Game 3: Miami 103 MN 101
This was a heartbreaking game for Wolves fans to watch. I will not provide a game analysis as I will leave that to the experts (SnP, Oceanary, etc.). For those that read my previous posts my intention with these report cards is to provide a player based analysis for each game and to facilitate a debate. These grades, as pointed out by Tmiss in a previous thread, are entirely arbitrary. They are based largely on what my expectations for each player are, and are meant to be fun. With that said, let's begin.
Michael Beasley: 22 minutes, FGM-A 2-6, 3PM-A 0-0, FTM-A 0-0, Reb 3, Ast 1, Stl 1, Blk 0, TOs 2, PFs 4, -1, Pts 4
There is no way to sugarcoat it. Michael simply has not had a good game this season. And although we all know he is inconsistent, he has not revealed the "good Michael Beasley" thus far. Today he receives a D from me for numerous reasons. Initially, he didn't attack the basket aggressively as evidenced in his lack of free throw attempts. He had 4 PFs in only 22 minutes, and was a complete minus on offense. He avoided getting an F today because his defensive effort was vastly improved. Specifically, in the second quarter Michael made a concerted effort to deny Lebron from getting the basketball as he realized he simply couldn't guard Lebron once he had the ball. Unfortunately, by really no fault of Michael's, Lebron was simply amazing today with 34 points on 16-26 field goals and 2-4 free throws.
Kevin Love: 33 minutes, FGM 10-19, 3 PM-A 1-3, FTM-A 4-6, Reb 12, Ast 3, Stl 2, Blk 0, TOs 6, PFs 4, -10, Pts 25
Just watching the game I was convinced Kevin would earn himself an A grade today. However, two things with Kevin's game continue to bother me: his turnovers and free throw shooting (he is 18-24 on the year). On several occasions today Kevin made uncharacteristic, unforced errors that certainly contributed to our 2 point loss. With that said Kevin played with tremendous effort and played relatively well defensively (much improved compared to the first 2 games). As usual, he rebounded the ball extremely well. In addition, he shot the ball far better than he has the first 2 games. He is the heart and soul of this team, and there is no way we are in any game without him. Yet, he has not played a complete game (for his standards) to date.
Darko Milicic: 17 minutes, FGs 1-3, 3PM-A 0-0, FTM-A 1-2, Reb 6, Ast 1, Stl 1, Blk 2, TOs 1, PFs 2, -18, Pts 3
Darko had an excellent first quarter defensively. He played within himself and didn't hurt us offensively. This is the perfect equation for Darko as far as I'm concerned; play within the offense and play strong defensively. Unfortunately, even though I don't feel his play changed dramatically from the first to the third quarter, I can't shake the feeling that when he is on the court with Ridnour, Beasley and Johnson, this team has no way of winning. Ordinarily, I ignore game +/- values, but I feel they are very telling in this game (compare the +/- values for the starters relative to the bench players today). The bottom line is this season Darko has been a net positive on defense and a zero to a minor net negative on offense. He has played far better than expected in my opinion to date. Against certain teams (i.e.- Milwaukee, Orlando, etc.), he certainly should see the court, but against teams where we can go small and replace Darko with someone like AT or AR, we absolutely should because we will not lose very much defensively and we stand to gain considerably on the offensive end. The caveat to this is I very much want to see what Darko does offensively with Ricky on the court. Darko does have a reasonable basketball IQ and one can't help but wonder if Ricky could get him several easy offensive baskets.
Luke Ridnour: 17 minutes, FGM 2-6, 3PM 2-5, FTM-A 0-0, Reb 1, Ast 1, Stl 1, Blk 0, TOs 1, PFs 1, -11, Pts 6
There is a reason Luke had a +/- of -11 in this game. Again, I ordinarily do not place a lot of weight in game +/- values, but with Luke, as they were with Jonny, they are indicative of the fact that this team simply does not click with him on the floor. He continues to play poorly defensively as he was torched by Chalmers and Cole when he was in the game. Offensively, he is not playing within himself. Indeed, I could have sworn he had more than 1 turnover today. The only saving grace for Luke is he continues to be our most reliable outside shooter despite the fact he only shot 2-6 today. He did have 2 big 3 pointers, but he remains a net negative on offense to me based on the way the offense stagnates when he is playing. This is markedly magnified by what happens when Ricky is in the game.
Wesley Johnson: 17 minutes, FGM 2-6, 3PM 2-6, FTM-A 0-0, Reb 2, Ast 1, Stl 0, Blk 1, TOs 3, PFs 1, -11, Pts 6
I have tried to caution my fellow CHers to refrain from being too reactionary this season; to give players like Beasley, Randolph, Milicic, etc., time with RA before they completely discard them. Indeed, I find it somewhat funny that the same people that were clamoring for Randolph to be traded for absolutely anything were cheering excessively when he played well today. To this end, I have been equally guilty in this regard, but I have managed to convince myself to be patient this year because I am convinced that, if anyone can get anything from these guys it is RA and his staff. With that said I have tremendous difficulty not giving up on Wes. The reason for this is his inherent lack of talent. Unlike Michael and AR who are capable of creating their own shot and have numerous, readily identifiable, basketball abilities, Wes simply doesn't with the exception of what he can potentially do defensively. The only hope I have had in this regard was that Wes may be able to use his shooting ability to be a reasonable rotation player, particularly along side Rubio and Barea. Unfortunately, his shooting has been poor this year. In addition, his decision making on the offensive end is hurting us as he doesn't recognize his limitations. His aberrant passes and resultant turnovers are a direct manifestation of this. The only reason he didn't get an F from me today is because he did defend Dwayne Wade relatively well when he was in the game and he did have some nice passes. Outside of that I can't applaud Wes for anything he did today. I never thought Wes would play as well as a typical #4 draft pick (or at least what we expect of them), but I was hopeful he would be a starting player along the lines of an Afflalo or Battier in his prime. Like everyone else here I have resigned myself to the idea this will likely not happen. Indeed, whereas I think RA can get something out of Beasley and AR, I'm not sure what there is to get out of Wes. He seems like a nice guy and I would love for him to show us all up. Here's to hoping that he does. Unfortunately, there is a reason RA only played him 17 minutes today and he was -11 in that time.
