From the bone chilling cold of a Minneapolis Winter day to the heat of a Mexico City arena fire, the 2013 Timberwolves have experienced extremes with relation to temperature. But not only have they experienced this in a physical sense. Truth is, this years Twolves team is a "fire and ice" team. An exaggeration of inconsistency such that "hot and cold" simply doesn't cut it. So far it seems that wolves explosive offense has either shown up, or, well ... not.
We the fans have witnessed quarters of hot shooting, displays of expert ball movement, stretches of aggressive scoring in transition, and even tenacious defensive intensity. Yet at other moments there has been "absolute zero-esque" defensive rotation, miscommunication, disjointed rotations, out of sync play, awful shot selection, and the stubborn attempt to draw fouls that simply are not getting called.
To say this team is simply inconsistent would be an understatement. The difference between a forty-seven point first quarter and a forty-two point first half is pretty startling. Especially when both games came on the road against teams with star shooting guards out with injuries. How many teams have had such polarizing performances only a few days apart?
I've got to admit, it's wonderful to watch a Minnesota team that seems poised to catch fire offensively and any moment. But I've been surprised to see just how cold this team can get. Much has been said about the bad shot selection of J.J. Barea, Ricky Rubio and Corey Brewer, but much of the teams inconsistency can be placed equally on the shoulders of Kevin Love, Kevin Martin, and Nikola Pekovic. All of these players bring it every night. It seems however that their possible efficiency seems so varied. Clearly, Kevin Love and Kevin Martin find ways to put the ball in the bucket, but so many games they do so shooting a unsettlingly low percentage. Pekovic and Brewer have had games where seemingly nothing falls. And then games were everything they results in points on the board.
This would make some sense:
Kidding, of course. But the teams baffling play is nearly as rediculous as Mexican arena fires and perfessional snow basketball.
In many ways, winning in the NBA is like being sucessful at just about anything. But in the NBA, when a franchise like the wolves has been loosing for so long, they demand no respect from the league. When young NBA players join the organization, most of them haven't been accustomed to loosing. Think about it. Players like Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio, Nikola Pekovic, the ghost of Derrick Williams, and Alexey Shved have all grown accustomed to winning at the various other levels of play. Some Wolves have even experienced it at the NBA level: J.J. Barea, Corey Brewer, Ronnie Turiaf, and Kevin Martin have all been on teams that contended or won championships. Nonetheless, loosing is hard to take. "Here we go again" has become an every game fear.
It's frustrating that this talented team has been so inconsistent and started nine and nine, because I sincerely believe they are better than that. Injuries to some key role players have placed some guys on the roster into roles where their productivity drops. Barea and Brewer for instance both can provide energy and can be fire starters, but it seems they are currently being asked to do more than what they do best. Both players rely on 110% effort and hustle. I think playing extended minutes limits there effectiveness.
At the same time though, it's important for wolves fans to think about this: last year, when the wolves were 12-12 we were elated. Now, at 9-9, isn't it a good thing that we are disappointed?
True, this year's wolves are fire and ice. They've been inconsistent to say the least. I think it's part of the learning curve of an NBA franchise on the rise. The fact that this roster did score 47 points in a first quarter makes this a thrilling team to watch. With Chase Budinger and Ronnie Turiaf poised to return by, or soon after, Christmas, roster roles should balance.
Post within a post:
What is the Wolves plan with Shabazz Mohamed and Alexey Shved? Neither are playing, at all. I guess it's not surprising that a heady player like Robbie Hummel would beat out Shabazz, but the play of Shved has been the most consistently "icy" part of the wolves season. He's shown none of the promise of last year. idea: why not put Shved out there running the point next time Ricky Rubio gets into early foul trouble. Let him run some pick and rolls with Pek and Kevin with some combination of Martin, Brewer, or Hummel out there to shoot (after all that seems to be the only thing that Alexey Shved seems to be able to do even decently at the NBA level). It's starting to be a proven fact that the Barea/Shved backcourt is broken this year. Rubio/Shved is simmilar. Shved has not shown more than the slightest hint that he can be a competent NBA wing player. He's simply out of position, and out of sync, if he isn't on the ball. I am of the opinion that when a player is in a position where they are bound to struggle, they are simply learning how to lose.
While the wolves may hover around 500 for a while, with health, with players playing their proper roles, and with growing chemistry, I believe the wolves will right the ship!
Let's catch fire! (just not our arena ... okay?)
Nice post. Yeah, it was been a tough look this year. Expectations are much elevated. The West is just absurd. Ridiculous.
The Wolves have really only been capable of winning games by having one of their crazy 1st quarters. Unless they have a major lead going into a 4th quarter, where they are near last in shooting, the game becomes much more difficult. For whatever reason they can't seem to score the ball in the halfcourt well at all. Plus the bench. Etc. Etc.
This is a really good article, thanks Mike and welcome aboard! Good to see you here on TWB and hope to read more of your stuff. I liked the theme a lot, and it really fits in with our team!