Year-Round News & Updates on the Minnesota Timberwolves
The NBA training camps open on December 9th and on Christmas Day the 2011-2012 season will officially begin. As such we're starting to look at the Timberwolves Season Preview. Starting today, with the potential starting lineups.
At point guard, the Timberwolves ultimately have two options. The first, is of course, their 2010-11 starting point guard: Luke Ridnour. Ridnour was initially signed as a veteran backup guard to Jonny Flynn. However, Flynn was out of the lineup for the first half of the season and Ridnour became an everyday starter. He was 'okay', but he's certainly not a top-10-20-or-30 point guard in this League. In fact, in ESPN's #NBARank he's ranked #182 overall and #37 among point guards (with a 4.51 rank). Ridnour isn't the answer at the point, but there's a good chance he could be the TWolves starting point guard on the Wolves' opening day. That of course, leaves Ricky Rubio as a potential starter. Rubio was originally drafted in 2009 with the 5th overall pick, however the 2011-12 season will be his rookie season. Rubio is the ideal point guard--a great playmaker that loves to get his teammates involved--which is a big reason he'll be a team favorite. However, like Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics, Ricky Rubio isn't known as a great shooter, which will cause defenders to sag off of him and force him to make shots. The good news is, during the lockout, for little under a month Rubio played and worked out in Los Angeles with the likes of Paul Pierce & Kevin Garnett. He's reportedly worked diligently on his jumper, so, I won't be so quick to dismiss his abilities. My thoughts on the point guard position for Minnesota: Luke Ridnour will begin the season as the starting point guard, however, by seasons end, Ricky Rubio will be the full-time floor general.
At the shooting guard, the Timberwolves are definitely in need of a great shooting guard. Wesley Johnson was the starting shooting guard for the majority of last season, excluding when Kurt Rambis subbed in Corey Brewer as the starter at the two, moving Wes to the bench. Brewer, was of course traded to the Knicks in the Carmelo deal that landed Minnesota Anthony Randolph (Brewer was waived--then picked up by the Mavs) and Johnson was moved back into the starting lineup. At the shooting guard, the Timberwolves--right now, have two options: Wesley Johnson or Wayne Ellington. That is, if David Kahn doesn't end up signing anyone in free agency. Martell Webster could potentially start at the 2, but there are a number of critics who believe that Webster doesn't have the ability to defend quicker shooting guards. Hopefully Adelman can mold Wesley into a solid shooting guard as he's ultimately the Wolves' only option right now.
At the small forward, is where the Timberwolves have the biggest logjam. On the current roster there are currently six guys who can play the small forward: Michael Beasley, Derrick Williams, Martell Webster, Lazar Hayward, Anthony Randolph & Wesley Johnson. It ultimately comes down to two potential small forward starters: Beasley & Williams. Michael Beasley, was, of course, the Timberwolves' everyday starter last season. He's a great versatile scorer, who struggles on defense, but is a very young player with a lot of potential. Derrick Williams, was the Wolves' #2 overall pick in last year's draft. Williams is also a versatile scorer, who blossomed into a star in college. Though, like Beasley he needs to develop his position in the NBA. Both Beasley and Williams are below-average defenders, are versatile forwards, scorers, who can't rebound very well (though with K-Love it really doesn't matter). Ultimately, they'll both (hopefully) see plenty of floor time, but, at least on opening day, Michael Beasley will be starting.
At the power forward...well...come on...is there any doubt who will be starting at the 4 for the Minnesota Timberwolves? Yeah...it's Kevin Love, by seasons end it'll be Kevin Love and hopefully for the franchise, he'll be around for years to come. Double-double machine, rebounding master and according to Chris Mannix who talked to Love's personal trainer, Kevin's in the best shape he's EVER seen him.
At the center, like the shooting guard, the Timberwolves have a real problem with this position. The Wolves currently have three centers on the roster: Darko Milicic, Brad Miller & Nikola Pekovic. Darko was the everyday starter last season. He's in the second season of his 4-year $20M deal. Some fans are clamoring for Darko to be cut by the TWolves under the new amnesty clause, however, there's almost a zero-percent chance. If they cut Darko, who'll be at the 5? Despite is offensive inefficiencies, he's a solid defender and shot blocker. With Miller's ties to Adelman during his time in Sacramento & Houston, could potentially get some time as the Wolves' starting center. The last option is Anthony Randolph (yeah, Pekovic isn't really an option--at this time). Randolph has reportedly packed on at least 20 pounds of muscle since last season and at 6-11 he's an insanely athletic forward, with great shot blocking and low post attributes. I hope, Randolph gets a chance to play some center, whether he's the starting center or not. Ultimately, I expect Darko to be the man in the middle come opening day.
A TWolves fan, bringing you the daily updates.