Year-Round News & Updates on the Minnesota Timberwolves
About a week ago, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN sent out this tweet...
We've known even before then that the Wolves have expressed interest in Andre Miller. The most likely scenario is that the Wolves would look to move J.J. Barea. Unfortunately, with Ty Lawson and Nate Robinson on the roster, the Nuggets really don't have a need for another undersized guard.
That was until Nate Robinson went down with an injury. Nate underwent an MRI on Thursday afternoon for an injury that was originally diagnosed as a sprained ACL. As of Friday afternoon, it's sounding as though Robinson's injury could be more severe and he may have torn that ACL. If that's the case, it's clear that he'd be out for the season and the Nuggets would be in the market for a point guard.
With Andre Miller exiled and not with the team, there are some reports that he could re-join the team as the primary reserve point guard. It remains to be seen if both parties would be willing to make nice and have a reunion.
The Timberwolves could certainly use an upgrade at point guard and I don't know too many people who would be upset to see Barea not on the roster. If Robinson did indeed tear his ACL, we should hear more on the Miller trade market in the very near future.
The #PekGoesToo Movement as well as the "Bruise Brothers" albums couldn't convince the coaches to vote Nikola Pekovic in as an All-Star reserve in the Western Conference.
With that being said, let's be very clear about one thing--it wasn't because he wasn't deserving, unfortunately the Wolves are in the very competitive Western Conference where there are many more better players and teams when compared to their Eastern Conference counterparts.
Minnesota's Kevin Love was named to the All-Star team as a starter by the fans and he joins...
Stephen Curry, G, Golden State Warriors
Kobe Bryant, G, Los Angeles Lakers
Kevin Durant, F, Oklahoma City Thunder
Blake Griffin, F, Los Angeles Clippers
The coaches decide the reserves and they chose...
Chris Paul, G, Los Angeles Clippers
Tony Parker, G, San Antonio Spurs
Dwight Howard, C, Houston Rockets
Dirk Nowitzki, F, Dallas Mavericks
LaMarcus Aldridge, F, Portland Trailblazers
Damian Lillard, G, Portland Trailblazers
James Harden, G, Houston Rockets
I don't exactly agree with everyone on that reserve list. I don't deny that the Blazers are having a terrific season, however I don't think Lillard is deserving of his first all-star appearance and I also question Tony Parker. I'm not saying that Pek deserves those one of those spots, however. If I had voted I would have included Sacramento's DeMarcus Cousins, New Orleans' Anthony Davis Memphis' Mike Conley or Phoenix's Goran Dragic before I chose Parker & Lillard. It would be hard for me to 'snub' Pek because he's my favorite Timberwolf of all-time and my favorite active NBA player, too, but there's just a lot of talent in this Western Conference.
In the Eastern Conference the starters are...
Kyrie Irving, G, Cleveland Cavaliers
Dwyane Wade, G, Miami Heat
Paul George, F, Indiana Pacers
Carmelo Anthony, F, New York Knicks
LeBron James, F, Miami Heat
The coaches named these players the reserves...
John Wall, G, Washington Wizards
DeMar DeRozan, G, Toronto Raptors
Paul Millsap, F, Atlanta Hawks
Joakim Noah, C, Chicago Bulls
Roy Hibbert, C, Indiana Pacers
Chris Bosh, F, Miami Heat
Joe Johnson, G, Brooklyn Nets
I think it goes without saying that the Western Conference reserves are much better overall than the Eastern Conference and if the Wolves played in the East, not only would they be tied with Chicago for the #5 seed, they'd also have two All-Stars.
Some snubs out East: Cleveland's Luol Deng, Toronto's Kyle Lowry, Detroit's Andre Drummond, Charlotte's Al Jefferson, Indiana's Lance Stephenson & Orlando's Arron Afflalo. Any one of those players are more deserving than Joe Johnson and I don't think you'd find too many people outside of New York that would disagree.