Anthony Tolliver: 27 minutes, FG 3-8, 3PM 1-3, FT 3-5, Reb 7, Ast 1, Stl 0, Blk 0, TOs 2, PFs 3, +/- +1, Pts 10
Anthony continues to display the phenomenal effort that has made him a perennial fan favorite. The team was unquestionably better when he was on the floor tonight as he contributed defensively and was aggressive offensively. I love that he tried to dunk the ball several times and drew numerous fouls in doing so. Unfortunately, he did not have a perfect game which is why he gets a B. Specifically, he was 60% from the free throw line with his 2 misses coming in the last minute of the game. In addition, he had 2 turnovers which were completely unforced. Regardless, he played above expectations today.
Wayne Ellington: 31 minutes, FG 5-13, 3PM 1-6, FT 0-0, Reb 5, Ast 1, Stl 3, Blk 0, TOs 1, PFs 3, +9, Pts 11
The boxscore really belies how well Wayne played today. Along with Ricky he was instrumental in the Wolves coming back from 2 significant deficits in the second and third quarters. He played with excellent effort today and really did the best he could defensively despite the fact he has no chance to stay with Dwayne Wade for 31 minutes. In addition, he has a readily evident understanding of RA's offense as his spacing was good and he parked himself in great positions on the floor that enable Ricky to routinely find him. Unfortunately, despite being a "shooter", Wayne simply did not shoot well as he was 5-13 from the field. In fact, I am convinced that if Wayne shoots a bit better this game the Wolves win.
Anthony Randolph: 25 minutes, FG 6-9, 3PM 0-1, FT 2-2, Reb 3, Ast 0, Stl 1, Blk 1, TOs 2, PFs 3, +18, Pts 14
I felt Anthony was impressive today. He played within the offense today and played relatively good defense on Chris Bosh when he was in the game. He took reasonable shots aside from 1 long 2 point shot that I can recall off hand. I know that many people commented he was a black hole in the game thread. To some extent this is true as he took several shots without making a pass, but the shots he took were shots he should take. Several of them were post ups close to the basket. Others were alley oops (2) set up by Ricky. In fact, I was inclined to give AR an A or A-, but he didn't impact the game enough to warrant that.
Ricky Rubio: 31 minutes, FG 4-7, 3 PM 2-2, FT 2-3, Reb 6, Ast 12, Stl 1, Blk 0, TOs 5, PFs 1, +9, Pts 12
I was watching Inside the NBA yesterday, and Kenny Smith made a noteworthy statement. He said the best point guards in the league from his perspective weren't necessarily those with the highest point or assist totals, but those that could control the pace of the game. Ricky is tremendous in this regard, and will be one of the best point guards in the league in part due to this fact. He was a marvel to watch today as he completely altered the course of the game. Again, there is a reason the entire second unit had a positive +/- and the entire first unit had a negative +/-. The team just plays better when Ricky is in the game. The offense flows and the team plays with increased effort. I was extremely happy that Ricky didn't pass on open shots today as I think this is necessary for him to become an all-star player. He doesn't have to score 20 points a game, but he has to be able to keep the defense honest. Unfortunately, I couldn't give Ricky an A today due to his numerous turnovers. Indeed, there were at least 4 ill advised passes I can think of off hand that Ricky made today, and he will need to clean this up which I suspect he can. Regardless, he had an awesome game today. On a side note I will say there is something about Ricky's desire to win that is truly great. He has never experienced losing and he is a winner at heart. This is evident in the fact that everything he says in interviews is about winning. It is evident in the way he tries to take over games when he sees the team falling apart. He simply will not stand for all this losing. By the way I think it was amazing that Miami had to resort to double teaming him and/or putting Lebron on him in the fourth quarter. The kid has definitely arrived and the entire NBA will take note.
Derrick Williams: 21 minutes, FGs 4-6, 3PM 2-3, FTM 0-2, Reb 4, Ast 0, Stl 1, Blk 2, PF 0, +4, Pts 10
My biggest concerns with Derrick the first 2 games were his shooting and his inability to create his own shot as I thought these were supposed to be his biggest strengths. Today Derrick demonstrated his ability to shoot as he was 4-6 today with 2 3 pointers. He did have 1 drive to the hoop that I thought was reasonable, but I still have not seen a great deal of him creating his own shot. I suspect this will change as we are only 3 games into the season. Derrick still looks a little loss on defense, but he did have a steal and 2 blocks in 21 minutes. He simply does not get an A today because he did not have an A worthy impact on the game today.
Alright... those are the Wolves grades for today. What say you?