Jonas, perhaps on his first day of 8th grade
Use the comments here to discuss the game as you wish, or as always, join and chat in the forums in the game thread that you should hopefully be able to find. Also, there is still plenty of time to get involved in the very fun TIMBERPUP GAME this season, so post your game predictions and get involved in the challenges that the wise sage roundhouse presents to those fortunate participants each game.
On to the game. Well, the Wolves head to Toronto today to face off against former coach Dwayne Casey and easily the Eastern Conference's #1 sleeper team: The Raptors. Tip off at 5 central on NBATV and local TV as well. Here are 5 pre-game bullets. Unlike the King's game preview, hopefully the bullets show up in this post. I swear they are at least there in the site editor. Because, as always, who doesn't love bullet points?
-Kyle Lowry. Look out for this fantastic, all-around, Swiss Army knife, stat sheet stuffing, extremely underrated guard. Good Lord did the Raptors land a steal in this guy. Conlangelo, the league's all-time most overrated GM, made a good move here with Houston. One-on-one, Luke Ridnour is going to have some huge challenges with him, and it will take some good help effort from the other four starters to contain him and his shot creation. PS...remember when him and Randy Foye starred at Villanova together? Remember when Foye was "the better player?" It is weird how these things work out. Why do things like this happen? So odd.
-Rookie Spotlight: Jonas Valanciunas. Jonas will have his work cut out for him. Pek had a very rare off night and clearly struggled being double and triple teamed in the post against Sacramento. Jonas has the length to get a hand up vs. Pek and this should be an interesting length vs. girth matchup. But Jonas has the makings of a solid all-around center. Not much else is known about the guy just yet, so keep an eye on him as the marquee rookie of the game.
-Pek in the Post/DWill at the 4. Pek struggled in game one, plain and simple. You would too if you were triple teamed by three guys who were 6-feet 10 inches tall every time you received a pass. What would help a bit here is if Lord Adelman at least attempted to get Derrick Williams a consistent offensive role while Love is out. The floor need be stretched, and D still showed us nothing special in the first game (to no one's surprise). Pigs need to fly here. We really need a stretch to get Pek some room down low or he could struggle early on. He is no longer a surprise player and has earned the respect of opposing scouts. When Love does get back from injury, look out. The best stretch 4 and an elite post scorer is a rare and awesome thing to have. But I can't help but wish Lord Adelman would try to implement Derrick's (underachieving to say the least) ability as a stretch 4 a little more. At least give the guy a chance.
-Depth. The other night, against the Kings, the Wolves (and the Kings for that matter) basically shot like a WNBA team. That isn't meant to be derogatory, that is simply what happened. The Wolves had to basically adjust and win the game at the free throw line (a great sign, by the way, that the team can finally get there). If not for Barea playing like Derrick Rose (!!) and getting to the rim at will...and finishing...the game would have been an even more hideous spectacle to behold. This presents two points. 1. How awesome are Wolves games going to be when those shots are falling and the team is shooting over 50%? 2. The Wolves' depth has improved so dramatically by purging the garbage from Kahn's 2nd reign that the starting lineup can throw up a steaming pile of 33% FG% and JJ Barea can will us to victory on offense. This is just...there are no words. The days of Beasley one-and done- 22 footers are over.
-Greg Stiemsma. Gets his own bullet. Screw DeRozan. His $40 million contract makes him unmentionable and not worth a bullet. Greg was just awesome in his Wolves debut and let's hope the trend continues. He made a positive play seemingly every few seconds. Blocking shots, getting pissed, and generally acting like Darko Milicic after seeing his first naked boob. Keep it up Steemer, and keep proving your worth.
Prediction: Even though the Wolves seem to always dog it in Canada, I can't predict a loss until they lose a game. Embrace Homerism. Wolves win it...probably thanks to a 15 and 10 night from Cunningham or something weird/awesome.no comments
Tonight, after what seemed like a 200 bajillion-year wait, the Wolves open the year at home vs. Sacramento (doesn't it feel like we always open against the Kings?). Finally. No Love or Rubio of course, but Roy and AK47 will be ready for active duty and immediate fan judgement. That being said, since everybody LOVES bullets, here are ten random musings/bullets to look out for as you either trudge to Target Center, or nestle into your carefully hand-crafted, 3-month aged butt groove on the couch with an ice cold IPA/lager/brown ale/O'Doul's etc. and a pizza. And hopefully some company. Also, to tease the palate, there is exactly one Richie Frahm reference below amidst the rubble. Excited yet?
