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Too Many Minutes? March Madness Continues.

Notes for a Thursday.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Minnesota Timberwolves Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Have the Minutes Caught Up?

One of the awesome things about Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins is they show up. Towns has played in every game in his nearly two seasons, and Wiggins has missed one game in nearly three. Being available is an important and underrated thing.

Of course, that’s true until it isn’t, as we saw with Zach LaVine.

But with the Wolves fading here late in the season after a strong run post All-Star break, the question arises whether the minutes caught up with these two stars and the team as a whole?

It’s hard to be sure, but Wiggins and Towns are first and third in the league in total minutes, and these aren’t low-impact minutes. Towns spends a lot of time banging around in the paint against stronger, more physically mature players, and Wiggins carries an immense offensive load, which includes multiple forays to the basket per game, and plenty of contact.

Wiggins in particular has looked worn out to me at several points over the last couple of weeks. His shot has been off, often looking flat and coming up short, and I wonder if he’s a bit dead legged now.

It’s not just those two, however. The Wolves average the fewest bench minutes in the league. It’s a chicken and egg issue: Does the bench play so little because the players aren’t good enough, or do the players struggle because of the lack of minutes? And how much is it Tom Thibodeau’s penchant for riding his starters?

Obviously the bench is pretty thin, and the season ending injury to LaVine made it more so, though Brandon Rush went from regular DNP-CDs to the starting lineup. I spent much of the summer pointing out how thin the wing depth was, and it remains a problem with or without LaVine on the active roster.

But consider the free agents the Wolves signed in the summer. Rush has appeared in 35 of the team’s 70 games, and it was only the LaVine injury that got him on the floor.

Cole Aldrich, one season removed from playing over 13 minutes a night with a quality playoff team (Clippers) can only manage 8.6 minutes per in 59 games this season. One would think that with the only other two true bigs on the active roster both in the starting lineup, there would be more, but no. And one wonders whether his lack of minutes is because of his production, or if he has struggled to get into any kind of rhythm due to the lack of minutes.

The less said about Jordan Hill and his six games played the better.

In fact, it’s shocking how much of the roster has gone unused more or less the whole season. Nikola Pekovic of course takes up a spot but can’t play. Hill and Adreian Payne have combined to appear in 18 games. John Lucas III, who inexplicably was on the squad as a fourth point guard for much of the season played 12 minutes. Rush and Tyus Jones both had stretches of DNP-CDs.

A lot of this is on Thibs. Either GM Thibs did a poor job picking players and building a fully useful roster last summer, or Coach Thibs is doing a poor job deploying his players.

It’s not just this summer’s roster building that will be vital going forward, but it’s also whether and how Thibs can adapt his approach next season to not only get more contributions from up and down the lineup, but also make sure his core group has gas left in the tank come March and April.

March Madness

The NCAA Money Grab, er Tournament, resumes today as the Sweet Sixteen gets underway.

Two lottery prospects play tonight: Josh Jackson of Kansas faces Purdue, and the apparently controversial-on-Canis Lauri Markkanen of Arizona plays against Xavier.

Friday appears to be a bigger night for prospect watching, with North Carolina (Justin Jackson) playing, and a headline match up between Kentucky (De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk) and UCLA (Lonzo Ball, T.J. (thedailywolf jr.) Leaf.)

Today in History

  • 1066: 18th recorded perihelion passage of Halley’s Comet.
  • 1743: Handel’s “Messiah” premieres in London
  • 1775: John Patrick Henry makes his “Give me liberty or give me death” speech.
  • 1839: First published use of “O.K.” appears in Boston Morning Post.
  • 1857: Elisha Olds installs his first elevator at 488 Broadway.
  • 1867: Congress overrides President Jackson’s veto of 2nd Reconstruction Act.
  • 1868: University of California founded.
  • 1881: Treaty between Brits and Boers ends 1st Boer War.
  • 1889: President Harrison opens Oklahoma to white colonization.
  • 1903: Wright Brothers patent airplane.
  • 1918: Lithuania declares independence.
  • 1919: Benito Mussolini forms fascist movement in Milan.
  • 1925: Tennessee outlaws the teaching of evolution.
  • 1933: Reichstag grants Hitler dictatorial powers.
  • 1940: All-India Muslim League calls for Muslim homeland.
  • 1956: Sudanese independence.
  • 1983: Ronald Reagan introduces SDI (“Star Wars”.)

Today’s Musical Birthday

Ric Ocasek, founder and front man of The Cars, born in 1949.