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Most recent 20 results returned for keyword: Thibs (Search this on MAP)

https://plus.google.com/104250726482185740043 Shane Arreaga : Wall of L's of 12/9 1. Milwaukee Fucks: How? Fucking how? How do you lose a 20 point lead and let the...
Wall of L's of 12/9

1. Milwaukee Fucks: How? Fucking how? How do you lose a 20 point lead and let the Hawks score 70 points the next two halves. And they won. Wtf, are you guys the next Clippers? Warriors? Knicks? Those teams always choke away a big lead. Get your shits together. You want to go to the playoffs? Don't lose huge leads like that...

2. Indiana Gaycers: Again, how do you lose to the worst team in the NBA but you can beat the damn Suns?. I don't understand teams like Indiana, Bulls, Clippers, and others. They beat average to above average teams but can't beat the worst teams in the NBA. The fuck kind of bs is that? Start rebuilding soon. And Thad and Monta, you guys get L's to for your performances. Smh

3. Hassan Whiteside: again? Another 8 point performance? LMAO you're starting to make me think your inconsistent. You still the best player on the team, but like Boogie you're streaky af. Gotta learn also how to play better help defense. It wasn't that good enough. So that tells me you just fish for blocks and dont play D in its entirety (sus right there but idgaf)

4. Karl Anthony Towns: you got outplayed by Andre Chicken Drums. Lmaoooooooooooooooo. Lately You've been getting outplayed alot. I dont think Thibs is even developing you. Because if he was you wouldn't be having those long stretches of bad games. We all undertsand defense is important. But what about ball movement? Chemistry? People tend to leave out Thibs is an old school coach. People think this team is going to the playoffs. Lol nope, chemistry needs to be worked on alot. Lakers will probably make the playoffs first if anything.

5. James Harden: yes I get it he almost got a trip dub. But 6-23 from the field, 8 turnovers and 5 fouls. I guess Roberson locked your ass up pretty good again. You gotta step it up bruh. James Harden- Russell Westbrook matchup are supposed to be lit not a brick fest. Smh we all have bad games I know that shit. But when it comes to rivals and all that, you gotta be prepared to show what you got. And also be consistent. You gotta lower your fouls and turnovers alot. It's ruining the team kind of

