Everything on the table

Ladies and Gentlemen, your 2011/12 Minnesota Timberwolves!

Folks, tonight's game couldn't have been a better example of what makes and breaks Our Beloved Puppies. First and foremost, it has been almost 2 1/2 years since Ricky Rubio's name was called out on draft night. It was pretty cool to finally see him in uniform and it was even cooler to see him perform just like we thought he would: amazing court vision, peerless passing, tremendous ball security, and risk-taking defense. He is everything we'd thought he'd be and that's something to be excited about.

Second, how fantastic is it to see what a real coach can do with young NBA talent? After watching 2 years of the Zen Apprentice's Broken Biangle it was nothing short of breathtaking to see the Wolves run sensible rotations and to stick with guys who were actually producing. Rick Adelman's first three subs as the head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves were JJ Barea, Anthony Tolliver, and Ricky Rubio. In other words, in less than 12 minutes of regular season action, Rick Adelman established himself as the best coach in franchise history simply for the fact that he is willing to play his best players in his best lineups. And yeah, I'm looking at you too, Flip. (Remember Fred > Wally.)

Third, when was the last time you saw a Minny coach argue with the refs on behalf of his players? It certainly wasn't last season when Michael Beasley was mugged by Andrew Bynum. Maybe it happened in practice. Other things observed on the bench: actual coaching in between plays. Imagine that! What a concept! Maybe Kurt Rambis can report on this amazing fact during his next segment on Sports Center.

Fourth, this team lacks a competent 2 guard and this stupid fact will plague the team all season long. For a team like the Wolves, a guy like Aaron Afflalo is worth about $20 million/year. Wes Johnson is a train wreck. A few Wes-related points:

  • New site rules: If anyone is going to talk about how Ricky Rubio cannot shoot, they first need to talk about how the #4 pick with the "sweet stroke" can't hit the broad side of a barn.
  • How is it possible that a NBA 2 guard cannot shoot a jumper off a simple curl? This should be the most basic of 2-guard tasks: Run your man off a screen, catch the perfectly placed pass from the Spanish Cash Cow, and hoist up a shot. Wes Johnson can't do this. Wes Johnson can barely dribble between his legs.
  • If there was a single player that was given an extraordinary amount of rope by coach Adelman during tonight's tilt, it was Johnson. I suspect this is because Adelman knows what he has in Wayne Ellington and he isn't ready to hand over starting minutes to Malcolm Lee. That being said, my bet is that Johnson gets another 2 weeks of rope before Adelman realizes he has to try something different.
  • Note to future NBA journeymen: If you can't dribble or shoot, make sure you grab more than 1 rebound and amass more than 0 blocks and steals.
The elephant in the room tonight is the Wolves' 3-point shooting. They went 3-22 from beyond the arc. Do not fret about this number. It should be an anomaly. It should be an outlier. The Wolves are still an island of misfit toys and a large part of their success will be built beyond the arc, at the line, and...well, that's it. Tonight OBPs couldn't hit the broad side of a 3 point barn. This will change. You should be more worried about only 26 FTAs. This should also change. However, in the grand scheme of things, tonight's silver lining is that the Wolves barely lost a game where they shot 16% from 3. That's not going to happen all that often.

Another elephant: we are looking at a 7-8 man rotation in about a month. Love, Rubio, Tolliver, Barea, and eventually Williams are going to be the only players that can be trusted on a night-to-night basis. Everybody else is up in the air. This team still has a talent shortage and it needs another perimeter player (cough..at the 2...cough) to be truly serious.

All in all, the Wolves displayed their strengths and weaknesses. Adelman can coach, Rubio is great, they need good 3 point shooting, they need a 2 guard, and they have a short rotation. That's about it. We expected it, we got it.

Random thoughts:
  • Does Adelman like Beasley or does he simply have no other realistic options at the 3?
  • How much does Syracuse basketball suck?
  • Only 12 turnovers. This is good.
  • Has everyone seen Super 8? I just saw it over the weekend. Worst. Movie. Ever. Someone needs to explain "momentum" and "physics" to the director.
  • My favorite moment of the night was when Kendrick Perkins tried to give Darko the business on a run up the court and was planted flat on his back. Darko played well tonight and he almost dunked a ball. If he could only play mean...and forget that he used to be a perimeter-based 7 footer....then we'd be a-ok. That being said, he floored the hell out of Perk and it was nice to see.
  • Russell Westbrook is apparently still mad OKC might have at one point considered drafting Ricky Rubio.
Well folks, that about does it. I'm pretty sure I have a few more thoughts but....well, don't ever let your dog get a hold of sugar-free gum. I'm writing this one from the parking lot of the Bloomington Vets Hospital. Earlier today our family dog ate 2 bins of sugar free Mentos gum on an empty stomach. Seizures and craziness followed. Say a (insert your holy charm here) for Winston. He is a good dog. He is a loyal dog. He is a stupid dog who eats every and anything. He has to make it. 35 year olds shouldn't cry or feel this attached to non-humans.

Go Wolves. Go Winston.

Until later.
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