The Pups’ Prince Hits Philly

There’s only a few minutes before the Timberpups take on the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center. The game will not be televised or available on radio, but don’t worry — @timberpupsblog will be live tweeting the events.

 

I’m going to say sorry to the Sixers, they’re horrific and are expected to win the Andrew Wiggans Sweepstakes, an award handed out to the worst basketball team at the end of the season. I may say sorry, but I’m not.

The Sixers were last league in scoring in 2012-13 with 93.2 points per game and  it marked the first time in franchise history the team finished last in the league in scoring. It’s safe to say this season — they’re the favorite in the to win the Andrew Wiggins sweepstakes. If you don’t know who Wiggins is, he’s going to be a freshman at the University of Kansas this year, the hype surrounding him in high school is similar to what we saw with LeBron James, though I understand that comparison is ridiculous.  Here are a few of his high school credentials.

  • Mr. Basketball USA (2013)
  • Gatorade National Player of the Year (2013)
  • Naismith Prep Player of the Year (2013)
  • McDonald’s All-American (2013)

How sad is it that I’m writing about a player Philly doesn’t even have yet. Sorry, back to the regular scheduled program.

The players on the court for the Sixers tonight, by default, are NBA players. Head coach Brett Brown had this to say about his team in article published by the Philadelphia Inquirer.

“You have six NBA players and then you have a bunch of guys who are fighting for spots and want to be seen and need opportunity.”

 

By my count, six players is generous. I have Spencer Hawes, Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young and Michael Carter Williams as credentialed NBA Players — though some guy named James Anderson has scored in double-figures in four of the six games this preseason.

The Wolves have a chance to demolish another feeble opponent tonight, they defeated the Boston Celtics on Sunday — 104-89.

Quick Rundown:

  • We saw more out of the starters than any preseason game thus far
  • Derrick Williams started the game at Small Forward (5 points, 7 rebounds and 2 assists) and the team picked up his six-and-a-half million dollar option through the 2014-2015 season. He’ll be expected to pick up the slack in Budinger’s absence
  • Ricky Rubio scored 15 on five of 9 shooting from the field and was 2 for 3 from the three-point line — an awesome shooting night by his standards
  • Love struggled from downtown, he was two of eight from behind the ark though he still scored 22 and shot eight of nine from the charity stripe
  • Kevin Martin did Kevin Martin things, he scored 21 and was five of eight shooting from long-distance

I suggest you watch the youtube link below, HINT it’s Rubio highlights.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cizWRNt-Ydw

 

 

The Wolves might crack open the Liberty Bell that much more, at least I hope so. We’ll see how Rick Adelman decides to play the starters and go about running his offense. On Sunday against the Celtics the team was determined to execute in halfcourt sets, they did. Was it because of Boston’s pleathera of defensive weaknesses? I’m not sure, but they could have played a little more in transition — who knows?!

Maybe they work on their sets in the Princeton offense more tonight, but regardless, I’m expecting a Pups victory by a large margin tonight. They’ll travel to Detroit after the game, the Pistons are tomorrows foe in the back-to-back final preseason games of the season.

Robbie Hummel, A.J. Price, Lorenzo Brown, Othyus Jeffers and Chris Johnson are with the team on the trip, though the 15 man roster restrictions only allow for two of the five (if any) to make the team.

 

AGAIN, FOLLOW @TIMBERPUPSBLOG FOR ALL THE UPDATES YOU CAN HANDLE.

 

 

-Zach.

Combination: Recap and Preview

Wednesday – In front of a somewhat ruckus Toronto crowd of 9,111, The Timberpups defeated the Raptors 101-89. Six minutes into the game Kevin Martin went to the sideline, replaced by Alexey Shved, after feeling pain in his right achilles tendon –he remained on the bench the remainder of the night as a precautionary measure. The Wolves jumped out early and endured 10 lead changes before pulling away in the 3rd quarter, outscoring Toronto 28-16 during the period.