6. Russell Westbrook: Again I understand he got a triple double his 7th straight, congratufuckinglations. But again 8-25 from the field, 8 turnovers. You guys James and Russ gotta stop ballhogging so much and rely on your teammates more. Assists has nothing to do with it. Ballhogs hold the ball for more than 15-20 seconds and then make a pass or chuck up a random shot. I want this duel to be much better next time y'all play against each other. I dont want bad gamed from both of you...
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1 hour ago - Via Community - View -
https://plus.google.com/111429276509442296910 Breaking Duluth News : Britt Robson As the Minnesota Timberwolves pass the quarter pole of the 2016-17 season tied for the ...
Britt Robson As the Minnesota Timberwolves pass the quarter pole of the 2016-17 season tied for the third-worst record in the NBA at 6-16, folks pleading patience with the exceptionally young roster are themselves growing weary, if not irritated, at the ongoing ineffectiveness of this counsel.  No one can dispute that the Wolves possess the most athletically gifted trio of 21-year old players in the league — and perhaps ever, in the history of the game. Nor can anyone dispute that head coach Tom Thibodeau is universally respected, to the brink of reverence, by his peers for his proven ability to create stifling team defenses. This match made in heaven is currently holed up in Hades, and is thus far refusing to leave. The Timberwolves are dreadful at stopping opponents from scoring. The fiery coach with the step-by-step template of fundamentals and the titanic threesome already renowned for their curlicue leaps and cheetah dashes are being repeatedly rendered pathetic by a basic pick-and-roll. Where synergy was logically anticipated, corrosion reigns, generating an almost haughty ineptitude. The promise of deliverance increasingly feels like a long con. According to basketball-reference.com, the Wolves are currently giving up 111 points to their opponents per 100 possessions of the basketball. This is 4.3 points more than the average NBA defense is allowing. Now, Minnesota has witnessed some utterly atrocious hoops — you could spend an evening debating which Wolves assemblage was worst. But in the 28-year history of the franchise, only the notorious “tanking for Towns” season of 2014-15 has seen a team screw the pooch on defense more blatantly, relative to the NBA standard, than the current bunch. But things are getting better, right? Nope. In 16 November games, the Wolves allowed opponents to shoot 47.3 percent from the field and 33.1 percent from three-point territory while yielding 104.1 points per game. In four December contests, opponents are shooting 48 percent from the field, 41.7 percent from deep and averaging 116.8 points per game. I am using stats to paint a terrible picture. Yes, the Wolves are 4.3 points worse than average in defensive rating this season, but there are currently three teams behind them — they rank “only” 27th in defensive efficiency, indicating the enormous gap between the good and bad team defenses thus far. And four December games is a pretty small sample size, and includes contests against Toronto’s second-ranked offense, and a San Antonio team that is 9th in offensive efficiency. So maybe the Wolves aren’t historically bad. Maybe they are merely one of the four or five worst defenses in the NBA. Complacent with the hype My desire to dramatize Minnesota’s wretched defense stems from the damning discrepancy between the reputations of their cornerstone stars and their head coach and the results they are delivering. When then-President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders obtained Andrew Wiggins in a trade for Kevin Love and the next season chose Karl-Anthony Towns with the top pick in the draft, he used the phrase “two-way player” to describe both acquisitions. What he meant was that both Wiggins and Towns were regarded as rugged, capable defenders as well as scorers; indeed, both supposedly were more advanced and “NBA-ready” at the defensive end than they were on offense. In reality, both have been inconsistent, while showing flashes of quality defense, during their brief NBA careers. The other player included in the golden trio, Zach LaVine, is, like Wiggins, in his third season, a year longer than Towns. LaVine has lived up to his billing as the most undeveloped of the three, setting a new level for chronically clueless defense his first two seasons. Of course one of the primary reasons for optimism this season was the arrival of Thibodeau — specifically his ability to hasten and elevate the defensive prowess of the three kids. It is accepted wisdom that team defense in basketball comes down to effort, focus, and familiarity with a system, as well as the innate ability of the five individuals playing it. Thibs has a lofty rep for fostering effort and narrowing the focus to a laser-beam like intensity that quickens the collective grasp on the clear principles of his defensive philosophy. Twenty-two games into the season, there is more than enough blame to go around for the flagrant failure of the Wolves D. On Thursday night in Toronto, the second half began with all the commentators and trend-watchers buzzing about Minnesota’s tragicomic performances in the third quarter of games thus far this season. It has been a dominant motif in their pratfall campaign thus far and nobody should be more aware of it than the players. And yet in just the second minute of the third quarter, after Gorgui Dieng missed a jump shot, 22-year old rookie forward Pascal Siakam was able to sprint down the floor wide open and receive a simple chest pass from Kyle Lowry for an unimpeded dunk. This gifted basket occurred because Siakam’s man, Towns, was down near the hoop in rebounding position and didn’t hustle back quickly enough. It happened because Wiggins and LaVine, who both were back, decided to stay with their men and not bother to deter a wide open player in the process of getting a pass twenty feet from the basket. An exasperated Thibodeau called timeout and presumably reamed out his players for their absence of sufficient effort and judgement. Less than a minute later, after Towns valiantly converted his second putback attempt for the Wolves first basket of the third quarter, Toronto inbounded the ball and threw it upcourt to a wide open DeMar DeRozan, located in the corner halfway between Ricky Rubio near mid-court and Wiggins along the baseline. As the Wolves scrambled to recover, DeRozan drove to the basket, where he was fouled by Wiggins, resulting in a three-point play. These are the sort of casual, unfocused defensive lapses that will get you hooted at in grade school or on the playground. They happened twice in succession on national television at a time in the game when the Wolves knew their play was subject to added scrutiny. It was, no hyperbole, a shameful display. Logic tells us that a coach with Thibodeau’s pedigree, relentlessly working with players who perform with such athletic majesty, speak with such apparent self-awareness, and generally comport themselves in a manner that indicates respect for the game, will eventually synergize into a dynamic defensive force. Context tells us that Thibs is 22 games into a five-year contract, that Wiggins, Towns and LaVine had just one year of college experience apiece, and that there has never been such a precocious burden spread among three players this way before. None of that indemnifies Thibs and his players against the shoddy spectacle of those two possessions in Toronto. A few games back, after yet another loss in which the Wolves delivered some highlight-reel dunks and contortions mixed in with the usual defensive dysfunction, Thibodeau pointedly noted that these NBA games “are not a show, they are a competition.” It was a subtle but devastating and concise bit of criticism. The Wolves in general, and Towns, Wiggins and Towns in particular, almost always play as if this was ice skating instead of basketball, in the sense that they are being equally judged on style points as well as technical merit. It is time for these players to own the reality that one spectacular dunk, or one gorgeous drive through traffic that gets replayed to the masses numerous times, is a net minus in comparison to two mundane defensive mistakes that are probably undetectable to 99 percent of the viewing public. Remedies: prudent or panicked? Meanwhile, it is up to Thibs to own the reality that the fundamentals he preaches are not permeating the fabric of his team. There are folks among the Wolves fan base who believe that is partly because the coach is a joyless scold, and that his players are consciously or unconsciously rebelling against his hectoring desire for discipline. It is a theory that will acquire more credence the longer his baleful stares and hoarse instructions are stonewalled into oblivion. Only once or twice has Thibs lost his composure after a game and really ripped into the way he team played. Never in that time has he singled out a player for any sort of criticism, even when I have directly asked for an assessment, and immediately asked again after an evasive response. (Albeit always complimentary, as in “you raise a good point.”) On the other hand, after a rare, rousing comeback victory over Charlotte last week, Thibs was equally determined not to let his troops marinate in satisfaction over the result. One day at a time, and getting a little better on that day, is his metronomic mindset. Except that to the less-educated schmoes like yours truly, the Wolves don’t seem to be getting better. After this 6-16 start, the Wolves will have to play 35-25 basketball the rest of the season to post their first .500 record since 2005, which even then is unlikely to get them into the playoffs for the first time since 2004. Thus far Thibs has doubled down on the potential synergy of his core youth, playing LaVine, Towns and Wiggins the third-most minute s— 555 — of any trio in the NBA this season. Among three-man lineups that have logged at least 300 minutes together, the highlight reel triplets rank second-worst in defensive efficiency, with 114.2 points yielded per 100 possessions. Only the Portland trio of Harkness, McCollum and Plumlee (a killer moniker for a law firm) gives up more, 116 per 100 possessions. Defensive misery loves company in Minnesota, however, as the third, fourth and fifth worst defensive trios logging more than 300 minutes together, when you swap in Rubio for each of the three principals. Not surprisingly, a four-player combo of Rubio and the three young’uns is the second-worst defensive quartet logging over 300 minutes. Put simply, Thibodeau keeps throwing this group back into the water, determined to see them swim instead of sink. After 22 games of this, is it prudent or a premature bout of panic to change the mix? Some would argue for Kris Dunn to replace Rubio at the point. At least at the defensive end, the stats are unkind to this gambit—Dunn with the three kids has a worse defensive rating than Rubio. However the quartet’s net rating is significantly better because the offense functions much more efficiently with Dunn over Rubio. There are some matchups where it seems like a clear advantage to play Cole Aldrich at center instead of Gorgui Dieng. Tonight’s home game against the Detroit Pistons is a case in point: Aldrich could take on behemoth center Andre Drummond while Towns handles power forward Tobias Harris. This offers the advantage of keeping the core youth intact, although another enticing possibility is adding Nemanja Bjelica to the starters as a larger small forward better able to guard the beefy, 6-9 Markieff Morris. This would bump Wiggins down to shooting guard and throw LaVine to the second unit, where he can maintain his offensive chemistry with Dieng. As mentioned, Thibodeau has steadfastly resisted this sort of tinkering. Only injuries — which cost Rubio five games and LaVine one — have prevented the same starting quintet from coming out for the opening tip every time. Maybe this steady jackhammer-style repetition will break through. Thus far, Thibs has coached like a guy at a slot machine, yanking that lever time after time, grinding down the odds for his jackpot. Well, he’s got five years’ worth of tokens, assuming the kids don’t bolt for free agency or the fans don’t burn down Target Center first.  | @MinnPost
The T-Wolves defense: bad … or historically bad?
Twenty-two games into the season, there is more than enough blame to go around for the flagrant failure of the Wolves D.
20 hours ago - Via - View -
https://plus.google.com/116696275230470017120 Sports Updates : Shootaround (Dec. 8): Mavs hold team meeting - Warriors teach Clippers a lesson | Mavs hold team meeting...
Shootaround (Dec. 8): Mavs hold team meeting - Warriors teach Clippers a lesson | Mavs hold team meeting after embarrassing loss | The Rondo enigma | Motiejunas not happy with contract discrepancy | Lessons learned on the Thibs Tour
Shootaround (Dec. 8): Mavs hold team meeting - NBA.com
Warriors teach Clippers a lesson | Mavs hold team meeting after embarrassing loss | The Rondo enigma | Motiejunas not happy with contract discrepancy | Lessons learned on the Thibs Tour. No. 1: Warriors teach Clippers a lesson -- Wednesday's marquee between the Warriors and Clippers was decided ...
2 days ago - Via - View -
https://plus.google.com/118120362438814043946 World Basketball News : Shootaround (Dec. 8): Mavs hold team meeting: Warriors teach Clippers a lesson | Mavs hold team meeting...
Shootaround (Dec. 8): Mavs hold team meeting: Warriors teach Clippers a lesson | Mavs hold team meeting after embarrassing loss | The Rondo enigma | Motiejunas not happy with contract discrepancy | Lessons learned on the Thibs Tour http://on.nba.com/2gZwUks
Shootaround (Dec. 8): Mavs hold team meeting - NBA.com
Warriors teach Clippers a lesson | Mavs hold team meeting after embarrassing loss | The Rondo enigma | Motiejunas not happy with contract discrepancy | Lessons learned on the Thibs Tour. No. 1: Warriors teach Clippers a lesson -- Wednesday's marquee between the Warriors and Clippers was decided ...
2 days ago - Via - View -
https://plus.google.com/108028651939791788781 Dario : The 5th pick of the draft is shooting 70% over his last 3 games but still just averaging 17 minutes ...
The 5th pick of the draft is shooting 70% over his last 3 games but still just averaging 17 minutes per game.
Kris Dunn Scores Career-High 15 in 17 Minutes, 6 of 7 Shooting
In his last two games before Tuesday’s game against the Spurs, Kriss Dunn was averaging seven points on …
3 days ago - Via Reshared Post - View -
https://plus.google.com/104250726482185740043 Shane Arreaga : Wall of L's of 11/30 1. Shitbazz Muhammed: fourth year in the league and with Minny. Still hasn't shown...
Wall of L's of 11/30

1. Shitbazz Muhammed: fourth year in the league and with Minny. Still hasn't shown any improvement. You still sucks on defense and has no jumper. Foh no wonder Thibs don't play you 20 minutes a game any more. And your life got rejected by the one and only Porzingod. Just stop already you are not Vince Carter, Kobe Bryant, T Mac, any of those guys just stop trying to dunk on tall guys

2. Josh McBroberts: shout out to you also for still being in the NBA. Trash and useless now compared to 2014 when you were in the Bobcats. Injuries fucked you up ik but you should've stayed in Charlotte man. Smh

3. Dwight Coward: lmao Ik you've been really good as of late but what kind of play was that in the 1st quarter. Trying to bring up the ball as "point guard" after grabbing a rebound and ended up turning the ball over. You're not Giannis stop it. Your ball handling skills is 😷

4. Fatlanta Hawks: you had an unlucky road trip did you guys? 4 consecutive losses. I'm disappointed in you guys. 9-2 start. 1-8 as of late. Get your shits together. You won't go to the playoffs if you guys continue to play like that. You wont far into the playoffs any ways.

