I think this picture of Cory Brewer effortlessly sums up the complete history of the Minnesota Timberwolves as a franchise

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It sucks to have to rebuild when the 'good' team you are tearing down and retooling was fairly mediocre to begin with. KG, otoh, seems much happier now.

Aimless, Friday, 5 December 2008 19:13 (eleven years ago) link

this is horrible jesus. i can't watch more than like 5 minutes of a game at a time anymore.

the problem is...we think we can "build" around al jefferson when we couldn't build around KG.

outside of maybe being a better inside scorer, there's nothing else that jefferson is better at than KG.

M@tt He1ges0n, Sunday, 7 December 2008 17:58 (eleven years ago) link

love big al but hes not gonna be the best player on a contender

Lafayette Lever hi wtf (ice cr?m), Sunday, 7 December 2008 18:03 (eleven years ago) link

exactly. but it's like they think they just need to add complementary pieces to the puzzle instead of a star (i.e. love over mayo)

M@tt He1ges0n, Sunday, 7 December 2008 23:59 (eleven years ago) link

RIP Randy Whitman

M@tt He1ges0n, Monday, 8 December 2008 17:48 (eleven years ago) link


lol @ u

Lafayette Lever hi wtf (ice cr?m), Monday, 8 December 2008 18:19 (eleven years ago) link

the craziest news there is that he's stepping down from whatever random title he had that was effectively gm- so is he completely out the door once they find a real coach?

schrödinger's googler (agent hibachi), Monday, 8 December 2008 18:25 (eleven years ago) link

craziest = best for you poor wolves folks

schrödinger's googler (agent hibachi), Monday, 8 December 2008 18:25 (eleven years ago) link

oh man lol

craig sager (eman), Monday, 8 December 2008 20:44 (eleven years ago) link

how come when ever mchale fires a coach he takes over for him - i mean no one else does it this way - youve got assistants galore just waiting for their chance for a lame duck half a season

Lafayette Lever hi wtf (ice cr?m), Monday, 8 December 2008 20:51 (eleven years ago) link

I guess he wants to unlock Kevin Love's small area quickness in person? Poor Wolves fans :(((

Gravel Puzzleworth, Monday, 8 December 2008 20:55 (eleven years ago) link

sounds completely lewd^

Lafayette Lever hi wtf (ice cr?m), Monday, 8 December 2008 20:59 (eleven years ago) link

haha small area quickness.

listen u guys are just jealous that we snatched up the BEST INBOUNDS PASSER IN THE GAME

M@tt He1ges0n, Monday, 8 December 2008 22:32 (eleven years ago) link

ding ding ding went the trolley
clang clang clang went the bell

Aimless, Tuesday, 9 December 2008 01:40 (eleven years ago) link

thanking u kevin love for bricking all those FTs. nice game from him otherwise. sweet, embarassing, victory!

6335, Wednesday, 10 December 2008 05:20 (eleven years ago) link

this is so fucking sad

M@tt He1ges0n, Tuesday, 16 December 2008 20:24 (eleven years ago) link

one month passes...

like wtf are we actually good now? game last nite was super fun and we won.

mike miller can EAT it though, god what a slug.

al jefferson is the TRUTH

crackers is biters (M@tt He1ges0n), Tuesday, 27 January 2009 00:31 (eleven years ago) link

gave one away to detroit, damn shoulda won that. lakers and celts coming soon to put the smack down on our cute little run.

crackers is biters (M@tt He1ges0n), Thursday, 29 January 2009 18:33 (eleven years ago) link

10-3 in 09 not bad - makes me happy to see big al flourishing

ice cr?m, Thursday, 29 January 2009 18:36 (eleven years ago) link

so is kevin mchale a good coach - was he just in the wrong job all these years - wolves hav been playing much much better and big als been setting it off bigtime - makes sense mchale would be the perfect instructor for him what w/the low post trickery and all

ice cr?m, Thursday, 5 February 2009 14:31 (eleven years ago) link

yeah at the very least he's a huge upgrade from whitman if only because he actually identified the guys that should be playing (permanently benched mccants) and lets them PLAY...unlike whitman who was in full on trying to save his ass mode, subbing dudes in and out schizo style just to try to scrap together a few wins.

but yeah under him big al and love are playing great, i'm sure a player of mccale's caliber has to be helping them understand the game....

honestly at this point i've spent the last say 8 years hating his guts and i would not be pissed if he was back next year as a coach, i would probably welcome it really.

crackers is biters (M@tt He1ges0n), Friday, 6 February 2009 20:20 (eleven years ago) link

OK...big al's out for the season. time to start dreaming of 1 picks.

