With a resounding win against the New Orleans Future Birds, your favorite Minnesota sports franchise now sits at 18-26 with 38 games left on the schedule. The last 10 Western Conference 8th seeds are as follows:
- 2011: Utah (.545)
- 2010: Memphis (.561)
- 2009: OKC (.610)
- 2008; Utah (.585)
- 2007: Denver (.610)
- 2006: Golden State (.512)
- 2005: Sacramento (.537)
- 2004: Memphis (.549)
- 2003: Denver (.524)
- 2002: Phoenix (.537)
That's a .557 average for the last 10 eight seeds. This year's current 8th seed is the Houston Rockets, who are playing .531 ball right now. This tells us that the Wolves probably need to make it to, at the very least, .531-.557 ball. In 82 game speak, this means they probably need to get to the 44-38 (.537) to 46-36 (.561) range if they want to make the playoffs.
What will it take for the Wolves to hit those marks? 26-12 and 28-10. That's .684 and .736 ball for those of you playing at home. In other words, in order for Our Beloved Puppies to likely make the 8th seed in the Western Conference, they need to play better than the Miami Heat for the remainder of the season.
Why bring this up after a fun win against a terribly disinterested Pelican squad? Because they are likely no longer playing for this season and I think it is important to keep that in mind going forward. If the team keeps Lou Amundson instead of Chris Johnson, it needs to be viewed in this context. If the team continues to hand out 35 mpg to Andrei Kirilenko, it needs to be viewed in this context. If the team refuses to hand out reasonable minutes to Derrick Williams, it needs to be viewed in this context. This is a lost season and they need to make the most of it for next year while still fielding an entertaining product. I think this is an achievable balance. Maybe Glen Taylor could really show the fans something by eating two contracts while fielding 10 day D-League auditions for the rest of the season.
Something, something, player development.
Ugh. I can't believe this year is happening. I don't want to write another draft board post.
As for last night's tilt:
We don't see too many .500+ nights from the floor from the Wolves, let alone .600+ eFG nights. Last night marked only the 6th time this season that the Wolves have shot better than .500 from the floor. They are 6-0 in those games.
In the first quarter of last night's game, the Wolves shot a TS% of .759. They also didn't tail off and let the Future Birds back in the game. This was mostly the result of Dante Cunningham being incapable of missing (a Wolves record 9-9 from the floor) from midrange, Ricky Rubio terrorizing the entire court, and Alexey Shved being a boss. Even Greg Stiemsma kicked in with some made jumpers and zero turnovers.
One thing that really stuck out for me all night was the team's commitment to defense. Rubio seemed to be in 10 passing lanes at the same time whenever he was on the court, Stiemsma was disrupting shots, Pek was clogging the lane, AK was being AK...it was nice to see after a terrible effort against the L**ers.
Another positive was seeing Rubio flash some last-year Rubio flair. Don't look now, but in his last 4 games since the hide-your-eyes shooting effort against the Wiz, Ricky is shooting .468 from the field with a .537 TS%, 26 assists, and only 8 turnovers. He's also shown renewed effort on getting the ball into the heart of opposing defenses, where he is able make plays like hitting a cutting AK (last night's last-second pass in the lane was a thing of beauty) or kicking it out to an open jump shooter. Last night, those open jump shooters were hitting their midrange jumpers. Someday, they will be Kevin Love and Chase Budinger from beyond the arc.
Well, that about does it. It was kind of fun to see just how bad Austin Rivers is up close, but beyond that, it looked more like the Future Birds had a long night and were more interested in making their way back down the river than they were playing a professional basketball game in the dead of winter. Hooray 82 game season!
I'm off to work on my draft post. Ugh. Maybe I'll go shovel the roof instead. That sounds like more fun.
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