5. New Pork Dicks: before y'all bash on me for giving them an L when they got the W. But Melo is still at the brick fest he hosted last week. And Kit Kat scored 47 on yall asses. Kyle O'Quinn and Hermmy, I'm upset at you guys for not playing defense on him. 0 rim protection. Go after Nerlens Noel since he demanded a trade. He's the center you guys need. Not Joakim Hoeah ass

6. Ricky Rubio: you suck. Idgaf your the white chocolate version of Rajon Rondo except you can make your free throws. Still haven't fix your broken jumper and Thibs isn't happy about it. I wish Kris Dunn was ready. He still has a lot to learn before becoming a starter over Rubio. Fuck! Trade or waive Pekabitch already. He's injured too much and he wont see playing time anymore with KAT and Dieng stepping up. Hes probably gonna be out of the league sooner than later.
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8 days ago - Via Community - View -
https://plus.google.com/111429276509442296910 Breaking Duluth News : Britt Robson As we flip the calendar to December, the Minnesota Timberwolves own the third-worst record...
Britt Robson As we flip the calendar to December, the Minnesota Timberwolves own the third-worst record in the NBA. That’s not the bad news: It is going to get worse before it gets better. According to basketball-reference.com, in compiling a 5-13 mark through the first 18 games of the season, the Wolves have played the 24th toughest schedule among the 30 NBA teams thus far. Now it is time for the law of averages to exert its payback: Just one of the next 10 opponents has a losing record. In other words, this traipse through the holiday season is going to test the mettle of a Wolves team that thus far has exhibited a frankly shocking lack of poise and cohesion. They have yet to win two games in a row and barring a change of character and/or fortune, that is likely to remain true as we flip the calendar again into 2017. At that point, if not before, Tom Thibodeau and his staff will confront some consequential decisions about the short- and long-term course of this franchise. Thibodeau is 18 games into a five-year contract that gives him near-absolute control over both the personnel and the playbook of this team. His roster is topped with three 21-year old players whose raw talent is envied and coveted by Minnesota’s opponents. But it is a trio that has generated far more sizzle and hype than substance and synergy. By now, Thibodeau’s initial strategy for the Wolves has become apparent. He was going to lean on his “Big 3” of Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine to an extraordinary degree. He was going to wield his formidable ability to prepare, motivate and indoctrinate his teams to fast-forward the development of these precocious kids. This tempering trial by fire would inevitably expose weaknesses even as it showcased strengths and measured ceilings on what this coveted core of talent could accomplish together. Then and only then would Thibs utilize the salary cap space he hoarded this off-season, to more surgically caulk the seams and boost the rockets — to take a team already on its way to respectability and lower-rung playoff status into the pantheon of genuine championship contenders. This rugged month of games will help determine whether that plan just had an improbably slow germination and can still be salvaged, or if it is tattered beyond repair. Do the Wolves patiently stay the course and trust they will make it through this bleak blizzard of underachievement, or do they heed the undeniable warning signs, grasp their miscalculation and chart a new path? The current status woe Let’s get specific and hang some data on these generalities. Wiggins, Towns and LaVine are all logging more minutes per game than ever before. Wiggins has always been a workhorse so the quantity of his uptick in minutes — 36.5 per game as compared to 35.1 last season and 36.2 as a rookie — is negligible. As for quality, however, Wiggins usage rate has jumped from 22.6 to 26.9 to 28.6 in succeeding seasons, and he is much more frequently called upon to be the ball-handling decision-maker at the top of the key in the Wolves half-court offense. (Usage is a measure of the player’s involvement in the percentage of his team’s plays when he is on the court.) The minutes for Towns have risen from 32 to 35 per game and his usage has jumped from 24.7 to 26.8. LaVine’s minutes have seen the highest escalation-- from 24.7 to 28 to a team-high 36.7 per game this season--over the course of his career. And while his usage has declined slightly, from 23.3 to 22.3 after a rookie season of 22.4, it is solely the result of his switch from being a combo point and shooting guard his first two years to strictly manning the shooting guard position this season. LaVine’s shot attempts have risen from 8.8 to 11.7 to 15.6 per game over the past three seasons. The point is, the three precocious kids are getting more quantity and quality time than ever before in the roles they were meant to play. (Unless you think LaVine is better suited for the point than shooting guard, in which case you’d be wrong.) Not surprisingly, Wiggins, Towns and LaVine are the most utilized three-player combination on the court for Minnesota thus far this season. (Actually they are tied in total minutes with the Wiggins, Towns and Gorgui Dieng triad, but that’s because LaVine missed a game with an injury. Per game they are still most utilized.) The result of that shared time on the court is illuminating. Offensively, the team is potent, scoring an average of 107.3 points per game, which is more than four points better than the Wolves have performed in total thus far this season at 103.1 points per game. That’s because a unit featuring Wiggins, Towns and LaVine are shooting 45.5 percent from the floor and 38 percent from long range, as opposed to the team’s overall marks of 44.8 from the field and 35 from beyond the arc. The rub is defense. In the 446 minutes Wiggins, Towns and LaVine share the court, the Wolves yield an average of 109.7 points per game (or per 48 minutes), compared to the overall team mark of 104.1. Add it up and the Wolves are minus 22 in the 446 minutes the trio are together and plus 4 in the 318 minutes the core three are not on the floor at the same time. Thibodeau’s most consequential miscalculation thus far this season has been his belief that he could get the youngsters to sync up on defense at least enough not to completely torpedo their enormous offensive prowess. Blaming the surrounding personnel in this scenario doesn’t hold up. The player fourth on the team in minutes is Gorgui Dieng, a capable glue guy who concentrates on doing the little things. Earlier this week, the site nba.com marked completion of the first full month of the 2016-17 regular season by releasing some of the deeper stats in its trove of data. And Dieng’s name popped up in a lot of good categories. He led the Wolves in contested shots (and was 7th in the NBA overall), in charges drawn (tied for 5th in the NBA), in deflections (19th overall), and in “screen assists” (meaning his screen sprung a successful open jumper, 11th in the NBA). Dieng helps a little. Instead of being minus 22 in 446 minutes as a threesome, the core trio is minus 11 in the 390 minutes they are joined by Gorgui, making them effectively minus 11 in the 56 minutes they play together without Dieng. Backcourt decisions Another troublesome consequence of Thibodeau’s decision to rely so heavily on his core trio has been the deleterious effect it has had on Ricky Rubio at the point. This has been an unhappy marriage from the jump. From the moment he was handed the reins to the franchise last spring, Thibodeau damned Rubio with faint praise or by minimizing mention of his upcoming role on the team. On draft night this summer, Thibs took combo guard Kris Dunn with the fifth overall pick and, if widely reported rumors from a variety of sources are to be believed, openly shopped Rubio in an attempt to procure swingman Jimmy Butler from the Bulls. Shortly before the season started, other anonymously sourced stories broke, widely believed to be from Rubio’s agent, claiming that Thibs wanted install Dunn as the starter 15 to 20 games into the season, relegating Rubio to either trade bait or backup status. Meanwhile, the point guard situation has been close to an unmitigated disaster. A sprained elbow in just the second contest of the season cost Rubio five games, but before and after that, it was clear he was bothered by the greater emphasis Thibs placed on having Wiggins, and to a lesser extent Towns and LaVine, initiate the offense. Meanwhile, Thibs’ emphasis on switching coverage more readily on pick and roll defense hurt Rubio’s effectiveness at that end of the court. Ever since he came into the NBA six years ago, his instincts have been to hound his man in on-ball coverage as much as possible.   The bottom line is gruesome. Rubio’s usage rate has plunged to 12.6 (in his five previous seasons it ranged from 16.2 to 21.3). He is attempting fewer field goals and free throws per minute played than ever before. Although he has shown improvement of late, his season stats still indicate that he is hurting the Wolves at both ends of the court. The team is -49 in the 391 minutes he has logged, with an offensive rating (points generated per possession) of 101.6 and a defensive rating (points allowed per possession) of 109.2. Rubio’s pratfall could have dovetailed nicely into Thibs’ master plan, except that Kris Dunn has likewise shit the bed. The rookie is shooting 31.3 percent from the field, 30.8 from three-point range and 60 percent from the free-throw line. The Wolves are minus 23 in the 319 minutes he has logged, numbers aided by his plus 26 total in a 36-point win over Memphis when the Grizzlies rested starting point guard Mike Conley and All Star center Marc Gasol. (Rubio was injured and didn’t play.) Furthermore, after a strong and promising start to the season on defense, Dunn has regressed. He was repeatedly flummoxed by the crossover dribbles of left-hander Brandon Jennings Wednesday night against the Knicks, finishing minus 11 in 10 minutes of a two-point loss. In his past eight games, Dunn is shooting 5-for-24 from the field as has ten turnovers compared to eight assists. The surprise champion of the point guard scrum is second-year player Tyus Jones, who has seized upon the minutes Rubio and Dunn have defaulted to stake his unlikely claim as the most effective floor general on the current roster. Even after Wednesday’s miserable minus 10 in 6 minutes versus the Knicks, the Wolves are plus 40 in the 202 minutes Tyus is on the court. The obvious knock against Tyus’ ongoing viability is his relatively puny frame as a defender. But he is an extremely smart player who tries to compensate for his physical deficiencies by anticipating peripheral passes for steals, executing diagonal back-pedals that suddenly cease to draw charging fouls, and trying to master Thibs’ switch-frequently protocols on team defense. So far, not bad. The team’s defensive rating with Tyus on the court is 104.3, better than its overall mark of 106.1. And the offense is off the charts — 111.7 points scored per 100 possessions. Thibs has regarded the Tyus boomlet as an intriguing but likely inconsequential phenomenon. For a while