The Minnesota Timberwolves NBA Draft Grade …

Karl-Anthony Towns and Tyus Jones join a young, promising Timberwolves franchise that finally looks to be making the right moves.  (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)

Karl-Anthony Towns and Tyus Jones join a young, promising Timberwolves franchise that finally looks to be making the right moves. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)


The draft history of the Minnesota Timberwolves has been, frankly, god awful since its inception.  With the exclusion of less than a handful of B+ or greater picks, the Timberwolves have been a trainwreck on draft night more often than not.  For the first time since the Internet has been commonplace, I am looking at an “A” draft grade for Flip Saunders and the Pups.  I’m still not truly sure I believe it …

For the first time in franchise history, the Wolves held the first pick in the NBA Draft.  “Times, they are a changing” my friends.  With Andrew Wiggins and Ricky Rubio already in the fold, along with the potential of Zach LaVine and veteran leadership of Kevin Garnett, Flip Saunders and crew made the obvious choice (at least to me) to kick off the Draft with the selection of Kentucky Freshman, Karl-Anthony Towns.  

A smooth, two way player that can play in the post, step out of the paint to hit a jumper, and play upper-echelon defense.  The pairing of Towns and Wiggins gives the Wolves a potential one-two punch that could pull this franchise out of the woods. For all intents and purposes, Towns is a good guy – he is well spoken and has nothing on his resume that suggests he will fall under the “knucklehead” category that the Wolves have drafted many times over in the past.

When I heard/read that Flip was in love with Jahlil Okafor several weeks ago, I really wanted to blow a gasket.  When I found out Okafor was represented by agent Bill Duffy, my head was going to explode.  Duffy represents or has represented approximately 356 players that have suited up for the Wolves over the past 25 seasons.  (There is no truth to that number, but it feels like it is in the vicinity.) However, the team worked out both players and must have realized what they could be getting with Towns and ultimately made the right decision.  All Towns has to do now is come to Minnesota, show fans he wants to be here and care.  Oh wait, he is already doing all of that …

The draft history of our Pups also includes a tremendous amount of selling picks for “future assets” and cash.  Those “future assets” typically became cash in a subsequent move.  This time, the Wolves took their two second round picks (#31 and #35) along with a future second round pick, and traded them to the Cleveland Cavaliers for the #24 pick, PG Tyus Jones.

Jones played one season for Duke and was a pivotal player for the Blue Devils in their NCAA Championship run.  He also plays a position the Wolves desperately needed to upgrade, (backup) PG.  The Wolves have a potential star in Ricky Rubio, but I don’t see his ceiling as high as it once was, and there is a chance that Rubio can’t stay healthy … or at the very least, be counted on to play 40 minutes per game.

Jones is a hometown kid that grew up cheering for the Wolves.  He now gets to sit in the locker room with KG, who was playing for the Wolves before Jones (or Towns) were even born.  That’s absolutely crazy to me.

While I would normally berate the organization for trading away second round picks, this is the first time in quite some time, the team used them to move up in the draft and make an immediate improvement.  With so many kids on the roster already, there simply wasn’t going to be room to draft one or two players in the second round and etch out playing time for them.

Overall, the Wolves get an “A” from me for this year’s draft results.  “Is this the real life, or is this just fantasy?”

Season’s Over – Thunder Rock Timberwolves 138-113

Admit it, this made you laugh too. (Photo credit: William Bennett Barry on

Admit it, this made you laugh too. (Photo credit: William Bennett Barry on


The end of the 2014/15 NBA regular season is now official for the Minnesota Timberwolves, who finish the year with a (largely pathetic) 16-66 record.  As you likely know, the Oklahoma City Thunder entered the game with a chance to make the playoffs as the 8th seed with a victory and a little help down in New Orleans.

There wasn’t much doubt going into the evening with the plethora of injuries the Timberwolves have amounted over the past few weeks and months, along with a strong desire to have the most ping pong balls in the NBA lottery.  The 16 wins on the season equates to the third worst record in the team’s history.  You’ll find a bullet point list of things to consider for the Wolves’ offseason below.

The Thunder … well, they have Russell Westbrook.  Without Kevin Durant, the Thunder have struggled to hold onto a playoff spot and will retool in the offseason.  The Pelicans took care of the Spurs Wednesday night and will take the 8 seed in the Western Conference.

The Pups starting lineup consisted of Zach LaVine, Kevin Martin, Andrew Wiggins, Adreian Payne, and Arinze Onuaku.  Interesting stat/number from this season – Wiggins is only one of ten players to start all 82 games this season.  That number is extraordinarily low and concerning.  “Hello reduced NBA game schedule!”

