Before I get into last night's game against the Thunder, let's quickly review something that appeared this weekend in the Strib:
"The problem with tonight's game at both ends of the floor is we don't have that trust factor," Wittman said. "It's not a matter of effort, not a matter of trying. We did a lot of good things tonight too. When we're trusting each other at both ends of the floor, we're pretty good and when we don't, we look really bad."
Now I don't know about you, but this is the earliest I've ever seen a coach run to a get-in-the-players'-mugs motivational tactic in the press. You really have to ask yourself what is more likely: That the Wolves lost because they didn't trust one another, or because Dallas is pretty damn good?
Randy Wittman does have one thing right. It's not a matter of effort with his squad. It wasn't last year either and that's the one thing he is to be commended on. However, when you look at his rotations and his team's lack of all-around improvement during the course of last season you...well, let's take a look at last night's game.
Last night the Thunder went on runs of 12-6, 12-2, and 13-0. The first run was brought about by a near whole-sale substitution of the 2nd unit near the end of the 1st quarter. The 2nd run was brought about after a near whole-scale substitution of the 1st unit in the middle of the 2nd quarter. The last run was a nasty little ditty that spanned the 3rd and 4th quarters where the 2nd units were matched against one another for the majority of the run.
If you were watching this game at home, there was one fairly obvious theme throughout: OKC's 2nd unit was murdering the Wolves' 2nd string. Have you ever seen a box score where a team's entire 1st unit had negative +/- while the 2nd string went nuts? It happened last night in OKC. The 2nd string troubles were noticeable from the get-go, yet if you look at PopcornMachine's GameFlows, you see the Wolves doing very little to adjust their match-ups against OKC's effective backups. Not until late in the 3rd do you see any movement beyond not leaving Craig Smith in the game with the starters during the 2nd quarter.
Anywho, beyond the questionable rotations, there were a few other points of interest in last night's game:
Randy Foye couldn't be having a worse start to the year. Jerry Zgoda has an article about Foye's troubles in the Strib this morning. While I don't think that his poor start is indicative of his overall talent or capabilities, I do think that he is not cut out as a lead guard in the NBA and if he continues to play as poorly or nearly as poorly as he is right now, the Wolves will be faced with both near and long term decisions with the guard from Villanova. Last night he was 0-10 with 5 turnovers and 2 points. Beyond the numbers, he did very little to get the offense into a flow.
Rashad McCants needs more than 6 shots a game.
- Rashad McCants needs more than 19:23 per game.
- No matter how fragile of a rookie you think he may be, Kevin Love needs to play more than 17:33 per game.
Sebastian Telfair cannot come back quickly enough.
- Through 3 games, Al Jefferson, Corey Brewer, Kevin Love, Rashad McCants, and Kevin Ollie are the only players with a positive net Off/Def rating.
- In PER, eff, and adj +/-, Al Jefferson and Kevin Love are the class of this squad. Yes, I know we're only 3 games into the season. Just saying.
- Through 3 games the Wolves have an OE of 97.6 and a DE of 101.6. These numbers are backwards of what you would hope for with the squad. Last year the club finished with a ORtg of 103.8 and a DRtg of 111.2. The offense really is going to need to show a lot more for this team to win more than 25 games.
- Looking at the team's Basketball Reference page, one is greeted by this: Wittman (1-2), Wittman (22-60), Wittman (12-30), Casey (20-20), Casey (33-49).
In the comments during last night's game thread I wrote that Randy Foye represents something of a fatal flaw to the prospects of this team going far. Not as an individual player who can contribute as a 6th man or 3rd guard, but as a starting point. We can get into this subject more on a later day but I'd also like to put forward that Randy Wittman's coaching is an equal impediment to the long-term success of this club. I wrote about both of these subjects last year. This isn't a knee-jerk reaction 3 games into the season. Here we have a player who is older and with less service time and skill than a teammate who plays the same position, and a coach who has a long track record of losing and less-than-desirable player development. I get that there is a Country Club at 600 First Avenue. I get that there is the whole Roy/Foye thing. However, at some point (preferably this year), you have to cut your losses and move forward with the nice pieces you have in place. With players like Jefferson, Love, Miller, McCants, and Brewer, you have the makings of a really nice club that could do some really nice things in 2-3 years.
While I've made no bones about it that I am very impressed with the direction this club is going since the KG trade, it still is clinging on to 2 relics of the past. Foye is, was, and never will be D-Wade, and Witt isn't half the coach as the man he replaced. This is the year to right these wrongs. Let's solve the Randy problem.