he simply kept him out of the rotation. But after Tyus was the catalyst in the Wolves lone victory in the past two weeks, leading the fourth-quarter comeback on the road against Phoenix, the coach has tossed him into similar late-game situations, with mostly encouraging but not definitive results. Bottom line, the point guard situation is completely unresolved. Tyus thus far has rebutted the pretty reliable (via the eye test anyway) conventional wisdom that Rubio and Dunn are far superior defenders. Furthermore, one can argue that offensive firepower is not the aspect of the game where the Wolves are currently lacking. But those numbers remain pesky. According to basketball-reference.com, the trio of Rubio-Towns-Wiggins has a net rating of minus 4.9 points per 100 possessions in their 331 minutes on the court together. Compare that to Jones-Towns-Wiggins at plus 17.9 points per 100 possessions in 87 minutes as a threesome. Yes, a small sample size. But gaudy enough to warrant further investigation? Learning, choking, growing, adjusting The Tyus boomlet is exactly the kind of beguiling distraction Thibodeau would prefer to avoid at the moment. There is growing evidence — enough for another column in the not too distant future— that the chronic defensive lapses of Towns and LaVine are the biggest impediments to the success of his master plan, and, if true, he needs to determine how intractable it is as soon as possible. That means reducing the noise of a lot of lineup alterations and pounding the rock of repetition until the learning curve bends upward. Regardless of how wretched Towns is playing team defense, you can’t throw a player of his skill set overboard. LaVine may be another story, especially if one considers Wiggins better suited to play shooting guard than small forward. Yes, LaVine continues to thrill the eyes and stain the team-based numbers on the stat sheet. But if you cut the cord on someone with that much raw athleticism, you’d better get value in return and be more than a little sure you know what you are doing. Hence, repetition, preparation, and the gyrating angry munchkin storming up and down the sidelines. According to nba.com, the Wolves are dead last in “clutch” situations, with a record of 1-7 arising out of 32 total minutes of clutch play (defined as within five points in the last five minutes of a game). Their net rating in the clutch is a whopping minus 27.3, including a hideous offensive rating of 84.8 points per 100 possessions.  Their defensive rating is a merely awful 112 points. Their field goal percentage is 33.9, dropping to 23.8 from long range. Their free throw percentage is 57.1. A month into the season, the Wolves are adrift, with a slate of tough opponents on tap. It is time for the hype to start gelling into reality. Time for the kids to mature or face some consequences. Time for the coach to pound that rock a few more times and then think about a new drawing board and a different master plan.  | @MinnPost
This holiday season is going to test the Wolves' mettle
A month into the season, the Wolves are adrift, with a slate of tough opponents on tap. It is time for the hype to start gelling into reality.
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https://plus.google.com/111429276509442296910 Breaking Duluth News : Britt Robson Through the first month of the 2016-17 NBA season, the Minnesota Timberwolves have played...
Britt Robson Through the first month of the 2016-17 NBA season, the Minnesota Timberwolves have played like a team that is less than the sum of its talented and exciting individual parts. There is ample cause for Wolves fans to take comfort in the future — and ample opportunities to revel in the present. One of the team’s two cornerstones, Andrew Wiggins, has taken a huge step forward by adding a reliable jump shot to his offensive arsenal while figuring out some of the synergies that phenomenon creates in other aspects of his game. Under new coach Tom Thibodeau, the Wolves have joined the modern NBA by exploiting the added value of the three-point shot. Better yet, every member of the team’s trio of 21-year old starters — Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns and Zach LaVine — is shooting better than 40 percent from long distance while collectively hoisting 14.7 attempts per game. Because all three are extraordinarily athletic and can drive to the rim, this ability to spread the floor with multiple weapons creates a multitude of options to score both in transition and the half-court sets. Consequently, the Wolves currently rank 8th among the 30 NBA teams in offensive rating (points per possession), up from 11th a year ago. On defense, the points they allow per 100 possessions has dropped from 107.1 a year ago to 105.5, enabling them to climb from 27th to 21st in overall defensive efficiency. Truth be told, on a play-by-play basis, Wolves fans have been treated to a richer mix of spellbinding talent and capable performance thus far this season than any team since the 2003-04 edition went to the Western Conference Finals. Through the first 13 games of the season, they have outscored their opponents by 14 points. So much for the good news. When it comes to the bottom line of winning or losing basketball games, this Wolves team is quickly establishing a reputation for being epic chokers. Despite their overall positive point differential, they have a record of 4-9. Only three NBA are worse. Four of those nine losses have resulted from the Wolves coughing up double-digit leads in the second half. These bouts of ineptitude are sudden and melodramatic. It is if the Wolves have been injected with a toxin that alters the team’s brain chemistry, generating alternating currents of paralysis, uncertainty and panic. They last anywhere from three-and-a-half to seven minutes of playing time and result in opposing runs of 16-0, 24-1, 15-2, and 17-0. In all four of these games, the Wolves had “comfortable” leads, ranging from 11 to 14 points, at onset of the carnage, and managed to stop the bleeding once the opponent had seized the advantage by a relatively small margin, anywhere from 1 to 9 points. In other words, they regained their equilibrium once the entire lead had vanished and the choke was complete. Against Charlotte, they even battled back to take an 8-point lead, only to choke for the second time in the quarter, permitting a 21-3 run that cinched the loss. Yes, sustained runs by teams are a relatively common occurrence in the NBA. But it is worth noting that there have been no similarly galvanizing second-half comebacks by the Timberwolves thus far. In their wins, their opponents have held the lead a grand total 9 minutes and 28 seconds — and never in the second half — through four 48-minute contests. A month into the season, despite holding third-quarter leads in nearly half of their first nine defeats, we have yet to see the Wolves snatch a game that is up for grabs in crunch time. In part that’s because the club hasn’t usually competed well enough to even create an “up for grabs” situation. There is a pattern here, a team-wide change in behavior under even the earliest hints of crunch-time pressure. It stems from a dearth of poise and composure, and points to a void in veteran leadership. An absence of gravitas In retrospect, this void is the deliberate handiwork of President of Basketball Operations Tom Thibodeau, executed with the cooperation of head coach Tom Thibodeau and general manager Scott Layden. In his first off-season roster makeover as chief architect of an NBA franchise, Thibs surprised nearly everyone with his conservative spending and absence of flashy acquisitions. He ignored some of his favorite players from his Chicago Bulls tenure who were on the free agent market, such as Luol Deng and Joakim Noah, in favor of lower-priced journeymen such as Brandon Rush, Cole Aldrich and Jordan Hill. He selected a four-year collegian with the fifth overall pick in the draft, combo guard Kris Dunn. In my optimistic season preview of the team, I approved of these measures as an integral part of a prudent long-range plan. Specifically, I noted that Thibs had upgraded the depth on the roster without impinging upon his ability to conduct a season-long review of the glorious cache of young talent bequeathed to him by the late Flip Saunders. For role players such as Zach LaVine, Shabazz Muhammad and Dunn — and to a slightly lesser extent older players Gorgui Dieng and Nemanja Bjelica — that meant seeing how effectively they can develop and burnish their virtues and hide their foibles under Thibs’ sets and systems. For Towns and Wiggins — and to a lesser extent Ricky Rubio — it meant how quickly and how prominently they could establish leadership and a viable pecking order in a Thibs regime. After just 13 games, drawing definitive conclusions is risky business. That said, the most consequential flaw in the roster design thus far is the absence of gravitas and sagacity that comes with respected veteran leadership. The players with the alpha skill-sets, Towns and Wiggins, are too inexperienced for the job. Both show tremendous leadership potential — Towns is charismatic, voluble and versatile, while Wiggins is quiet but genial, and seems to gravitate rather than shrink from spotlight situations on the court. But each has to figure himself out before being able handle genuine authority. Rubio is sabotaged by the biases against him built into Thibodeau’s system, and by his notorious inability to punish opponents who dare him to beat them with jumpers and layups. His on-ball defense is less effective and crucial in a system in which the Wolves switch more often on pick and rolls, and his ability to choreograph a half-court offense is frequently usurped by Thibs’ desire to make Wiggins, and occasionally Towns, the decision-maker with the ball. The veterans on the bench are a deliberately motley collection. Aldrich is a banger with one very good NBA season under his belt as a reserve last year with the Clippers. Rush is a shooting specialist with the Warriors’ championship pedigree on his resume, but he has shot poorly, been injured and was never a leader on prior teams. Jordan Hill doesn’t play unless it’s garbage time. An interesting stopgap possibility is Gorgui Dieng. He was just signed by Thibs to a long-term contact, is notoriously diligent in executing assignments, and carries himself with poise, confidence and clarity. But if he is your alpha leader, you lack the kind of gravitas required for the inevitably rough patches over the course of an NBA season, especially in the eyes and minds of future alphas Towns and Wiggins. Missing KG For the second time in the first month of the season, I am compelled to state that jettisoning Kevin Garnett from the franchise has been a mistake. I’ve previously voiced my understanding of why Thibs didn’t want the distraction of KG around — as the icon of the franchise, he’s an outsized presence used to having his own way. He is still smarting from his diminished chance at owning a piece of the Wolves now that Saunders is gone, and didn’t appreciate the way the team let Thibs’ predecessor Sam Mitchell go at the end of last season. I also understand that Garnett is of limited, and even then short-term, effectiveness as a player due to the enormous wear and tear on his body through his storied career. But Garnett has gravitas, earned through what he has done, what he knows, and how he communicates. One need only read the cover story on Towns in the latest ESPN The Magazine to be reminded of how KG kept Towns on task at crucial moments throughout the phenom’s rookie season last year. And if you don’t think Garnett would have realigned the focus and composure of this young crew through one or more of their many second-half shit-storms thus far this season, you haven’t paid attention to his 20-year history. The test for Thibs By not working very hard at encouraging KG to stick around and by essentially ensuring that the Wolves will eventually buy out the rest of Nikola Pekovic’s contract, Thibs made it clear that he would be the lone truly alpha presence within this franchise this season.  