OKC opened up with Russell Westbrook, Andre Roberson, Dion Waiters, Enes Kanter, and Steven Adams.

The Thunder got off to an 8-0 start and the game was essentially decided at that point, despite several attempts by the Wolves to make it a closer contest.  At the end of the 1st quarter, the Thunder held a 47-29 advantage.  You read that correctly.  Westbrook had 23 points at the end of the first 12 minutes.  Did I mention this game was over when the score was 8-0?

Let’s just run through the score at the end of each quarter:

  • Halftime: Thunder 76 – Wolves 54
  • End of 3rd: Thunder 106 – Wolves 85
  • End of game: Thunder 138 – Wolves 113

Rather than say anything else about the season ending loss, here are a number of thoughts on this franchise as it heads into another playoff-less offseason.  We’ll look to cover some of this in a lot more detail at the appropriate time.

  • I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but I truly believe that Andrew Wiggins isn’t getting enough credit for his rookie season.  His month to month averages improved as the season progressed, he played in all 82 games, and he never hit the rookie wall.  That’s un-freaking-believable!
  • Flip Saunders must get off of the sideline as Head Coach.  Sorry Flip, but you have to get out of the way of your own self.
  • I hope to see Ricky Rubio and Kevin Garnett on the court, fully healthy, next season for this team.  I don’t expect early 2000’s KG by any stretch, but their combined passion for basketball would be glorious.
  • Speaking of Rubio, we are on the border of hitting the dreaded “injury plagued” rumor with him.  If he can’t stay healthy next season, this franchise is in a lot of trouble.  A lot.
  • While Karl-Anthony Towns (or Jahlil Okafor) is heavily preferred, even without either player on next year’s roster, the Wolves need to find a new home for Nikola Pekovic.  That isn’t going to be easy.
  • The Wolves would also be better served to find a new home for Kevin Martin.

That’s it for this season’s game recaps folks.  What are your thoughts on the forthcoming offseason?  Where are, or should, the focus be put on the court, on the sideline, and/or in the front office?  Let us know in the comments below.


Timberpups Weekly Preview – Week 21

(photo credit:

How often will we see KG on the court the last few weeks of the season?  (Photo credit:

Setting the stage:

We are now officially into the last month of the season, with 12 games left on the Timberwolves schedule.  It hasn’t been a pretty season to say the least.  The Wolves are taking this one game at a time and have made the (wise) decision to give guys the occasional day of rest here and there.  For Kevin Garnett, Nikola Pekovic, and Ricky Rubio, the team is being more than cautious for very different reasons.  It will be interesting to see how much KG plays over the next month, if the Wolves only play him at the Target Center, etc.

Ping pong balls are the craze right now and despite the win in New York this past week, the Timberwolves are in the front seat (if not the drivers’ seat) for the most ping pong balls in the lottery.  I’m not bragging here.

With that in mind, here is a brief preview for another four game week for our Pups:

Game 70: Monday, 3/23, 8pm – Timberpups @ Utah Jazz (TV: No local TV)

Is someone on the FSN broadcast team not allowed in Utah?  It feels like this is a game that commonly sees the local blackout on TV.  While it would take a miracle to do so, the Jazz have been one of the hotter teams in the NBA.  They remain #1 in the NBA in points allowed and will be a tough match-up for the Wolves, even if they were to play at full strength.

Opponent to watch:

Derrick Favors – Favors’ name was showing up in trade rumors last year but I imagine that is over with his performance this season – 16+ppg, 8+rpg and a PER over 22.  If KG sits this one out, it could be a long night for Adreian Payne.

Game 71: Wednesday, 3/25, 7pm – Los Angeles Lakers @ Timberpups (TV: FS North)

The Lakers are making a late run for ping pong balls, having shut Kobe Bryant down for the season and showcasing the likes of Wayne Ellington, Tarik Black, and …

Opponent to watch:

Wesley Johnson – My least favorite lottery pick in Timberwolves’ history!  Johnson is playing just under 30 minutes a night and still can’t score 10ppg or grab 4rpg on average.  Awesome.

Game 72: Friday, 3/27, 7pm – Timberpups @ Houston Rockets (TV: FS North)

Despite losing all three prior contests this season, the Wolves have played the Rockets tough.  This is another opportunity for the Wolves to put on the original blue uniforms against Kevin McHale’s squad … (note: I know this can’t happen, but I still yearn for it).

Opponent to watch:

James Harden – Harden is a legitimate MVP candidate this season (top 5 at least).  He’s putting up about 26-7-6 on a nightly basis and has free reign on the court because … well, he has McHale as a head coach.