Do you think the team was frustrated with Monday’s overtime loss to CSKA Moscow? 

Positives

Just about everything was better, compared to Monday’s, about last night’s performance.

  • The Pups Field goal, three point and free throw percentage were at least 5 points higher.
  • Raptors’ FG, 3pt and FT were lower than CSKA’s — Other than the FT’s, a sign of better defending from the Pups
  • Only Othyus Jeffers, in a little over three-and-a-half minutes, ended the game with a negative efficiency rating (+/-) (NBA.com evaluates all players based on the efficiency formula: ((Points + Rebounds + Assists + Steals + Blocks) – ((Field Goals Att. – Field Goals Made) + (Free Throws Att. – Free Throws Made) + Turnovers)). 12 Timerwovles ended with a positive efficiency score. 
  • Shved was significantly better than he was against his his former team, tallying 10 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds and a steal — shooting 4 of 7 from the field and 2 of 3 from long-distance.
  • Kevin Love scored 20 on a mediocre shooting night (6 of 14) but he got himself in good in position in the paint, he shot 7 of 8 from the foul line in addition to nabbing 4 rebounds.
  • We saw J.J. Barea and Daunte Cunningham for the first time this season.
  • Barea, in almost 22 minutes, scored 12 on 5 of 10 shooting from the field and didn’t take one three-pointer — a sign he may have got his chucking out last year. Has become more selective?!?!?! We’ll see.
  • Cunningham or D.C. as we also know him, who also played 22 minutes, scored 8 points on 4 of 10 from the field.

Things to know for tonight’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks, which I touched on a little when talking about affiliations

The Story of the evening is Bucks’ rookie Nate Wolters.

He’s a graduate of St. Cloud Tech High School (Class of ’09) where he contributed to the longest winning streak in school history (28 games). Eliminated by Minnetonka, led by C.J. Erickson and Anthony Tucker, in the Semifinals of the 07-08 State Championship, and Hopkins, who were stacked with Royce White, Joe Coleman and Trent Lockett — Wolters never won a State Title.

Despite the unfortunate timing of his High School Career, Wolters would attend South Dakota State University. And what a career it was playing as a Jackrabbit. He shot 49 percent from the field, 80 percent from the free-throw line and had a nearly 2.5 assist-to-turnover ratio his senior season. Wolters would go on to total more points, assists, made baskets than any other player in school history.

“It’s pretty crazy,” Wolters said this morning. “I didn’t expect to play another game here, but it will be good. One more, so it will be fun.”

It’s somewhat of a homecoming for Wolters tonight as the Bucks face the Wolves, he returns to Sioux Falls and will be the first NBA star welcomed by an audience at the new Stanford Pentagon. Milwaukee’s head coach Larry Drew has hinted at making it a special moment for his rookie player.

View a photo gallery of the Pentagon — It’s really sweet! (For lack of a better description)

C.F. Gardner is a Sports Writer for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel covering the Bucks and NBA.

C.F. Gardner is a Sports Writer for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel covering the Bucks and NBA.

 

I wrote about Wolters for HoopsHabit

Timberpup story lines.

  • There’s been no sign of Chris Johnson, who is owed $346,781 this season and it’s possible the Wolves could buy out his contract in order to make room for A.J. Price, Jeffers, Gorgui Dieng, Lorenzo Brown or Robbie Hummel. Maybe tonight’s the night for Johnson, though this could be foreshadowing of who is the odd-man out at center.
  • Shabazz Muhammad didn’t play last night so hopefully the Falls will be exposed to some Bazzketball.
  • Former Timberpup Luke Rindour will play for his former team, which is his current team against his another former team — the Wolves.  (If you’re lost, he played for the Bucks, came to the Wolves and is now back on the Bucks) Though the Wolters Homecoming may limit his time.
  • Will Martin play tonight or will the achilles keep him out?
  • How will Rick Adelman distribute minutes? Eight players played over 20 minutes in last night’s game against the Raptors (I included Corey Brewer, who played 19:44 — fair?)

