyone?!  I still remember these series and locking myself in my Hoboken apartment.  With the great, however, came the ultimate disappointment in that Sam Cassell’s injured hip was not going to make a miraculous recovery for the series against the Lakers.  The Wolves didn’t have enough to compete with Shaq and Kobe.

However, if Sam was healthy, this team was going to the Finals and winning it all.  That injury still haunts me.  That injury also prevents the ‘03/’04 season from being #1 on this list.  If the team had at least the Conference Championship, it would be #1.  Alas …

#1 – The 1995 Draft

Before he was “The Big Ticket”, he was “The Kid”.  The Timberwolves selected KG with the 5th pick of the 1995 draft and the franchise was altered for a decade (and you could argue more, but we won’t).  There isn’t anything to say about KG that won’t ruin a future post about his career.  KG provided more than enough memories.  I rarely care about a player when they leave one of my favorite teams.  I became a Celtics fan so that KG could get a ring.  Best of luck to “The Kid” this season in Brooklyn and quite simply, “Thank you!”

So there you have it, 25 memories from 25 years of Timberwolves basketball.  What moments stick out the most to you?