Game 73: Sunday, 3/29, 3pm – Timberpups @ New Orleans Pelicans (TV: FS North)

The Pelicans dropped a season high 139 points on the Timberwolves back in November.  With the season winding down and the Wolves’ resting players, what is New Orleans capable of Sunday afternoon?

Opponent to watch:

Anthony Davis – Another legitimate MVP candidate gets to face the Wolves this week.  If you thought Harden’s numbers were impressive, Davis is putting up about 25 and 10 to go with about 3 blocks a night and a PER north of 30.  Let’s hope he can stay healthy because Davis could be the league’s best as LeBron and Durant start to age.


A very, very tough week ahead for the Timberwolves … excluding a terrible Lakers team of course.  Let’s go Wolves!

Timberpups Weekly Preview – Week 20

The Wolves’ youngsters have a few more weeks to absorb everything from KG. (Credit: NBAE/David Sherman Getty Images)

The Wolves’ youngsters have a few more weeks to absorb everything from KG. (Credit: NBAE/David Sherman Getty Images)

Setting the stage:

If nothing else, the Timberwolves have my attention the rest of this season due to the Kevin Garnett and Gary Neal trades.  To say that the team is playing more enjoyable basketball over the past couple of weeks would be an egregious understatement.  While players have returned from injury, the two that have mattered the most are Kevin Martin and Ricky Rubio.  Everything else is just gravy along the rest of the way through this season.

With the Pups playing better, there are several chances for the team to walk away with a few victories this week.  Here is a brief preview for this week’s four games:

Game 66: Monday, 3/16, 7pm – Brooklyn Nets @ Timberpups (TV: FS North)

It may not be too surprising to see the Nets’ season go down the tubes since the trade deadline.  The team essentially threw in the towel and the results since have the team looking below them in the standings to see if anyone else in the Eastern Conference will pass them by.

Opponent to watch:

Thad Young – This will probably be the last time I ever mention Thad on this board, so might as well take the opportunity.  The former Pup takes on his former team at the Target Center.

Game 67: Wednesday, 3/18, 6:30pm – Timberpups @ Toronto Raptors (TV: FS North)

The Wolves and Raptors have yet to play this season, but the crowd should be engaged in this one as Andrew Wiggins (and Anthony Bennett) return to the homeland.  Toronto has a double digit lead on every other team in its division and has run away with the Atlantic division.  However, the standings are tight and they can’t afford to drop a home game against the Wolves.

Opponent to watch:

Kyle Lowry – Lowry is having a career best year, leading the Raptors in steals and assists, while second on the team with over 18 ppg.  He will give Wolves’ PG’s fits, particularly if he can get Rubio into foul trouble.

Game 68: Thursday, 3/19, 6:30pm – Timberpups @ New York Knicks (TV: FSN Plus)

Tankapalooza takes its next step as the Wolves head to Madison Square Garden to take on the (dreadful) Knicks.  A win by the Wolves should lock up a better season record vs. New York, as Minnesota already defeated the Knicks in early November.

Opponent to watch:

Alexey Shved – Welcome back to Alexey Shved!  Someone is likely telling him to “change your face” on a nightly basis having to play for this awful franchise.

Game 69: Sunday, 3/22, 6pm – Charlotte Hornets @ Timberpups (TV: FS North)

Al Jefferson may be destined to never play meaningful minutes in the playoffs.  There is no reason for the Hornets to miss the playoffs and lose a spot to the likes of the Pacers.  This team is going to continue to underachieve until Michael Jordan is forced out of retirement again, aren’t they?

Opponent to watch:

Mo Williams – Williams has played incredibly well for the Hornets since being traded by the Wolves.  Consistently seeing over 30 minutes per game may not be a great way to keep Williams fresh for the end of the season, but the Hornets have no other option at this point.


It is a week of returns for ex-Pups players and facing their former team.  The Wolves should be able to pull at least two victories out of this coming week.  Let’s go Wolves!

Thunder Pull Away From Timberwolves, 113-99

Andrew Wiggins consistently found a way to make the Thunder pay on Friday night! (AP Photo, Sue Ogrocki)

Andrew Wiggins consistently found a way to make the Thunder pay on Friday night! (AP Photo, Sue Ogrocki)


The Minnesota Timberwolves traveled to Oklahoma City to take on a Kevin Durant-less Thunder squad who continues to fight for their playoff lives.  The Wolves gave their own big gun, Kevin Garnett, the night off as well.  Enough foreplay, let’s get to the action!

