By: Drew Mahowald
Gorgui Dieng isn't the player that comes to mind first when the average NBA fan thinks of the Minnesota Timberwolves. It's probably Karl-Anthony Towns or Andrew Wiggins, and rightfully so. Dieng isn't dropping 20+ points per game like those guys are.
Despite this, Dieng has solidified himself as a starting-caliber center in the NBA, especially given his performance since 2016 All-Star Weekend.
When Kevin Garnett went down with an injury a couple of months ago, interim head coach Sam Mitchell tagged Dieng as the new starting big man to team up with rookie phenom Karl-Anthony Towns. The two have not only gelled brilliantly together as a 1-2 punch in the frontcourt, but they've also registered the best net rating (8.1) among all two-man lineups the Wolves have thrown on the floor since the All-Star break.
For those who don't know, NBA.com's offensive rating and defensive rating measurements are an excellent way to track how a team performs when a certain player or group of players is on the court. Offensive rating is the number of points scored per 100 possessions while the given player or players are on the court, while defensive rating is the number of points allowed per 100 possessions while the given player or players are on the floor. From these two measurements, we can calculate a net rating, which is the difference between offensive and defensive rating. A higher offensive rating will result in a positive net rating, while a higher defensive rating will result in a negative net rating.
Since the All-Star break, Dieng's game has dramatically improved. While some of this is due simply to playing more minutes with Ricky Rubio and the starting unit, the numbers suggest that playing with Dieng, more so than Rubio, is elevating the performance of other players.
For instance, including the aforementioned Dieng and Towns duo, four of the top five Wolves two-man lineups since the All-Star break include Dieng.
BEST NET RATING, TWO-MAN LINEUPS, SINCE ALL-STAR BREAK
1) Gorgui Dieng and Karl-Anthony Towns - 8.1
2) Gorgui Dieng and Ricky Rubio - 7.2
3) Gorgui Dieng and Zach LaVine - 7.1
4) Shabazz Muhammad and Ricky Rubio - 6.9
5) Gorgui Dieng and Andrew Wiggins - 6.5
Based on those numbers, it shouldn't come as a surprise that Dieng is a member of Minnesota's top six three-man lineups.
BEST NET RATING, THREE-MAN LINEUPS, SINCE ALL-STAR BREAK
1) Gorgui Dieng, Zach LaVine and Karl-Anthony Towns - 9.4
2) Gorgui Dieng, Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins - 8.3
3) Gorgui Dieng, Zach LaVine and Andrew Wiggins - 7.7
4) Gorgui Dieng, Zach LaVine and Ricky Rubio - 7.7
5) Gorgui Dieng, Karl-Anthony Towns and Ricky Rubio - 7.0
6) Gorgui Dieng, Ricky Rubio and Andrew Wiggins - 6.6
So, what do all these numbers mean?
Most notably, these numbers indicate how great Dieng fits with this group of players, specifically his partners in the starting lineup (Rubio, LaVine, Wiggins and Towns). Dieng is enough of a threat offensively to take some heat off of Towns and Wiggins, while also being able to stretch the floor a bit and make room for the unizard (unicorn and wizard mix) that is Ricky Rubio. In simpler terms, Dieng's presence on the floor has made the Wolves a much better team.
Dieng's efficiency on the offensive end is the main reason for this. His mid-range jump shot is nearly automatic, or so it seems when watching it in a game. He has become one of the very few players in the NBA whose shots are actually expected to go in when released. He's that good. Check the shot chart and see for yourself.
Look at all that green.
Dieng's effectiveness in the mid-range area isn't the only way he puts the orange in the basket. He has a pump fake that looks identical to his jump shot that often gets defenders in the air, allowing him to get to the rim. Additionally, Dieng's post moves have improved immensely since last season. His shooting numbers in and around the paint are evidence enough of his efficient scoring.
While the defense is still a work in progress -- as it is with the entire team -- all the reasons noted above give plenty of hope for Dieng being a solid complimentary starting big next to Towns. Their games compliment each other extremely well, and they've already developed a smooth chemistry. The two of them have already given plenty of opponents fits as a 1-2 punch even though they have only started a miniscule amount of games together.
