The tragedy of Rubio and Juliet. I guess we'll consider Juliet the Minnesota Timberwolves. The bane of Juliet's existence was her lover Romeo. Once Romeo was dead, Juliet killed herself out of pure agony. The T-Wolves are now bereft of not only Rubio but also their energy, synergy, and motivation. Then again, why should we continue to expect our depleted roster to play like a playoff team. Sometimes reality can hit hard. The bubble of excitement brought by Rubio was popped and thus the cold truth was revealed: this team is not very good.
Before I talk more about the Timberwolves, I wanted to state just how much this specific team, despite its recent tailspin, has meant to me. Basketball was the first sport I ever watched. The bait that reeled me in was the 2009 NBA Playoffs and the Orlando Magic's magical run to the finals. I was living in Minnesota at the time but I adopted the Magic as my favorite team. Seeing as how horrific the Timberwolves were at the time, as a new and ignorant fan, they weren't very appealing. I really loved the Orlando Magic and my interest in basketball started to make me enjoy watching any basketball game.
In 2010 I moved to Wisconsin and still remained a Magic fan. However, the supposed incompetence of David Kahn and the terrible roster intrigued me. In 2011, despite still being a die hard Magic fan, I started visiting this blog. I didn't really have any emotional connection with the T-Wolves. I just really enjoyed Tim's facetious game previews. It was then that I slowly started liking the Timberwolves more and more. My fandom was also helped my the arrival of the magical Unicorn. When I found out Rubio was coming to el Estados Unidos I immediately started to pay attention to the box scores. After every Timberwolves game, I would look on Youtube for Ricky Rubio highlights. I started making it a priority to watch T-Wolve games. While this was happening, the Magic had turned into a circus. This fact certainly expedited my transfer of primary fandom from the Magic to the Timberwolves. I just loved watching this team. Thanks to Rubio and this website, I started to follow an extremely entertaining team.
*ironically, the only Timberwolves game I had been to while in Minnesota was also against the Suns
Onto the Grades!
Kevin Love - B - 25/13/2, 39 minutes, 7-19 shooting, 4 TOs
At this point, Love has nothing to play for. When he fouled Robin Lopez intentionally near the end of the game, he, like many fans watching the game, wanted out. We should honestly start worrying about Love's future with the team because the end of this season seems to have really worn him down and irritated him. Despite an off shooting night, the best power forward in the game still finished with 25 points and 13 boards. One thing I noticed during the game were that Love is an underrated passer. He found Barea for an open three and really did a good job with his outlet passes. One thing I would like to see from Love is to stop forcing shots from the high post. While his pull up from there looks great when it's falling, when it's not there isn't much else Love can do from that part of the floor.
Martell Webster - F - 7 rebounds and 27 minutes too many
The Timberwolves better not keep Martell around for next season. He is a tremendous athlete but just doesn't bring much to the table. He cannot make spot up jumpers and is timid and idle on the offensive end. While his defense is supposed to be his calling card, Webster got abused by Shannon Brown early and often. If Martell has any redeeming quality then it is his stelar rebounding position wise. Unfortunately, on a team with Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic, above average rebounding from the 2 and 3 is a superfluous skill. I also noticed visible frustration between Webster and Love after Webster fumbled a handoff from Love. Losing really brings these little schisms to the light.
Wesley Johnson - D+ - 9/2/1, 4-8 shooting, 1 block, 3 TOs
Johnson actually shot the ball well today and looked confident pulling up for jumpers. He is just a very limited player. He never moves much on offense which is odd considering that his great athleticism would help him cutting to the basket. At worst he could give us what Corey Brewer gives the Nuggets or Jared Dudley gives the Suns. Despite barely putting the ball on the floor, Wesley committed 3 turnovers. An example of this ineptitude was when he dribbled off of his foot in the first quarter while trying to score on a fast break.
Anthony Tolliver - MIA
Adlemen's rotations really confuse me at times.
J.J. Barea - B- - 16/3/5, 7-17 shooting, 32 minutes
Barea really has an affinity for shooting the basketball. His misadventures to the rim can end with the spectacular finish or an epic fail. I just wish that he would drive with a purpose. Another reason why we miss Ricky and Luke: Barea always misses Love rolling to the basket during pick and rolls.
Michael Beasley - B - 12/2/3, 5-14 shooting, 29 minutes
I was extremely impressed with Beasley's passing today. I can't believe he only had two assists. He created for everyone on the team off dribble penetration and swung the ball across the court. I also can't believe he missed so many shots. He really seemed to play within the flow of the offense. On defense Beasley spent too much time watching the ball. He played good iso defense but got beat on cuts by Josh Childress and Markeif Morris.
Wayne Ellington - MIA
What happened? See Tolliver, Anthony.
Nikola Pekovic - C+ - 11/0/2, 3-6 shooting, 30 minutes
Pekovic is developing into a fine center and might even be a top five center in the league right now. He needs to learn the rules of the game. I saw him set a lot of moving screens that weren't called. Along with that, he had another 3 second violation and a travel. Also 2 rebounds is rather underwhelming. I would also like to see him improve his hands as he struggles to corral some passes. On the bright side, Pek showed nice touch on his free throws and had some adroit post moves. This wasn't his best game but Pekovic still altered the Sun's game plan with his sheer mass and I remember Alvin Gentry saying that Pekovic was the guy the Suns needed to focus on.
Derrick Williams - F - Does it even matter?
Apparently Rubio was feeling homesick so Williams tried to make him feel better with some matador defense. He lost Markeif Morris on cuts repeatedly. While Beasley at least played solid isolation defense, Williams could not even do that. He at least hit his free throws today. Along those same lines, Williams seems to shy away from contact when driving. Could he maybe be afraid of shooting and subsequently missing free throws?
Anthony Randolph - :(
Malcolm Lee - C - 5/5/2, 1-4 shooting, 23 minutes
Lee has some potential and really has some decent athleticism. He is still very raw and trying to learn the game. At times he tries too hard to emulate Rubio and Ridnour and tries too hard to make plays. On one possesion he threw the ball of an opponent's foot twice. He could really use an off season working with coaches on his dribbling and passing.
Other Observations -
- Sebastian Telfair was great today and was probably a little lucky too
- Robin Lopez is just a horrible basketball player
- Markeif Morris reminds me of a lesser version of Chris Webber
- Michael Redd is definitely back
- Adlemen is trying hard to get Wes going early by running him off screen and curls. This would be awesome if he could shoot.
- Adlemen's rotations are more volatile than the weather this year
- Grant Hill has a future career is broadcasting
- Adlemen's offense is beautiful when run well. The off the ball movement can actually be exciting for some basketball nerds. The problem is that the offense needs shooters to function. Yet another reason Luke's health is imperative to our success.