By: Dan Slaubaugh
With just 12 games left on the schedule, the regular season is coming to a close. Unfortunately, the Wolves - for the 13th straight year - will be sitting on their couches in late April when the postseason tips off.
Here at On The Prowl, we are feeling the grind of the grueling 82-game schedule. In the OTP chat room, we exchange thoughts daily on the state of the team. We're currently gassed, but still alternate thoughts on a regular basis. I thought it'd be a good idea to share them with you guys, because after all, we're here to serve you.
Topics include shortening the NBA schedule, the new logo reveal, general thoughts on Zach LaVine, the final stretch, and looking ahead to next season. Some may be in great detail. Some may not. Enjoy!
Shortening the NBA schedule
Jonah: Dan, what's your opinion on shortening the NBA schedule?
Dan: I'd be totally game for a 72 game schedule.
Jonah: Anything shorter?
Dan: No. You?
Jonah: I think my ideal number is 65 but I'm comfortable with anything over 60.
Dan: Gotcha. I think if they eliminated back-to-backs that'd fix everything.
Jonah: Yep, the back-to-backs are the biggest issue.
Zach: I'd be okay with keeping 82 or going to 74/76 but starting the season two weeks earlier (shortening preseason) so it eliminates the back-to-backs. I also like the thought that the basketball would be better because right now, there is to time to practice.
Jonah: Fewer injuries, more meaningful games, higher quality basketball. It's a win win win. The only issue, as always, is the money.
Dan: Yeah, all good points.
New logo reveal
Zach: You guys excited for the new logo reveal?
Jonah: So excited. I feel like it's a good thing to put this logo to bed.
Dan: Yeah, it should be awesome. I have a feeling it will be somewhat like the 1987 logo. Just a hunch.
Jonah: I really hope it is.
Dan: That would be best-case scenario. It worries me a little that the firm in charge of the rebrand also did the rebranding for the Pelicans. However, they were also in charge of the Hawks and Kings rebranding, so that's the positive.
General thoughts on Zach LaVine
Dan: What are your guys' thoughts on LaVine?
Zach: It would have been really nice to have him play with this team the whole year. I still think he is best suited for a bench role if he wants to be a ball dominant scorer. If he is going to be with the starters he has to be a catch-and-shoot guy to. He also needs to become a smarter basketball player, learn how to draw fouls, play team defense, and make the right pass.
Dan: Right on. I think peak value LaVine is scoring 6th man LaVine with Gorgui as a backup big. I'd like to see those two off the bench together with the chemistry they've developed. Would really strengthen the Wolves bench.
Zach: For sure. They play well together. It also gives the option of inserting them into the starting lineup when injuries take place and onto the court in late-game situations, whoever is playing better.
Dan: I think that is peak Wolves next year. Grab a vet 3 ( will look later at options) to start alongside Wiggins, also sign Taj Gibson or JaMychal Gfreen for three years to complement Towns in the frontcourt, and then bring LaVine and Dieng off the bench.
Zach: You love you some Taj Gibson. Maybe three years ago but just don't like that move anymore, especially for three years. You'd be getting 32-35 year old Gibson. It would help but think they could probably find better, maybe not though.
The final stretch
Jonah: I might be ready for the season to be over.
Zach: I am with you guys. Has that feeling like nothing else good is going to happen this year. The team looks awful again and injuries have caught up. Plus, we continue to have to watch Brandon Rush.
Dan: Yeah, it stinks. I feel like we have learned all that we've need to learn and now am eager to move on. I hate inconsequential basketball.
Zach: Dunn should see a lot of minutes...and I can't watch that.
Looking ahead to next season
Zach: Thibs will be all in on the playoffs next year. He knows it has to happen. Could see some big changes this offseason and not all might be loved.
Dan: Agreed. It's playoffs or bust.
Zach: Could give up some ceiling to not have as low of a floor.
Jonah: The thing is, this was the year to do it. All the teams the Wolves are competing with for this years 8 spot are going to continue to improve - Denver specifically.
Zach: For sure. LaVine and pick to Portland for Lillard or McCollum.
Jonah: Give me McCollum
Dan: I'm scared on the effect Thibodeau's minute distribution will have for next year when we're potentially occupying a 6-8 seed heading into the playoffs or final stretch of the season. It's a real issue and one can only hope they'll have enough energy to finish off the regular season strong and ride that momentum into the playoffs with fresh legs.
Jonah: Absolutely. Thibs still doesn't seem to understand minute distribution.
Dan: I'm not at all sure why. People have to mention it to him on a regular basis. He's just too stubborn?
Jonah: It's very possible. He seems to be that way. I guess I thought him spending all this time with other organizations, Spurs specifically, would change his mind.
Dan: Exactly. He took a year off and didn't learn from his biggest mistake.
Jonah: You're right. If he didn't have the minutes issue he would probably be considered one of the very top coaches in the league.
Dan: Yeah absolutely. And with all of this said, I honestly think this team will be in the postseason next year. Thibs had a year to evaluate and now should make some changes. Plus, the players will have familiarity coming into next season.
Zach: I really do think they are going to remake the bench. KAT and Wiggins are great, but I think we have seen they can't carry the team. I know they will get better and KAT is the better player, but it's still a guard-driven league and posts need touches created for them. Wiggins hasn't shown the ability to consistently be able to be a guy who you can give the ball to and score efficiently.