This gambit becomes more intriguing now that the team has started 4-9 and the natives (the fan base) are getting restless. When it comes to gravitas and sagacity, Thibs can more than hold his own. His knowledge of the NBA game is exceeded only by his passion when trying to control it. Referees could whistle him for at least 30 technical fouls per game based on his profane criticisms, but dodge the mortal combat that would involve out of respect for the unrelenting consistency and depth of detail in his outbursts. When the game is over and Dr. Jekyll regains status in his human form, Thibs has shown surprising patience with the chronic pratfalls of his players, chronicling (and, you can bet, having his assistants catalog) the numerous mishaps that went into the latest collapse and then repeating the mantra that steady improvement is the point of the process. What is unknown is whether Thibs miscalculated or factored in the rudderless nature of play besmirching the season thus far. KG can summon ten minutes of former greatness and kick ass on the practice court to make his point. Thibs has rotation minutes and the encyclopedia of stratagems in the brain of his pudgy white frame as leverage to use against these ballyhooed and uber-athletic black athletes two or three generations younger than him.  But Thibs also has time. Disgruntled fans point out that if the Wolves were performing this way under Mitchell, the coach would be subjected to nonstop criticism. Indeed, many of those same fans regularly lambasted Mitchell a year ago when he had a better won-lost record. It’s a fair point, at least as it pertains to Mitchell, who rarely got his due for his decent performance on the sidelines. But context matters here. Mitchell was thrown into the breach with the stunning death of Saunders the week before the start of the season, and always faced an uphill climb to retain the head coaching position the following year. Months before this season started, Thibs signed a five-year contract to control the playbook and the personnel. On that basis alone, the way each man coached his first 13 games with the team is going to be like night and day. In the long run, Thibs needs the cornerstones more than they need him. But when you are 21, five years is an awfully long time. If the relationship ever did get to a worst-case scenario this season, it would be a cold war rather than a hot war, due to what could be perceived as mutually assured destruction. We are a long way — and many, many more embarrassing losses — from that point. Still, Thibs has made himself the sole voice of authority and his decree and refrain is the need to learn and improve. He has three point guards who can’t shoot (four if you count John Lucas III), a wonderfully talented team in the midst of developing a snake-bitten psyche, and the easiest part of the schedule behind him. Tickets once again can be had for a song among the scalpers outside Target Center. It’s the latest bump in what has been a long road.  | @MinnPost
The Wolves could really use KG right now
When it comes to the bottom line of winning or losing basketball games, this Wolves team is quickly establishing a reputation for being epic chokers.
16 days ago - Via - View -
https://plus.google.com/109294042788655212871 Laronn Massey : Jn
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Jon Krawczynski on Twitter: "Thibs going back to Rubio here early in the fourth quarter"
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18 days ago - Via Google+ - View -
https://plus.google.com/117943718604332843620 NykeFaller : NEW NBA 2K17 Timberwolves MyGM #5 - FIRE COACH THIBS?!? Karl Anthony Towns RETURNS!
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https://plus.google.com/111429276509442296910 Breaking Duluth News : Britt Robson The Minnesota Timberwolves have lurched into the 2016-17 season like a finicky sports car...
Britt Robson The Minnesota Timberwolves have lurched into the 2016-17 season like a finicky sports car, capable of thrilling acceleration and maneuverability, but too prone to coughs, stall outs, inefficient fuel consumption and overheating. Mechanic Tom Thibodeau is forever under the hood, barking out instructions and muttering to himself. Renowned for his hot temper and lack of patience, he knows better than anyone the beautiful machinery at his disposal and has kept his frustrated outbursts at a consistent, even keel. The white noise of his exhortation meshes into the fabric of his team’s play-by-play the way relative humidity mingles with sweat on the skin. The Wolves have held leads of 15 points or more in a majority of their games thus far and are outscoring their opponents by 13 points overall, yet are 2-5 on the season. Their schedule has been pretty soft, with no games against the top eight NBA teams (if you go by win total projections set in Las Vegas at the onset of the season) and ugly losses to less-talented teams in Sacramento and Brooklyn. But there have been more than a few glimpses of incandescence thus far from the bounty of burgeoning stars on the roster. Despite losing veteran point guard Ricky Rubio for the past five games, the team’s offensive rating — points scored per possession — is fifth-best among the 30 teams. Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns and Zach LaVine, all born in 1995, are all averaging more than 20 points per game. In the 19 minutes that trio has been on the floor with Tyus Jones (born 1996) and 26-year old graybeard Gorgui Dieng, the team has scored 60 points and allowed 51. Telescope that out to a regulation 48-minute game and the score would be 152-129. Fun times. And terrible defense. While this team is not yet the juggernaut I envisioned when I predicted 46 wins and a 7th-seeded playoff spot at the start of the season, they are auditioning for a new coach without Rubio and with a bench that has underperformed expectations. Yes, they have been susceptible to physical dominance and have exhibited only sporadic poise, telltale signs of immature bodies and psyches. Bottom line, these Wolves have just begun the process of blazing their identity. They enjoy the rare luxury of having their two cornerstones, Towns and Wiggins, and their coach and president of basketball operations, Thibodeau, on a guaranteed three-year plan (it’s four for Towns and five for Thibs). Other potentially important pieces, such as LaVine (three years), Dieng (five years), and the point guard troika of Rubio (three years), Jones (four years) and Kris Dunn (five years) are also under extended team control. They have talent and they have time — the essential raw ingredients of stable growth. So, after a whopping seven games, let’s take a look at the three early returns. The upgraded Wiggins J The most heartening upgrade of the season thus far is the retailored form, greater accuracy and longer range of Andrew Wiggins’ jump shot. The neon statistic in this regard is Wiggins’ NBA-best 63.6 percent accuracy (14 of 22) from three-point range, a tad above his 30.4 percent career mark heading into this season. That unsustainably high figure could still level out a titch above 40 percent over the course of the season. Intensive work on revamping the jumper have ironed the kinks out of his flow, stabilized his release point and given him the self-assurance to step into treys without hesitation, instead of the catch-and-shoot set-ups and end of shot clock heaves that comprised the bulk of his long-range missives the previous two seasons. He has cut the assist rate on his three-pointers from 85 percent in those two campaigns to 57 percent thus far this year. Wiggins has likewise dramatically boosted the accuracy of his long midranges (16 feet out to the three-point arc), while being foiled more often at the rim and reducing his already shaky free throw percentage into the low 70s. The free throws are a chronic worry, especially in late-game situations, but the more a pogo stick like Wigs nails that floor-spacing jumper, the more dangerous he will be on dribble-penetration. Thibodeau has always disdained restricting the choreography to his point guard (hence the ongoing tension with Rubio), and has shown a willingness to have Wiggins run the offense for stretches at a time. The newfound ability of Wigs to bury the jumper from deep will help compensate for his improved but still-suspect handle in those situations. The resilience of Tyus Jones When Flip Saunders swapped a couple of second-round picks in order to move up in the draft and take Jones with 24th overall selection of the first round, it felt like a move with provincial motivations. A prep star at Apple Valley and an NCAA tournament MVP his lone year in college, Tyus was not without luster. But it didn’t take long to see that he was a long way from being physically capable of defending anybody in the NBA. When Thibodeau brought in one of his old guys from Chicago, John Lucas III, during the preseason, the Wolves' roster was stuffed with four point guards and Tyus felt like either a trade chip or the odd man out. Fresh off winning the MVP award in the NBA summer league, Tyus could have pouted, leveraged his local popularity to put pressure on the organization to treat him with more respect, or adopted the apathetic bratty mien of 2014 first-round bust Adreian Payne. Instead, he kept his eyes and ears open and his work regimen and resolve intact, even as he endured a brutal amount of Thibs invective for his on-court mistakes during the preseason. And when Rubio got hurt in game two and it became glaringly apparent that quality ball movement facilitation is not yet in Kris Dunn’s skill set, Tyus delivered some surprisingly effective minutes for this ball club. Make no mistake, Tyus still gets routinely overwhelmed when he is inevitably forced into on-ball defensive situations. Opponents he is guarding are converting 60.9 percent of their shots, compared to the 42 percent they would normally make under those circumstances, according to defensive tracking stats at nba.com. But as indicated by the 152-points per 48 minutes stat cited earlier when Tyus shares the court with the athletic starters, he generates enough offense to overcome his defensive woes. It’s a tiny sample size, but in the 14:38 of time he’s joined Towns and Wiggins this year, the Wolves shoot 31 percent better than their opponents and are a plus 49.2 points per 100 possessions. It is a beguiling synergy, because a healthy Rubio should be able to continue that type of facilitation with better defense at the other end. Like Rubio, Tyus has