So I thought I'd do some immediate post-season player grades. These grades incorporate my expectations coming into the season, but are not forward looking (So please consider that before killing me for the grades of the young guys); they just take into account what I think the players deserve for this season's performance. We'll have more in-depth breakdowns coming in the future, but here's a quick look:
Andrew Wiggins: Grade: B+
The Good: Wiggins was an iron man, playing and starting all 82 games and almost 3000 minutes. He's going to win the Rookie of the Year Award almost certainly. Showed impressive scoring ability, especially getting to the basket, and increased his free throw attempts throughout. Ended with scoring and minutes played numbers that stack up with some of the best teenage rookies in league history.
The Bad: Defense wasn't quite as advertised (though rookies almost always struggle at that end), and had trouble filling the box score outside of scoring. Really struggled to rebound the ball, a team-wide sore point all season. Was outrebounded on the defensive end (via dreb%) by point guards Ricky Rubio, Zach LaVine, and Lorenzo Brown, as well as Kevin Martin (and Troy Daniels!). Didn't do much creating for others, and needs to improve ball handling (though this showed more promise than I expected). Had a negative assist to turnover ratio.
Gorgui Dieng: Grade: C
The Good: Played 2200 minutes and would have made it all season but for a stray elbow from teammate Adreian Payne. Still appeared in 73 games, making 49 starts in place of putative starter Nikola Pekovic. Shot a relatively efficient 50.6% from the field and 78% from the line. Had a decent 4.5% block percentage, and an assist percentage over 10%. Was once again strong on the offensive glass.
The Bad: Despite being the team's only legit big for long stretches the team was still barely better defensively with him on the court than off, and were actually a worse defensive rebounding team with him on the court, which is hard to believe. The combination of low usage (15%) and high turnovers (16.9%) is not a good one for efficiency. Failed to make significant strides defensively after his rookie year, which is the real disappointment, as he was drafted to hopefully be a defensive help in the middle.
Zach LaVine: Grade: C-
The Good: Was available throughout the season and played 1900 minutes, mostly as a point guard. This was way more than was expected, and he survived it. Showed off his athleticism in transition fairly regularly, and showed some ability as a catch-and-shoot player (41% on catch-and-shoot threes). Was able to stay in front of his man fairly well on isolation defensive situations.
The Bad: Realistically, the combination of playing time and quality means LaVine probably did more to negatively affect his team's chance of winning than any other player in the league. Is. Not. A. Point. Guard. Was completely unable to initiate an offense, was in love at times with poor off the dribble jumpers. Went through periods of excessive turnovers and had a particular ability to look bad doing it. Defensively, utterly unable to deal with ball screens, and was in the wrong place regularly.
Thaddeus Young: Grade: C
The Good: Was one of the few resident professionals who stayed healthy. The team was better at almost everything with him on the court compared to off, particularly at the defensive end, where despite his limitations, he was able to rotate appropriately and guard the perimeter. Got better as the season went along as he recovered emotionally from the death of his mother early in the season.
The Bad: Had one of his worst shooting seasons of his career, from all areas. Was even weaker on the defensive glass than expected. Once the rest of the veteran starters went down, was unable to stem the tide.
Chase Budinger: Grade: C+
The Good: Was actually 5th in minutes played. Stayed (or got) healthy all season. Was at his best with more playing time late in the season as apparently some of his physical abilities returned after a couple of injury years. In almost exactly the same number of minutes pre- and post-All star, was much better in the 2nd half in all categories. Was only -4/100 possessions after break for a team that went 5-23.
The Bad: Even on the Wolves, he stuck out as unplayable in the first half of the season. Made constant physical and mental mistakes, couldn't guard, couldn't shoot, couldn't do anything. Still had his defensive struggles in the 2nd half of the season (nobody but Ricky gets a good defensive grade on this squad).
Kevin Martin Grade: C-
The Good: The best scorer on the team, when available he did what he does: make threes, get to the free throw line, and put points on the board. Won them a game with a broken wrist with 37 against the Knicks early in the year.
The Bad: These grades, agree or not, incorporate availability, and Martin played in under half the team's games this season. His defense was bad as usual, but that's expected and doesn't affect his grade too much.
Mo Williams: Grade: C
The Good: Scored 51 in a crazy win in Indiana. That was awesome. Played heavy minutes when available with at least a vague sense of professionalism. Had a 38% assist percentage despite appearing to shoot every time he touched the ball.
