Elephant first: That was some atrocious basketball. The less we say about the badness, the better. On the brighter side of life...
Take a look-see at the Wolves' BR page from earlier today:
They're respectable. As bad as the Cavs and Grizz losses were, the Wolves have been in 7 of 8 games, they carry a positive ortg/drtg differential, and they are in the "play-here/play-there" range of being a winning ball club.
They're also a single competent wing player away from being really interesting. The Wolves kirtan: Love and Rubio are great (Love and Rubio are great), Adelman is the business (Adelman is the business), they don't have a competent wing player (they don't have a competent wing player).
That's it. On days/nights when the duo gets help, they'll be great. On the others, not so much.
Today's other production came as an answer to a question that has been begging to be asked: What happens when you take the awful Michael Beasley minutes and replace them with Derrick Williams?
Against the Wizards, the answer to this question was: awesome things. Awesome things happen.
Basiically, if you gave all of Beasley's minutes to Williams, the Wolves could easily have won 4-5 games by now. No, I'm not joking. Beasley is truly earth-shatteringly bad. To put in perspective what a selfish chucker Beasley is, he ranks 8th among small forwards the NBA in FGA per 48 minutes (50 minutes minimum), but fifty-first in true shooting. No, not 51st in the NBA, 51st among small forwards. That means that essentially all of the starting SFs and two-thirds of the back-up SFs in the league are shooting better than he is, but he's shooting 22 shots per 48. And I don't keep stats for "contested 22-footers per 48" but having watched every Timberwolves game I'm going to guess he leads the league by a fat margin, ahead of even Kobe (I'm guessing that's the reason that he's 25th among small forwards at getting to the line, despite all those shots). Oh, yeah, and he turns the ball over a shitton. In short, Beasley is the very definition of a player that shoots you out of games. Every single time they choose to iso Beasley instead of just letting Ridnour or Rubio create off the dribble / pick-n-roll, a Timberwolf pup dies in the wild.
Williams is as turnover prone as Beasley, but I can chalk Williams' TOs up to rookie mistakes and a general rookie "over-eager" attitude, which he may learn from. Most of his TOs come from ill-advised passes. Beasley, however, is a third-year player; the vast majority of his turnovers come from him trying to "create a shot" (a phrase that I guarantee I'll be ranting about in a future article) and I don't expect him to change anytime soon.
Now imagine the syrupy goodness that would come out of exchanging Wes Johnson's terrible minutes for (insert any number of competent players here).
They're close. They're close. I'll say it again: they're close.
What really stuck out about this particular tilt was the sheer awfulness of the Wizards squad. There's no there there. Even with a mismanaged team like the Wolves you could point at them and say "hey, they have a rebounding freak who can shoot 3s and get to the line and they're waiting for a unicorn." What can you point at with the Wizards? John Wall doesn't know what to do in the 1/2 court offense, their bigs are uninterested in doing any kind of dirty work on defense or on the glass, their coach is terrible, and...well, what are they doing? That was some of the worst basketball I've seen over the past 3-5 years...and I've seen some teerrrrrrrrriiiibllllleee Wolves basketball. That was right up there with some of the 20+ point beat downs that polluted the Rambis era. That was in the stratosphere of the December of Witt.
The Wolves clowned the Wizards. They brought no look passes, silly head fakes, 3s from everywhere, and they even got the refs to call some ridiculous fouls against the home team. Ricky Rubio climbed all the way into John Wall's head, did a few laps, and then dropped another perfect one-handed pass to D-Thrill for a 3. You could almost see the thought bubble over Wall's head every time he looked at Ricky: "He's not supposed to be that good." Do we call it Pulling a Westbrook or Pulling a Wall? Whatever it is, we now have a few games where it is quite obvious that the opposing players are none too thrilled about the floppy-haired former teen sensation actually handing them their lunch. "He can't possibly...no way" is becoming the subtext for a lot of these tilts.
- Adelman basically went with an 8 man rotation on the first game of a back-to-back-to-back. The starting center in this rotation put up less than 20 minutes. This is a thin team to begin with. I'm not sure what we're going to see on Tuesday night but my guess is that it won't be pretty.
- 3s are awesome things.
- Jan Vesely was on the court for 9 minutes. He was -21. I'm convinced he was personally responsible for every positive thing to happen for the Wolves during those 9 minutes of court time. He might be the Wolves' MVP for the game.
- Wes Johnson shot his first free throws of the year. Hooray! Last year Wes had 3 six game stretches without a FTA. In this game, he got to the line by passing up a corner 3 and driving into traffic. Baby steps, I suppose.