Tonight the Wolves take it to Portland, where their excellent "pack it in, they will cool off at some point" defensive strategy will hopefully limit Matthews and Fernandez to a combined 37 threes in the first half.
Rather than hash out a boring game preview for a team we have played twice already this year, I thought I'd pose 5 things to think about over the next week and beyond as it pertains to the Wolves.
1. Has the recent emphasis on ball movement with Beasley out been a positive thing for the team? I think we all know Beasley is essential to this team, but over the past 2 games I have seen much better execution and a solid scoring attack within the flow of the offense. Last year we loathed about how Al Jefferson, while putting up numbers, would put a wrench right into the flow of things and stagnate our offense. Is this trend developing with Beasley? It doesn't take a rocket scientist nor a statisctician to see and understand how much better the Wolves play when Mike moves the ball and doesn't force it. Assuming Beasley is out tonight and perhaps Wednesday vs. LAC before a 5 day rest, it would be noteworthy if the Wolves win one or at least play tight against 2 surging teams. It could be more indicitive than we thought, at least short term.
2. Brewer in the starting lineup; and Brewer being here long term. Look, it again didn't take a brilliant wizard to notice how much better the Wolves played in the 2nd half the last time these 2 teams met with Brewer taking Wes' minutes. Brewer's energy when he plays big minutes is simply tough to top. With that said, Brew is a free agent and we have a decision to make on his future. I think his impact here has been a bit under-appreciated and I'm not sure Wes can top his production on both ends of the floor unless he (Edit: I intially had "she" written here as a typo. Thought about keeping it as it seems appropriate of late) expands his game beyond spot up and one-dribble jump shots and blown defensive assignments.
It's easy to peg Wes as a long term wing simply because he was once the 4th pick in a (historically bad) draft. Irrational draft pick fetish syndrome strikes again. But ask yourself, between Wes and Brewer, who's impact and style of play fits the bill for us long term? Obviously no decisions can be made on this today, but think of this in terms of categories: On offense Wes will probably never be a high scorer for us, nor will he need to be so let's weigh this factor a bit less than defense. However, Wes is obviously a better shooter and off the dribble it is about even. On defense, Brewer takes the nod most of the time, but Wes has potential. On fast breaks and in transition I will call a draw. BB IQ and intangibles go to Brewer. You get the idea. So, in Wes' likely role (modest scoring, defensive-minded, athletic wing player), is he the best fit based on his strengths? Or is this another classic Rhombus example of forcing a player to be something they just aren't? Can Wes expand his defensive game to Brewer levels, consistently pissing off the likes of Wes Matthews and Manu, and at the same time, improve his offense beyond Kyle Korver levels? Let's hope so, and he certainly deserves more opportunity to try.
3. Our 2nd unit. We are getting murdered off the bench due to Pekovic's continued idiot maneuvers, Flynn being amongst the worst players in the league, inconsistent shooting/questionable shot selection from Martell and Tolliver, and several poor defensive decisions mixed in. Would bringing Beasley off the bench be a good move to bolster our 2nd unit? Player/personality wise it would be a tough pill for Mike to swallow but I have to imagine the impact would be noticeable. This could also probably be fixed simply by having one of Love/Beasley on the floor at all times and with simple, intelligent rotations where we keep scorers on the floor.
4. Ridnour. Many ripped on him to no end earlier this year, but man is he playing extremely well for us lately. Good work, Michael Cera. Even if Flynn weren't playing like garbage, it would be very difficult for him to take Luke's starting job. And as a fan-base, I hope that after 4 years of this level of play we are past the "not playing vets b/c they take minutes away from the young guys" concept. So, my question: would you have rather kept Sessions, or do you like Luke's all around fast paced game and deadeye shooting better?
5. The D-League. Why have we not sent Lazar down to get some burn? Or Pekovic for that matter? Lazar has been pretty bad thus far even when he plays, why not get him some reps in Sioux Falls? Makes absolutely no sense to me. Oh, well.
Enjoy the game tonight and let's hope Brewer can shut down Wesley "Dave" Matthews and Rudy Fail-nandez early on to keep us in it. This Portland team is overachieving like no one's business and what better way for them to lose momentum than a loss at home? One last thought: keep an eye on the Portland/Memphis footrace. It is in our best interest to beat Portland if we want to get our top 14 protected draft pick from the Grizzlies this year. If Memphis makes the playoffs, we get it. If Portland does, that likely puts Memphis in the lottery and delays our pick to next year (which may also be a good thing)
Mad dog here....
Luke is playing very well. Ive always liked the dude myself.... I hope he just plays better n better... Flynn d-league or trade him, hated him since we drafted him. The scouts were crazeeeee he shoulda never been drafted in the 1st round.
The big pecker, is playing as a rookie in this league should be, he has game but is an idiot sometime... i think he will improve.
I hope da beast comes back, were getting killed without him..
