Wolves/Kings Observations from Section 106, row T

S-n-P has his early game wrap up, and I'm sure there will be more to follow from the popcorn machine later. In the meantime, I'll interject with some thoughts from Target Center itself.

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Yep, went to the game tonight. Ate food, laughed at the gimmicks, and tried to avoid the super creeper sitting at the other end of our row. Oh ya, and there was a game going on the whole time....here's my thoughts on that.....

  • It's really hard to say who missed who more. On paper, obviously, one would say the Kings playing without Tyreke Evans is the biggest absence, but truth be told, I think we missed Webster and Flynn as much as they missed Evans and Dalembert.
  • Speaking of Flynn, if Rambis is going to let Telfair shoot this much, then Jonny can't return soon enough. I'm as reticent about his ball-dominant style as anyone, but his scoring ability is vastly superior to Bassy's. Telfair took a couple shots and made a few wild drives tonight that are way beyond him to finish on, but that Flynn would probably score on more often than not.
  • As for our other point guard....I don't know if he'll keep it up all season, but Ridnour was definitely last year Ridnour tonight, not career Ridnour.
  • Biggest observation tonight was, again, this team needs Darko. Without him, the offense gets chaotic too often and the defense suffers tremendously.
  • Wes Johnson and DeMarcus Cousins both looked like typical rookies, finishing with an even mix of awesome and awful. Wes missed a bunch of easy jumpers, but looked great attacking the rim with authority. Cousins got bothered by the physicality and mouthed off too much, but showed some tremendous footwork and a soft scoring touch as well. Neither showed the other up, by my eye.
  • Speaking of Cousins, it's clear he's not used to playing against guys who are as big and strong as he is, if not more. He got frustrated by both Darko's long arms and Pekovic's physicality tonight.
  • As for Wes, he did miss some wide open shots, but made up for it by going to the rim. He's clearly getting the "cutting" part of the Triangle. Considering his long shots will be falling as the year goes on, the fact that he's making the right cuts and scoring on them is fantastic news for both him and the team.
  • I don't know how many possessions the Wolves had tonight, but I counted over 30 of them that got set up in the default Triangle configuration...a number that's probably too low as it is, both because I wasn't looking for secondary setups, and because Darko played somewhat limited minutes. The team went with a much heavier pick-and-roll strategy when Pekovic and Koufos were in.
  • As for Darko, no he wasn't moving the ball well early on, but the reason he sat was foul trouble. 2 fouls in the first 6 minutes of the game.
  • Speaking of which, our centers combined for 5 fouls in the first quarter alone. This is why I worry about Koufos...I think the team needs to find a bigger, stronger, more savvy big man for that spot, because early foul trouble to Darko and Pek puts us at a huge disadvantage on both ends of the court.
  • I'm still not a big fan of Wayne Ellington in big doses. I think he has a set of things he does really well, and a set of things he doesn't, and that's not conducive to a starting role. He got eaten alive by Francisco Garcia's height and length in the first half, and forced way too many plays he's not capable of completing in the second. He seems to have earned Rambis' trust in the crunch, but really, it should be Johnson or Webster playing 30 minutes, not Ellington.
  • This team could really be a force on the offensive glass. Love, Beasley, and Johnson in particular all attack the offensive backboard like their lives depend on it.
  • Speaking of Wes

  • Beasley has a great ability to follow his own shot. Almost every shot he took, he was running to the offensive glass immediately after it left his hands.
  • Beasley also showed some real fire on the defensive glass too, which is great news for a team that needs everyone to rebound.
  • I'm not sure what to say about Love...his numbers look good, but he was pretty invisible most of the time he was on the floor. Not bad, just not making an impact. Should he have played in the fourth quarter? I'm not sure....yes, he's our most consistent and reliable player....but Anthony Tolliver was having a vastly superior night. I think both sides of this one have a legitimate argument.
  • Shotblockers make me happy. Darko + Tolliver = 8 blocks tonight. To me, that equals a world of defensive rotations that weren't happening last year.
  • One thing to note: Darko Milicic was the only starter to finish as a net positive in the +/- column. Ridnour was a flat 0, while Love, Beasley and Ellington all finished negative. Make no mistake that Darko controls the fortunes of this team as much as anyone, even if his box scores are minimalistic in comparison to Beasley's and Love's.
  • Also worth noting: the rookies topped all players in +/-. Cousins led everyone with a +18, while Wes finished second (leading the Wolves) with a +14.
  • I personally didn't have a huge issue with Rambis' rotations. Love and Johnson could have played more, and Ellington less, but neither was overly-egregious in my opinion. I think there are strong arguments as to why he did things the way he did.
  • It is interesting to note the various opinions among the Wolves' fanbase on this issue. Here at Canis Hoopus, we seem very positive about Beasley but very skeptical about Rambis. Over at A Wolf Among Wolves for example, it's the exact opposite. In the last Daily Dime I saw Zach Harper participate in, he expressed great faith in Rambis but no faith in Beasley. I think this is just the way things go when a team is as bad as we were last year.
  • I, for the record, have pretty good faith in them both.
  • The Wolves committed a ton of fouls tonight, but I'd say probably 10 of those were questionable at best. As whole, I much preferred this to last year's "get blown by on every other possession" look, and as the team gains more experience and develops chemistry, a lot of those fouls will turn into straight up stops.
  • Beasley made a strong effort to put the ball on the floor, attack the rim, and draw fouls. He needs to do this every night. He also jammed up Donte Greene pretty well defensively, although I'm still not convinced being a small forward is what's best for him.
  • I am wholeheartedly in agreement with S-n-P that the team needs to go to Beasley with the game on the line. He was the only player on either team tonight who was consistently creating good looks for himself.
  • Overall, I disagree with those who say this team lacks talent. BPA is a contentious issue, and there are valid points there, but this team is not lacking in talent. It just hasn't translated that talent into appreciable production....yet. There's no question in my mind that Beasley, Webster, Wes, and Love in particular will play with the best of them as they start to fulfill their potential. 

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