The Bad: Wasn't very good overall. Mediocre shooting and abysmal defense in a role far too big for him. Broke down multiple times under heavy minutes load. Still, more or less managed to stay available until his trade to the Hornets.
Anthony Bennett: Grade: D
The Good: Showed small improvements from rookie year. Was able to hold his own on the defensive glass.
The Bad: Failed to earn consistent playing time even on this team because of his generally poor play and tendency to drift in and out of the action. Frustrated everyone, including Flip, who limited his minutes. In love with the jump shot, rarely aggressive going to the basket, and lost defensively most of the time. Got hurt at exactly the wrong time, when he was about to enter into a playing time "battle" with Adreian Payne.
Shabazz Muhammad Grade: B+
The Good: Exploded as a scorer in the first half of the season prior to getting injured. Excelled in the post and on the offensive glass, and made 39% from three (on a limited sample). Amazingly aggressive looking for his offense; was someone opponents had to figure out how to deal with. Looked like he could be an effective 6th man-scorer, which I admit is more than I ever expected from him.
The Bad: Still a mess defensively, which caused Flip to limit his minutes at times. Led the league in points per touch, which is sort of a good thing, but also evidence that he almost never passes the ball. Sometimes seems stylistically suited to the power forward spot, but isn't big enough to play there. Injured after the All-Star break when he could have used the time to consolidate his gains.
Nikola Pekovic: Grade: D-
The Good: Only saved from an "F" by the fact that the team was better on both ends with him on the court.
The Bad: Could only appear in 31 games and 800 minutes due to ankle problems, which finally led to surgery and a dubious future. Was not nearly his old self when he was out there, posting career lows in shooting percentage, EFG%, and TS% by large margins. By far his worst campaign since his rookie year, leaves the Wolves in a tough spot due to his contract.
Robbie Hummel: Grade: B
The Good: Not too much to add after Joseph's fantastic Hummel article the other day. Nice job on the defensive glass, improved his shooting efficiency stats this year. Looks like a pro. Continues to carve out a niche for himself in the best league in the world.
The Bad: Physical limitations effect him, especially on the defensive end where his smarts only take him so far. Struggled from 3 this year.
Adreian Payne: Grade: D-
The Good: Uh...sort of the anti-Bennett in that you always...notice him on the court. Physically aggressive.
The Bad: The worst per-minute player on the team, which is saying something. Only saved from an "F" because I don't want to give out an "F" to a rookie, even one who is 24 years old. Appears to have no idea what he's doing on the court, often clumsy, poor decision maker.
Ricky Rubio: Grade: C
The Good: Clearly the one difference maker the team had. Able to make this look like a functional NBA team. Ran things with his usual aplomb, was by far the best defensive player. Team was close to even with opponents when he was on the court.
The Bad: 22 games. The ankle injury lasted all season, and completely derailed the squad. Also disappointingly failed to show improved shooting.
Corey Brewer: Grade: C
The Good: Occupied multiple roles throughout his half-season in Minnesota, including point guard at certain times, and kept his smile. More or less did his Brewing as we've come to expect prior to his trade to Houston. Was on pace for career high ast% with the Wolves.
The Bad: Struggled with his shot even more than usual; was much better with the Rockets (which might say more about the relative quality of the two teams than anything). Was turning it over at a career high rate while here, likely due to his role.
Lorenzo Brown: Grade: B-
The Good: Was a functional point guard most of the time, which is impressive for a guy up from the D-League. Saved the Wolves with a 48 minute performance against the Cavs soon after his call up. Did what was asked of him, showed that he can function in the NBA. Team was significantly better on offense with him in the game (might have to do with LaVine getting his run at the off-guard in these situations).
The Bad: Struggled with his shot most of the time, though was still significantly better than in his short stint with the 76ers last year. Team was worse defensively with him on the court despite the appearance of some competent play at that end. Is probably a marginal backup point guard; would feel more comfortable with him as 3rd PG.
Justin Hamilton: Grade; B-
The Good: After bouncing around the league, showed some real offensive flair when he arrived in Minnesota. Able to score around the basket and from the perimeter with a nice touch and creativity to his offensive game. Had the highest efg% on this list.
The Bad: Everything else. A poor rebounder who particularly hurt the team on the defensive glass. Made the occasional smart defensive play but was over-matched at that end. Team was significantly worse with him on the floor, though the fact that he only was around for the disastrous end of the season is part of the reason for that.
Those are the 16 guys who played 400+ minutes for the Wolves this season. What ya got?