Wolves at Pelicans
7:00 pm CST
The Wolves are back in the U.S. looking to end a three game losing streak tonight when they face an improved Pelicans team in New Orleans. The Pelicans are led by superstar Anthony Davis, who has taken his game to yet another level this year.
Because I'm here to make you feel worse:
In the immediate years following the Kevin Garnett (future owner!) trade, the question for the Wolves was whether they would get good again before teams like the Clippers, the Grizzlies, and the Sonics/Thunder.
The answer was a resounding no, as those teams engineered successful rebuilds and have been enjoying 50+ wins and playoff appearances for several years.
Then the question became whether the Wolves would get good again before the Kings and Pelicans post-Chris Paul. The answer once again appears to be no, as both of those teams are showing strong signs of life early this season while the Wolves continue to limp along, with only the Nuggets and Lakers below them in the Western Conference.
The Pelicans are off to a 4-3 start, and Anthony Davis is occupying a spot in the upper reaches of league superstardom. There is almost nothing he doesn't do at this point, as he's putting up 25 and 13 a night, along with 4.4 blocks and 2.3 steals in 37 minutes a game. He's everywhere, and he's dominating.
Omer Asik is proving to be a good front court partner for Davis, getting plenty of easy looks, rebounding, and providing strong interior defense which allows Davis freedom to roam around disrupting opposing offenses at will.
The Pelicans have been a better offensive team than defensive in the early going, driven by their league low turnover percentage and strong offensive rebounding. Those extra possessions have translated into points, and the Pels have the look of a team that is taking a large step forward this season.
Whether it's enough to make the playoffs in a stacked Western conference remains to be seen, as they don't have the depth or perimeter talent to match their front court, which also includes 3 point marksman Ryan Anderson coming off the bench.
Jrue Holiday has gotten off to a good start at point guard, but other than that, and a surprisingly vaguely average performance by Austin Rivers in the early going, their perimeter guys have struggled. Tyreke Evans is still getting paid too much for what he does, and Eric Gordon has been playing terrible basketball.
The Wolves are currently riding a three game losing streak that coincides with the ankle injury to Ricky Rubio. They clearly are not the same team without him, and are going to find it difficult to win games. Zach LaVine has taken over as the starting point guard, and while he's not been as bad as I expected, it's been a struggle. And not one that has been helped by Mo Williams horrible slump over the past few games.
Tonight, the Wolves will also be without Thad Young, who has left the team to be with family in the wake of his mother's passing. We wish the best for the family. No word yet on who will start in his place.
The Wolves desperately need their remaining veterans, particularly Kevin Martin and Nikola Pekovic, to step up, but as we've seen over the past couple of games, things aren't nearly as easy for them without Rubio.
This is the first game of a back to back, with the Mavericks in Dallas coming up tomorrow. Hopefully the Wolves can compete in both games.
Our blogging buddies for the day are over at The Bird Writes.
?Anthony Bennett? (I might try Dieng given the match up)
Game thread coming later.