- Pekovic vs. Cousins. This matchup quietly became one of the more interesting battles ever since Pek first set foot (and destroyed) the Target Center Floor as a Rambis project. Cousins, as many know, has a bit of a temper and thus Pekovic is the perfect kahndidate to get under his short-as-a-peppermint-tic-tac fuse. With the starters on the floor for both sides, expect to see a lot of interior and mid-range plays on offense early on as Pekovic and Cousins battle in the post. The two will go at it early and often, and will likely lead their respective teams in scoring. Tonight will be an interior battle and if history repeats itself, expect Pekovic to destroy Cousins as he begins his campaign for Most Improved Player. Cousin’s has more range on his shot so keep an eye on Pek defensively 10-15 feet out.
- Thomas Robinson. The marquee top pick suits up for the Kings and immediately becomes this years’ Enes Kanter/Derrick Williams/Derrick Favors – the player who will be buried behind more talented, crowded front court players and thus will have a tough time making a stamp on the league….probably indefinitely. It will be enjoyable to watch the off-the-ball physical battle between Robinson and the Wolves’ backup bigs Lou Amundson and Greg Stiemsma.
- Alexey Shved’s NBA Debut – I’m predicting a Richie Frahm throwback debut performance from Alexey. 5 or more 3’s and an immediate fan favorite. I doubt it is something that will happen nightly, but Alexsey should hopefully be able to make mincemeat out of Jimmer Fredette off of the dribble and can a couple of threes. Two of my favorite parts of Alexsey’s game is that, 1. He goes left more than he goes right, which is confusing to defenders and, 2. He can shoot threes off of the dribble! Have the Wolves had that in recent memory (Barea just….doesn’t count)? Not all will fall and some will be Barea-esque in their rage-induction throughout the season, but when they drop, he will be a spark. I suspect he starts off strong.
- Brandon Roy as a primary offensive option. With Love out, Roy will likely be doing most of the play-making on offense from the perimeter, relying on his mid-range game to add a scoring boost when needed. But the Roy situation has really been an under-the-radar story this offseason. I think seeing him on the court for the first time in a real game should garner some attention from pundits. With Love out, the Wolves need to get 25 points from somewhere, and Roy seems poised to pick up the slack. It is slightly concerning that Lord Adelman may have to rely on him more than he would like early on in the season, but Brandon will have a chance to prove Kahn’s decision to sign him as right or wrong nearly immediately. The intriguing part is no one has any idea how it will turn out.
- The Triumphant Return to Target Center. One of our writers, Bonk, always loves to chime in on the “in-arena and around Target Center” fan perspective of the game, and it is probably one of the more under-discussed fun parts of following this team. How have the pre-game happy hour spots changed? Did a new bar materialize? If so, do they have a good special, or did they make the idiotic decision to not offer pre-game happy hour deals on game day events and guarantee a closing like Smalley’s and the rest of the forgotten 1st Ave. pre-game (former) watering holes? Do they have boneless wings or the immensely overrated bone-ins? Interesting sauces or just the lame Buffalo or Honey BBQ? Beer selection? Henney for a quick boost before departing to Hubert’s? Do 508 and Brother’s remain the best spots for pre-game merriment? Will SILENT ABABU, a rotund non-English speaking, yelping die-hard fan, make his return and lead eager fans post-game on journeys of the unknown? Is B-Wright still going to be shouting his 90’s Fresh Prince of Bel-Air-like lingo into the microphone ? Which lucky 3rd grade church choir will have the honor of singing the national anthem? What lame gag will Crunch play on a planted opposing team fan? What will the “What would you do for a Klondike Bar?” challenge be? With all of the Caucasians on the team, will the player intro music be a Counting Crows medley? Which Viking’s players will be sitting courtside? Who was spotted darting around Hubert’s before entering in through the tunnel? “Should we high-five all of the players as they enter from the tunnel like we’re in first grade again?” These questions, and their relevant answers, are just some of the thousands of constant amusements that frequent visits into Target Center provide.
- Anyhow, back to the Kings game. Budinger’s Shooting. Remember last year when Wes had an open look, shot it with his overly quick and flat release, and you shielded your eyes in horror as if you were about to prevent yourself from watching a torture scene from the latest addition to the Saw Anthology? Those days are no more. Chase had some huge games in the pre-season offensively from beyond the arc, but proved to be like just about 90% of the league: inconsistent. However, Bud will quietly have a huge role on the team this year (when injuries to the wing guys start to happen :/) and look for him to start off hot as a spark off the bench.