It will be fun to see a Minnesota Native receive a Midwestern Welcome from those who saw him play as a Jackrabbit, but the goal remains the same — How will the Pups progress? Hopefully we see more of the bench guys/camp invites and less of the main components because of the back-to-back games and traveling overnight. Last night’s “injury” to Martin really ruined the fun of how well the Wolves played last night, hopefully no matter who plays the team will perform well.

Photo: http://www.nba.com/bucks/

Photo: http://www.nba.com/bucks/

 

I’ll be at work, but, that won’t prevent me from watching or tweeting about the game, to an extent. You can watch it on FoxSportsNorth at 7:00CST but I’ll be tweeting from @timberpupsblog again if you wish to follow for updates.

Notes Before Tipoff — Pups at Toronto Raptors

Monday – Unable to overcome CSKA Moscow’s red hot start, despite rallying back from almost 20-points down in the first half, the Pups were defeated in overtime — 108-106.

Ricky Rubio scooped up the tip and passed it to the wing; From there Martin then made a hesitation move, beat his man off-the-dribble and proceeded with a running jumper in the lane — the ball deflected off backboard, clanked off the rim and into the hands of CSKA’s Alexander Kaun. This about sums up how the starting offense went about their business trying to score on Monday night. Nearly four-minutes went by before the Wolves first bucket from the field, a 15-foot jumper by our beloved Spanish PG.

Positives

  • Corey Brewer made three-breakaway layups after gambling, getting behind the defense and corralling long outlet passes from Love and Rubio. He also hit a corner-three, where he’s at his best — he was 1-3 from 3pt range.
  • Nikola Pekovic, introduced as ‘The Godfather’, looked as powerful and healthy as we’ve seen him in the past — scoring 8-points on 4 of 8 shooting and grabbing 7-boards.
  • Kevin Love displayed the passing ability Rick Adelman wants to see more of this season — tallying 5-assists.
  • Though Kevin Martin was inefficient from the field (5 of 15 FG, 1 of 4 3PT) he gave fans a look at what a shooting guard is supposed to play like, he scored 15-points by being aggressive and drawing contact  — getting to the line. “K-Mart” converted 5 of 8 from the charity stripe.
  • Derrick Williams scored 21 points on 7 of 15 shooting and 7 of 12 from the charity stripe. He was the Wolves’ superstar in the fourth quarter, though he tried to make the highlight reel on a few occasions in which just making the right play would have meant points rather than a lost possession.

 

 

Will we see more from these two Rookies? (Photo Credit: Minnesota Timberwolves)

Will we see more from these two Rookies? (Photo Credit: Minnesota Timberwolves)

 

Things to know for tonight.

  • Toronto defeated the Celtics in their preseason opener, 97-89 Monday in Boston.
  • It’s expected Steve Novak will make his Raptor debut, he’s a three-point specialist coming over from the New York Knicks during the offseason.
  • Dwane Casey is head coach of the Raptors, he replaced Kevin McHale  as the Timberwolves head from 05-07 and was fired with an overall record of 53-69

The Raptors Jonas Valanciunas is a beast

  • Member of the All NBA Rookie 2nd team last season.
  • Averaged 19 points and 10 rebounds during the Las Vegas Summer League — also named MVP of LVSL
  • Led Lithuania to a Silver Medal at this summer’s Eurobasket
  • Scored 10 points and 10 rebounds in Monday’s win over the Celtics
  • Will matchup against Pek, rumor has it Raptor fans think he’s up to the task.

 

The game starts in a few minutes, though there is no local TV or Radio Broadcast.

Because we didn’t see Dante Cunningham or J.J. Barea – I expect to see them get time tonight.

Also, training camp invites A.J. Price and Othyus Jeffers played most of the fourth quarter on Monday, maybe Rick Adelman will choose to see more of Gorgui Dieng and Chris Johnson — going from guards to bigs with the playing time. Just a thought.

Follow @timberpupsblog as I’ll either be RT’ing updates or finding a stream to keep you in the know.

