Well, looks like we NBA fans get an extra Christmas present. The NBA is back and that makes me want to take an in depth look at the Wolves roster. I am very excited for this season. I believe last year we really saw some growth from certain players and with the new additions that we have, plus our new coach with his wonderful resume, the target center looks brighter than it has since the Big Ticket got a ticket to Boston.
I am a very optimistic Wolves fan, I'll admit it, but I do believe they have made some big strides. Athleticism and shooting has been vastly upgraded in the last couple of years and many players still have a lot of potential to get better. One thing that a lot of people say this team is lacking is a playmaking scorer that can occasionally put the team on his back and carry them through a tough spot or help them hold on to late leads. Similarly, a lot of people believe that the wolves are in dire need of help in post defense. I think that this team the way that it is built is a wonderful foundation for the construction of a perennial playoff team, one day capable of making a title run.
I am going to break this roster into four different groups. The Guards, The Wings, The Tweeners and The Posts. It seems to me that a lot of the time basketball fans get over focused on "position". In reality position in the game of basketball is all about "matchup". That's why I prefer the Guard, Wing, Post position notation than PG, SG, SF, PF,C.
Starter: Most likely at the beginning with wolves will run with lucky Luke Ridnour as a starter. This is not ideal, but ricky has spent a lot of time on the bench and I feel like Rick Adelman will take advantage of his experience. Ridnour is not spectacular in any way, but most of the time he gets the job done when he's on the hardwood.
Minute Eater: I will not be happy if Ricky Rubio doesn't at least end up splitting minutes with Ridnour. I cannot see Adelman letting Ricky sit on the bench too much and there's a significant possibility Ricky could even start the season on the court for the wolves first tip.
Contributer: Wayne Ellington continues to suggest that he deserves some minutes. The guys a good basketball player, but while he deserves to have a relatively significant role on this team, it will be tough to get him minutes.
Bench: Malcolm Lee. I don't know much about Mr. Lee but he seems like your stereotypical back up Guard. Anyone have more knowledge of Mr. Lee. He's a defender, right? I mean that could never hurt.
Starter: Most likely Wesley Johnson will get to non to start at what the NBA likes to call the SG position. Wesley showed glimpses of his potential as a game changing shut down defender last year. His shooting touch, size and strength have the potential to be able to really take advantage of mismatches with smaller guards. I believe that Wesley has the stuff to become a very consistent scorer in the league and be a shut down defender against Guards and Wings.
Contributer: Martel Webster, while he was hurt last year shows good athleticism, and at one point last year, in the preseason, looked like the wolves best player. There are times where he looks slow on the court, but his shooting touch and size can also cause problems. He also has been billed as a potential shut down defender, but I think in his case I can only see that happening against Wings.
Bench: Lazar Hayward is kind of a lost man in this rotation. I don't think he has much chance of getting minutes. He seems like an intriguing player though, and I hope eventually he gets his chance somewhere. I'm sure the folks in Milwaukee would like to see him again.
What is the status of Chandler Parsons? Yahoo sports has him on the Wolves roster. Can anyone confirm this? If so I think Parsons could be a potential Contributer with his size shooting touch, surprising ball handling ability, size, and willingness to pass.
Starter: I think that from this group, Michael Beasley has the best chance to start, because of his league experience. I think Beasley has to be one of the most intriguing players on this Wolves team. He certainly showed glimpses again last year as a prolific and clutch scorer. Defensively is where we all worry about Beasley. Can he stick with other teams Wing players?
Minute Eater: Derrick Williams needs to see minutes. Being the number two pick in the draft, he's going to get time. Again, he could certainly challenge for a starting job. The questions that come with Williams are the same that come with Beasley. Can Derrick Williams sick with Wing players on Defense? Offensively he should be great.
Contributer: Anthony Tolliver always seems to surprise. He's a capable defender and rebounder and a good outside shooter. But again, there aren't many minutes to go around.
Starters: Of course now there is the Star of the team, Kevin Love. He will start at Power Forward and I suspect he will also be seeing some minutes at Center. We all know what Kevin Love does and I can only see him getting better. Apparently he has lost weight this offseason which should help his mobility. Hopefully this didn't effect his strength.
I would expect Darko to continue to start as well. He seems to have improved gradually in just about every facet of the game. Specifically he showed his shot blocking ability and began to get more aggressive taking the ball directly to the rim and throwing it down, instead of taking so many left handed hook shots. (The don't count for four points Darko)
Minute Eater: Okay, Maybe he's not a minute "eater" as much as someone I really want to see on the floor, but Anthony Randolph has so much potential it's kind of crazy. Randolph showed his skills at the end of the year last year when Love was hurt. The guy can score and honestly could turn in to a three position defender guarding big Wings, and Posts.
Contributers: Brad Miller was brought in for a purpose. It fact, multiple. Brad Miller is familiar with Rick Adelman. Miller is a great passer in the post and seems like a pretty good mentor for Darko. Darko needs more intensity, and Brad Miller has never had a shortage of that. He's also a good shooter. Who knows? We might see Brad Miller starting instead of Darko? Is that crazy? It would kind of be the same idea as starting Ridnour.
Then there's Nikola Pekovic, capable, but like some others on this roster, is fighting for only so many minutes.
It seems to me that this is a roster that Rick Adelman can work with. The wolves have really put together a line up filled with potential, athleticism and shooting touch. Seems to me that this team is built perfectly for Ricky Rubio's skill set.
Looking at the roster there are a lot of good players. Rotation should look something like this:
PG: Ridnour, Rubio, Ellington/Lee
SG: Johnson, Webster, Ellington/Lee/Ridnour
SF: Beasley, Williams, Johnson, Webster/Parsons/Randolph/Tolliver/Hayward
PF: Love, Williams, Randolph, Beasley, Tolliver/Milicic
C: Milicic/Miller, Love, Pekovic, Randolph, Tolliver
Some of these line ups look promising. Certainly this will be a competent offensive team and possibly on occasion a fantastic offensive team. I mean Ridnour, Ellington, Johnson, Webster, Beasley, Williams, Tolliver and Love are all very solid outside shooters. Randolph and Miller even add Mid-range game. Think about what can happen if Rubio can find a way to penetrate, or if Darko can become even the slightest bit of a threat in the Post. This could leave so many good shooters open for outside shots. Both Miller and Milicic are known for being great passers, and so many of our guys are strong finishers at the rim (Johnson, Webster, Williams, Randolph, Beasley).
This team is built in an intriguing way. I think it will certainly be fun to watch. Of course the defense is still kind of worry some, but I don't see anyone really running these Wolves out of the building. Think of a K-Love outlet pass to Ricky with any of the others running up the court with him. Now that sounds like easy buckets.
Quick side note ...
At Drew Gooden Charity game James Harden was reportedly caught mouthing "Trade me and Ibaka for K-Love" to Ricky Rubio. What are your thoughts on this possibilty? Intriguing at least?
I don't think I'm advocating for it, just hoping to start a discussion. Think of post Defense. Ibaka the shot Blocka would be an interesting up grade to K-Love continuous boxing out routine (which is all good when the opposing team is shooting a jump shot, but not when there going up for a lay up or a dunk). And Beard is a very solid all around shooting gaurd with freakish-style athleticism.