Monday, February 18, 2008

Not So Mid-Season Wolves Review

by Mark Waters

Welp, It's well past the halfway point, but it's the all-star weekend, so close enough. I made a Timberwolves assessment/predictions post at the beginning of the 2007-2008 NBA season. And thus far, I'm pretty dead-on. I am so smart, I am so smart, s-m-r-t.

So why don't we do a before/after for anyone who still cares about the wolvies. From here on out, I'll italicize the before, and Bolded (I know this isn't a word) the fun, current stuff.


I just want to start by saying this 2007 T'Wolves team is going to be terrible. But that's completely acceptable. I know the interest is down for most Minnesota sports fans, but I'm very excited to watch these youngins come together. I figure I'll do some get to know 'ems and discuss other reasons as to why I think my favorite basketball team has a chance to be a force in the not-so-distant future.


Welp, they're terrible. 10-41, with the 2nd worst record in the league. They are on pace to finish with 16 wins, and if Randy Foye didn't miss all but 8 games thus far, that pace would be closer to 25 wins (still terrible).

Al Jefferson - Sky is the limit for this PF who helps at Center sometimes. He has already established himself as a pure scorer and rebounder. He's not a shot blocker, but his power and numerous post up moves make him an elite PF for years to come. I can see how he and Mark Blount didn't get along back in Boston. Al Jefferson has a post presence, is good at basketball, and actually works hard. They are polar opposites.

He's averaging 21.2 ppg, and 12.1 rebounds(5th in the NBA). His defense has been better than I predicted it would, so having this guy in his early 20s, who also is going to earn 10 million per year less than KG is turning out to be worth it. He is only going to get better, BUT his transition defense needs alot of improvement, and with a lack of able Centers, he has been playing out of position for the majority of the season. If we can pick up a decent Center through the draft, or via trade, then he will do even better at his natural PF position. It's funny that Miami is the only team with a more pitiful record. That's the Blount/Davis tag-team for yah.

Ryan Gomes - Celtics Writers/Fans/Followers all agree that this young swingman has the potential to be a solid Small Forward in this league. He can quietly put up 15-20 points on any given night, and has a great attitude/work ethic. Unlike Ricky Davis, Gomes will actually make his teammates better. Expect him to score around 15 ppg this season as our starting SF.

Ryan is Averaging 11.6 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. I had predicted his scoring to be a little higher, but 12 and 5 per night is fine. I project he'll put up career numbers similar to these. As of now, he is a better overall player than Brewer, but Brewer needs minutes to progress. I really don't have a problem with this part of Wittman's lineup decisions.

Corey Brewer - It will take some time before he becomes a key factor - when he puts on about 15 lbs of muscle, you'll notice. He was one of NCAA's best defenders for the last 2 seasons and is a shooting threat as well as a slasher. He has already received numerous comparisons to a young Scottie Pippen due to his size and athletic ability. Again, it might take a couple years for him to adjust to the league, but he will be a valueable piece to this organization sooner rather than later.

Corey's defense is right on par, but his shooting is awful. Lack of confidence is playing a large part in his shooting woes, but yikes. The young Scottie Pippen comparisons are laughable now, but as I've said, once he puts on some more muscle, his production will improve. He is already one of the best, if not the best defenders on the crappy Wolves, but if we can get more scorers around him, and he gains some weight, he could have a Bruce Bowen type role.

Rashad McCants - tough call on McCants. His defense has looked better than last season, and has been scoring throughout all of preseason. Only 2 games in, it's foolish to make bold predictions on how well he'll produce, but all indications are saying that he should be a legitimate 2 guard. His streakiness as a shooter is my main concern. Hopefully he has cured that, or will cure that as he gets older. The Wolves need him to step up and be one of the leaders this season.

It's still a tough call, because Wittman isn't given him enough minutes. His defense has been poor, he turned the ball over alot earlier this season, but he still is a real scoring threat on a team that can't score. Recently, Wittman and McCants butted heads and his lack of playing time is doing little to boost his trade value. My biggest fear is that Wittman will continue to limit his minutes, resulting in McCants to become even more disenchanted with this organization, become a free agent, and tear it up on another roster, while we get nothing in return. I wish Wittman would give him more minutes, so he can up his points per game, and trade him for either a first round pick, or perhaps package him and Walker for an expiring contract to free up more future cap space.

Craig Smith - I love this guy, but he is simply too short to ever become a great player. His scoring ability has picked up where it left off, but he still isn't good enough defensively to be a starter. His role as a scorer off the bench is good enough for a favorable contract extension.

Smith is averaging 10 points and 5 rebounds per game as an undersized, backup Power Forward. Not too shabby for a 2nd round draft pick. But being only 6'7", he will never have the ability to be an effective defender in the paint. We still should resign him, because he is just fine as a bench player. Or shop him around to a contender this season, and see if they offer anything worthwhile in return.