 

-ZB

 

 

Timberpups Preseason — The Opener

The Timberpups begin the preseason tonight, in the Target Center, at 7:00 CST vs. CSKA Moscow.

Dante Cunningham (ill) and JJ Barea (personal reasons) both questionable for tonight’s contest vs. CSKA Moscow.

— Timberwolves PR (@Twolves_PR) October 7, 2013

Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin, Corey Brewer and Nikola Pekovic are the expected starters this season and also for tonight’s game. How many minutes will they play? I presume no more than 10-minutes, but, it’s ultimately up to Coach Rick Adelman.

After the starters sit, Alexey Shved is likely to see plenty of minutes against his former team. These quotes are from a piece written by Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune.

‘Adelman just wants Shved to become more “engaged” when he’s playing off the ball.

“If Alexey smiles, everything else takes care of itself,” Ronnie Turiaf said. “If he doesn’t smile, he’s a different player.”

It’s a big game for Shved, we’ve talked about him playing minutes behind Rubio at point guard this season — tonight will be a chance to see him in that role. He’ll will share minutes with Lorenzo Brown and A.J. Price, because of Barea’s absence. It’s important for Shved to play well, not only for himself, but to show the team he can change the face and be happy — there’s also two guys fighting to make the roster  playing behind him tonight.

Jon Krawczynski of the Associated Press wrote a captivating story about Othyus Jeffers, quoting Flip Saunders’ opinion of the 28-year old from Chicago.

“What he’s been through is how he plays,” said Saunders, who coached Jeffers in Washington. “He’s hard-nosed, kind of a mad dog that just gets after it and really competes. He basically goes at it where he understands that nothing’s given to him.”

Here’s a little bit on the ‘Pups opponent this evening.

CSKA is coached by an Italian, Ettora Messina, who spent time with the Lakers as a technical advisor to Mike Brown in Los Angeles. Prior to L.A. Messina was head coach of Real Madrid of Spain 2009-2011, he’s on contract with CSKA for $44-million and may choose to opt-out if he’s offered a head coaching opportunity in the NBA. “However, Messina figures this to be unlikely — he’s 53 and it’s late to try and pick up the game. Read more about Coach Messina here -thanks Manuel!  (@itaTimberwolves)

The club is run similar to an NBA Franchise and is without question the powerhouse of the Russian League. CSKA has been the Russian League Champion every season dating back to 2003, in addition to winning Euroleague titles in 2006 and 2008. Shved and former Timberwolves forward Andrei Kirilenko were two main components of the 2008 squad. In 2010, Shved helped CSKA attain the first victory on American ground by a European team in a preseason game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

“It’s a good check-up for us. It’s good to see where we are and to find our game before our real season starts,” Nenad Krstic explained. “For some of our players, it’s their first time playing against an NBA team; it’s a new experience. And Minnesota has a talented team.”

Kristic is a two-time all Euroleague Center from Serbia who has played in the NBA with the Boston Celtics, New Jersey Nets and Oklahoma City Thunder. Averaging just over 15-points in Eurobasket, he’s one of the players the Wolves must focus on defending against CSKA tonight.

Shved’s intensity isn’t necessarily in question, but the team would like to see more of it. I wouldn’t expect a lackluster effort for the second-year NBA Player tonight.

“I went over to the hotel to meet with my friends and former coaches. I am happy see them here. I’m always happy to see my guys.” He also summed up how both teams feel about the contest. “They want to show that they can beat an NBA team and NBA teams don’t want to lose. Everybody is ready for this game.”

Click here for more European perspective on tonight’s matchup.

CSKA will look to slow the ball down and playing a majority of the game in the halfcourt, hoping to slow down the Wolves’ potentially potent transition offense. If the game gets wild, it’s an advantage for the home team. Hopefully the Wolves can run away with this one, without any injuries, of course. I know, I know, it’s only the preseason but we’ve waited too long and the team has worked to hard to be defeated by a weaker opponent. Look for Shved to play-with-purpose, the training camp invites to make the most of their chances and most importantly — a Timberpups victory.

