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
The annual tradition continues. Each year TWB participates in a league-wide blog preview purge creatively designed to boost blog traffic provide a daily/weekly dose of NBA for all 30 teams. These are the weekly links you have seen the past few weeks posted here. Today is the day we look at Alexey Shved and the Wolves.
CLICK "READ MORE" TO CONTINUE READING.
I wasn't able to catch the game Saturday night in which the Wolves improved their pre-season record to 2-1, by defeating the Chicago Bulls 82-75. Just looking at the boxscore quickly, a few things stick out:
- Holy crap Carlos Loozer sucks. On top of that, he plays below-average defense and is getting paid a bazillion dollars per year. It would be a real shame if the Bulls lost the infinitely better all-around player in Taj Gibson, because they couldn't move/trade/dump/amnesty Loozer.
- HOLY FREAKIN CRAP MARKO JARIC IS BAAAAACK!!! He only had two steals and two fouls in ten whopping minutes, but he's back in the NBA nonetheless. And the world is a better place.
- The Peksecutioner had 16 points and 17 boards! Wow. Epic huge STUD.
- Looks like Roy and SHVED also had pretty sweet boxscores, so that's nice to see.
- Hey Derrick Williams... what the hell happened? Following up your 25 point game by shooting an O-fer on eight shots? And only 2 points? That's discouraging.
- 69 total fouls in the game? How is that even possible?!? Good grief, talk about the refs screwing the pace of the game. That's a foul every 41 seconds of game time! Absurd.
But again, like I said I didn't see the game. However, long-time valued TWolves Blog forum member BonK DID indeed watch the game, and apparently quite closely. Hit up our TWB Forums to check out his post in the Official Wolves -vs- Bulls Game Thread, and/or all the other plethora of T-Wolves and NBA discussions that we've got going on every single day.
Here's what BonK had to say about the Wolves-Bulls game Saturday night:
I watched this game at high attention, after not seeing the squad for over 6 months. The refs really tried hard to make this game completely unenjoyable. And the boring Chicago announcers didn't help the cause either.
Big Pecker was easily the STUD of the game. Why did he play 39 minutes?! Why didn't Steamer play in the 2nd half? Why did Kobe have to hit that raw? Tyranasaurus Pex looked awesome though. He is like a 98% post pass catcher, while Darko was like a 50% post pass catcher. Once he gets the ball in the down low it's 2 points for the good guys. As automatic as you can get in the league.
Roy looked just fine. Showed some range and played smart. I was giddy seeing him in that Wolves uni on the court for the 1st time.
SHVED! Make it rain! Euroflair!
D.C. - Cunningham was nice. Total blue collar/dirty work/insert your favorite cliche here player. Every team needs a guy like that on their bench. DC > Lou.
Ricky smiling in a suit behind the bench.
MARKO! Classic Marko game. Did he even take a single shot? His 5:00 shadow wasn't as deep as usual. I was disappointed we didn't get a vintage 3 point attempt with a foot on the line from him.
Lou. He really shot 2 for 8?! Man, it felt like 2 for 13. He had my dad chanting "Bring back Darko!". Which reminds me, Darko & Wes were both in our starting lineup at this time last year. Now they wouldn't even crack our top 10. That's progress. Back to the point though: Lou has zero touch.
The Caged Lion. Way to follow up your 25 point performance. DWill looked like garbage out there. But I will say he did look a LOT slimmer.
Budinger - He played 36 minutes? Dude I barely noticed him out there. And we needed offense.
Taj Gibson - I love hard, physical play as much as anybody. But I thought he was taking some very unnessecary hacks at people for a preseason game.
K. Love as a no show because he slept with his elbow hanging off the bed. Not a good look. Way to show up for the fans. Diva.
The refs. NO FLOW to this game. That 2nd quarter was especially painful to watch.
JJ Barea. My scapegoat for the season. Will he make the 12 man roster once Rubio is back? Probably, but it's no guarantee. I can't wait until the first "Dress Malcolm Lee and sit JJ" debate that will occur on roughly January 5th.
Thanks for reading, and make sure to stop by again tomorrow to check out our T-Wolves 2012-13 Season Preview, as well as come discuss the Wolves vs. Haifa game tomorrow night!
Last night the Wolves decimated a depleted Indiana team in the fine town of Fargo, North Dakota, sparking irrational exuberance throughout the midwest. While other teams are travelling to Spain, China, Germany, Fiji and Bora Bora, leave it Stern and company to "wink-wink, nudge-nudge" at the Wolves and send them to sunny....Fargo.
