Spend more time with family. Lose weight. Read more. Get more sleep. Learn something new. Get organized. These are just a few of the many popular New Year’s resolutions that people tend to make every year around this time. “Next year is going to be different. New year = new me.”
Our friends over at Wikipedia tell us that a New Year’s resolution is simply when “a person promises to do an act of self-improvement or something slightly nice beginning on New Year’s day.” Similar to the promise and hope that a new year brings, the Wolves enter 2017 with a plethora of young talent, financial flexibility, and front office stability -- three things the team did NOT possess just a few short years ago.
With that said, the Wolves also enter the new year with many of the same issues that have carried over year after year after year: a sub-.500 record, lack of consistent production from bench players, and the inability to close out opponents in “clutch time” situations (during the 4th quarter or overtime, with less than five minutes remaining, and neither team is ahead by more than five points).
Your bottom five teams in clutch time net rating. pic.twitter.com/iQnIOf7Thh— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) December 28, 2016
Similar to the Wolves, many of the teams on that list also possess young, promising core players that are struggling to walk the tightrope between player development and team success. With that in mind, let’s apply some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions to the Wolves for 2017 that will (hopefully) make the team more successful, the on-court product more enjoyable, and the fanbase more encouraged and optimistic.
2017 Wolves New Year’s Resolutions:
Learn something new
More specifically, properly (and consistently) ICE a pick and roll. The Wolves defensive issues under Thibs have been discussed ad nauseum in 2016, but the lack of improvement (thus far) in overall defense bears repeating: the Tom Thibodeau defense is currently not working. The Wolves have the (athletic) students, the (successful) teacher, and the (proven) curriculum to turn this thing around and properly defend the most basic (and most used) play in all of basketball. In 2017, it’s vital that all three of these things mesh together more cohesively if the Wolves are to take the next expected “step” in the process.
This one hurts to write. I have been a devoted Nikola Pekovic fan since he arrived on the scene back in 2010. The bruiser from Montenegro had the strength of a grizzly bear, the footwork of a ballerina, and the scowl of a Bond-villian. However, his strengths (literally all of the muscles on top of muscles that he had) may also have been his weaknesses, as his body could not sustain the grind of long NBA seasons.
With 1.5 years left on a $60 million dollar contract he signed back in 2013, it is unfortunately time for both parties to cut their losses and move on. The Wolves need the financial flexibility as well as a real, functional basketball player to contribute to the franchise going forward. So long, big fella. Thanks for showing us all that nothing should stand in the way of chasing your dreams (not even you, Brandon Knight).
In terms of the overall organization, the Wolves should have many resolutions lined up for 2017, including the addition of their own NBA D-Leauge team (necessary), creative ways to get more fans to the game (very necessary), and a major re-branding (this may be the most necessary thing in my whole life).
There are currently 22 single-affiliated D-League teams (an all-time high), and the Wolves need to do everything in their power to either acquire an existing team or work with the league on adding a 23rd. Regarding attendance, the Wolves are currently 29th in the league, ahead of only the Denver Nuggets. As the on-court product continues to improve, so to must the home attendance.
Finally, while rumors of a Wolves rebrand have existed for some time, it is imperative that new Wolves CEO Ethan Casson build off the momentum of a new (and experienced) front office and a glut of young, potential superstars. The Milwaukee Bucks timed their re-brand with their infusion of youth perfectly, and the results were aesthetical (and creative) brilliance.
Get more sleep
Or in this case, get more rest. While the 2016-2017 season hasn’t quite lived up to expectations, there is still plenty of optimism going forward. HOWEVER, if a potential playoff spot fades further and further into the distance, it will be crucial that Thibs and the organization take a long-term approach to player health and development, rather than a short-term approach to wins and losses. If the season can’t turn around quickly, a 10-22 team cannot have it’s three best players playing this many (meaningless) minutes come February and March.
The 10-22 Minnesota Timberwolves currently have 3 of the top 17 players in the league in terms of minutes played per game. Three! THREE! pic.twitter.com/TE84ZpjiTb— Kyle Theige (@kyletheige) December 30, 2016
This resolution is for the wonderful and passionate fans who make up the Canis Hoopus family. 2016 was a good year for the site, but we promise to make 2017 that much better. We’ll write more, if you read more. That means more #Kahntent for all hoops fans to enjoy.
If you have other Wolves-related New Year’s resolutions (or personal resolutions for your own life), I’d love to hear them in the comments section. Happy New Year!