- D-Will. Does he have anything? His time is now. The pecking order is going to be established quickly with Love out, and if Derrick doesn’t ditch his deer-in-the-headlights approach to an NBA offense, he is going to head straight towards DNP-CD territory (along with Wes Johnson in Phoenix). Seriously. I predicted DC would take his minutes very early and if D-Will doesn’t get his head out of his batoot, he is in for another long year.
- Cunningham. Energy, hustle, length, athleticism and an underrated shooting touch. Really a perfect backup big and I suspect he will start opening night. Cunninghamsandwich is a really nice matchup against the sizable Jason Thompson and I would expect an efficient night from Dante’. Like him right away. You should. The Mayans have arrived: Kahn won a trade!
- Kirilenko. Forgot about him until now. I was disappointed with how smiley he seems but, alas, battles must be picked. It is a shame he doesn’t have a tougher matchup than James Johnson on opening night to show his skills, but he will be quite helpful on the help D in the post against Cousins, Thompson, and when Evans breaks Roy’s ankles for the 9th time in the opening quarter (see what I did there?)
- Lord Adelman’s Smile Count. Adelman has been smiling more and more this season, potentially up to 8-10 whole smiles (partial grins excluded). He even made a joke the other day that he would be watching NCIS instead of the opening games that came and passed on Tuesday. If the Wolves win, will Rick be pleased, or will he continue his campaign as the human-version of an Easter Island Statue? Dreadful filler jokes aside, I am super pumped to watch Lord’s squad run a few more of his patented motion sets this year. Expect to see some new creativity as Adelman’s coaching wizardry begins to pay off. Rick seems to have a much better attitude about his squad this year, probably because he has had a full camp and pre-season to fart around with lineups, and I think very soon the nightmares of the Rambis biangle will be forever forgotten.
Prediction: Wolves take opening night and snag the dub.no comments
With the start of the new season, the TWB staff decided to pool our heads together and pool together our early predictions for season-ending awards. Here are the results:
Most Valuable Player:
College Wolf: Kevin Durant. Epic huge awesome STUD. His stock has been trending up his entire career, and some voters might feel it's "his time." Especially if he has even better stats again this year, and OKC finishes as a top team in the league. Granted, it's definitely Lebron's award to lose though.
Please click "Read More"... to view the rest of the TWolves Blog Staff picks for this upcoming season!
So there's this pretty cool art company called RareInk that just recently announced a partnership with the NBA to produce a collection of cutting-edge, limited-edition artwork featuring NBA players, historical moments and legendary teams. Clearly the Wolves don't really fall under the latter of that criteria, but they still have some solid stuff for our team logos and whatnot. If someone sent one of those prints to me, I'd probably hang it on my wall somewhere; I mean... their work certainly is not bad at all. While we are at it, I just wanted to mention that I saw the O/U's for the teams this season. The Wolves already dropped something like 4 or 5 wins because of Love's injury. I think we should be ok until Love and Rubio return, so I think it's still likely that we get at least 40+ wins this year. So if you can find some sports betting options, I'd definitely take the Wolves OVER for season wins this year.
But I digress. Really, the entire point of this post, is that fans will be able to cast their vote on RareInk.com to determine future art releases. And what makes me really happy in the pants is that we could potentially get a pretty sweet rendition of Ricky done. If you go and follow THIS LINK HERE and then scroll to the second poll for "Emerging Stars", you'll see Ricky up against the likes of Kemba Walker (bwahahahaha!), Kyrie Irving (legit stud, but kinda boring), and John Wall (has a worse jump shot and less range than Ricky). Personally, I think it would be pretty cool to get a Ricky print commissioned. I've already voted approximately 75 times in the past hour (just joking.......... maybe?), but would hope for some help from the other 68 (and growing!) TWolves fans out there. Because as you all know, we don't have many (any?) "historical moments" or "legendary TWolves teams" to our credit. It might be a while before we get another Wolves piece of artwork if Ricky doesn't win this vote.
So yeah, check out the RareInk site and their artwork. It is quite good stuff. As a fan of the NBA, I will attest to it. But more importantly, go vote for Ricky so he can win that damn poll thing. God knows we Wolves fans need to win something! no comments
Check out the NW division preview links here for all of your preview needs. If you missed our preview below, the link is here again...so enjoy.