The Timberwolves opened up with a starting lineup of Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin, Andrew Wiggins, Adreian Payne, and Gorgui Dieng (i.e. still no Nikola Pekovic).  The Thunder mixed things up a bit in an effort to get more offensive firepower in the starting lineup, going with Russell Westbrook, Andre Roberson, Dion Waiters, Enes Kanter, and Mitch McGary.

Both teams came out firing on the offensive end, putting up points with very little regard for the defensive side of the ball.  Kevin Martin and Andrew Wiggins put the Wolves on their shoulders in the first quarter, with the rookie drawing fouls and going to the line 10 times and making all 10!

However, the Wolves frontcourt defense left more than a little to be desired.  Adreian Payne struggled to cover his man or rotate when necessary.  The lack of prowess led to a quick timeout from Flip Saunders in the quarter, but he pretty much gave up hope shortly thereafter, allowing play to continue throughout a few rough patches.  While the future Rookie of the Year kept his team in the hunt, the Thunder took a 31-26 lead into the second quarter.

Zach LaVine had another “I’m not a PG and stop making me play one on TV” start to the second quarter, with a missed 23 footer, a turnover, and allowing DJ Augustin go off to build the Thunder’s lead to 39-28.  With that, Flip burned another timeout and brought back in the Unicorn.  This sparked a 12-0 run to give the Wolves a 40-39 lead.

As goes the Wolves season, Kevin Martin blew a layup on the next possession and bricked a three-pointer after a nice block from Dieng.  That seemed to give OKC some life as they went on a 5-0 run and were consistently beating the Wolves on the boards.  The Thunder scored 11 points in the final 2:45 of the half and took a 55-49 lead into the locker room.

Halftime highlights include:

  • Gorgui Dieng already amassed a double-double with 11 points, 10 rebounds … to go with 3 assists, 2 blocks, and 1 assist.  Please stop “tinkering” (PG-rated) with Gorgui’s minutes and role.  He should be a part of the long term plan.
  • Adreian Payne … I don’t see it.  11 minutes and a game low -14.  I know he has shown a few sparks, but to give up a future 1st rounder for the guy is not likely to end well.
  • Aided by Wiggins’ 10-10, the Wolves finished the half 13-13 at the FT line, while the Thunder went 8-8.  Nice, fundamental basketball there!

Aside from a few Justin Hamilton highlights (pick-and-pop made jumper, emphatic dunk) the first six minutes of the third quarter were an abomination for the Wolves.  The Wolves had four points in the first five minutes of the quarter before realizing that the second half started.  After trailing by as many as 14 in the quarter, the Wolves fought back to cut the lead in half heading into the final frame – 79-72.

With the Wolves continuing to trail by seven points, 87-80, the Wolves PR crew sent out the following:

(Insert stomach punch / game over)

As you might expect, this was the actual end of the game as the Thunder pulled away quickly thereafter.  While the Thunder announcers praised the potential for the Wolves, at some point this needs to turn a corner.  Here are a few thoughts from Twitter …

The final score, Thunder 113 – Timberwolves 99 

A few notes from the game:

  • Russell Westbrook barely missed a quadruple-double – 29 points, 12 assists, 10 rebounds and 8 turnovers
  • Following up on the halftime notes – Dieng finished with 21 and 14, while Payne finished with a -22 in 20 minutes of action
  • Justin Hamilton finished with a career high 17 points and added 10 rebounds
  • Enes Kanter continues to be a thorn in the Wolves’ side, finishing with 23 points and 15 rebounds

Poor Shooting Leads to Timberwolves Loss to Clippers

(photo credit:

(photo credit:

Minnesota shot only 37.3 percent Monday night in its first of four road games this week. The team held its own throughout the first half, but in the end the Clippers pulled away with the 89-76 win in LA. The Wolves’ big men each had solid nights: Newbie Adreian Payne led the team offensively with 16 points and 15 rebounds, followed by Nikola Pekovic with 12 points and 12 rebounds.

The Clippers were without All-Star Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford, and Chris Paul was restricted to only two points in a supporting role, his injured knee clearly bothering him. The point guard went only 1-for-6 from the floor and committed four turnovers. While Paul couldn’t get to the rim, however, he still effectively ran the ball and dished out 15 assists to his teammates for automatic points. JJ Redick and Deandre Jordan stepped up to the plate, combining for an impressive 46 points.

“I couldn’t be as aggressive as I would like to,” Paul said after the game. “It just shows the depth of our team. … I’ve just got to be smart about it. I don’t want to hurt the team, but if I can contribute and help the team, we need all the bodies we can get.”

