Timberwolves season review (part 1 of 2)

14 Apr

Hey, remember when this site used to feature fairly entertaining writing? Those were the days. I’m going to try to ease back into this regular blogging thing by doing some honest-to-god writing, but just so I don’t overdo things I will NOT be making it interesting. Instead, you’re going to get a boring review of another lost Wolves season. Baby steps, y’all. Let’s do this.

At the beginning of the season, I said two things in my preview podcast that are worth bringing up again:

1. I predicted the Wolves would win 33 games. Yes, 33. Not a typo. That remains one of the dumbest things I have ever said. I’m bringing that up now to point out that the man who made that claim is now about to talk at length about the Wolves. In other words, feel free to ignore me.

2. I mentioned that my two-year wish for the Wolves was this: Year 1, be entertaining, and Year 2, be competitive. Let’s look at the recently completed season and find out what went wrong, then look ahead to next season (provided it happens) in part two to find out if my wish is at all a reality.

On to part 1…

While the Wolves didn’t improve in the wins department, they did upgrade from last season in terms of competitiveness, entertainment and talent. Most fans seem to agree that the reason the improved competitiveness and talent didn’t lead to more victories is due to the coach. Agreed. Rambis is an absolute turd and my main wish is that he’s given a one-way ticket back to Cali before next season (more on this later).

First off, let’s look at how everyone performed. I’ve reviewed my three favorite statistics — 82games’ Simple Rating, PER and BR’s Win Shares/48 — placing the player’s rank in those three (respectively) in parentheses. Using those, I rank the current Wolves roster thusly:

UNTOUCHABLE

1. Kevin Love (1, 1, 1). Reliably, undeniably excellent. Seems pretty obvious that he could thrive when surrounded by high-usage, efficient scorers. That will probably never happen, and Love will ditch the Wolves the first second he’s able. But you knew that.

2. Anthony Randolph (3, 2, 5). Super-talented offensively. Tough to gauge his defensive chops; BR gives him a high rating but anecdotally he seems to be overmatched against beefier opponents (which is: most of them. Randolph is 6’10” and weighs in at just 39 pounds.)

Still, with his offensive skillz and young age, I consider Randolph as the only other untouchable player on the roster. (And yes, I realize “untouchable” is a bit much. But I think his value is much higher right now than we could net in a trade.)

COMPETENT

3. Anthony Tolliver (2, 5, 2). There is no simpler way to describe the awfulness that is the current Timberwolves roster than by pointing out that Tolliver was one of the two or three best players this season. Tolliver’s PER is a bit below league average, but he’s solid defensively and his +/- numbers were great all season long. My opinion is that he is such a perfect complement to Beasley’s game (Tolliver at the 3, Beas at the 4) that they need to be on the floor together at all times.

4. Luke Ridnour (4, 4, 3). I’m on the fourth player and already trending into “barely league average” territory. Gross. Ridnour was a serviceable point guard, but in no way should he be starting. You already knew that, too.

5. B-Easy (5, 3, 8). One of the five best players on the worst team in basketball. A mighty fall from grace for the kid, at least at this point. Everything about Beasley screams 6th man to me, at the power forward position (his stats are FAR better at the 4). Also something you are well aware of.

ROSTER FILLER

6. Wes Johnson (6, 13, 9) Johnson took the NBA by opposite-of-storm this season, mixing confused defensive play with a so-so offensive repertoire that resulted in him turning in one solid game a week along with three forgettable ones. But whatever, the team was terrible and Johnson is still kinda young, so he gets the “sixth best player” honors, which you will likely think is far too high until you see the steaming pile of garbage beyond him.

7. Martell Webster (10, 6, 4) I had relatively high expectations for Webster before the season, considering him a decent upgrade from Ryan Gomes. For the life of me, I have no idea why I thought that. Webster is what he is: an oft-injured, occasionally decent player. Probably the 8th or 9th guy off the bench of a playoff team.

8. Darko (9, 7, 13) For all the coverage Darko gets, he’s a pretty blah player. Never has a 7-foot behemoth been so invisible. Slightly below-average both offensively and defensively, Darko is, in total, a slightly below-average player. Probably always will be, and is an okay roster spot provided he’s not playing more than 20 minutes a night.

9. Nikola Pekovic (14, 8, 7) Pek was essentially awful as well, but I’m giving him a minor pass (similar to Johnson’s) because he was a rookie. I don’t expect him to light the world afire, but it’s not absolutely insane to think he may be serviceable in the future. I also don’t think it’s insane to wonder how many people he’s murdered with his bare hands in his lifetime. I’m going with six.

USELESS

10. Lazar Hayward (15, 9, 6) Despite a great name and a better PER than fellow rook Wes, Hayward was not good and seems to have a low ceiling. I’d like to see him on the roster next year but can’t envision a future in which he ever plays more than 15 minutes a night. Would love to be wrong.

11. Wayne Ellington (13, 15, 11). I really want to like Ellington. He hustles, he seems cool, he’s the only true 2 on the roster, his shoes are typically pretty dope … but the fact is he’s slow on defense and doesn’t do enough positive things to make up for it. I do enjoy his successful-once-per-month crossovers, however.

12. Jonny Flynn (16, 16, 16) Tough not to feel bad for the kid, but the fact remains he was one of the worst players in the NBA this season. On the plus side, at least the guy we passed in favor of Jonny Smiles – a kid by the name of Steph Curry – is amazing. And by “plus side” I mean somebody shoot me.

***

And that is where we’re at right now. In part two of the season review I’ll note my thoughts looking forward to next season (provided there is a next season).

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