The numbers don't lie -- Gorgui Dieng is a valuable asset moving forward. His performance since joining the starting lineup right around the All-Star break speaks for itself. Despite not lighting up the points column every night, his style of play is an excellent compliment to the young core that Flip Saunders put together. I see no reason why Big G can't team with Towns to become one of the better big man duos in the NBA and -- better yet -- help the Wolves make some serious noise in the Western Conference over the next decade.
*All stats used are from nba.com/stats and are accurate as of March 29, 2016.*
Drew Mahowald is the lead writer at On The Prowl. He also serves as an assistant editor at NFCN Barroom. You can follow him on Twitter at @DrewMahowald.
By: Drew Mahowald
Oh, yeah. I went there.
I went there in the title.
Wikipedia (yeah, I used Wikipedia. Got a problem?) defines a moral victory as, "when a person, team or other group loses a confrontation, and yet achieves some other moral gain."
Every part of what happened for the Minnesota Timberwolves last night against the defending champion Golden State Warriors screams "moral victory".
The Warriors had just been embarrassed by the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday night, giving Golden State its seventh loss of the season. One would think the Warriors would come out firing on all cylinders after a performance like that in order to prevent two straight losses for the first time all season.
Instead, Minnesota, now at 22-48 for the season, played one of its best games of the season, keeping reigning MVP Stephen Curry in check while getting impressive performances from its own young core of talent. In the end, Golden State was able to pull away in the final minute to win by a score of 109-104 and move to 63-7 for the season.
Andrew Wiggins led Minnesota's scoring effort with 25 points on 8-for-21 from field and 8-for-11 from the free throw stripe. Not far behind was 20-year-old phenom Karl-Anthony Towns, who registered 24 points on 11-for-19 shooting and grabbed 11 rebounds for his 41st double-double of the season. Zach LaVine chipped in 19 points on 7-for-13 shooting, including two breakaway slam dunks that rocked Target Center.
But, as seems to be the theme when I write on here, Ricky Rubio was Minnesota's X-Factor last night. On the defensive end, he made life difficult for Curry, who finished with just 19 points on 6-for-17 shooting and 2-for-9 from beyond the arc. Additionally, Rubio's four steals in the box score don't do justice to how disruptive he was to Golden State's offense. Curry turned the ball over five times while Draymond Green turned it over four times, and Rubio's pesky defense definitely played a role in forcing them.
On the offensive end, Rubio was a scoring threat. Yeah, that's right. A scoring threat. Golden State dared Rubio to hit from beyond the three-point line early, and it's exactly what Rubio did, finishing 3-for-7 from deep. Overall, Rubio put up 20 points on 5-for-9 from the field and 7-for-7 from the free throw stripe while dishing out 11 assists.
So, basically, Rubio scored more points than Curry on half as many shots from the field. Oh, and Rubio made more threes than the Chef.
Credit needs to be given to interim head coach Sam Mitchell for the game plan he put together for the Wolves, especially on the defensive end. The "Splash Brothers" (Curry and Klay Thompson) finished the game a combined 11-for-31 from the field, finding little room to maneuver while Minnesota switched every screen either of them used to try to get open. The Warriors did take advantage of the switches at times, which led to 24 points from Green. But if the Warriors are forced to beat you with Draymond Green instead of Stephen Curry or Klay Thompson, you're doing something right.
After the game, Mitchell told the media that "There are no moral victories in professional sports." Really? I don't buy it. You're coaching a team full of dudes that can't drink yet, that sits at a 22-48 record and is playing against the reigning NBA champs who are chasing the best regular season record of all-time. You're not satisfied with last night? I mean, I know media and players alike have to say certain things to the media, but last night is exactly what a moral victory is. I can guarantee that Mitchell and his players, at some level, feel good about the way they played last night, despite not being able to get the win.
Or, in other words, while the Timberwolves didn't get the win on the scoreboard, they all "achieved some other moral gain."