HOWEVER, there is still a very small chance that Nikola could be named to the Western Conference All-Star team. It's clear that the Lakers' Kobe Bryant will likely not be able to play in the game despite being named to the All-Star game as a starter. As such, the new commissioner Adam Silver will have to name an injury replacement. While it's more likely that he names someone like Conley, Dragic, Davis, Cousins or even Tim Duncan--there is still a chance, albeit minuscule that Pek could be an all-star.
For the third time in four seasons, Kevin Love will be representing the Minnesota Timberwolves at All-Star Game, however for the first time in his career, he'll be a starter.
To be a starter, a player has to be voted in by the fans. Love joins the Warriors' Stephen Curry, Lakers' Kobe Bryant, Thunder's Kevin Durant and the Clippers' Blake Griffin.
The East starting lineup is Cleveland's Kyrie Irving, Miami's Dwyane Wade, Indiana's Paul George, New York's Carmelo Anthony and Miami's LeBron James.
The All-Star Game will be played on Sunday February 16 in New Orleans.
The past week the Minnesota Timberwolves have been at the center of A LOT of criticism, from the local media and especially their fanbase. Is that criticism warranted? Y-E-S.
There's little doubt that this Wolves squad is the most talented they've been since the heyday of the KG/Latrell/Cassell days. I talked about this in the most recent gameday recap after a loss to the Raptors: the thing that makes this season so much different from the past 5-6 years is expectations.
I've always enjoyed watching the Wolves play, even when they were terrible with Darko Milicic as their starting center or when Corey Brewer was the best player on the team. However, the fact that this group can't get the expected results is quite deflating as a Wolves loyalist.
You've got three all-star caliber players in Kevin Love, Nikola Peković & Kevin Martin. Love is undoubtedly a Top 10 player in this League (a Top 5 in my opinion), Nikola was the recipient of a big 5-year $60million contract this summer and I worried at that time if he'd regress now that he'd been paid--I should've known that Pek isn't one to rest on any laurels, despite getting Kevin Love back from those hand injuries and adding more offensive firepower, Pek is still having the best season of his NBA career. Martin has had his ups and downs this season, but there's little doubt that he's the most talented shooting guard that the Wolves have had since Latrell Sprewell (and Martin may be even better--though that hasn't really been the case as of late).
When you look at this team 'on paper' you know that they should be an offensive juggernaut who probably won't have any Defensive Player of the Year candidates on the roster. They're an immensely talented bunch that should be a Western Conference playoff team.
One of the problem has been meshing all of these pieces together to find that 'well oiled machine' that can get the job done on a nightly basis. The Wolves have yet to find that and you can point to the fact that they haven't been able to string together any consecutive wins this season as a prime example. Minnesota's longest winning streak this year is a three-game winning streak. That's how they started the season 3-0 (with wins over Orlando, Oklahoma City & New York). The Wolves' longest losing streak of the year (as of 1/17) are two three-game losing skids: the first from 11/23-27 (Houston, Indiana, Denver) and the other from 1/12-17 (San Antonio, Sacramento, Toronto). If the Wolves fall to the Jazz tonight at the Target Center, they'll be on the longest losing streak of the season and you'll begin to hear a lot of talk about this being yet another 'lost season'.
Can the Timberwolves win with the roster as it's currently constructed? Yes. Can the Timberwolves win with the rotations as they're currently constructed? I don't think so. Anytime you're relying on J.J. Barea as your backup point guard--a player who is supposed to come in and provide a little offensive spark while getting his teammates involved, you're going to be disappointed with J.J. more nights than not. He's incredibly inconsistent and he tries to shoulder too much of the scoring load for that second unit. I can understand why he did it early in the year when the Wolves were without Chase Budinger, Dante couldn't get his mid-range jumper to fall and Alexey Shved was still a wreck, but now Chase is back, Dante looks like the player he did mid-season a year ago and Alexey Shved is playing like he did early in 2012-13 when he was the recipient of a lot of praise from the national media and a potential rookie of the year candidate (more as just a name on the list, because I think after the first month or two of the season, we knew Damian Lillard was the unquestioned ROY). With all these players playing better, there's little reason for J.J. to continue to try to do everything, but that's just his nature. He's a player who's going to look for his shot before finding an open teammate and 90% of the time that's not a good thing. Add to that his very, very poor perimeter defense and his 5'9" frame and it's really baffling to me why Adelman continues to play him. Especially when he's got a player on his bench that proved last season he's capable of running a second unit as the reserve point guard. A.J. Price had a career year in Washington last season and he was brought in as more of an insurance policy in case J.J. Barea got injured--like he has consistently during his Wolves career. However, through 39 games J.J. has yet to miss a single game. I almost find myself wishing Barea would have to sit out for one reason or another (I'm not wishing any kind of injury on him!!) simply so we could get a look at A.J. Price on the floor with Shved, Budinger, Cunningham & Turiaf.
