With nothing else on TV tonight, I've ended up watching a fair amount of basketball on TNT. I see something on those teams that I want for the Wolves, and quite frankly I'm going to be a little upset if we don't go out and do something to try and get it.
With Kevin Love's hand currently balky as hell, this team has no go-to scorer. We have lost two games in a row now because we had no answer to Melo or Harden in the final 100 seconds of the game. The best we could offer was J.J. Barea, and honestly, kudos to JJ for understanding that and stepping up to take big shots. He's playing out of his mind and his role for us right now. You know why? Because our stars aren't.
I'm a big fan of the Wolves, and I've been posting here under various monikers since the Wolves teased us with a wonderful December and January years ago. I still remember listening to Glen Taylor on MPR (of all stations) talking about how Garnett had turned down a $106 million contract. I remember listening to Kevin Harlan back when he the Wolves' play by play guy. I dig this team, and have for a long time, long enough to recognize that Love and Rubio need to play like the stars they are.
Rubio has been terrible this year, outside of one great adrenalin filled game against Dallas. Watching CP3 tonight is an exercise in what Rubio should be doing - collapsing the paint, keeping the pace of the game off kilter for the team. Hell, even knocking down a jump shot or too. Now, I'm not knocking the kid's talent level. I'm just simply saying, "Ricky, this is the time. Whatever you are as a player, now is the time to show up. So please, show up."
Kevin Love. Stop taking threes. Just stop. You're not going to make them. Stick to scrumming under the basket and continue to draw fouls.
Sorry, I don't want this post to be a complaining post, but this is the truth of what I see on the court. AK has been great, but he excels when he can play on the periphery of the game and not in a starring role. Pek has his moments, but I'm not convinced that he's an anchor star in this league. When Love - our only 'go-to' scorer - is only hitting 25% of his threes, and attempting 7 per game, well we all know what that means to this team. Thank god for Alexey Shved, who should win this team's MVP award thus far into the season. Dude has produced what I thought he AND Roy together would produce. His defense has been needed, and his playmaking and direction vital to any success we've had. But he is not the answer either.
As I've watched Westbrook tonight, I've found that I've been reminiscing about Marbury and about what he and KG could've done. I'll get slaughtered for this, but this team desperately needs a Marbury right now. A guy who wants the last shot, who is cutthroat when they sense weakness in the defense. Someone who is at their best and in their element in the final minutes of a close game. Someone who, I really really really really hate to admit, can take over and get calls like Melo. Love has that ability, but he's broken right now, and we don't have the time to give up winnable games like the last two we've given up.
I'd love Andy V in a trade, but I'm not as convinced that he'd help as much as an assassin scorer from the wing. I have no idea who we could even target for this (Monta was the only guy I could think of), but we need help and we need help now.
Assets: Ridnour, Roy, Steemer, draft picks, Lou. Better players would be Derrick (who I'm a little ambivalent about trading, as I think he's playing himself into a necessary player on this team), Pek, Barea.
I guess ultimately it's frustrating to me to realize that this team is a 6th seed at best, and a one and done in the playoffs at best in the playoffs. They are so close to competing at the top levels, but they need a Rudy Gay, a Paul Pierce, a Durant or a Harden. A Wade or a Melo. They need the kind of guy that we've resisted building around all these years. Maybe a Granger would work. I don't know, I'd sooner trust all y'all's instincts over mine on this. Point is - without that scoring presence to close out games, this team is sunk. JJ can't do it all by himself. I knew we were going to lose against the Rockets when Love and Shved and Ricky were passing up shots to JJ to keep us in the game. When Dante is a scoring weapon with his long 2's. That is not sustainable, folks. That is not winning playoff basketball.
As I see it, you commit all out to a strategy, and I see two for this team.
1) get a scorer to close out games. We could have had two wins against NYK and HOU if we had even made one or two more buckets during the last 100 seconds. Think about that.
2) You go defensive and all team and target someone like Andy V. and whatever other smart, heady role players you can get (James Anderson?). This is the Spurs model. You trust Love will slowly return to form, and you try to keep coaching Shved and Ricky up and get them to make the plays that they need to pressure the other team into mistakes. You deal Pek if it lands you a difference making SG/SF.