David Kahn wrote another letter. This time from his seat on the plane to Memphis. The shorter version goes like this: We have lost a large number of games, we need to try hard, and more changes are on the way. One item in particular caught my attention:
We are 1-9, having lost nine in a row. Our record was to be expected – but it will not be accepted.
Big difference, I think.
That's not the difference Mr. Kahn needs to be worried about. Last year the team started out 2-9 over its first 11 games. This year they are 1-10 and a miracle 4th quarter comeback against the league's only winless team away from being 0-11. They have lost their last 6 games by an average of just over 20 ppg. They have tied team records for most points given up in a game and largest margin of defeat. They have toyed with putting up a franchise low in field goal percentage. During the game against Dallas, the first 8 Wolves on the court were two Dallas big man cast-offs (Ryan Hollins and Nathan Jawai), Ryan Gomes, Corey Brewer, Jonny Flynn, Brian Cardinal, Sasha Pavlovic, and Oleksiy Pecherov.
Put yourselves in the shoes of a casual sports fans. What do you know about the Wolves? They traded two starters (who are having good years with their new team) for a player who is still over in Europe and putting up modest numbers in very limited minutes. They sent two more rotation players to the Clippers for a player who never showed up and who was moved to Miami for a contract of a player that used to be here and who no one really liked. Here's his jersey:
It really rolls off the tongue, doesn't it?
Meanwhile, back in casual fan land the Wolves are 10 games into a new season where their shiny new point guard doesn't really seem to be able to distribute the rock and a point guard taken 4 picks after him just went off for 55 and is the early-season leader for the (Brandon) ROY award (to say nothing of the PG they drafted at 18 and traded away). The buzz from the local media is that the team's offensive system and its personnel don't exactly fit, and that the reason for this may have something to do with David Kahn's decision to wait for hiring a coach until well after the draft. The team's offense has fallen off a cliff and their defense isn't anything to write home about.
I'm going to watch these games no matter what. The league already has my money for League Pass and I've bought a Wolves hat and a warm up jacket for myself, and some shirts for my daughters. If I've rode out the storm for this long, I'm the type of fan that is going to know about, and stick around for, a cache of draft picks and cap space...no matter how small amount of faith I have at the people making draft day decisions or how little I believe in the chance of this team landing a top-flight free agent. This team needs to hit the jackpot in the draft and I'm hopeful that the Rubio thing will work out and that they will...well, 1-10 isn't always a bad thing for those of us sticking around for a while. Although, getting back to the casual fan, "Bring on John Wall!" isn't exactly something the team can actively promote during the season.
With Al Jefferson somewhere in the neighborhood of 75% and Kevin Love on the DL, this team is much, much worse than it was last year. Its top draft choice is in Europe and it is getting blown out on a nightly basis. The difference Mr. Kahn needs to worry about is the one that exists in the minds of the casual Minnesota sports fan; the one that views the current product as little more than a glorified D-League team that is worse off than last year's 24-win squad. You can bet your britches that some local columnist is already hard at work on the column that draws a line between the former D-League owner and his current team.
Anywho, there was a game last night.
- The Memphis feed on League Pass was the single most amateur TV production I have ever seen in professional sports. Aside from the fact that there was no scoreboard or clock on the screen, the Memphis TV crew kept cutting away to replays of the action directly in the middle of Timberwolves possessions. Guys would literally be driving to the hoop and the broadcast would cut away to a reply of Marc Gasol grabbing a rebound over Ryan Gomes. The sound was atrocious, the video sometimes didn't match up with what the announcers were talking about, the camera would zoom in and out during breaks, and did I mention the replays during the action? Simply awful. Here is an artist's rendering of their lead producer:
- The Wolves shot 9 free throws against the Griz. Non-Ramon Sessions Wolves took only 3 free throws. If you are a poor shooting team that doesn't move the ball well, free throws are your only friend. This team absolutely will not win without getting to the line. It doesn't have the shooters or the wing players to make that sort of thing happen.
- After starting the game 5-7, Corey Brewer spent the last 3 quarters going 2-12 from the field.
- Funniest story of the game: Somewhere in the 3rd quarter Nate Jawai went for a rebound and placed his forearm on the back of Marc Gasol. The European center promptly did what you expected him to do: act like he was shot with a high-powered rifle. Gasol drew the call but later fouled out when Ryan Gomes gave him the Connecticut version of the Euro Dive by overreacting to Gasol touching him in the back. Gasol had the last laugh. 8-8 from the floor, 16 rebounds and a victory will do that for you.
- Memphis apparently did not get a copy of the Wolves/GSW game tape. It took them the better part of 3 quarters before realizing that between O.J. Mayo, Rudy Gay, Sam Young, DeMarre Caroll, and Mike Conley they had more wing players than Corey Brewer could guard at once and that they could give the Wolves fits in transition. Perhaps Memphis' junior high TV crew is also responsible for gathering game film.
- Jonny Flynn had a 1:2 a/to ratio last night. It doesn't even begin to explain how poorly he facilitated the offense. Too often he catches the ball and just sits there out on the perimeter when he should catch and shoot or immediately drive before his defender can set his feet. Gone is the guy we saw controling the dribble in the lane during Summer League. Flipping over to the Bucks game and Brandon Jennings, we saw a player who controlled the dribble on nearly every possession. Granted, Jennings plays in a different offense but Flynn has the tools to control the dribble deep into the lane and to get to where he wants to go with the ball. Standing out on the perimeter is not an option for a player with his skill set.
- Kevin Love needs to come back, rebound the ball, and get to the line. He's not going to turn around the team but he will make things much, much better. Ryan Hollins and Nate Jawai are not cutting it.
OK, that about does it.