Year-Round News & Updates on the Minnesota Timberwolves
A new season, new players, new coach, but will we see a different result? Will we have another icy cold winter in the Twin Cities, or for the first time since Garnett departed in 2007, will we see a competitive TWolves squad?
The Timberwolves started 2010-11 losing 7 of their first 8 games, 24 of there first 30 and ended the season on a 15-game losing streak. With just 17 wins last season--the NBA's worst regular season record, the TWolves have nowhere to go but up. With exciting rookies: Derrick Williams, Ricky Rubio & Malcolm Lee as well as some talented young players: Kevin Love, Michael Beasley, Wesley Johnson & Anthony Randolph, and most importantly a brand new coach: Rick Adelman--the Timberwolves are one of the most exciting teams of '11-'12.
As noted, in a previous post, we examined some possible starting lineups for the Timberwolves in 2011-12. Ultimately it comes to Ridnour or Ricky at the point, Wes or Malcolm Lee at the shooting guard, Beas or D-Will at the 3, K-Love at the 4 (yeah, just Love) and Darko or Randolph at the center.
The biggest position battle coming into the season will be the former #2 pick: Michael Beasley vs. the current #2 pick: Derrick Williams. A report from an unofficial source says the Rick Adelman is '50-50' on Beasley at the small forward, but apparently Adelman believes he can make him great. I've only heard this from one person, so I'm not sure we can believe this one. Ultimately, these are things that will be examined and decided during training camp. Another report, states that Beas has slimmed down a bit and also cut his braids, who knows, with a slighter frame and a clean cut, will we also see a more mature Beasley on and off the court, who will maximize his talents? I can only hope...
There's been chatter ever since the Timberwolves found out they'd be drafting 2nd overall, whether or not Michael Beasley would be with the Timberwolves this season. As of right now, Michael Beasley is seen as the starting small forward, but a lot can change with the Wolves during training camp. So much so, that Beasley may not stay with the Wolves for too much longer. There's a very good chance if the TWolves were able to acquire a consistent and reliable veteran shooting guard or center, Michael Beasley would be traded. Say, something like, Beas & Wes Johnson for Philadelphia's Andre Iguodala or Beas & Nikola Pekovic for the Clippers' Chris Kaman (this would also fill a big need for the Clippers at the small forward). Those are just a few scenarios, but there's a good chance that Beasley will remain with the Wolves for the majority of the season, which would likely put rookie Derrick Williams as the team's sixth man.
Keeping an eye on the Wolves' other two rookies, guards: Ricky Rubio & Malcolm Lee. The Timberwolves and their fans have been waiting two long years for the European phenom and its almost certain that by season's end, Rubio will be the starting point guard. There's also a good chance, barring and trades, that fellow rookie Malcolm Lee could be the team's starting two-guard. At 205lbs. and a great young defensive guard, who can play both the 1 & the 2, Lee is exactly the type of player Adelman loves: young athletic defenders. So potentially, by the end of the season, the Timberwolves could be starting all three of their rookies. Rubio, Lee, D-Will, Love & Darko?
Taking a look at the Northwest Division as well as the Western Conference Outlook, the Timberwolves could easily be poised for a breakout season. That being said, I don't believe the Wolves will be a playoff team, as it's likely, any Western Conference team is going to need 38-40 wins minimum to make the playoffs. Can the Timberwolves rise from the bottom of the Northwest Division they've been for far too long? In the Northwest: Portland Trailblazers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Utah Jazz, Denver Nuggets & the TWolves. Portland & Oklahoma City are a shoe-in to make the playoffs. Utah could make the playoffs, if the figure out the logjam at the forward and center positions and potentially find a good backcout player, the Jazz could also sneak in as an 7th or 8th seed. The Nuggets have Ty Lawson & Danilo Gallinari, they'll likely retain Arron Afflalo, lose Nene and of course three of their best players: J.R. Smith, Wilson Chandler & Kenyon Martin (all FAs) are stuck in China, likely until February or March. As such, my prediction for the Northwest?
