The Timberwolves have been the Frankestein project of the NBA, a team built by a crazy mind with a foolish plan. They drafted as many PGs as possible, still passed on Curry because of Flynn´s awesomeness, kept Luke "I´m better than Steve Blake because I have a mid range jumper" Ridnour, and when Ricky Rubio finally came after 2 years of waiting for him, they signed José "Just In Case Rubio Is A Bust" Barea in free agency, so they could have two point guards on court at the same time and, once the opposing team had adjusted, use the three point guard line-up. No joke. At this point you may think that the Wolves haven´t used a four PGs line-up because they run out of PGs. Well, that´s right, although not probably the main reason.



More after the jump.

Fact is Wolves GM´s obssession for PGs is only matched by his own love for PFs. And that love became flesh. Anyone would have thought the Wolves should be satisfied with one Love. But Kahn is himself and not anyone else. Therefore, the Wolves went for Anthony "Sad Face" Randolph, Anthony "The Blazers Didn´t Want Me For Free" Tolliver and Michael "Bugs Bunny´s Sleeping Eyes" Beasly,in addition to drafting Derrick "The Caged Lion" Williams and spending a first round 4th pick in Wesley ""Johnson, who played PF in college, but Wolves fans will tell you that he´s playing at SF and, moreover, that he actually deserves to be sent to play in Poland, with all due respect and no mercy for that country.

Because this monster still needed a center of gravity,Kahn threw a contract at the statue of Darko Milicic, signed the injured shadow of Brad Miller and asked if there was anything else left in the Balkans, where fe found Nikola "Knight and Skulls" Pekovic, just because he had a nice tatoo. Rubio has come as the spring for Pekovic, so he is now blossoming, instead of being the bear bust many thought.

Monsters don´t need wings. But just in order to fill its 15 men roster spots the Wolves gave contracts to Wayne Ellington, Martell Webster and Malcom Lee. Lee is the one who has helped his team the most, having been injured all season long. No joke.

In his last Igor impersonation, Kahn put Kurt Rambis multi-microfractured brain at the head of the monster. The monster, who should have scared the heck out of the league, was instead making them laugh. He scared Minnesota fans though, so it worked somehow from the comedy-thriller entertainment industry standpoint.

Even the longest night will have an end. At the end of 2011 ACB Playoffs Ricky Rubio anounced he was taking his flair to the mountains and valleys of Minnesota, the Wolves fired Rambis and offered the coaching job to Rick Adelman, who politely said "No thanks, but I will help you to find a coach, haha". But somehow Adelman changed his mind and accepted the job.

And here is where jokes have come to an end. In the words of Miami forward Chris Bosh: "They’re a tough bunch. You get the feeling they’re going to be turning the corner. They’re really close; they just have to keep working. They have the talent. You never know—they might be a few players away from getting over the hump."


They are now at 17/17, coming out of the break with four road games on the West Coast in five days, the fourth against the Blazers, and they will play 13 of their next 18 games on the road. The next two weeks, including a likely trade before the trade dead line, will decide this Wolves season fate. The Blazers, playing two games against them in this stretch, should put distance between the Wolves and the Blazers 8th playoff spot. The Blazers are the veteran team in this contest.

THE OFFENSE: The best analysis I have seen about the Wolves offensive systems is analyzed in a post titled "the Minnesota Timberwolves Princeton Offense". Worth a look.

The best analysis about offensive production player by player can be found in this chart:


(via this Cannis Hopus post, where you can find thye full explanation)

The Wolves offense run through their three PGs. Rubio plays through pick & rolls, trying to move the defense, feeding the bigs inside if possible, especially Pekovic, finding the player spotting up in the corner or on the wing, or shooting himself when left open. The flow is usually good when he is running the show. Ridnour runs around the perimeter, trying to move the defense, usually without success, so he has to look for his own shot. He is a good mid range shooter, so that´s his best option. Barea tries to beat his man off the dribble with his quickness and toughness, so he can get to the rim. He is good at attacking the rim in traffic. The three PGs are good open three point shooters. In some games the Wolves have played a unique three point guard set using Barea, Ricky Rubio and Luke Ridnour on the floor along with center Nikola Pekovic and forward Kevin Love. Conventional wisdom suggests that in a game built for height and reach, playing three point guards simultaneously—generally the smallest of all positions—would yield unfavorable results for a team. But the the trio of point guards are opening up scoring opportunities offensively with their ability to use pick and rolls, find open shooters and take their own shots when available. It´s also about not having a much better choice in their roster. The Wolves management and coaches should be desperate, their fans already are, about getting better wing players.