Denver Nuggets: Denver Stiffs
Oklahoma City Thunder: Welcome to Loud City
Portland Trail Blazers: Blazersedge.com
Utah Jazz: SLC Dunkno comments
Here we all are looking at one of the glass half whatever moments. Depending on what you’ve read, heard and seen on the Internet and beyond this past week, the Timberwolves are either facing utter disaster or a simple setback as a result of Kevin Love’s injury. But no matter which –ist you claim yourself to be there’s no debating the impact of losing an All-Star for potentially 5-8 weeks. Love’s loss will be felt, yet how much is still to be determined. With all hope his teammates will prevent us all from measuring the glass any more than we half to.
When Kevin Love broke the third and fourth finger on his right hand, he took two very important things to the doctor with him- points and rebounds. While the Wolves will certainly miss Love’s points, they will mourn over his rebounding. Love’s 14.4 RPG average over the past two years is a number no other Wolf comes close to matching which means they are looking at a large void to fill. That’s 14 rebounds that could have inspired fast breaks, created second chance opportunities and even decided the final possesion of a game. It will be up to Love’s teammates to show they can demonstrate an aggressiveness that at least somewhat resembles what Love brought to the boards each game.
Pekovic is certainly the most likely candidate to make up for Love’s loss, but even he will have to make some strides. While Pekovic has always been a solid offensive rebounder, 3.9 ORB in 2011-12, he has always fallen short of that mark on the defensive end, averaging only 3.5. Pekovic will need to find ways to secure more missed shots, and perhaps with his improved agility and newly toned frame, this may be a foreseeable change in the Godfather’s game. Unfortunately, fans are far less likely to witness any real leaps in Williams, Cunningham and Amundson’s numbers. With more playing time they will surely see their numbers increase, but to a significant degree is probably wishful thinking.
Williams is an incredibly underwhelming rebounder (1.2 ORB, 3.5 DRB), failing to be in the right place at the right time defensively just as much as offensively. He will need to be much more mobile and scrappy than he has been in the past in order for him to not lose more playing time to Cunningham and Amundson. The hustle for which Cunningham and Amundson have fostered a reputation and shown this preseason should earn them minutes if Williams proves to be as lackadaisical as he was his rookie season, and more often than not this preseason as well. Both Cunningham and Amundson should be safer options to have on the court- if for nothing more than the energy they bring each play. I fully expect Cunningham to secure the starting spot by mid-November, mainly because he provides more consistency as a rebounder and help-defender and will prevent games from getting out of hand.
Besides solving their rebounding woes, the Wolves will also have to figure out how to operate an efficient offense without a player who commands double teams. This problem will rest in the hands of the Wolves playmakers. With Rubio, this fear would be non-existent, as his vision and quickness automatically allow for better spacing and extracting the most talent out of each individual on the floor. While the Wolves have seemed to show flashes of the “sharing is caring” mentality this preseason, it’s unclear if this will carry over once the actual season kicks off.
Kirilenko’s passing will help take some of the burden off of point guards Barea and Ridnour, but it will still be largely up to them to find open shooters, especially on the wings. Without Love drawing attention, they will have to be more creative and find ways to spread the floor better overall. Ridnour will do a solid job of getting points from knockdown shooters like Budinger (and Shved to a lesser degree). However, Barea will need to buy into the pass-first system quickly. During last Friday’s game against the Bulls, Barea showed once again that he will not hesitate to dribble for 15 seconds at the top of the key, wasting valuable shot clock seconds. For this reason it might be interesting to occasionally have Shved man the point for the bench unit, as he has already shown the same kind of flair Rubio demonstrated, especially in tight-game situations.
This team has shooters, something that was sorely lacking last season but it’s up to the playmakers to find them in their sweet spots. Roy, Budinger, Shved, and Kirilenko all will provide the offensive boost missing from Love on any given night, which is why Love’s points may not be such an apparent loss. Although if Barea, Ridnour and Shved are able to only create iso plays for themselves and teammates, and in turn fail to distribute the ball wisely, these Wolves will lose games against beatable opponents.
Luckily for the Wolves, the first month of their schedule is not nearly as difficult as one could imagine. If Love were to return on November 23rd (5 week mark) they will have already played the Kings, Raptors, Nets, Magic, Pacers, Bulls, Dallas, Charlotte, Golden State and Denver, facing only 3 real playoff shoe-ins in Denver, Nets and Bulls. If Love stays out another week, they are still looking at only facing one more contender in a matchup against the Clippers. If these Wolves can find a way to build chemistry quickly, they could very feasibly earn a .500 or better record while Love is out.