 

The next preseason game is Wednesday against the Toronto Raptors, more on that soon.

 

 

Alexey Shved Update

Because of my excitement for the Shvedder this season, he deserves a second preview.

In August, I previewed Shvedder prematurely — He’s played competitive basketball since then. If you don’t feel like clicking the link, these were my thoughts then.

I’ve expressed my concern over the Twitter machine about the roster’s depth at point guard, more than just a few times. A closer look at Shved has me less worried about the offenses production while Rubio is on the bench. However, he doesn’t solve the problem completely.  He’s natural point-guard used to creating with the ball in his hand. Last year’s experience under his belt, a veteran presence he may observe play at his position (Shooting Guard), along with opportunity to play point guard (where he’s comfortable), this year may not only be a breakout season for Shved, but a valuable learning experience, too.

Shved’s EuroBasket summarized in the Final Narrative.

Shved was Russia’s top performer, averaging 16 points and 5 assist while drawing 5 fouls per game; performing valiantly in five games of group play — he was Russia’s top performer. He attacked the basket, finished around the hoop and found teammates for open looks, though his teammates didn’t often finish, but an area that Shved must improve his game: free-throw shooting. He shot 69% from the charity stripe during E.B. I can only speculate how Adelman plans to utilize the Shvedder, hopefully it’s with the opportunity to significant minutes at PG when Rubio takes a seat. His aggressiveness and creativity going toward the basket could create some decent looks for the rest of the second-unit.

Shved’s potential role is becoming more defined.

Guards Lorenzo Brown and A.J. Price start competing at camp with Robbie Hummel and Othyus Jeffers for the final few chairs at the Timberwolves Table. Price was recently invited to camp Brown was a 2nd-round draft selection; both are PG’s, indicating the Wolves are window shopping point guards. Is the team worried about Shved? We don’t know, yet.

J.J. Barea is another player potentially threatening Shved’s minutes. From what I’ve seen this offseason, Shved is the ideal backup point guard to Rubio, granted, I’m not Rick Adelman or Flip Saunders so here’s the question — Is Shved ready?

To bring some more perspective on our beloved Shvedder, I’ve asked for help.

First off, thank you for the opportunity to talk about our beloved  Timberwolves.

I believe Alexey Shved is a great player. Here in Europe we know him well after watching him play his years as a member of CSKA Jersey.

I had doubts  he could adapt to the NBA style of play, two of those doubts were his mental and physical toughness.

The Russian League is a League where CSKA only lost at two or three games a year — at the most. The most challenging games for players on these type of teams are the Euroleague matches.  The NBA is different. You play every two days and, if you’re a rookie, in every game you have to prove that you’re worth the minute you play. It’s easy to make mistakes and end up on the bottom of the bench. Alexey’s managed some worthwhile contributions thus far and though he could have performed better during All Star Weekend last season, to have invited must be an honor . I am amazed to see how his game integrated with the Wolves roster and how Rick Adelman’s applies Alexey to his coaching scheme. 

It’s hard to make predictions about of Alexey’s future. One year of experience will serve him well, although I the loss of his Russian Friend and former teammate, AK 47, in the locker room will be felt under the human element of things.

Both on Team Russia to CSKA he played only a very few minutes in PG as those roles were already covered by J.r. Holden and Milos Teodosic. However he still managed to show-off the ability to pass the ball which may allow him, as Zach has said, to play some minutes at PG behind Rubio off the bench.

The European Championships were disastrous for Team Russia, who is are usually among the  favorites. Because of injured players  and absentees Kirilenko, Viktor Khryapa, Alexander Kaun, Timothy Mozgov, Andre Vorontsevich and Sergey Bykov Alexey was only able to lead his team to 21st place. Despite this, Alexey played a European where-at times-has proven to be NBA level player.

Alexey showed good skills playing PG.


All this will be enough? Who knows …in the meanwhile….