Tonight's tilt vs. the Jazz is Minnesota's 40th game of the year and when the Wolves travel to Utah on 1/21 to face the Jazz again, that'll be their 41st game of the season and the official halfway point of the 82-game NBA season. With back-to-back wins over the Utah Jazz the Wolves can move to 20-21 on the year and get some much needed momentum going as they head into the second half of the season.
In my opinion, if the Wolves aren't 4-5 games above .500 before the All-Star break, they could be in some serious trouble. For the Wolves to be 5 games above .500 heading into the ASG, Minnesota needs to go 11-3 in their next 14 outings which would have them at 29-24 on the year. During that stretch, the Wolves have a lot of winnable games (Utah, New Orleans, Chicago, Denver) but they also have some tough matchups vs. Portland, Golden State, Oklahoma City & Houston.
Saying the Wolves will go 11-3 in their next 14 games is ludicrous, because we know that there's simply no way the team we've watched these past couple weeks is capable of a streak like that. However, the Wolves need to win the games they should (Utah, New Orleans, Chicago, Denver) and then look to steal one or two of those games against the juggernaut teams of the West.
It's all about finding that cohesiveness as a team and trusting in one another to get the job done. The Wolves look like a team that's not trusting one another and above all else they look like a team that's simply afraid to win. They're playing scared and they're playing 'not to lose'...the results speak for themselves.
Shabazz Muhammad has finished his D-League stint and his finale was another 20-point, high-rebound games.
Muhammad went off a game-high 26 points and helped the Iowa Energy take down the defending D-League champion Rio Grande Valley Vipers. This was a battle of the two highest scoring D-League teams and the result was a 135-112 Iowa win.
Muhammad scored 26 points, grabbed 9 rebounds (3 offensive), dished 2 assists, had 2 steals, 3 fouls and 1 turnover in 33 minutes. Shabazz shot 11-of-19 from the field, 0-for-2 from deep and 4-for-6 from the line.
Flip Saunders was in attendance at Sunday's game and following another great performance from Shabazz, he pulled him aside and told him that he'd be returning to Minnesota to rejoin the Timberwolves.
I think it's important the Shabazz doesn't spend long periods of time in the D-League and that he is still around the team, however as the roster currently stands, I think it's only a matter of time before he returns to Iowa for another D-League stint.
Muhammad has certainly played well enough in the D-League to get a look in Adelman's rotation, but with all 15 players healthy and injury-free and the reserve backcourt of J.J. Barea & Alexey Shved playing a bit better in recent weeks--coupled with the return of Chase Budinger & Luc Richard Mbah a Moute from injuries and there's simply no time for Muhammad at this next level right now.
If the Wolves were to lose a couple of their wing players to injury or some other unforeseen situation, that would certainly open up time for Muhammad, but unless that happens, Shabazz will likely spend the majority of the season bouncing back and forth between the Wolves and the Energy.
Adelman says that his offensive game is very developed however, like with a lot of young players he needs to improve his defensive skills to earn some playing time in his rotation. With Shabazz's athleticism, above-average foot speed and 6'11" wingspan he's got all the physical tools to become a decent defender in this League.
Here's Muhammad's four-game stat log from his stint in the D-League...as well as his D-League career averages.
Here's the full game (Energy vs. Vipers) courtesy of YouTube.