Observations from Target Center
-- The Timberwolves PR team is full of geniuses for this "Whiteout" promotion. "Since 95% of the apparel we sell is not white, let's do a Whiteout night so people have to buy our white apparel." Absolutely genius. I personally didn't go for the $15 "Deal of the Game" white T-shirt, but I assume a lot of suckers did.
-- The Whiteout promotion was completed with white hand towels given to every fan at the game. The towel-waving and the sellout crowd made for what I presume is what a playoff atmosphere feels like. I say that cautiously because it's been 12 years since the Wolves have been a playoff team, so I can't really say that for sure.
-- Another PR idea I love is the fourth quarter Cherry Berry promotion. If an opposing player misses two consecutive free throws in the fourth quarter, every fan receives free frozen yogurt if he/she brings a ticket stub to a Cherry Berry store the next day. It's interesting, because without the promotion fans usually make some noise but aren't actively trying to distract the free throw shooter. But when there's free frozen yogurt on the line? GET UP. GET LOUD. I GOTTA HAVE MY FREE FROZEN YOGURT. MISS THESE FREE THROWS YOU BUM.
-- Watching Steph Curry do his pregame shooting routine is as mesmerizing as it sounds. He's out there goofing around, tossing floaters 30 feet in the air before they drop through the basket and shooting 45-footers (three of which he made). He knows he draws a crowd, and he puts on a show. It was truly a treat to watch.
-- There had to have been 3,000 fans surrounding the Warrior player entrance as Curry entered and left the court for his routine, and most of them were under the age of 16. It's incredible the way Curry has captured the younger NBA fans. Kids used to love players who could drive to the basket and make acrobatic layups and powerful dunks. Nowadays, these kids who can't even get the ball to the hoop from behind the three-point line are idolizing a guy who makes a living shooting threes.
Minnesota hosts the soap opera that is the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night at Target Center. Be sure to follow On The Prowl on Twitter @ontheprowl_MN and visit ontheprowlmn.com daily for more content as the season winds down.
By: Alex Berg
If any of you readers are anything like me, I imagine most of you will be parked in front of a television for most of the next few days watching the NCAA tournament. Since us Minnesota Timberwolves fans have little to look forward to this time of year, it is sometimes hard not to look for potential future-Wolves in the “big dance.”
Since I am sure some of you will have your bracket busted early, I will try to give you a reason to keep watching the tournament to keep an eye on some players that may be a fit to play in Minnesota next season.
California - The Golden Bears get listed as a team because there is just so much NBA talent on this roster. The freshman duo of Ivan Rabb and Jaylen Brown are both likely lottery picks, and senior point guard Tyrone Wallace will probably fall somewhere in the late-first or early-second round. Rabb and Brown are both incredibly talented, but still fairly raw, which does not put either at the top of my wishlist. Brown is an absolute freak athlete that would fit in nicely with all of the dunkers on the Wolves roster, but unfortunately so would his lack of an outside shot. Rabb started the year a little slow, but has matured quickly into a player that averaged 12.5 and 8.5 rebounds while shooting over 62 percent from the floor. GIven the choice between the two, I would prefer Rabb over Brown, but I’m still not sure how soon Rabb would be able to step in and help the team. Wallace is a good floor general for this young and talented team, but lacks shooting ability from distance and the free-throw line. I would not be overly upset if the Wolves took a flier on him in the second round, but he is not high on my list.
Wichita State - This is purely a second round speculation, but the Shockers backcourt of seniors Ron Baker and Fred Van Fleet intrigues me. Neither players are particularly flashy and are not even guarantees to be drafted, but I think they are worth a look. Both are average-to-above average outside shooters and their experience in college might give them a chance to make a NBA roster as a deep-depth player as a rookie.