Alexey, change face – be happy.

 

Follow and talk with Manuel yourself – @itaTimberwolves. In the meantime, he’ll continue to join Timberpups by helping me finish the player previews for this season.

 

Here are some Shved quotes from Wolves Media Day!

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Chase Budinger Injures Left Knee

Well, here we are again. Per @Twolves_PR: Chase Budinger has sustained a cartilage injury to his left knee. Budinger signed a contract extension worth an estimated $18-million dollars for his services over the next three-years —   he was excited about returning this season.

 

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Dr. Andrews is arguably the most renowned orthopedic surgeons in the country, he’s worked with multiple famous athletes —  Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Tiger Woods and Derek Jeter to name a few.

Budinger has been optimistic about the knee during the offseason. Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune wrote a column July 13th regarding Budinger’s excitement for the upcoming season, in the article Budinger tells Zgoda —

 “I want to come back and show everybody the kind of player I’m capable of being.”

“The best thing this summer is I’m able to jump again, which I couldn’t do at the end of last season,” he said. “I’m happy to be able to jump and dunk again.”

Until this point, Budinger has been optimistic about the knee this offseason. I don’t believe him or the Wolves would warrant a visit to Dr. Andrews, founder of the American Sports Medicine Institute, unless it is worth his time — the injury could be devastating.

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We’ll keep you in the know.

 

Get better, Chase. Stay healthy, Wolves.

David Sherman: Getty Images

David Sherman: Getty Images

 

 

 

The Final Narrative

I didn’t count how many times I wrote,”..because of injuries last season,” for good reason — it was frequently. I’m certain there are others who wrote it more than I did, what’s even worse? Fans of the Minnesota Timberwolves are going to hear it more and more. “..because of injuries last season” is a phrase included within many articles written to summarize the type of year the Wolves had last season. It’s because of injuries last season that the Wolves didn’t have a good year; this is the narrative fans were left with. It continues this season, Dave Benz and Jim Peterson will say because of injuries last season on Fox Sports North; Alan Horton on Wolves Radio 830AM-WCCO broadcasts will say the phrase, too. John Focke will have a chance to remind everyone prior to Benz, Peterson and Horton before tip-off during the Wolves Live program.

Mention of the the injuries last season will continue until the Wolves are able to give fans something else to remember. For reasons that go beyond the injuries suffered last season, there’s pressure on the Wolves to make the playoffs this season.

This will be the last narrative I write about the Wolves this offseason — I promise. 

The Twin Cities need something to take pride in; the Vikings are 0 and 3 and the Twins are, well, I can’t tell you, but it’s bad — real bad. The Vikings piled onto the usual misery with a loss to the Cleveland Browns in the Metrodome over the weekend. The Purple will avoid local media this week as the Vikings face the Pittsburgh Steelers this Sunday at Wembley Stadium in London, England. Fans root-root-rooting for the home team at Target Field are doing so because the stadium’s amenities still provide reason to take someone out to the ballgame. The truth is – the Twins aren’t winning many games this season and it’s a shame.

Thinking about the Vikings, Twins, Wolves and even the Wild’s recent success is painful. Some fans that are unable to let-go remain obsessed over the Kevin Garnett Era, Brett Favre’s run at the Superbowl and cling to newfound hope that Zach Parise will bring Lord Stanley’s Cup home to the State of Hockey.

Jon Krawczynski is an AP Sports Writer based in Minneapolis covering the Vikings, Twins, Timberwolves, Gophers and Wild.

Jon Krawczynski is an AP Sports Writer based in Minneapolis covering the Vikings, Twins, Timberwolves, Gophers and Wild.

No NBA franchise hopes to be absent from the postseason for an entire decade, however, this could be the team’s fate this season. It’s been nine-years since the last Wolves postseason appearance. Ten-years ago at 13 years-old, I just received my first cellphone and was entering my freshman year of high school. Now 23, I’m five-years removed from moving out of my mother’s home, living in an apartment not far from where I grew up and have a job managing a small business 50-hours a week and writing when I have the time, my phone is an iphone5. Where were you the last time the Pups made the playoffs?