The Wolves are back in action on Wednesday vs. Derrick Williams and the Sacramento Kings. It's likely that Shabazz will join Robbie Hummel on the inactive list for that one.
Shabazz Muhammad played his third D-League game with the Iowa Energy on Saturday night and he was, once again impressive.
The Energy were in Indiana facing the Fort Wayne Mad Ants and the result was a narrow defeat 121-124, moving their overall record to 12-6 and their record with Muhammad on the roster to 2-1.
Shabazz was a terror in the first quarter of play as he simply out-hustled and outmuscled his opponents for easy buckets in the lane and a number of offensive rebounds leading to putbacks. Muhammad finished the first quarter with 16 points and finished the night with 26 overall (his highest scoring game in the D-League, yet). Here's the rest of Saturday's stat line including his stats from the previous two games played at the Reno D-League Showcase.
Through three games in the D-League, Muhammad is averaging 24 points, 10 rebounds (6 offensive), 1.7 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.3 blocks, 1.3 turnovers and 1.7 fouls in 26 minutes per game. He's shooting 56.8% from the field, 75% from deep and 76% from the free throw line.
The most impressive part of Shabazz's game has to be that rebounding, you'd expect a big guy like Nikola Peković (one of the NBA's best offensive rebounders and the NBA leader in second chance points) to be able to have double digit offensive rebounding games every once in a while, but to see a swingman hit the glass that hard is simply impressive.
I don't know if Shabazz will get much of a chance to play in the NBA this season (barring an injury to someone like Martin, Shved, Brewer or Budinger), but if he continues to put in the work and some of this success and confidence he's exuding can carry over to when he does get out on the floor for Minnesota, there won't be anyone calling him a bust, anymore. My best guess is that he'll get a chance next season to become one of Minnesota's role players and if he can show he can be a consistent contributor, Adelman (or whomever is the head coach) will have no choice but to give him more minutes.
The Iowa Energy play again on Sunday (1/12) vs. the defending D-League Champions, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. That game will be played in Iowa and tipoff at 4pmCST. We'll have yet another update following that game, which could reportedly be Muhammad's final game of this D-League stint (meaning he'd return to Minnesota to rejoin the Wolves as a part of the active roster). Stay tuned for that, but before I go, here's the full game on YouTube of Iowa vs. Fort Wayne (if nothing else I suggest watching the first quarter).
Muhammad was most certainly impressive in his D-League debut at the Reno D-League Showcase scoring a team-high 24 points in a winning effort.
He one-upped himself with another stellar performance on Thursday. Thursday's game was another part of the Reno Showcase. Muhammad capped off the Showcase with a double-double in 23 minutes of play time. Here are his full statistics from his two outings in the D-League...
Shabazz did a lot of his damage at the free throw line hitting 91% of his attempts. As he showed in the Summer League and as the coaches praised during training camp--Shabazz crashed the glass very effectively, exerting a lot of energy and hustle. Add to that some playmaking and utilizing his 6'11" wingspan to get a couple takeaways, too. All of that together and Shabazz is definitely proving that he should at least be getting a look in Adelman's rotation upon his return.
Here's what Shabazz had to say following his two performances in the Showcase...
Shabazz definitely played with energy and confidence during this stint in the D-League. It remains to be seen if he'll get a chance at the NBA level in Adelman's rotation, but with Minnesota's reserve backcourt of J.J. Barea & Alexey Shved really struggling this season, it can't hurt to re-distribute some of those minutes--because it's clear that J.J. & Shved just aren't working well as a second unit.
Once again, if you're interested, the full game of Iowa vs. Springfield is on YouTube...
With Muhammad's two excellent outings, he was named to the D-League Showcase First Team which also included Ike Diogu, Pierre Jackson, Troy Daniels and James Nunnally. Muhammad averaged 23 points & 9 rebounds in those two games.
While it sounds as though his stint in the D-League won't last much longer, he will reportedly play with the Energy when they take on the Mad Ants in Fort Wayne, Indiana. That game will be on Saturday night at 6:30pmCST and TWolves President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders will reportedly be in attendance. Stay tuned for another Muhammad update following that game.