Buddy Hield - This Oklahoma senior guard is probably either my favorite or second favorite prospect for the Wolves. He would almost certainly step in and instantly be the team’s best shooter, as he is shooting 46.4 percent from distance and has shown no problem stepping back to NBA range. He’s scoring 25.0 points per game and is nearly automatic from the free-throw line. The only “knock” I’ve heard on him is that he is a senior. Which baffles me. Look around the NBA and look at the best guards in the NBA and see how long they played in college. Damian Lillard, four years at Weber State. Klay Thompson, three years at Washington State. Stephen Curry, three years at Davidson. Isaiah Thomas, three years at Washington. CJ McCollum, four years at Lehigh. I can keep going, but I hope you get the point. Experience matters. Plus, his name is Buddy, how can you be against that?
Brandon Ingram - The Duke freshman sensation is one of my favorite prospects in the draft, but if the Wolves do not get extremely lucky in the lottery, they will not get the chance to pick him as he will probably be gone within the first two picks. His tall and slender frame combined with his ability to score both inside and outside has drawn comparisons to Kevin Durant. Personally, I think it may be a tad lofty, but Ingram should be a very good pro nonetheless.
Brice Johnson - This senior forward is a double-double machine for North Carolina. On the season, he is shooting over 61 percent and is averaging 16.6 points and 10.6 rebounds per game. The only concern for me is how he fits in the NBA against bigger players. At 6’9”, 228 pounds and no outside shot, he may have a little trouble finding a position early in his career. I imagine he will put on more weight and/or improve his range a little, but the Wolves will likely be picking a little too high for me to feel great about picking him in the first round.
Kris Dunn - Honestly, I am only including him because if I didn’t I know someone would say “how could you forget Kris Dunn?!” Well, I would not be forgetting him, I am just not very interested in the Providence guard. I don’t mind him as a player, I just do not think he is a good fit for the Wolves. Drafting Dunn would almost assuredly mean moving Ricky Rubio, which I think is a bad idea. Rookie point guards -- even the ones with three years of college experience -- rarely step in and can run an NBA team. Realistically it may take two full seasons of Dunn at the point for the Wolves to be a playoff-caliber team in his third season. The rebuilding has to be accelerated at some point. Plus, let’s look at what Kris Dunn is good at. Sure he can score against the Big East, but shooting is not his strong point. At just 34.0 percent from long range and a disappointing 68.9 percent from the charity stripe, Dunn leaves a lot to be desired as a shooter. He is an above-average passer, a plus-rebounder for his position and averages 2.5 steals per contest. Sound familiar? Call me crazy, but I will keep Rubio and get help elsewhere rather than further delaying the team’s hopes of being a playoff team.
Kentucky - Freshman guard Jamal Murray is one of my favorite players in the entire draft. He’s from Kentucky and is a Canadian, so he may have some sort of relationship with Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. More importantly, he can really shoot. He is shooting 42.1 percent from behind the arc and is another player who seems to have the ability to step back to the NBA line immediately. The only concern here is drafting him might create a logjam at the off-ball guard spot with Zach LaVine’s play demanding a big role next season. I would still list him as a top-3 or 4 guy for the Wolves.
If you look at freshman Skal Labissiere’s numbers, you probably would pass pretty quick. But he has emerged for the Wildcats as of late, including a game against LSU with 18 points, nine boards and six blocks. Originally near the top of draft boards and now back in the lottery conversation after falling out of it, Labissiere is an intriguing prospect but I would need to see a lot from him in the tournament to feel good about selecting him in the 5-7 range.
Sophomore guard Tyler Ulis is a name I have heard a lot recently. I would not object to using a second round pick on him, but selecting him would essentially be taking a mulligan on last year’s Tyus Jones pick. I’m not ready to do that quite yet and I really do not think the Wolves are interested in doing that.
Jakob Poeltl - The Utah senior big-man is someone I’ve basically ignored until fairly recently. The possibility of selecting Poeltl all depends on if the team views Towns as a center or a forward-center combo player. Drafting Poeltl would help fill the void that Nikola Pekovic will probably never be able to reclaim. Adding a big presence like Poeltl (a 65.6 percent shooter!) would give the Wolves a very versatile trio with Towns and Gorgui Dieng. If the Wolves can add a shooter through either free agency or a trade, Poeltl might be one of my favorite targets in the draft.
