In that game, the Timberwolves debuted three new players: Ricky Rubio, Derrick Williams & J.J. Barea. Rubio & Williams are both rookies this season and J.J. was acquired in free agency as a backup point guard.
Malcolm Lee was active for yesterday's game, but received a DNP (did not play) in the game (understandable when he's behind Rubio, Ridnour & Barea on the depth chart. The other new addition to the Wolves this offseason, but he's currently injured while he recovers from offseason knee surgery. He was recently cleared for some light running drills, but isn't expected back on the floor for another two or three weeks.
Let's start with RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRicky RRRRRRRRRRRRubio!! Ricky made his long-awaited debut for the Timberwolves and he certainly didn't disappoint! Coming off the bench behind Luke Ridnour, Ricky Rubio played 26 minutes and had 6 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists. He shot 67% from the field, 100% from the line, but posted a -1 +/-. Watching the tape, five of Rubio's six assists came on bounce passes! Every assist, was ultra-impressive! He's put a countdown on when he takes over the starting point guard job from Ridnour. Every time he entered the game, made a bucket, or dished a pass, the Target Center crowd erupted. Already a fan favorite...for good reasons--he's flat out, fun to watch!
Derrick Williams also made his debut off the bench. In 24 minutes D-Will had 24 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal. He shot 6-for-14 from the field, but like most of the Wolves last night--struggled from deep missing all four of his 3-point attempts! His thirteen points tied Kemba Walker for the most points for an NBA rookie, in his debut, this season. He's already proven he'll be a big boost off the Wolves' bench and during the time, we get to see that Beasley/Williams/Love frontcourt, is almost as fun as watching the backcourt of Rubio & Barea! In D-Will the Timberwolves have a great sixth man off the bench--not something the Wolves had last season!
World Champion J.J. Barea made his NBA debut for Minnesota last night as well. In 27 minutes off the bench he contributed 14 points (leading the Wolves' bench scoring), 2 rebounds & 2 assists. He shot 6-for-11 from the field and boasted a +11 in +/-. Like the rest of the new Wolves additions he's, going to be a lot of fun to watch go to work. His slashing through the lane and blinding quickness are superb when combined with Rubio's playmaking and defensive abilities!
If there was any doubt before, the answer will come tonight. That question? Is this team really a "different" team than last seasons? Sure, they hung tough, blow-for-blow with one of the best team's in the League last night, but the BIG questions? Can they defend, can they get stops, can they close games (clearly a HUGE problem last season). They've proved their resilient, but do they have the ability to close out the games. Because, it really doesn't matter that they hung with one of the League's best for 48 minutes, because at the end of the season--it's just another loss. We'll get a good look at the Wolves tonight (in their first back-to-back) and whether or not, they're a "different" team!
Thanks for reading, if you haven't already check out our gameday preview for tonight's game in Milwaukee under the Gameday section of this site! Thanks for reading and GO WOLVES!