Year-Round News & Updates on the Minnesota Timberwolves
The Minnesota Timberwolves' second unit has been an inconsistent mess through the first third of the NBA season. Most nights they look like the NBA's worst offensive reserves and very rarely do they play at an above-average level (offensively).
Alexey Shved is a player who should be known for his offense, but he has certainly had some growing pains since midseason a year ago. Robbie Hummel has gotten opportunities, but he's struggled to knock down a lot of open shots that we know he can hit. Dante Cunningham & Luc Richard Mbah a Moute are players known primarily for their defensive prowess. Rookies Shabazz Muhammad & Gorgui Dieng haven't been given any extended minutes/chances. A.J. Price was signed as an insurance policy because J.J. has been an injury prone player during his first two seasons in Minnesota.
So, without Chase Budinger & Ronny Turiaf, the Wolves bench has struggled with an identity. Too often J.J. seems like the only offensive option on the floor and because he's either unwilling or simply unable to pass off to one of his fellow reserves, he 'presses' too much and the result is usually an ill-advised shot and subsequent miss.
With Chase Budinger "close" to returning (according to Rick Adelman), that should take some of the offensive burden off of J.J. Barea as well as the team as a whole. If Chase can chip in 10-15 points a night; Love, Pek & K-Mart aren't going to be asked to do as much/it all.
One problem has been offense from the second unit, the other is team defense, shot-blocking & rim protection. That's where Ronny Turiaf comes into the picture. Turiaf is still rehabbing from that elbow injury. He has taken part in some contact practices, though like Chase a return date hasn't been set in stone, though it's likely we'll see him sometime in the next week or two.
Turiaf is the kind of high-energy player that can offer some rim protection that the Wolves are in desperate need of. When Turiaf went down with the fractured elbow in the second game of the season (vs. OKC) we all assumed that would mean more minutes for rookie Gorgui Dieng. That has definitely not been the case--instead we've seen more minutes for Pek, more minutes with Love at the 5 and even some with Dante Cunningham as the man in the middle. With Turiaf back in the mix the rotations will definitely change and the Wolves will have a strong, physical big man that they can turn to off the bench when an opposing big gets 'cooking' offensively.
Adelman has said Budinger won't play on Saturday vs. the Thunder, though no mention of Turiaf was made. I don't know if that means Ronny isn't even close to returning or if he'll play on Saturday, or what... I guess we'll just have to wait and see.
A TWolves fan, bringing you the daily updates.