Denzel Valentine - Speaking of my favorite targets of the draft, this senior from Michigan State is probably neck-and-neck with Hield for me. Again he will have the senior bias against him, but I already explained why I think that is foolish. I’ve been referring to Valentine as “Baby Draymond” for over a year now and it is not just the school that they have in common. Valentine is listed at 6’6” and is more than capable of handling the ball as he serves as the point guard for Tom Izzo’s Spartans. While he does leave a little to be desired on the defensive end, his versatility on the offensive end cannot be matched. He is averaging 19.4 points, 7.6 rebounds and 7.6 assists per game while shooting 44.7 percent (!) from distance and 85.3 percent at the free-throw line. While he does not quite have Rubio’s passing ability, his vision and passing IQ is better than anyone else in this draft class. Much like Draymond - a SECOND ROUND pick in 2012 -- this guy just has a sense of how to play the game of basketball. That often goes overlooked by NBA scouts who prefer to evaluate players in an empty gym. Valentine’s ability to handle the ball, make the players around him better, and keep things afloat would be more than welcomed on Minnesota’s second unit. It seems like most “experts” have him slotted as a mid-late first round selection. If Michigan State makes the championship run I expect them to make, maybe Valentine’s stock will raise. Regardless, I would absolutely consider him wherever the Wolves are picking in the first round.
Something I probably should have led with is that this is widely viewed as a fairly weak draft class. Which has led me to be an advocate of at least entertaining the idea of trading the pick for an established player that can help the team win next season. Nonetheless, the Wolves will likely be picking high enough where they can get a player that can step in and help the team immediately to some extent while being a valuable asset for the future.
Enjoy the tournament, everybody!
By Drew Mahowald
It's the final seconds in the fourth quarter. The Minnesota Timberwolves and the Oklahoma City Thunder are tied at 96 apiece, and the Timberwolves have possession out of a timeout. Minnesota head coach Sam Mitchell draws up a pick-and-roll design for Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns, while Zach LaVine, Shabazz Muhammad and Ricky Rubio surround the perimeter waiting for a kickout pass.
As Wiggins attacks, he is met by a wall of white Thunder jerseys. Miraculously, Wiggins is able to find Rubio spotting up at the left wing out of the corner of his eye, and he delivers a pinpoint pass to Ricky.
Yes, that Ricky Rubio. The guy whose only real criticism is an inability to shoot. The guy who Minnesota drafted instead of Stephen Curry. The guy who has quarterbacked the 3rd-best offense in the NBA since January 22nd. The guy who only received 70 percent of the vote in a poll held by Paul Allen asking fans which player they would rather have between he and Jeremy Lin. (Seriously, people? 30 percent of you would prefer Jeremy Lin over Rubio? I can't even find a word to describe how absurd that is.)
Rubio catches Wiggins' pass, and smoothly transitions into his shooting motion, which has never looked prettier and has never had the arc it did at this moment.
As the ball falls through the net, Rubio turns toward his teammates and gives them the blankest of all blank stares. It's a stare that tells his teammates "I got you" while ripping into the souls of Wolves fans who doubt him.
It was a great moment for Rubio and for the Timberwolves. Not only did they get the dramatic win, but they did so against the third-best team in the Western Conference at their building, which just so happens to be one of the toughest places to play in the NBA.
While there were a number of great performances in this game from the guys in the blue jerseys, Rubio's performance was the most impactful. Obviously his game-winning shot was huge, but he did so many other things throughout the game that deserve more credit. He played tough defense, getting three steals and altering a number of other passes from Russell Westbrook who finished with five turnovers and shot just 8-for-19 from the field. He assisted on 12 baskets, including many crucial shots down the stretch from great pick-and-roll execution. He turned the ball over exactly zero times. Oh, and he defied the critics of his perimeter shooting by making three of six attempts from downtown.
If this performance doesn't convince the naysayers of Rubio's value to this team, frankly, I'm not sure what will. If you're a fan who demands 25 points on 50 percent shooting from your point guard, you can go cheer for another team because Rubio won't provide that on a consistent basis. But, if you're a fan who enjoys a point guard that possesses excellent court vision, tremendous passing skills, and a menacing defensive attitude, look no further than Rubio.