Randy Foye - Injured (which sucks) but when he returns there is no reason why he won't score 15-20 ppg. However, he isn't a true point guard, and this team already has enough 2 guards. Hopefully he can develope into a permanent role as our starting point guard.

Well, he was out with a knee injury for much longer than I expected. He has looked rather rusty in the 8 total games he's played this season, but once his minutes get more consistent, then he should be putting up similar numbers to last season. My goal is for him to get about 30 minutes per game as a combo guard.

Sebastian Telfair - If he can keep his head screwed on, within a couple years, this kid should develop into a fine point guard. This team desperately needs a true point.

Telfair is really growing on me. He's averaging 9.5 points per game, and his 3.32 Assist to Turnover ratio ranks 9th in the NBA. He is the first pure point guard we've had since Cassell, and at only 22 years of age, he still has room for growth. I hope we resign him.

Gerald Green - he is only what 20 years old? People have been very negative towards him, already calling him a bust. I'd like to see him get alot more playing time this season, but so far after 2 games he's played a total of 1 minute. Given playing time, he can be an energetic scoring threat.

Randy Wittman pisses me off. On a team that is in playoff contention, I can understand why Green would get such inconsistent minutes. But since we are a bad offensive team, with the 2nd worst record, there's no excuse why Green's minutes have been so limited. I still don't know what to make of him, other than the lack of playing time has ruined any of his trade value, and that he is as good as gone. What a waste.

I don't feel like mentioning Ratliff, Antoine Walker, Micheal Doleac, etc. because I really don't care about them. They're not that good, old, injury proned, and probably wont be on this team next year. Buckner has a chance to be decent, but the verdict is still clearly out with him.

Ratliff, surprise surpise, has been injured virtually the entire season, Doleac has to be the whitest looking player in the NBA, and Buckner lives on the end of the bench. Walker and his love for launching 3's is painful, but I'd rather have him launching 3's as opposed to Blount.

On top of acquiring these good young prospects guess what? Blount, Davis, Hassell, Nate James, and Troy Hudson are no longer on our roster!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! All five are losers with terrible, long term contracts. McHale must be smoking drugs...or Hoiberg is playing a huge role in these moves. (more likely the latter)

I still think Hoiberg is responsible for the wise, cap-friendly moves. Gotta give McHale some credit though with the Garnett Trade. By next year, Jefferson will have his first of many allstar appearances AND for half the cap space that an aging Garnett had. Gomes and Telfair should be fairly cheap, productive players for years to come, and we still get 2 future first round draft picks from Boston. I'm telling you, 3 years from now people will look back on this particular trade and say the Wolves made a great move. But don't get me wrong, McHale still sucks.

A 15-25-win team this year will bring in a top 5 pick in what looks to be another deep draft. With all these crappy contracts that were bought out, and/or will expire within the next 2 seasons, this payroll will fall well under the cap allowing us to bring in a solid free agent or two to go along with a young, up and coming Wolves team. And I don't buy the "Good luck getting a free agent to come to Minnesota" crap. If you can pay them and you have a good team, they'll play in Mystery Alaska.

As of today, the Wolves are on pace to win 16 games, but because Foye has only been back for the past 8, I predict 20 wins by the end of the season. With Maimi (who is currently in last place) obtaining Shawn Marion for an injured dinosaur in Shaq, they should pass us in the wins column. We are only ahead of them by one game. A history of bad luck with the lottery should land the wolves 4th or 5th in the draft. Please pick a nice, big, defensive-minded Center...PLEASE.

Come on Fair-Weather Minnasodah Rubes!!! Jump back on the T-Wolves train, cuz a few years from now, we're gonna be a serious contender. We're coooommmiinnnnnn!

Seriously, lets jump on the bandwagon and go to some games. They are practically giving away tickets.


soup said...

I agree that we should take a good defensive minded center. I don't know much about it, but it seems that there are going to be quite a few pretty good big men in this draft. It's weird. I'm actually kind of looking forward to the draft

brex said...

I'm still waiting for an invite to the target center wuters...

haasertime said...

"seriously, ... lets go to a game"


bizmarkie507 said...

You guys live within like 5 miles of the Target Center, so pick a date against a crappy team so we can get good seats.

My first choice would be Michael Beasley, but if he isn't available, I'd like to draft Kevin Love out of UCLA or 7'3 Thabeet out of UConn.

tfrezac2002 said...

I was at the game last night, against the 76ers. With the exception of a few minutes in the second quarter where they couldn't make a shot if their jobs depended on it, they completely dominated the game. I think they will fight for a playoff spot soon, if not next year.