This offseason the Wolves:

  • Rid their hands of David Kahn, brought in Flip Saunders to be the President of Basketball Operations
  • Made other staff changes
  • Waived Greg Stiemsma and Mickael Gelabale
  • Resigned and signed Chase Budinger and Kevin Martin, respectively
  • Drafted Shabazz Muhammad, Gorgui Dieng and Lorenzo Brown
  • Signed Corey Brewer and Ronnie Turiaf 
  • After what felt like a lifetime, resigned Nikola Pekovic
  • Made a one-year offer to Andrei Kirilenko, which he denied, AK47 is now with the Brooklyn Nets

Sorry, I’m going to remind you one more time; because of the injuries sustained over the course of this previous year, it wasn’t a very good season for the Timberwolves. Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love went down, so did Brandon Roy — it took only five games for his track record of injuries to catch up with him, ending Roy’s season and his career (again). Budinger never got things going, appearing in only 23-Loveless games or – games that didn’t include K-Love. Love and Rubio were on and off; more on than off, Rubio played in 57 and Love appeared in 18 games, the duo only played three-games together.

The loss of AK47 hurts the team defensively and I should probably miss his presence more than I do, however, attaining Brewer from Denver was an excellent move that can compensate for some of what the Wolves lost with Kirilenko.

It’s unrealistic to think there won’t be any injuries suffered during the course of the season — not every player can play every game. However, because of the injuries last season, if any of them do go down there’s an adept, experienced teammate to take their place. As an optimist I believe that something positive can be taken always be taken from any form of adversity. Last year; Alexey Shved, Dante Cunningham both gained valuable experience playing expanded roles, we also learned a little more about former 2nd-overall pick Derrick Williams.

Watching Shved play with Russia in FIBA’s EuroBasket, I’ve grown fond of his game. Shved played significant minutes at shooting guard last season but he plays his best basketball as a point guard. Because PG was played mostly by Ridnour and Barea, Shved was forced to play off-the-ball for the majority of the season, this was very unusual for him; his natural position is at the point leading the offense. At EuroBasket, Shved was Russia’s top performer, averaging 16 points and 5 assist while drawing 5 fouls per game; performing valiantly in five games of group play — he was Russia’s top performer. He attacked the basket, finished around the hoop and found teammates for open looks, though his teammates didn’t often finish, but an area that Shved must improve his game: free-throw shooting. He shot 69% from the charity stripe during E.B. I can only speculate how Adelman plans to utilize the Shvedder, but I’m hoping that provide him the opportunity to play most of the minutes at PG when Rubio takes a seat. His aggressiveness and creativity going toward the basket could create some decent looks for the rest of the second-unit.

Cunningham played in 80 games last season, though only averaging 9 points and 5 boards he made those most of every minute — leaving everything out on the floor. Cunningham averaged 25 minutes per game last season, a sign he’s earned Adelman’s trust. If, and it’s a big if, Love is able to stay healthy and Williams continues to improve or have a breakout season, D.C. won’t play anywhere close to the amount of minutes he did last season.

Here are Love’s career averages.

Stats from Basketball Reference

Stats from Basketball Reference

Last year was only a small sample, his 22-percent 3-point shooting was on 20 of 92 attempts. Hopefully, Love is able to stay healthy and get back into the 37-42 percent range we know he’s capable of.

It wasn’t just Love not shooting well from behind-the-arc last season, the entire team was abysmal. The Wolves shot 31 percent from three-point range, dead last in the NBA — something that won’t happen again this season.

The first reason, Brewer and his ability to hit the corner three.

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If you don’t see where he’s at his best, it’s in the left corner when facing the basket. Brewer is a little over 41 percent on 49 of 119 shooting from that spot, he’s 42 of 176 from everywhere else. Adelman’s Princeton offense is dependent on players who can stretch the floor and shoot from the outside, Brewer can be successful playing within the system if he converts on the looks created for him in the corner.