Tonight's win over Oklahoma City gave Wolves fans everywhere a glimpse into the future. Fantastic performances from Wiggins, Towns and Gorgui Dieng were all crucial in a road win against a strong opponent. More importantly, though, is that Rubio's performance was significant in that glimpse into the future. As Minnesota's young roster gains experience and starts to learn how to win over the next couple of years, Rubio's style of play and leadership and the point guard position will be valuable.
If you're still an advocate of a Rubio trade after reading this far, well, I'm sorry. I'm not sure what more I can do. I guess you'll just have to live with a point guard that not only possesses elite-level passing and defense, but will also knock down a game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer.
By: Dan Slaubaugh
Hello everyone. It's been a while. Too long, actually. In fact, my computer logged me out of Weebly, which is sad in itself. Anyways, I'm back now, and ready to see what the final 17 games has in store.
During my absence there were a lot of thoughts, Timberwolves related, that built up in my mind and it's time to share them with you. Some might be complex. Some might not be.
Let's cut right to it.
The life of a Timberwolves fan
As the NBA season comes to its homestretch, most NBA fans have their attention geared toward their favorite team trying to sneak into the playoffs or for a playoff/finals run. Unfortunately, Wolves fans haven't had the privilege of gearing up for a playoff run this time of year for the past 12 years. Our thoughts are ultimately focused on the draft and if the Wolves should tank to have better odds at moving up. It's sad, really. Hopefully next year at this time we can focus our thoughts on a playoff berth and finish watching a full NBA season. However, this does lead me to my next topic. The draft.
Here's the deal. If nothing changes in the standings till the end of the year, the Wolves will probably have the 5th best shot at landing the #1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. However, their schedule from here on is brutal. Take a look.
Personally, I see 3-5 wins in there, so they could perhaps move up in the lottery and have a better chance at a higher pick. I'd rather win to build the players confidence, but logistics say it probably isn't going to happen much as we end the season.
If they decide to use their pick, I'd guess they go big. They are just so high on LaVine and because of that, there's no room left on the wings and they aren't going to draft someone to come off the bench for the next 5 years.
Here are some of the options the Wolves have if they decide to go big. I chose to use NBADraft.net's scouting report, because there's no need to waste my time researching when other outlets (such as this one) have it masterfully covered.
PF: Dragan Bender - Croatia
Versatile player, who can play both forward positions and occasionally at Center, although for now is considered a power forward … Has all the necessary elements to become a prototypical stretch 4, if he continues to improve … Impressive size for a power forward. Solid wingspan (measured at 7-2 feet) and great standing reach (measured at 9-3 feet) … Runs the floor extremely well for a big guy … Very good coordination for a player his size … Good ball handing … Possesses high basketball I.Q. … Very good court vision, either while dribbling or playing in the post … Already an excellent passer … He can do just about everything at a good rate on the offensive end.
Not a great athlete … Limited leaping ability … Not explosive enough to play as a wing at the next level … At times he looks like a perimeter player trapped in a big man’s body … Stronger players can bully him on the post on both ends of the floor … Has to bulk up to play at the next level, and appears to have a naturally skinny bodytype … He can do just about everything on the offensive end, but he can’t do anything at an elite level ...Post defense is a question mark … Not as good shot blocker as he should be for a player his size … At times he loses his concentration on defense … Mediocre rebounder, who sometimes forgets to box out.
PF: Ivan Rabb - Freshman, California
With a slight frame, for now, Rabb is very good at gaining position against defenders in the low post ... At 6'10 once Rabb got near the hoop he was virtually automatic against high school competition at the rim ... He has developed a consistent baby left hook shot that is his go-to move ... Rabb is also very explosive laterally ... Even when caught in tight spaces or too deep in the paint he possesses the athleticism to still get a good shot attempt or dunk attempt off ...... Very effective rim protector ... Quick to help, but doesn't leave his feet early ... Let's the offensive player come to him before trying for a block ... Uses his feet well to reposition himself for blocks ... His large wingspan (7'1") is also a big help on defense.
