Year-Round News & Updates on the Minnesota Timberwolves
The season may be just 66 games long and compressed to where the Wolves are playing at least every couple days, however, that hasn't stopped Adelman from shortening up his rotation.
You'd think that with a compressed schedule like this he'd be playing more guys. I'm not arguing with it, because doing so is winning games!
Against the Rockets on Friday, Adelman played just eight guys. The starters played the majority of the minutes: Rubio, Ridnour, Johnson, Love, Pekovic. Off the bench came just three reserves: Webster, Beasley, Williams.
In that game vs. the Rockets, Pekovic & Love both played 42 minutes, Ridnour played 40, Rubio played 39, Johnson played 29, Beasley & Webster both played 19 and D-Will played 10. Miller, Milicic, Tolliver, Randolph & Ellington did not play--coach's decision. The result? A 111-98 win over the Houston Rockets and a 3-1 season series win.
On Wednesday the Wolves played the Bobcats. Adelman played 11 guys that game. Pek played 44, Love played 42, Ridnour played 34, Barea played 26, Rubio played 25, Johnson & Webster both played 24, Beasley & Williams both played 9 and Tolliver & Ellington both played 2. The result? A 102-90 win.
The difference between these two games? Opponents. The Rockets are clearly a better team than the Bobcats. That difference can be clearly seen in the win totals. Houston: 17, Charlotte: 3. Even though that's just a two-game sample, it makes the point. Against the better team's in this League Rick Adelman will likely be shortening up his rotations. Playing his main guys, the players who are playing well, the players who are 'hot'--the guys that give Minnesota the best chance at a W.
So, that begs the question: Who are the main guys for Minnesota? Who's going to be a part of this new shortened rotation? Well, let's start with who we won't see logging any big-time minutes--barring of course injuries, suspensions etc.
There are three guys that won't see much time at all, going forward. The first is Anthony Randolph. With Malcolm Lee still rehabbing his knee, that's one inactive player. When the Wolves have 14 healthy players, Randolph is the other inactive player. He's been inactive for three games this season. He's also the only healthy scratch, thus far, this season. All in all, AR is the last player on the depth chart. He's a restricted free agent this summer and if he doesn't leave the Wolves via trade before March, expect him to be gone come summer. The next is Brad Miller. Miller was brought to Minnesota before Adelman was hired and before Rambis was even hired. But, it was lucky that Adelman came because that's given Minnesota probably one player who knows Adelman's system 'to a T'. He doesn't see much time, but his value comes in practice and as a veteran presence for a very young Timberwolves team. The last is Anthony Tolliver. I hate that AT isn't getting any playing time now. His hustle and constant effort is what makes him the perfect reserve player. Understandly, however, Tolliver is the third power forward on the depth chart and the majority of the time goes to Kevin Love, with Derrick Williams getting the rest. Unfortunately, if nothing changes, I could see Tolliver moving on in the offseason--as he'll be an unrestricted free agent this summer.
The next two players: Wayne Ellington & Darko Milicic. Ellington is a good shooter and will come off the bench when the Timberwolves need to get quick points. He'll come in, late in games when the Timberwolves are down and need three-point shooting. Other than that, he won't see much time. Darko Milicic began the season as the team's starting center, he held that position for the Wolves' first 18 games. Then he was out for three games with an illness. For those three games Pek started (scoring 14pts, 13pts & 8pts). Then, Darko came back, started and played limited minutes vs. Indiana & New Jersey (Pek came off the bench, played the majority of minutes at center and had 13pts & 27pts). Then, the injury bug hit Darko. He missed the first few games with a quad contusion, he missed the next couple games with a sprained ankle. All in all, he missed a total of five games. Then came the game vs. Orlando, he played just a couple minutes off the bench had 1 block & 3 fouls. The past two games he's got DNP-CDs and I doubt that'll change. Pekovic's emergence has erased the need for Darko (I could honestly see an amnesty cut for Darko this offseason, it's pretty early to be discussing that, though).
That accounts for a third of the team. Malcolm Lee isn't really in any disccussion about this. He hasn't played a game yet this season and it looks like his debut ISN'T on the horizon. Lee's knee is reportedly at 90%. He did play 3 games in the D-League and according to Adelman it sounds as though, he'll likely make another trip there, before debuting with the Wolves.
This leaves just nine players. Those nine players are your shortened rotation.
I don't see any changes of the starting lineup, in the near future. The backcourt will likely remain Rubio & Ridnour (barring any trade(s) or injuries). Wesley Johnson will remain the team's starting small forward. His defense is what's keeping him in the starting lineup, anything extra is a plus, at this point. Then, your frontcourt: Kevin Love & Nikola Pekovic.
The Timberwolves' main reserves will be...
Guard J.J. Barea. J.J. will come off the bench and provide a spark. With the Wolves starting Rubio & Ridnour, J.J. is the team's main reserve point guard. Often times he'll run the second unit, but in many situations, he'll also team up with either Rubio or Ridnour in the backcourt.
Guard-Forward Martell Webster. Web is still working into playing shape and working to get his shot back, but little by little he's becoming a better player and the type of reserve Minnesota needs. Another energy guy, who, even when his shot isn't falling--his defense will keep him on the court.
Forward Michael Beasley. Beasley started the first seven games of the season. Then, against Cleveland he went down with that mid-foot sprain that kept him out for eleven games. He came back to the active rotation, but not to the starting lineup, but instead as the team's sixth man. When his shot is on, he provides instant offense off the bench. On Jan. 30th, he came off the bench vs. the Rockets and scored 34 points! Obviously, he can't/hasn't keep/kept up that kind of production. But, it's that instant offense he brings off the bench.
Forward Derrick Williams. Out of these four main reserves, Williams will get the least amount of playing time. His inability to play multiple positions is a BIG problem. The fact that he can only play power forward, remains a big problem! He's playing behind All-Star Kevin Love who is averaging close to 40 minutes a game. Unless, Williams' perimeter defense suddenly, drastically improves we won't see him out on the court for extended playing time. Probably the main thing, he'll need to work on this summer if he wants to be in the future plans of this team!
That's all I've got for now. I apologize for this being such a long post, but as you may know--when I get going, I have trouble stopping! Thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
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