Additionally, he’ll contribute when in transition. Brewer has a knack for sneaking behind defenses — essentially stealing points by cherry picking, Here’s where CBS’s Zach Harper explains it in detail. This will theoretically work hand-in-hand with the crafty outlet passes Love is notorious for, such as this one.

Kevin Love Outlet Pass

Two other reasons I believe the Wolves will shoot better from behind the line; Budinger and Martin are both knockdown jump shooters. Martin was 43 percent with the Oklahoma City Thunder last season and is 39 percent lifetime, Budinger’s lifetime average is 36 percent. Not only are Budinger and Martin lights-out shooting the ball, they’re familiar with the system — Adelman coached both players during the trio’s time spent together with the Houston Rockets.

Has Rubio improved his jump shot? It’s tough to tell. Here’s are his averages and game-by-game numbers recorded at EuroBasket.

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Looking at the accumulated statistics, Rubio ended EuroBasket shooting 46 percent from the field and 44 percent from the field; both are better than his two-year averages with the Wolves, though it is a smaller sample.

Here are his numbers with the Wolves.

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I wrote a column for HoopsHabit checking in with Rubio’s jumper, going a little further in depth than just box scores.

The following statistics represent Rubio’s numbers through Spain’s first eight-games of EuroBasket.

“Rubio is successful in the mid-range area; the middle of the lane extending past the free-throw line and before the 3-point stripe. He looks comfortable pulling up off the dribble into a jump shot near the foul line. He’s 5-of-12 thus far through the tournament in this area, which is a little over 41 percent. This is higher than Rubio’s 37 percent average from the field through two years playing in Minnesota.

Of the 12 attempts inside the lane, Rubio has made four of them. We established that he struggles around the rim — It’s as worrisome as it is curious, but from watching Rubio compete the attempts within the lane are contested and some of them have been late in the shot clock. Shooting 33 percent inside the lane isn’t going produce well enough by any league’s standards.

Shooting the ball from spots near the top of the key between the 3-point line and the free-throw line are where Rubio is comfortable. But just being comfortable in these areas won’t be enough if he wants to remain in the circle with the elite class of NBA point guards. Rubio needs to improve upon his strengths, but must also work to eliminate the current weaknesses to an adequate level if he hopes to improve as a scorer, and in turn, a better player overall.”

 

On June 30th John made a checklist of what plans the Wolves should or could have during the free agency period, I felt he was spot on.

  1. Resign Pek
  2. Sign a shooting guard
  3. Resign Budinger
  4. Balance the roster

Other than the order of which each occurred, Flip managed accomplished all of the above in somewhat of an efficient manner. Some may believe $60 million may be too much for Pek and that Martin is washed-up, however, the front-office did what was needed in order for the Wolves to compete for a playoff spot this year.

 

Last Friday in an interview with HoopsHype, Rubio was asked; “Is it playoffs or bust?”.

His response was this, “Too early to say if the playoffs are the goal. Let’s see how things go in training camp and how the new pieces fit in. Then we’ll see how things evolve during the season, it’s too early to talk about playoffs.”

From the coaches and players standpoint, Rubio’s right; It’s too early to talk about playoffs, but what about from the perspective of a fan? It’s tough to argue that the Wolves didn’t do all the right things this offseason, I believe they did, but when Timberpups looked at how the Wolves stack up in the Western Conference, Drew told us that there’s enough talent between the Portland Trail Blazers, Dallas Mavericks, New Orleans Pelicans and the Denver Nuggets to keep Minnesota out of the playoffs. If the team isn’t poised for a playoff run this season — will it ever be? Has Flip made plans in preparation for the long-term? I don’t possess the knowledge. What I do know is that Minnesota has restructured and re enforced their roster — the Timberwolves are capable of not only of qualifying for the postseason this year, but becoming a perennial playoff team in the Western Conference…. assuming they’re able to stay healthy, of course….