Besides his baby hook, doesn't have an array of post moves in his repertoire ... Has mostly relied on being taller and more athletic than most of his competition ... Must get stronger and fill out his frame as much as possible ... Can easily be knocked off his spot in the paint ... Besides rim protection he's not really a great overall defender ... Strictly a post player at this point, Rabb hasn't adapted to the new "position less basketball" movement ... If he's not able to score in the post he will drift out to the perimeter, which isn't the strongest part of his game at the moment.
If the Wolves decide Ricky's not the long term answer at point guard, which is a possibility, they could turn their heads to Providence's junior point guard Kris Dunn, who was just selected the Big East Player of the Year for the 2nd straight season.
Dunn possesses a very quick first step to blow by opponents, utilizing it well to attack the basket ... Led the NCAA in assists throughout most of his junior year, displaying great ability to pass and create shots for teammates .... Excellent defender with great anticipation on steals (2.8 per game, good for 4th in the nation) ... Above average rebounding numbers from the point guard position 5.6 rpg ... Excellent ball handler, very comfortable with the ball in his hands, setting up the offense. Took a medical hardship in his freshman season ... That concern for future injuries makes him a bit of a wild card ... Turnover prone at 4.1 per game. Must cut down on mental errors and show more value for the ball.
Besides his baby hook, doesn't have an array of post moves in his repertoire ... Has mostly relied on being taller and more athletic than most of his competition ... Must get stronger and fill out his frame as much as possible ... Can easily be knocked off his spot in the paint ... Besides rim protection he's not really a great overall defender ... Not quick laterally and often doesn't seem to be moving fluidly when defending on the ball ... Strictly a post player at this point, Rabb hasn't adapted to the new "position less basketball" movement ... If he's not able to score in the post he will drift out to the perimeter, which isn't the strongest part of his game at the moment ... Really left-hand dominant, needs to put more work in on his off hand ... Needs to continue to improve at the free throw line as well.
It looks like we may have seen the last of Garnett, having missed the past 19 games due to sore knees and there being no signs of evidence that he will return anytime soon. If he does return, it'd probably be a 1 game stint to make his farewell to Minnesota and the rest of the NBA.
The lack of rebounds and assists is discouraging. But overall, he's having himself a fine year. He's been consistent, which is something you can't say about many past and former Timberwolves. Andy G from Punch-Drunk Wolves had an interesting tidbit in the usual excellent read from yesterday.
One interesting detail about Wiggins’ third quarter was that he took over Ricky Rubio’s spot as the team’s on/off differential king. Wiggins had the best “on” rating of (+0.8), and the worst “off” rating of (-10.8). That the Wolves played 11.6 points per 100 possessions better with Wiggins than they did without him is a new trend for him, as he’s been kind of middle-of-the-pack in that statistical category.
He is improving. Slowly, but surely. Next year will be the year we find out if he is going to ascend into the ranks of NBA stardom. For now, he's 21, and would be a junior at Kansas leading his team into the NCAA Tournament if he hadn't opted for the NBA.
I've been high on Bazz for awhile now. I still am. But I am starting to believe Minnesota isn't where he belongs. He brings a high motor, nice touch around the basket, and can hit the corner 3, but the Wolves have turned their focus and attention to the core group that is LaVine, Wiggins, and Towns. It would be different if Bazz toned up his weaknesses (defense, tunnel-visioned), but that doesn't seem to be happening. Therefore, look for Bazz to be somewhere else when the 2016/2017 season tips off, and perhaps be used correctly to fully utilize the skills he brings to the table. He does have a place in this league. The question is where.
Thanks for reading. Have a wonderful weekend. Oh, and by the way, we are so lucky to have Karl-Anthony Towns. In the words of John Meyer (CH): "He's a pleasant distraction from the sobering reality that postseason basketball will not take place in downtown Minneapolis in mid-April for the twelfth straight year."