The Wolves are much better when they avoid isolation because they don't have a pure scorer who can perform well on the perimeter and create his own shot, so they try to move the defense using their PGs to read what they can get from there. Beasly could have been that player, but he hasn´t played much and only got hot in a game against Houston.

The Wolves have one of the worst field-goal percentage of any of the top-15 scoring teams. This tells us that the Wolves don't get enough easy shots. Instead they rely on their superior rebounding to either get better opportunities or to go to the free-throw line, which they rank high in attempts. Pek and Love are extremely good offensive rebounders and good free-throw shooters.

The Wolves offense gets seriously bothered by teams with height and length.

THE DEFENSE: They aren't a team of individual stoppers. Instead, coach Rick Adelman has preached good fundamentals and rotations to contest shots and then he encourages the team to crash the boards and secure the missed shots.The Wolves have serious holes in their defense, but Adelman has made a good work of hiding them, and even exploiting them. The main holes in the starting unit are Love and Ridnour. Ridnour because he is too small and weak to defend SGs. Love because he rests a litle bit in defense and gives space to his man. Pekovic is not a great defender either, but he is strong and huge. The best improvement has come with Rubio, who is not only a better on man defender than expected, but also very good at disrupting the opposing game offense and a very good defensive rebounder. The most used words on Rubio by commentators during Wolves games broadcastings have been "He is everywhere". Wesley Johnson is very long and athletic, a little bit passive, kind of an American Nic Batum but without his offense, but he can get beaten off the dribble. They play zone for stretches, especially in the second half, and you have to prove you can score consistently on that defense before they go back to man on man. Wolves PGs are very good playing the pop and flop, and the refs buy it. So lovely hobbits, everyone who hits them looks like a troll.




In offense:

1.- Do not attack close to Ricky Rubio. Keep him far from the ball, take him to the perimeter and make him pay with a three if he leaves his man. Exception: if he tries to defend Batum, Nic could get him in foul trouble, which would make the game a lot easier.

2.- If LaMarcus is hot from mid range feed him again and again.

3.- If Ridnour is defending Batum the Blazers should give the ball to Nic. The mismatch should not led to play that only in isolation. Keep using screens, so Ridnour has not his feet set when Batum goes for the basket against him.

4.- The Wolves bigs are strong but slow. If the Blazers attack the paint on the move, you can make them foul you.

In defense: Without some jump-shooters to stretch the defense, the Wolves will run into a lot of problems against superior defensive squads. The Blazers should win this batle.

1.- Put Batum on Rubio. On a single mission. When in doubt, you better let him shoot, just not wide open threes with his feet perfectly set.

2.- Camby on Pek. Don´t let them feed Pekovic close to the basket. Nikola Pekovic is a banger, who makes his living in the paint.

3.- Protect your paint from their offensive rebounders. They believe your paint is Poland and they are the Wehrmatch.

4.- Keep a hand close to Ridnour´s face. He has a quick release.

5.- Follow Love wherever he goes. Deny him the ball as much as possible. He is their better player and their better shooter.

6.- Have a plan for Barea. I can´t help too much here. I have seen teams who defend the pick & roll almost to perfection, with their helps showing and recovering in a perfect timely manner. That could help.

7.- Wesley Johnson´s defender should help everywhere. The Blazers want the ball in Jonhson´s hands as much as possible.

8.- Beasly has been riding the pine more often than not. Derrick Williams, the second pick in the draft, has also played sporadically. Don´t be too worried but do not let them get hot, especially in Beasly´s case.

Finally, The Wolves start games slow, so they are usually down in the first half. But they never seem to give up. If the Blazers get relaxed, the Wolves will make a come back in the second half and steal the game. They are much better than the Blazers at winning close games. I bet Nate is not going to rest his starters at the end of the game. Easy to predict anyway.

Foot notes:

1.- I want to give credit to Wolves fans at Cannis Hopus for providing the material for most of this post, and thank them for having made the time I´ve spent there a good one.

2.- This is the reason why Derrick Williams is called "The Caged Lion". And if you like great stories about caged lions... here and here.

3.- Someone at Cannis Hopus called Love "The Kung Fu Panda". I think that´s perfect.

4.- Another one wrote: "Pekovic is a walking paradox". I like this one too.

5.- Wolves fans call their players the Puppies. Another funny one.



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