Brewster, who knows i hope he continues to play this well...
between wes n brewster, im not entirely sure.. I dont like either too much. Both have to many fualts. I would rather trade them for someone who has better b-ball IQ and doesnt play like an idiot. Yet if i had to pick id pick Wes...
As I said in the TWB Forums...
We suck so bad. Of course we come back somewhat at the end and make the score look somewhat close. Well, I've got news for you... the game was not close. It was poop. Jonny Flynn 4 LVP. He is atrocious. 1 for 5 with 2 points, 1 assist, and 1 turnover. Can we just leave him in Portland or something? Don't let him get on the plane home? What team would EVER take him for anything at this point? He has zero trade value. Saying he sucks is an understatement.
Aldridge destroyed us. No one can guard him. Love continues to put up stats, but he can't play defense or ever limit any other PF he's playing against. That will be the story of his career. He's definitely not worth a max contact or even close, but we can't let him leave for nothing as a free agent. What a conundrum.
I don't really have anything else I even feel like talking about. I guess, Darko had a nice game with 22, 8 boards, and 4 blocks on 11 of 16 shooting.
I thought we had a good, deep bench at the beginning of the season. But, eh, I dunno. We have a bunch of guys that are average at best. And Flynn is atrocious. FREE TELFAIR! WHAT THE F**K!?!?
That's about it. Another loss. We are on pace for like 19 wins. The end.
Watching on DVR... just about to half-time.
Anyways, OH MY GOD Rudy Fernandez is one of the worst floppers/fakers in the history of the league. It is beyond annoying. Every game I see him play...
The only reason I'd ever want him is because of the possible synergy with Rubio. Even though, I dunno if it's worth it. He is ridiculous.
@Wolfenstein I hear ya. Guys like Bruce Bowen, Robert Horry, and Mark Madsen (in his earlier days) immediately come to mind as those kinds of players as well.
More minutes for Jonny? Great...................
@CollegeWolf I don't know, he does have that "guy you hate when you are playing against him, guy you love to rub in your friends' faces when he's on your team" kind of stink to him. Which is obnoxious when you don't have him on your team. I don't know how I'd feel if he was a wolf. I mostly agree about almost wanting to add him for synergy- but at the same time not really wanting that.
Wait until you get to the second half. Have a bucket near you when we start giving Jonny his minutes.
Right on, CW.
Matt, our own pick is top 10 protected this year, unprotected next year. Utah's pick is Top 16 protected and has some protection from now until 2014, when it reverts to a 2nd rounder if we haven't gotten a 1st by then. Pretty sure Utah will make the playoffs this year or next, so we'll get that one. Memphis's 1st is top 14 protected this year and has some protection from now until 2015, when it turns into cash.
Interesting question about Beasley. I'd want to see how he plays with Brewer in the starting 5 alongside him before I'd bump him to 6th man. Wes should help the offense in the second unit, as would playing a PG who doesn't specialize in masonry.
We are not likely to win tonight, since the Blazers terrorize us (reverse jinx). My money is on Andre Miller as POTG ( not a reverse jinx... or is it?).
Question for you fellas on the draft picks: Can you break down the pick the Wolves have to give up in the next few years? Isn't it like top-3 protected for next year's draft and then completely unprotected for the 2012 draft?
Also, does the Memphis pick absolutely lottery protected or does it get better?
Good stuff as always. Got a funny feeling we're going to win tonight and break that gawd awful streak.
@MattMcCabe Here you are: The Clippers pick is Top 10 protected this year and then in 2012 the Clippers get our first round pick no matter what. Yikes.
T'Wolves receive the Grizzlies' 2011 first-round pick, via the Jazz (Ronnie Brewer trade) (top 14 protected in 2011, top 12 protected in 2012, top 10 protected in 2013, top 9 protected in 2014 and 2015, if pick is not conveyed to the T'Wolves by 2015, the T'Wolves will instead receive cash considerations from the Grizzlies) (Al Jefferson trade 07-13-10)
T'Wolves receive the Jazz's 2011 first-round pick (top 16 protected in 2011, top 14 protected in 2012, top 16 protected in 2013, in 2014 the T'Wolves have the option to swap with the Jazz, top 9 protected, if the pick is not conveyed to the T'Wolves by 2013 and also does not swap 2014 first-round picks with the Jazz, then the T'Wolves will instead receive the Jazz?s own 2014 second-round pick) (Al Jefferson trade 07-13-2010)
Beasley is questionable, but I'd guess he won't play. At least... WHY would he? Do the smart thing and get that ankle right. Nagging ankle injuries are the worst thing ever.
Batum is the guy to watch tonight, imo. I think he could have a huge game, plus I really like him a lot. Would definitely love him on the Wolves, too bad the Blazers say he's more or less untradeable (supposedly turned down our pre-draft offer of the #4 overall pick for him.)
Good stuff Mike.
I don't have high hopes for us tonight (what else is new)... well, actually, I think we'll lose handily as usual.
For anyone else out there, tons of other Wolves/NBA/Sports discussion going on in the TWB Forums as well!