Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
The Minnesota Timberwolves are running their starters into the ground for early season wins.
There's really not much else Rick Adelman can do.
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Well, I suppose he could hand out a few more minutes to Williams (who has been playing better of late and is, amazingly, the team's best 3 point shooter at .378), but on a night when Ricky Rubio wasn't available, when Brandon Roy announced yet another setback, and when Bud and Lee were still on the outs, there's really not much else to do than to hand out huge chunks of minutes to the starters in a fast paced game. Fun to watch? Definitely. Ominous signs for potential playoff success? Even more so. Consider Alexey Shved.
In 2011/12 Shved played 21 games for CSKA Moscow. He averaged 21.6 mpg in those contests. The year before he played 7 times with 12.3 minutes per tilt. This year he has already played 27 games with 27.9 mpg. He also played in the Olympics over the summer.
Andrei Kirilenko is averaging 35.1 mpg. This is his 3rd highest career total and it places him right alongside the minutes he was playing as a 22, 23, and 24 year old in Utah. Last year he played 17 games for CSKA Moscow where he averaged 29.9 mpg.
Getting to the playoffs is great. Watching winning basketball is awesome. Seeing these guys play together is amazing. It's going to come at a price in 2013 and they should be doing something about it. Post haste. Either start handing out 25-30 mpg to Williams or get rid of him for someone who can spell Shved, AK, or Luke. There's not much that can be done, but it still can be done. At some point, Adelman has to be responsible for what these huge minutes will mean later in the season. Injuries or not.
Anywho, last night's game was probably a little more entertaining (read: close) than it needed to be:
Turnovers continue to be one of the three things that are holding this team back from top-tier excellence. The second thing (shooting) was thankfully not a factor last night, as the team got sporting efforts from AK (10-13), Pek (13-20), Shved (3-6 on a night where he knew his offense wasn't its best so he turned into a facilitator), and D-Will (3-6 in a short stint). The third thing..well, we've already talked about injuries.
- Shved's assist to Pek in the 2nd half was the best Rubio play of the year. It was a perfectly placed pass that opened up a lane to the basket that nobody else in the building was able to see. It got a "oooh" from the group of us watching from home.
- In the 2nd quarter Kevin Love subbed in for the exhausted Alexey Shved. This moved Derrick Williams over to the 2, where he matched up with Jared Dudley. The 2. Again, the ways in which this team has been ravaged by injuries borders on the comical. Also, I'm just about to be sympathetic for Williams' lack of playing time. Don't look now but Williams has a .100 wp48, is shooting the best percentage from beyond the arc on the entire team, and has now added the 2 to his repertoire (%). Seriously, though. Trade the guy or give him more minutes so AK and Shved don't fall over in March (or earlier).
- Kevin Love is now below a .100 wp48 (.092). His Points Over Par/48 is now in the negatives (-0.2) and....boy, knuckle push ups is a tough one to swallow, as his decline can almost entirely be tied to a drop in shooting: FT: 68.8%, down from 82.4%; 3P%: 22.5%, down from 37.2%; 2P%: 41.5%, down from 47.5%. His TS% is a full 10.7 points lower than last year's effort (46.1%, down from 56.8%). Ooof. Greatness needs to surround himself with some higher shooting percentages, especially since knee injuries have changed the shape of the rotations and...oi, knuckle push ups. Onward and upward, I suppose.
- Wes Johnson, DNP-CD. Wes has played in 12 games this year. He has 3 FTA on the season with 9 total rebounds. David Kahn is still employed.