As someone who caught the 1980's-esque camera feed supported by radio commentary (which featured a sponsorship from the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute...you can't make this stuff up), it was simply outstanding to catch some Wolves ball again. It was somewhat possible to make out the blurry figures of Roy, Kirilenko, Budinger, Shved and the other new faces all making positive contributions on their first official nights as Timberwolves players. All in all, the game was what you would expect: fairly ugly all around. The first few pre-season games typically feature several boneheaded plays as the team rehearses for the real deal. Not to worry. The polish will settle in as the month goes on. Unless JJ continues to start.
From a team standpoint, what stood out the most was the addition of a single attribute: ballhandling. This team is no longer a 1950's era, pass and catch and shoot team. There are ballhandlers throughout the guard and wing spots. Even Budinger (who looked quite good in general, might I add, even getting a 4 point play in the first half) showed he can put the ball on the floor. The Wes Johnson era is over (although he WOULD put up 18 points in his Sun's debut, in a loss of course). Roy, while maybe not as explosive as his former self, showed he still has the ability to score at the NBA level. While going scoreless, Shved already showed he may be a better decision maker at the point than JJ Barea. Stiemsma had a sick block. AK47 was active and annoying. Pek was mobile. Love was rusty. The Wolves won. Again, while it was the first pre-season game, it was great to see the squad. They will go at it again with Indy tomorrow night, playing a game at the International Falls, Minnesota VFW Post 2948.
Rather than go into specific player reviews, I'll post a solid, humorous review forum member DaddyFatSax posted in our forums last night. As always, feel free to join the discussion this season. Here are his thoughts:I missed the first couple minutes as I was playing basketball myself. The Daddy hit a game winning three, just wanted you all to know that. I will hoop Bonk if we're ever in the same state. I'm like 35 yr old Rasheed Wallace mixed with Eduardo Najera and Sam Mitchell. Minus any of the Mitchell hook shots. Plus the shittalking of Payton, Sheed, + KG in one.
I watched the first half intermittently and most of the second half (save the first 5 minutes of the 3rd quarter. I had an emergency after eating some greasy thai food earlier).
Barea is even pissed during preseason games.
Adelman still be rockin them turtle necks.
Shved officially looks like Vujabitch. This must change.
Roy Hibbert was either not trying or out of shape.
Kevin Love, Barea, and Pek - just feeling the team out. They seem like their usual selves. Love was going half speed (since he's out of shape) but fine, clearly...same as a month ago in the Olympics.
Barea picked up where he left off at the end of the season, playing unusually well...
Pek looks like a giant sized version of Maurice Jones Drew. He is definitely more cut than last year. Sometimes you see what you want to see but I don't think he looked like he was just lumbering down the lane, he was a bit more fluid, maybe.
AK looks the same as a month ago in the Olympics...Andre Iguodala-esque.
C-Bud looks like he's still in Houston. Very comfortable handling the rock, probably had the best game on the team, but against Indy's backups...so that's ok though.
Derrick Williams...yup. Same guy. So, I watched the Celtics preseason game and sure enough, just like he claimed to be doing in practice, Jeff Green slashed to the hoop like crazy, using preseason as practice for an expanded role and the heir apparent to Pierce. Derrick Williams claimed the same thing...and shot a bunch of jump shots. I think I saw him slash once. Why not practice this stuff? Ugh. Derrick Williams for Darrell Arthur, broken leg and all. I'm going to propose absurd, random proposals until he plays like an adult.
Shveddy looks like Vujabitch, plays more like Rubio. Passing was awesome, shot was fine. I think he even blocked two shots. I can't imagine what will happen when he plays a thick wing like Kobe, Iggy, or Corey Brewer...They are going to toss his little ass around. But between the players that this game mattered for - Shved, Williams, and Roy - He impressed the most. But he did help Paul George up off the floor. The Wolves are trying to start a rivalry with this team Shved. Stare his ass down! Step over him! Step ON him! Don't help him up! fyckin team full of nice guys. Bunch of guys Flash likes and shit the Daddy don't like.
Steimsma - throwing shots, hacking people, being mean.
Cunninghamd and Lou - can't finish Shveddy dimes. Pissing me off.
Roy..? I don't know. He looks healthy so far. Looks effective. Can he be a role player? Man, I have no idea how to read him...
Pretty much as expected. Easy to shine against Pacers scrubs. I think they'll play the starters and try on Friday. A better test.
Lastly, here is a link to some post game video interviews from Adelman, Love and Roy.no comments
The NBA season is near! Be sure to check out the below links which each preview an Atlantic Division team. TWB will post its contribution in mid-October.
New York Knicks: Posting and Toasting
Philadelphia 76ers: Liberty Ballers
Toronto Raptors: Raptors HQno comments
55 days without a notable Wolves transaction. The wait is over.
