By: Dan Slaubaugh
After two frustrating losses in Dallas and San Antonio, the Wolves will complete their three-game road trip tonight in Los Angeles against the Clippers.
When: 9:30pm CT
Where: Staples Center - Los Angeles, California
Where to watch: TNT
Where to listen: 830 WCCO
Minnesota comes into tonight's game with a 14-28 record, sitting in 13th place in the Western Conference. Los Angeles is 29-14 -- good for 4th in the West -- but are in the middle of an injury crisis with Chris Paul joining Blake Griffin on the sideline after tearing a ligament in his left knee Monday night against Oklahoma City.
As disappointing as CP3's injury is to the league, it gives the Wolves a much better chance at pulling off an upset tonight. Since the start of last season, the Clippers are 3-9 in games without Paul and Griffin.
The Clippers will need steady play out of their reserve guards Austin Rivers, Raymond Felton, and Jamal Crawford if they are going to pull out a win tonight against the Wolves. If Crawford can't bounce out of the funk he's currently in (20.5% from the field and 8.3% from three-point range over his past five games), the Wolves will have a pretty good chance of returning to Minnesota fresh off a victory.
With that said, the Wolves will still need a team effort tonight to defeat the Clippers.
Prediction: Wolves win 106-99. Wiggins pours in 36 points. Rubio has another 12+ assist night.
Kris Dunn's rookie struggles continue
Kris Dunn has been trying to get past the rookie wall all season. I don't believe anybody thinks that he can't become a good player, but what has he shown to convince anyone at this point? And to hell with the Ricky Rubio trade rumors (sort of kidding -- don't completely ignore them). But seriously, if Tom Thibodeau can't play Dunn more than three minutes at a time (ex: Tuesday night at SA), there's no way he trusts him to take on a substantial role in his rotation. He simply isn't ready for that yet. Will he be someday? Maybe. I have no idea. But to trade Rubio and give Dunn -- who's been awful over the past month -- a larger workload would be a slap in the face to Wolves fans who are dying for meaningful basketball in March and April.
Here's a look at Kris Dunn's shot chart over his last 15 games, where he averaged 2.9 points and 1.9 assists on 34% shooting from the field and 23.1% shooting from three-point range.
Dunn is a gritty player and already a decent defender. He's also very sloppy when he dribbles, can't shoot, and can't facilitate.
He may turn out to be the point guard of the Wolves future. He may not. But for now, his development is a real concern.
At this point in the season, it's pretty obvious that Tom Thibodeau wants to speed up the development of the "Baby 3" by playing them a substantial amount of minutes every game. That can be a good thing some nights. Other nights, not so much. For example, his starters -- who overall played a really nice game -- were already gassed in the final minutes of the third quarter in Tuesday night's loss in San Antonio. They played their hearts out, but ultimately ran out of energy which lead to another loss.
In these type of situations, I don't think it would hurt to give his starters a rest by giving guys like Brandon Rush and Tyus Jones -- players who have contributed in limited minutes -- a few minutes of action to give the starters some needed rest. I understand the bench isn't deep. However, Thibodeau sparing the starters for a few minutes by giving playing time to veteran 3-and-D wings such as Brandon Rush seems like a rational answer to this issue.
I understand wanting the pups to learn, but establishing a winning culture and feeling what it's like to win is equally important in my book.
Thanks for reading. Enjoy the game. Go Wolves.