When considering how long it will take this team to become cohesive and complimentary, it’s only right to thank the basketball gods that Rick Adelman is their coach. There are a lot of great things to say about the man who only wears black (seriously watch any interview and he will be wearing a black polo). Adelman is only 29 wins away from becoming the 8th coach in history to reach 1,000 in his career per Basketball Prospectus 2012-13, largely the result of his brilliant use of lineups. Before losing multiple key pieces to injury last year, specifically, Pekovic, Love and Rubio this team was projected for a playoff berth. This fact also means that players like Beasley, Randolph, Johnson and Darko were so well managed by Adelman (or properly ignored) to have actually been part of a postseason run. This year should be a gourmet meal compared to the TV dinner Adelman had to work with last season. With much more depth in this year’s roster, Adelman should excel in his use of multiple rotations through creative and strategic maneuvering. Whether Kirilenko, Cunningham or Williams mans the 4 spot most, there should be confidence in Adelman’s ability to direct and lead them. Presuming guys can live up to their natural talents and learned skills, Adelman will make magic out of what he has.
Hopefully we all come out of this situation, Wolves and fans included, curious rather than cautious and confident rather than cynical. Love’s absence last year would have left this team as broken as his fat fingers, but this year is different. There is a reason to believe that the glass will still have something left to drink when he and our spicy Spaniard return. How thirsty we will be is still to be seen, but I, for one, still raise a toast this exciting new team.no comments
Forget about the Love injury for a minute and check out these links below for previews on central division teams. And a friendly reminder to check out our preview posted earlier this week if you missed it.
Chicago Bulls: BlogABull.com
Detroit Pistons: DetroitBadBoys
Indiana Pacers: Indy Cornrows
Milwaukee Bucks: Brew Hoopno comments
Seeing that the match of topic was a preseason game against something called Maccabi Haifa, there is only so much constructive analysis to pontificate on. Half of the fun of attending this game was just being back in Target Center, and everything that goes along with it. Since there were less fans in attendance tonight than will be gracing the Target Center for a women’s basketball game tomorrow night, it was a no brainer to move down to the 4th row across from the Wolves bench for maximum viewing pleasure. From these seats I was able to watch the game, but more importantly study a half-living Sid Hartman, longingly gaze at a dapper Ricky Rubio, eagerly stare at the KAHNman himself, watch Tubby Smith get harassed by fans young and old, and spend too much time examining Kevin Williams’ mom’s hairdo, which happens to be the same exact hairstyle that Big Worm rocks in the movie Friday.
Onto the game…
Despite having hairless armpits, it is awesome to have Andrei Kirilenko on our side. He seems to have a great command on the game, making countless crafty passes with ease, spacing the floor, and generally leading like a professional. He really seems engaged with the team and already appears to be emerging as a leader of sorts. KAHNman backed into this one perfectly, despite the AK47 signing actually being Plan V on his offseason options chart. Even a broken clock is wrong twice a day, and getting AK47 instead of Batum looks like it may end up being a huge blessing in disguise.
Dante Cunningham > Lou Amundson. Granted, Stonehands Lou only played 5 minutes tonight, but I would rather generalize to prove a point. Dante is Lou, except younger, more athletic, with better hands, more offensive repertoire, and more upside. I hope to see Dante playing over Lou this year, and am prepared to make an overly big deal of it should it not turn out to be the case.
Speaking of irrational conclusions, SHVED! What a STUD. Euroflair for the win! I love the way this dude moves, shoots, drives, acts…he’s like the new Marko, but with more athleticism, upside, and scoring prowess. It still bothers me that he took Your Guy McCants’ number though.
Big Pecker looks like a beast out there this year. Dude is more cut, more tatted, more confident, and in better shape. Did I mention that I have Tyrannasorous Pex as a $10 keeper in my Western Conference Only High Stakes Keeper Auction Fantasy Basketball League this year? Hyped.
Derrick Williams. I am not going to be negative tonight. It’s just the preseason. Adlfkjasfdka;d. Moving on…
Brandon Roy, Kevin Love, and Lowtop Luke (I can’t believe a select few NBA players still wear low-top sneakers) all looked just fine. It is the preseason – there is really nothing more to add here.
Oh, I almost forgot this…Chase Budinger just casually threw down a between the legs dunk during warm-ups. I’ve never seen one of those in warm-ups before, ever. Much less from a white guy with blonde facial hair. Do your thing Chase. Speaking of skin tone, at one point in the 3rd quarter, a guy from Russia was our darkest player out there. Think about that for a minute. Unprecedented.
And finally, there was no SILENT ABABU sighting tonight. I will save my tears, as the mute one is clearly saving his energy and theatrics for the regular season, and I can wait. This is going to be a fun season, Wolves fans. Things are looking up.no comments