Chris Tomasson of FSN was seemingly the first to report. I'll spare the white jokes: Kahn has signed banger PF Lou Amundson to a 1-year, guaranteed, minimum salary deal. Amundson, 29, played with Indiana last year averaging 3.5 points and 3.7 boards in 60 games for the Pacers. Lou brings an interior toughness to the team. While he is not overly skilled, he fills the bench utility big role of Anthony Tolliver, an energy guy who will work his tail off and piss off the opposition. It remains to be seen how many minutes he will get playing behind D-Will and Cunningham off the bench, but Lou is a serviceable bench big and a safer pickup than Hassan Whiteside (although plenty of good arguments could be made as to why Hassan would have been the better signing). This leaves the Wolves' current roster at 14 players, leaving 1 more spot that may very likely go unused for now. It seems that, barring a trade, this is the roster you will see to start the season. Lou is a solid acquisition, but I am slightly surprised Kahn didn't go for a true center to help spell Pek and Stiemsma, two centers with feet about twice their respective ages. However, the 14th roster spot is nothing to lose sleep over. Lou is a good pickup at that price.
The writing is on the wall: Anthony Tolliver is a long shot to be back at this point given the dearth of Power Forwards on the roster. As much as we loved Tolly the person, his season last year was sub-par at best. Hopefully he gets the money he felt he deserved and a solid role elsewhere.no comments
After a crazy summer that turned our cute "puppies" into an instant playoff team, we decided to ask our TWB writers what they thought about the offseason.
1.) Is this the most anticipated season in Timberwolves history?
Mike Reynolds: I think at least in the last 8-9 years. The Cassel/Sprewell year takes the cake for most anticipated. A case could be made that last year was huge as well with Rubio and Adelman being signed and the lockout simply being over and saving Winter in Minnesota. It certainly is one of the most critical seasons in team history. I will give it a firm 2nd place, mainly because we aren't starting the year with Rubio at full health which is a huge drag. However, It is the first time since the mid-2000's we can, barring major injury, almost guarantee a winning season. A great feeling.
Jon Schweppe: Given the complete lack of anything resembling decent professional basketball in Minnesota for almost a decade (except the Lynx, of course), I'd have to say yes. We started to seem our team's transformation last season, before Ricky went down with his ACL injury, but I anticipate incredibly competitive basketball this year and quite a few sell-out crowds at the Target Center. Personally, I can't wait.
Erik Cox: 2nd only to the MV3 year. That was a more popular team in general, plus Ricky's injury and the goofy collection of white dudes will leave enthusiasm tempered until the team produces.
John Grooms: Most will point to the Sprewell/Casell/KG run as the season fans licked their chops over but I’ll go on a whim and say this year is the most anticipated. Similar to that season, there is an established franchise player finally receiving support from recognizable stars in the league. Kirilenko and Roy may not receive the same draw Sprewell and Casell offered, but I’d argue that they are joining more fan friendly players than existed in the 2003-04 roster. With Love, Rubio and Pekovic, this team has become a league pass favorite almost overnight and a team that spectators are begging to entertain them. Fans may not feel as much confidence heading into this season as they did eight years ago but I think more than ever there is a feeling this team will be both ‘fun’ and ‘good.’
College Wolf: Taking into consideration the entire overall pulse of the fanbase, I don't think you can say with complete certainty that this is THE most anticipated season in the short history of the franchise. I am sure that for some fans, yes, the will most definitely be their own personal 'most anticipated' season. But don't get me wrong, and I'm not trying to rain on anyone's parade, as this is certainly in the Top 5 as far as this subjective measurement metric goes.
The MV3 Western Conference Finals season was probably the most anticipated, and possibly the follow-up season as well. Granted, 04-05 was a total dud of a year, but the anticipation was massive coming off our near-Finals appearance. I don't think anyone can deny either of those seasons.
And then you have the initial season of the franchise back in '89. For a hoops fan in Minnesota, how could THAT not be one of the most anticipated? I mean, we were finally getting our very own NBA franchise! Heck, even last season (Rubio... finally, yay!) was pretty darn anticipated as well, especially considering the rising star that K-Love has become.
So while this season is very anticipated to most fans, I do think Rubio's injury does put a slight damper on things. As far as I can tell, he won't be back before December from what I've been reading.
Click "Read More" to check out the rest of the responses!no comments
Nearly everyone is looking at the Wolves to make a climb in rankings this season. With an offseason that brought Brandon Roy, Alexey Shved, Greg Stiemsma, Chase Budinger, Andrei Kirilenko and Dante Cunnigham, the expectations for this team will be higher than ever. While nearly every new player signed is a strong improvement from those who've departed, the team is still deficient in several areas, most notably defense.