shrewdly learned how to mask the glaring flaws in his game. In the two games since he began receiving time with the starters, he has nine steals, four treys (on eight attempts) and nine rebounds. Ironically, his defensive numbers are ridiculously good — the Wolves are allowing only 93 points per 100 possessions when he plays — a stat skewed by some garbage time he has logged at the end of blowouts. Unless he bulks up, though, it is still difficult to see his ceiling as being higher than a quality backup in this league. But his attitude and intelligence make him a value-added asset to any roster, from the locker room to practice to garbage time to key catalyst when a team’s offense is in the doldrums. The stubbornly lopsided effectiveness of Zach LaVine Zach LaVine is a key component of the Timberwolves present, and a potentially elite-making element of the team’s future. It is no coincidence that when the Wolves get him rolling with touches and good looks early in a game, their chances of winning rise significantly. He has scored 20 points in 15:40 first quarter minutes during their two victories this season, en route to 31 and 37 point performances. This alleviates the need for Towns to play “hero ball” and spaces the court for Wiggins to go to work. LaVine has the prettiest jump shot on the team and joins Towns and Wiggins in his stellar ability to get to the rim. He’s shooting a cool 48.9 percent from three-point range, and has a true shooting percentage of 61.8. All this despite the fact that Rubio has been absent the past five games. In his two-plus years in the NBA, I have fostered a reputation as a “LaVine hater.” Even though I enjoy going against the grain, it is an uncomfortable position, because, as just indicated, there is a lot to love about his play: He is an incredible athlete, and he is not yet 22 years old. But the value of LaVine remains incredibly overrated. Again, it is easy to see why. On Tuesday night against Brooklyn, he encountered resistance while driving the baseline, wove past one defender and double-clutched under another while banking in the layup on the other side of the hoop. The television replayed it four times. There were zero replays for LaVine gambling on a steal that sent the defense scrambling ineffectually on what became an open three-point make for Brooklyn. No replays on the times LaVine got caught up in a screen and didn’t definitively shift on the pick and roll, or the times when LaVine laid off his man on the weak side and either cheated in on penetration or was simply late on the closeout when that weakside shooter sank the jumper. In the 162 minutes LaVine has logged this season, the Wolves have yielded 109 points per 100 possessions. In the 78 minutes he has sat, Minnesota has given up 98.1 points per 100 possessions. Add in the 3.6 fewer poins per 100 possessions Minnesota scores when he plays compared to when he doesn’t and his net plus/minus thus far this season is -14.5. Only Rubio, in a small two-game sample, has a higher minus rating. In his rookie season, LaVine’s net rating was -10.1 points per 100 possessions. Last year it was -6.9, and dramatically improved in the second half of the season when he was shifted to full-time shooting guard and paired with Rubio. If Zach LaVine can learn to put his enormous abilities in the service of even mediocre defense, it will be a tremendous boon to the prospects of this franchise. And my broken-record complaining about that aspect of his game will diminish accordingly.  | @MinnPost
Three takeaways from the early-season Wolves
The team has just begun the process of blazing its identity. But they have talent and they have time — the essential raw ingredients of stable growth.
29 days ago - Via - View -
https://plus.google.com/114884976831400694551 angela kutojane : The Minnesota Timberwolves alleged the determined Providence point bouncer with the fifth all-embracing...
The Minnesota Timberwolves alleged the determined Providence point bouncer with the fifth all-embracing aces Thursday night. And afterwards several hours of barter rumors and buzz calls, it appears that Dunn is blockage put to aggregation with Tom Thibodeau just as he had hoped.Ive got to buy a lot of jackets, but theres a actual adolescent able accession there, Dunn said on Thursday night, afore advertence the Wolves able aggregate of Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine. Theres so abundant you could go on about the Timberwolves. Thibs accepting the drillmaster and me accepting a arresting guy, I deceit adjournment to play beneath him.The Timberwolves went into the night cerebration Dunn would be gone afore they alleged at No. 5, and Philadelphia and Chicago were a allotment of the teams that approved feverishly to barter avant-garde of Minnesota to get him.http://www.lolga.com/nba-2k-17/nba-2k-17-mt
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https://plus.google.com/114621063293418511073 Ars Technica : Has anyone told Thibs about this yet?
Has anyone told Thibs about this yet?
“You’re all going to die”: A scientifically proven pep-talk for winning
Basketball players took more shots, made more baskets after thinking of death.
1 month ago - Via - View -
https://plus.google.com/111429276509442296910 Breaking Duluth News : Britt Robson Coming into the 2016-17 NBA season, the overwhelming consensus regarding the state of the...
Britt Robson Coming into the 2016-17 NBA season, the overwhelming consensus regarding the state of the Minnesota Timberwolves was not whether they would improve, but by how much. Some folks noted that the Wolves' talented cornerstones, Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, were just 20 and 21, respectively, and pegged the team for a single-digit increase over last season’s victory total of 29. Others, including yours truly, saw the arrival of demanding and detailed coach Tom Thibodeau and the preternaturally mature makeup of Towns — among other reasons — as catalysts for a thrilling quantum leap into the playoffs, and put their shoulder to the bandwagon. Less than a week into the season is certainly no time to render a verdict on the relative wisdom of these sunny viewpoints. But those who cautioned against excess enthusiasm have the Wolves’ opening two-game road trip as currently potent ammunition. Thibodeau’s would-be juggernaut, who amassed 40-point leads in each of their last two preseason games, and then buttressed it with first-half leads of at least 17 points in both regular season games, is coming home 0-2, trying to shake off the dents and bruises to their confidence, their bodies and their vaunted precocity. Boys among brutes In retrospect, it was probably unfortunate that Minnesota faced Memphis and Sacramento to start things off. The Grizzlies and the Kings both boast large, rugged and talented centers in 255-pound Marc Gasol and 270-pound DeMarcus Cousins and frequently played a robust, contact-oriented power forward beside them — 260-pound Zach Randolph for Memphis, and 265-pound Kosta Koufous for Sacramento. By contrast, Towns is listed at 244 pounds and his frontcourt mate Gorgui Dieng weighs in at 241. Both games played out on a similar arc, with the Wolves racing out to sizable early advantages only to have their opponents wear them down with physical defense and an extra level of intensity in the second half. As the score tightened, the young Wolves lost their focus on teamwork, resulting in wretched shot selection, lack of ball movement and an inability to box out while rebounding their opponents’ missed shots. They played soft and shoddy, with chronic gaffes in discipline that were frankly shocking to see in a Thibodeau-coached team. Some of this can be attributed to unfortunate matchups under difficult circumstances. Along with the beef they brought in the frontcourt, Memphis was playing its home opener, and Sacramento was trying to win its first-ever game in a spanking new arena. In Memphis, Gasol and Randolph are playing in a new spread system that result in shots anywhere from the three-point arc to right beneath the hoop, and Towns was clearly exhausted at times with the combination of jousting in the paint and fighting through picks while flashing out to defend the perimeter. Cousins, meanwhile, has the blend of skills and bulk and quickness to overwhelm most any defender. That said, there is legitimate reason for initial concern about these successive pratfalls to start the season. A team as lithe and talented as the Wolves wants to quicken the pace, especially against mediocre foes with burly frontcourts. But Minnesota currently is dead last in pace of play, in part because they allowed their offense to bog down into isolation plays — futile “hero ball” — and because their defense is vulnerable to deliberate physicality. But as Thibodeau noted after the Sacramento loss, the team’s lack of toughness has comprised mental and emotional weakness along with dissolving physical resistance. That the Kings would vanquish Minnesota in much the same way as the Grizzlies did three nights earlier — with a third quarter onslaught that hijacked the Wolves’ composure, reversed momentum and essentially decided the outcome — indicates that this year’s roster is not yet engaged in the comprehensive immersion necessary to compete effectively. Third-quarter doldrums Both third-quarter breakdowns were swift and relentless. The Wolves were leading Memphis 61-50 a minute into the second half. Less than three and a half minutes later, the Grizzlies had polished off a 16-0 blitz that put them up 66-61. In Sacramento, Minnesota was ahead by fourteen, 71-57, with 8:32 remaining in the third quarter. Little more than five minutes later, the Kings were in command, 81-72, a 24-1 run. For those counting at home, that’s two bursts adding up to a 40-1 disadvantage in slightly under nine minutes. In the other 87 minutes of those two games, the Wolves outscored their opponents by 32 points. What happened? Sometimes it was negative trends catching up with the Wolves. For example, they have begun both games with superb ball movement, generating 18 assists on 66 first quarter points, or an average of one dime per 3.7 points. That falls to 9 dimes and 58 points in the second quarter (about 6.5 points per assist) and tumbles to a putrid four assists for 28 points (7 points per dime) in the third. Throw in 8 assists on 49 points in the final stanza (about 6.1 points per assist) and the outlier is the efficient flow and teamwork in the first quarter as much as the anemic scoring in the third. In Memphis, the Wolves became careless and dumb, the errors compounding like debt on a credit card. Conley beat Rubio off the dribble and was fouled on the layup by Dieng, completing the three-point play at the foul line. Wiggins missed a tough turnaround jumper with a hand in his face, then the Wolves defensive rotation lost James Ennis on a three-pointer, with Towns running futilely out at the last second. Suddenly a double-digit lead had shrunk to five, 61-56. Rubio forced a terrible, line-drive shot and made it worse by foolishly digging for the offensive rebound, but the Grizzlies blew the easy transition opportunity he had created for them at the other end. No matter: The Wolves failed to box out on two straight possessions, resulting second-chance free throws and then a third-chance putback to