The first quarter went extremely well for Minnesota, as Pekovic and Andrew Wiggins scored eight points apiece and led their team into the second quarter tied with LA.


Following halftime was when the Timberwolves really began to struggle, specifically against defending the wing. At the end of the third quarter, the Clips had tallied seven buckets from behind the 3-point line, while the Wolves found themselves unable to sink a long-range shot. Minnesota was given a chance in the final quarter to regain its footing as LA scored 15 points, but Minny answered with only 14 points of its own and watched the clock drain with little to show for it.

Kevin Garnett sat out Monday’s game to rest, and his presence was missed below the basket on defense. Payne did a decent job filling in, though, and continues to show a lot of upside for the Wolves.

“We just didn’t come out with enough energy today,” Payne said. “We’ve just got to continue to keep fighting and keep playing through the whole game. We have a lot of talent, and we’ve got a high ceiling.”

Ricky Rubio, who has been notching solid numbers as of late, finished the game with only two points on nine attempts. The point guard did have 12 assists on the evening, but he said after the game that they had played “selfishly” and didn’t do a good enough job defending the basket.

The loss drops Minnesota’s record to 14-48 on the season. Up next, the Wolves will face Phoenix Wednesday night, OKC on Friday and San Antonio Sunday. Wednesday’s game is a 9 p.m. (CST) tipoff.

Listen to Payne’s post-game here.

Wolves cruise past Portland for second time this season at Target Center

Target Center has been a House of Horrors for the Blazers this year

Target Center has been a House of Horrors for the Blazers this year as the wolves completed the home season sweep of the blazers Saturday night.

The Blazers came to town on the heels of a five game winning streak, and looking to make it six. However the big news out of Portland this week has been the loss of Wesley Matthews, one of three starters that seem to compliment each other greatly.  Lamarcus Aldridge, and Damian Lilliard were the two stars remaining in the line up. Rounding out Portland’s starting five were Nicholas Batum , Robin Lopez, and Arron Affalo. The wolves brought out Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin, Andrew Wiggins, Kevin Garnett, and Nikola Pekovic.

The first quarter was a rather uneventful stretch in the game. The only thing to note from the first was that Kevin Garnett’s rebounding was definitely on key. The first came and went with the game being tied at the end.

The second quarter was a bit rough for the wolves until the last minute where a combination of a Wiggins put back on a Pekovic miss, Alonzo Gee  missing two free throws, and a Kevin Garnett long two helped the wolves claw back from eight down to make it a four point deficit heading into half.

Half Time Notes

  • Gary Neal who in the last three games has averaged 16 points a game continued his stretch of productiveness with 10 points in the first half.
  • Portland was deadly from three at 7/10.
  • Ricky had seven assists in the first half, again showing us how fun he is to watch, also No turnovers!


The third quarter began with the wolves on a 8-0 run promptly taking the lead 59-55 in two minutes. Portland would take a timeout to regroup, and try to combat Minnesota’s quick third quarter spurt. Over the next several minutes the wolves and trailblazers battled it out to the tune of an eight point wolves lead with four minutes left in the third. With the score 75-69 Zach Lavine hit an awesome rainbow jumper to bring the lead back to eight. Ricky got through the third quarter with no turnovers, which left a lasting impression on the crowd when lavine came in the game. The blazers rallied a bit at the end of the quarter to cut their deficit to four going into the locker room at 81-77 wolves.

As the fourth quarter began the stat the Blazers were 12-3 when going into the fourth trailing looked bad for the puppies considering the blazers out played them at the end of the third, and had the momentum. The quarter began with a 6-2 run for Portland to tie the game at 83 a piece. Zach Lavine scored Minnesota’s first two buckets of the quarter and the wolves were clinging to two point lead a couple minutes into the quarter. Gary Neal hit a three to finally get on the board in the half, and got to 13 for the game. Gary would score the wolves next 11 points, ya 11! That would help the wolves pull out to a 98-93 lead. As the last minute of the fourth quarter came Ricky Rubio hit a big time three to seal the win for the wolves, and help them improve to 2-1 against the blazers this year.


  • We might need to rethink this Gary Neal kid, because he has been straight balling these last few games.
  • The fans are still showing up as a crowd 19,000 strong came out to support the wolves.


The wolves travel to L.A to face the clippers  to try to make a streak out of this winning thing, What?

On an unrelated note my hometown Hermantown Hawks lost in the state final in hockey for the sixth straight year in overtime after scoring two goals in 30 seconds in the last minute of regulation to tie it. It seems they get closer every damn year.