According to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN (via Twitter), the Minnesota Timberwolves and Denver Nuggets have had a 'back-and-forth' about Andre Miller.
Miller has grown unhappy in Denver under the direction of new head coach Brian Shaw. Their tumultuous relationship reached a boiling point after Shaw benched Miller in a loss to the Sixers a couple weeks back. It was the first DNP-CD (did not play-coach's decision) of Miller's 15-year NBA career.
Miller reportedly cursed out Shaw following the benching and it sounds as though he's no longer welcome in Denver. The Nuggets are exploring trades and Shaw reportedly seeks a 'skilled big man'. The Sacramento Kings have a standing offer out to the Wolves of either Marcus Thornton or Jimmer Fredette for Miller.
With J.J. Barea playing some of the worst basketball of his NBA career and the Wolves in dire need of a capable & proven point guard--Flip Saunders would be very smart to do what he can to acquire Andre Miller.
The problem? What do the Wolves have that the Nuggets covet? It'd be nice to dump a guy like Barea or Shved, but it's highly unlikely the Nuggets have any interest in either of them. The Wolves posses some 'skilled big men' in Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Dante Cunningham, Ronny Turiaf or Gorgui Dieng. The Wolves obviously wouldn't trade Love or Pek.
The most likely scenario would be Dante Cunningham for Andre Miller. Mbah a Moute can take the backup power forward minutes, Hummel & Budinger can play some 'stretch four' and Turiaf & Dieng could see some minutes at the four.
That won't happen though. Rick Adelman is a big fan of Dante, even stating recently that he's the team's best defender. I'm a fan of Dante, but the need for a talented reserve guard like Miller--is something the Wolves haven't had this season.
I don't think he'll end up in Minnesota, but anything is possible. Stay tuned for more!
Shabazz Muhammad is trying to make the best of playing for Minnesota's D-League affiliate, the Iowa Energy and he did just that on Tuesday night in Reno.
Against the Bakersfield Jam, Shabazz guided the Energy to a 133-121 victory.
Shabazz led the way with a game-high 24 points. Here's the rest of an impressive stat line from Bazz.
Shabazz had a number of impressive dunks that included this nasty alley-oop jam!
I watched the majority of the game and it was clear that a lot of Shabazz's success came by putting himself in the best positions. He frequently lost his man and his teammates found him for easy buckets. He also displayed a lot of hustle and energy offensively.
I watched a number of Summer League games a few months back in Las Vegas and we all know that Muhammad was definitely disappointing. Flip did say before he sent Muhammad to the D-League that Shabazz had improved as a player. The Tuesday night game was a small sample size, but it's a nice sign from a player who has struggled to break into Rick Adelman's rotation.
If you'd like to view the entire game, it is available on YouTube.
The Energy will play again on Thursday evening vs. the Springfield Armor. That game will tip at 5:30pmCST and we'll have a recap on Bazz's performance following the final horn. Stay tuned!
The Minnesota Timberwolves lone lottery selection in the 2013 NBA Draft will be heading down to Iowa to play for the Wolves' D-League affiliate, the Energy.
Rick Adelman & Flip Saunders reportedly sat down with each other and had a discussion about a number of things--one of them being Shabazz. They ultimately decided that it would be better if Muhammad is sent to the D-League.
Shabazz has played in only 11 of the Wolves' 32 games and he has yet to play more than 10 minutes in a game. Sending him down the Iowa will give him a chance to play some extended minutes. Flip has said that despite Muhammad not playing--he's definitely been getting better, this trip to the D-League should only help that progress along.
This is also good news because with Adelman sending Bazz to the D-League, that is a pretty clear indicator that Chase's return will likely come on Monday or Wednesday of next week.
It sounds as though Muhammad will stay in the D-League for at least a week. Like we did with Malcolm Lee when he went down to the D-League, we'll provide updates & stat lines after each game Muhammad plays. Stay tuned for that!
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