1.) Oklahoma City Thunder
2.) Portland Trailblazers
3.) Utah Jazz
4.) Minnesota Timberwolves
5.) Denver Nuggets
The Timberwolves have a new coach: a veteran whose a proven-winner. Rick Adelman is going into his 21st year as an NBA head coach, and with Minnesota, Rick may have the biggest challenge of his polished career. Rick's staff includes: Jack Sikma, TR Dunn, Bill Bayno (who MN pried away from POR with a 4-year deal), Terry Porter (a former Wolf, who was actually a candidate for the Wolves head coaching job) and lastly Rick's son RJ will work in the front office and do game preparation.
Adelman brings a basic system, that he'll adjust (as always) to the team he has. Finally the Timberwolves won't be trying to run the triangle offense, now that Rambis is finally out the door. The Timberwolves have everything in a new coach, that they didn't have with Rambis. A proven winner, experience and a system that works. No longer, will Rambis look to 'get Darko involved' early, going down low the first six-seven possessions. Michael Beasley won't have free-range to do as he pleases on both ends of the floor, Kevin Love will actually have a part in the offensive gameplan, beyond the number of second chance points and step-out threes.
Ricky Rubio is going to have at least two big influences as a new point guard in the League. Veteran Luke Ridnour--who, last season was brought on to mentor Jonny Flynn, will finally get a chance to influence a young point guard, like he did for Brandon Jennings in Milwaukee. Beyond Ridnour, Ricky has former Wolves point guard Terry Porter on staff, definitely a welcome addition.
Veteran Leadership is important for the Wolves, who were ultimately without any last season--on the staff or from the players. On the squad, the Wolves have seasoned veterans: Luke Ridnour, Martell Webster, Darko Milicic & Brad Miller. And as noted in the previous post, Devean George will likely be a part of the Wolves this season, whether that means as a player on the roster, or helping out in player development.
We have already taken a look at the TWolves' Free Agent Targets, at the time, the Wolves were targeting: Arron Afflalo, Chuck Hayes, Shane Battier & Von Wafer. Since that time, you can add: DeAndre Jordan & Jamal Crawford to that list. Jordan is a restricted free agent, and it's likely the Clippers will match any offer that comes his way (they've already offered him a 5-year $40M deal). With Jamal, his agent has said he has genuine interest in the Timberwolves as they are a young team, with a lot of young pieces who are in need of a ball-handling, 3-point shooting, veteran combo guard.
Kahn has said that the Wolves won't be blowing up the roster anymore and the key right now, is for the Wolves to remain intact with some potential pruning here and there. But...we'll see...
The Timberwolves won't be a playoff team in 2011-12, but they've suddenly become a great new team to watch. I was incredibly excited when the Wolves traded for Beasley & drafted Johnson! So, this year, with a new head coach, Ricky Rubio & Derrick Williams and the potential of even more improvement from All-Star forward Kevin Love, the TWolves are a team to watch. I know I won't miss a game.
Some final notes, the regular season schedule comes out at 6pmCT today, which means by sometime tonight, the schedule on our site will be updated completely....There's a chance training camps will be moved to start on Monday instead of Friday, to facilitate time for trades and free agent signings...As of this afternoon, the only two TWolves players practicing at the Target Center are Malcolm Lee & Kevin Love--Anthony Randolph was there on Thursday, but no news on him working out since......Ricky Rubio should be coming in to Minneapolis sometime today or tomorrow as he's waiting in Ottowa Canada for a work visa.....Derrick Williams should be in Minnesota by tomorrow, he would have been today, but hasn't left yet, because it's his mother's birthday.....Anthony Tolliver is driving to Minneapolis as I write this and should arrive early this evening.....Nikola Pekovic & Darko Milcic are flying in together from Serbia and should be here sometime today (word is Darko is in 'great' shape)....no word yet on when Beasley, Ridnour, Wes, Ellington, Martell, Lazar or Miller will be showing up....Rick Adelman and his staff are already in town--they arrived this past weekend.
That's all for now, thanks for reading and remember to check back daily for all your Timberwolves news, information & updates. Once the season starts, you can find all our gameday previews and recaps under the gameday section and you can also check out our new rumors sections, which features 'news before it's news'. GO WOLVES!
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