Last year, the Wolves ranked 25th out of the NBA's 30 teams in Defensive Rating according to basketball-reference.com. Even with a rebounding monster in Kevin Love and the goliath of a man that is Nikolai Pekovic, the Wolves were barely able to hold their own against competition on the defensive end. With a revamped roster and a full training camp, it's worth asking if the Wolves will figure out how to better limit opponent's possesions and make the necessary improvements to propel them to league averages.
Before examining how the new roster additions will affect the Wolves' defenesive woes, let's evaluate who were the biggest contributors this past season. Not suprisingly, the stars of this team were those who provided the most value. Love secured the most defensive rebounds, Pekovic held the best blocking percentage and Rubio became one of the most lovable thiefs to ever grace this fine sport. Yet, none of these players proved themselves to be the complete package defensively. Even Love, the lone All-Star, is still to this day largely criticized for his defensive shortcomings. This season, it's likely the Wolves will rely more on the continued improvement of Pekovic and pray for greater contributions from players like Derrick Williams and Luke Ridnour.
Williams will surely be the prayer most in doubt. Depending on how you view the glass, you either believe Williams needs more time to reach his potential or his play thus far has already proved his ceiling. Although most will look to his offensive game to determine whether he's worth keeping, his defensive value should also be harshly judged. During the 2011-12 season, Williams averaged 3.5 defensive rebounds and finished second behind Love in defensive rebounding percentage. As he tries to shape himself into a small forward this season, it will be interesting to see how greatly these numbers change. It's likely Adelman will look for Williams to be more active on the boards and more importanly play his assignments with a greater focus and agressiveness. If he can be more locked in, Williams could provide the defensive boost that would lead to a better transition game for the Wolves bench unit.
Unlike Williams, Ridnour will not be expected to make any great leaps but instead produce minor advancements to become the defensive guard missing in this roster while Rubio is away. Lest we forget, Ridnour was perhaps the most stable presence on this team following Rubio's injury. He brought energy, desire and control each night as the Wolves' starting point guard- at least offensively. The team will look to Ridnour this year to strive for the tenacity Rubio brought each game. Ridnour's defensive win shares were equal to Pekovic's this past season, proving he was capable of stepping up defenesively when it mattered most; it will be even more important this season that Ridnour continues this trend. It's clear that management still holds Ridnour's professionalism and modest talent in high regards; with all hope he proves once again capable of leading this team during Rubio's absence, this time around with a defensive edge.
Fortunately, Ridnour will have more help than he did last season with newcomers clearly able to bring more dedication than many of his prior teammates. Kirilenko, Roy, Shved, Stiemsma, Budinger and Cunningham should all help get this team off to a better start and provide key support during late-game situations. Right off the bat, fans should notice holes being filled by the team's new talent. Specifically, shot-blocking, an almost non-existent feature of the team, will be aided by Kirilenko and Stiemsma's time on the floor. For two seasons in Utah, Kirilenko averaged 3 blocks per game (BPG) and last year Stiemsma averaged 1.5 BPG in just over 13 minutes per game. Both players will be able to prevent fellow small and power forwards from getting to the rim. Those that may have been invincible against the Wolves last season (Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, etc.) will have a much more difficult time finding open driving lanes.
Perimeter defense is another area requiring major adjustments. Ridnour can occasionally provide a spark for this team but otherwise the Wolves often find themselves turning heads as faster and more athletic guards blow by them. Unfortunately, the additions of Roy and Shved only resolve this issue to a minor degree. Shved showed in the Olympics that he often had trouble sticking to his man and failed to readjust through mismatches. Roy can similarly be quite passive on defense, a quality that may be even more emphasized due to his lingering injuries. With no cartilage in his knees, it's doubtful Roy will easily be able to get around screens or move laterally at all. Unless Shved turns into another player entirely, it's hard to believe either of these guys will be able to handle the speed and athleticism of their peers.
The best cure for this team's guards and overall defensive weaknesses will be Rick Adelman. His experience, extrordinary use of in-game lineups and unrivaled reputation for extracting players' strengths should all point to noticable progressions from the whole roster. Furthermore, a full training camp should be able to show Adelman's coaching staff who signals the most defensive promise. With practice time and strict direction, it's possible even poor defenders like Shved will ratchet up their play a notch or two.
With the evidence presented and predictions drawn, the fairest conclusion is the 2012-13 Wolves will improve defenesively but not dramatically so. There is so much room for this team to grow but their offensive strides are likely to be much more apparent early on than any defensive adjustments. With the excitement surrounding the Wolves offseason moves, it's easy to begin forming fantasies of what this team could be. However, while these Wolves could be a top 10 defensive team in this league, it's more probable they will fall somewhere in the middle of the pack. That kind of jump should not inspire disappointment but rather a more realistic goal to reach for.no comments
A look back at the Cherokee Parks era.
Update: this prompted a quick search for a Googs throwback mix. Enjoy.