slice the lead to one. The crafty Gasol gulled Towns into taking an ill-advised set shot from midrange. Dieng thought he was fouled and stayed back to argue the call, forcing Rubio to commit a foul to prevent a 5-on-4 situation. Again, no matter: Rookie Andrew Harrison was wide open on the wing and when Zach LaVine ran him off the three-point line he strolled in for a layup and the lead for Memphis. Towns was whistled for carelessly charging into Conley while setting up position on offense. Rubio fouled Gasol on a double-team for two more free throws, then LaVine tossed an errant pass that the Grizzlies turned into a slam dunk, ending the run as Thibodeau called time out. The third-quarter embarrassment in Sacramento was a combination of a stagnant, sloppy and unimaginative offense at one end and Cousins running roughshod over the Wolves defense at the other end. Wiggins was snuffed twice going to the basket in the opening minutes, making it clear that the Kings came out of the locker room with explicit instructions to stop him. When he tried a third time anyway and drew the foul, he missed both free throws. Then he made an acrobatic bank shot driving the baseline through traffic, a highlight-reel play that should have been an open jumper for a teammate. By then Dieng had picked up two quick fouls, his third and fourth, the latter on a charge as he mishandled a Rubio dish going toward the hoop. He was replaced by Cole Aldrich, moving Towns more overtly to power forward. The season’s first extended minutes for this “twin towers” tandem turned out to be a disaster. Aldrich couldn’t stop Cousins, fouling him when he wasn’t getting undressed by slam dunks off the dribble. On offense, Aldrich’s hands turned to stone, flubbing at least three passes to him in the paint during Sacramento’s game-changing run. But Aldrich was far from the only culpable party. Towns unwisely decided to try to match Cousins’ offensive heroics, spinning into a double team that led to an awkward miss and then a frustrated foul on the rebound. Then he sailed a pass into the stands far out of the reach of Aldrich’s clumsy mitts. When the Kings went small, putting Matt Barnes into the game at power forward, the Wolves’ attention to Cousins freed Barnes for a pair of threes and some nifty assists out on the perimeter. Various individual starters blatantly lost their focus and made mistakes in pairs. LaVine was easily picked off on a screen that allowed an open jumper by Aaron Afflalo, then committed a turnover that was flipped into a Barnes trey in transition. Wiggins committed an unwise foul that lazily moved his pivot foot for a travel, followed by another Barnes three-pointer. A bad pass by Rubio yielded a Cousins dunk in transition. When Aldrich and LaVine were replaced by Nemanja Bjelica and Brandon Rush, Cousins tortured both Towns and Bjelly as they futilely attempted the double-team. Just as Afflalo had been too strong for LaVine, Rudy Gay was now exerting physical dominance over Wiggins. Bjelica was a mess of indecision and inaccurate shooting. Towns committed another stupid foul out of frustration, going over the back of an opponent while trying to get an offensive rebound. By the time Dieng came back into the game, he stabilized the defense some, but the Wolves were already down nine. It doesn’t feel like a coincidence that the Wolves finalized a 4-year, $64-million deal for the fourth-year center-forward, Minnesota’s best pick-and-roll defender among their frontcourt personnel. Against the Kings, Dieng was plus-15 in 35 minutes of action, which means Minnesota was minus 19 in the 13 minutes he sat — almost all of the deficit accumulated in that third quarter stretch that Thibodeau eloquently dubbed “an abomination.” Harbingers or hiccups? When you have the worst won-lost record in NBA history among all of the league’s currently active franchises, and your team stumbles out of the gate on what is widely supposed to be a breakout season, doubts move back in and the knees start jerking. That’s what Wolves fans are mightily resisting right now. It’s silly to overreact on the basis of two road games. Plus, we’ve all seen Towns and Wiggins play and Thibodeau coach. That level of talent and expertise doesn’t disappear; it asserts itself and flourishes over time. And yet, if followers of the Wolves are headed for heartbreak via a bumpier than anticipated season of transition toward eventual playoff contention, one way to cushion the blow is to sort through the concerns and try to parse the potentially legitimate flaws from the random aberrations. Right now, the biggest worry might be the play of Bjelica. The 2015 EuroLeague MVP had a shaky rookie campaign in the NBA last year, exciting Wolves fans and team members alike in the preseason with his court vision, outside shooting, awards pedigree and potential to fill the void as a stretch 6-foot-10-inch power forward. But after a relatively successful first month of the regular season, the league caught on and began attacking Bjelica at both ends of the court. The quickness and physicality of the competition preyed on his confidence, and be became foul prone and out of sync with the natural rhythm of play, by turns too timid and awkwardly aggressive. His decision-making, especially his inclination to pass instead of launch open three-pointers, was suspect and aggravating, and a couple of mysterious injuries didn’t exactly engender sympathy. At Media Day and throughout preseason, Bjelica said and did most of the right things, taking responsibility for his foibles in a manner that indicated he had dedicated himself to addressing them. Thibodeau bought in, giving him the role of point forward on the second unit, a crucial floor-general position that mimicked his duties when he was a star in Europe. But the tentative schmoe who took the court in the first two games looked a lot like the disappointing rookie of last season. Bjelica needs to figure out how to make his unorthodox, giraffe-like movements — athletic but not graceful — work to his advantage. With confidence he is quicker than he looks, has a sophisticated appreciation for ball movement, and a soft three-point stroke. But he seems to possess just a veneer of self-esteem, and an inclination to shy away from the grapple and scrum required of even a stretch power forward in the NBA. When he’s out of sync, you can almost see the flop sweat, the not-so-hidden fear that he’s a fraud at this level. If so, it will corrode his game beyond hope, a la former Wolves Euro Alexie Shved. Then there is the ongoing shadow melodrama regarding Ricky Rubio. He is without question the team’s best point guard, an elite passer and quality defender by any standard. But his unreliable shooting accuracy complicates his long-term future on a franchise assembling itself for the crucible of the playoffs, and Thibodeau was nettled enough by it to draft combo guard Kris Dunn with the fifth overall pick this summer. In the fourth quarter against Sacramento, Rubio fell down and had his right elbow hyperextended (“sprained” is the official word) while planting it on the court. He is out “indefinitely,” a word too often associated with his health history — similar prognoses have generated absences ranging from a week to three months. This will likely be on the shorter end of that spectrum. The Wolves will flounder more frequently in games he misses, and if he misses enough of them and they plummet in the standings, the ironic temptation will be to give Dunn more and more playing time to hasten his development. Rubio has been competent but not the inspirational maestro that makes thoughts of replacing him seem so foolhardy. After a fumbling preseason, Dunn has been better than expected off the bench. The most consequential disappointments thus far involve Towns and Thibodeau, but given the people involved, they are also the most likely to be remedied, sooner rather than later. Towns seems to have been undermined by hubris and hype. He came into this season proclaiming that he had worked on every aspect of his play, not one or two specific areas, and had conducted an offseason interview tour of the NBA’s best leaders among past and present stars, gaining information for his own future exploits. In a survey of NBA general managers at the beginning of the season, he was overwhelmingly voted the player they would choose if starting a franchise from scratch. All that came into play as the Wolves were coming apart at the seams. Towns began to perform like a person entering a burning building rather than a canny competitor coordinating a counterattack. To the extent he choked, it wasn’t from shrinking from the moment so much as swallowing it whole. He needs to remember that true leadership is preternaturally calm at its core, and use his freakishly talented skill set like a black belt in judo, letting the game come to him so he can determine the best direction to steer it. Thibodeau will respond to this brief bout of adversity the way he responds to everything — with relentless preparation and strategizing. But it is fair to note that were Sam Mitchell still running this team, the players' lack of grit and composure and the coach's decision not to call a timeout during the blitzkrieg in Sacramento would have been roundly criticized. More broadly speaking, by signing only journeymen free agents while avoiding the inevitable drama and distraction of keeping Kevin Garnett on the roster, Thibodeau has installed himself in the exclusive role of veteran leader and tone-setter. But on the court and in the locker room, that role is necessary by proxy. Thibs doesn't want anything to get in the way of his control over the development of this young, talented core. Garnett would have been a complicated soldier. Spoiled by the deference that Flip Saunders and then Mitchell accorded him, and smarting from the diminished chance of an ownership stake that occurred with the death of Saunders, he occasionally (too often?) would have been more trouble than he was worth. (And yes, he likely would not have retired had the Wolves signaled that they really wanted him to return.) But two games in, his contagious intensity, defensive rebounding and steadying influence on Towns are already missed. But that's rear-view thinking. Less than a week ago, I called the Wolves a probable playoff team this season, and all the reasons listed have not been that dramatically altered. This is Thibodeau's team now and the rematch with Memphis in the home opener looms, along with 79 other games in a season that still promises the kind of excitement and competence not usually seen around these parts. | @MinnPost
The Wolves come home, after getting the poise pounded out of them
There is legitimate reason for some initial concerns about the Wolves' successive pratfalls to start the season.
1 month ago - Via - View -
https://plus.google.com/108697212796846677696 Sauping R. Arguello : WEST EAST 1. Warriors 1. Cavs 2. Spurs 2. Bulls 3. Clippers 3. Pacers 4. Thunder 4. Raptors 5. Portland...
WEST EAST
1. Warriors 1. Cavs
2. Spurs 2. Bulls
3. Clippers 3. Pacers
4. Thunder 4. Raptors
5. Portland 5. Celtics
6. Grizzlies 6. Knicks
7. Wolves 7. Hawks
8. Lakers 8. Heat
9. Rockets 9. Pistons
10. Mavericks 10. Bucks
11. Jazz 11. Hornets
12. Pelicans 12. Wizards
13. Kings 13. Sixers
14. Nuggets 14. Magic
15. Suns 15. Nets

These are my predictions for the final standings of the 16-17 season. 1-6 in the west is pretty much set. 7-12 can interchange depending on injuries and how teams gel throughout season. Anthony Davis might will his team to an 8th seed. Coach Thibs will get Minn. to the playoffs this year. 13-15 pretty much have no shot. It will be Warriors-Spurs in the Western Finals and that can go either way but I feel it will be the GSW.

1-6 in the east is pretty much set as well. The only team that may falter out of that bunch is the Knicks (depending on injuries/chemistry). 7-12 can also change in several ways. The Heat have a lot of unknowns but they play hard. 9-12 all have potential to make the playoffs but they all are inconsistent. The Sixers will improve drastically but not enough to make playoffs. The Bulls (best chance), Pacers and possibly, maybe the Knicks are the only teams that can give the Cavs a series. Cavs-Bulls in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Warriors Cavs in the Finals. Warriors in 5. 
1 month ago - Via Community - View -
https://plus.google.com/118120362438814043946 World Basketball News : Shootaround (Oct. 31) -- Mavs trying to find way out of winless funk: Mavericks seek end to free fall...
Shootaround (Oct. 31) -- Mavs trying to find way out of winless funk: Mavericks seek end to free fall | Warriors or worriers? | Westbrook poses triple-double trouble | Tough love from Thibs http://on.nba.com/2eMxmSc

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-d4TgxGyw2Ng/WBdiPpmXg8I/AAAAAAAARzc/1ICv2WCZW2gh6OpT-uanoU_LtMRINWzQgCJoC/w506-h750/f4efaf83-f0fc-43e1-a6a7-b5bdc5874bf7
1 month ago - Via - View -
https://plus.google.com/105651482279611254611 Justin Virly : As much talent and as Thibs has, they're clearly super young and lack poise. I really hope they're able...
As much talent and as Thibs has, they're clearly super young and lack poise. I really hope they're able to click sooner rather than later. 
1 month ago - Via Community - View -