Yah Trick Ya Kid K (M@tt He1ges0n), Tuesday, 10 February 2009 20:37 (eleven years ago) link

ricky rubio ???

ice cr?m, Tuesday, 10 February 2009 21:59 (eleven years ago) link

two months pass...

sounds like we might be hiring the Spurs assistant GM....

Glen Taylor says the new GM will NOT have to keep McHale on.


this could be the end of the McHale era.

4,000 hoes in blackburn, lancashire (M@tt He1ges0n), Tuesday, 21 April 2009 21:17 (ten years ago) link

mchale coached good - keep him there imo

ice cr?m, Wednesday, 22 April 2009 19:46 (ten years ago) link

fans i know need to see his blood but still

ice cr?m, Wednesday, 22 April 2009 19:46 (ten years ago) link

eight years pass...

Good post from The Athletic by my fav T-Wolves writer of all time, Britt Robson, anyway this is old, after the back to back losses but I think a good summation of the possible weaknesses of this team as constructed:

With successive pratfalls against theoretically inferior Eastern Conference opponents on Tuesday and Wednesday night, the Minnesota Timberwolves did their level best to remind their fan base that rooting for this franchise requires that one become either a patsy or a cynic — either a person “who is easily manipulated or victimized,” or a person “who questions whether something will happen, or whether it is worthwhile.”

Or, put more bluntly, do you want to be a dupe or a jerk?

If that sounds harsh, consider that while there are countless ways to chronicle the historical ineptitude of the Wolves 28-year existence heading into this season, it is still difficult to capture the essence of how wretched the fan experience has been for those who follow the team. But for the purpose of our current context, let’s give it one more shot.
Basketball junkies perched outside the Wolves orbit blithely say — and not without accuracy — that the franchise squandered the prime seasons in the phenomenal career of Kevin Garnett. But to Wolves fans, that was the golden era. Forget about making the playoffs — this team has never had a winning record without KG in uniform. Overall, they were 501-451 in the dozen seasons prime-time Garnett toiled on the frozen tundra, and are 379-922 in the 16-plus seasons Garnett was either absent or back for that bittersweet 654-minute coda to his career. Plug the winning percentage of those 16 long years into a typical 82-game season and the composite record is 24-58.
This is the backdrop for the boos that rained down upon the 2017-18 edition of the Wolves at Target Center Tuesday as they delivered a blatant display of mock defense against an Indiana Pacers team pegged for 31.5 wins by the Vegas oddsmakers heading into the season.
Following that 130-107 shellacking, the Wolves traveled to Detroit to face another opponent expected to miss the playoffs in the inferior Eastern Conference. And after missing a bevy of open looks provided them by Minnesota’s counterfeit defense, the Pistons rallied for 99 points on 55.9 percent shooting in the final three quarters to win easily, 122-101.
The Butler didn’t do it
Unfortunately, this pair of miserable performances are easily explained, and don’t provoke much optimism for the rest of the 2017-18 campaign. Coming into the season, the two biggest “X-factors” regarding the eventual fate of the Wolves appeared to be the health of Jimmy Butler and the ability of young cornerstones Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns to consistently commit to quality team defense. Even with Butler sidelined with an upper respiratory infection for both contests, it was difficult to determine which factor was most obviously absent on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The pilfering of Butler via a lopsided trade with Chicago was easily the most prominent reason to be optimistic about this edition of the Wolves. He checked nearly all the empty boxes in Minnesota’s list of deficiencies: Veteran leadership, defense, well-rounded play-making, a blue-collar work ethic, the ability to step up in crunch time, and an intimacy with the brutish coaching style of Tom Thibodeau that allows him to be both buffer and conduit between Thibs and the rest of the roster.

Of course the inevitable downside of having such a pervasively talented player on the roster is the enormous disruption and difficult recovery engendered by his sudden absence. What was most blatantly missed against Indiana and Detroit was Butler’s ability to muck up the flow and aggression of opposing offenses with rugged, well-timed help defense, and his dogged determination to hustle back and deny the fast break in transition.
Oh, also missed was the threat of him lashing out at his teammates for lying down like dogs when their willpower wavered.
Shabazz Muhammad
Shabazz Muhammad left much to be desired as Jimmy Butler's replacement. (Photo: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Nothing dramatizes both Butler’s importance and the lack of wing depth on the Wolves more than the fact that Shabazz Muhammad replaced him in the starting lineup. Bazzy’s virtues are overwhelmed by his vices, and it is becoming fair to say that both the pros and cons of his skill set are ironclad. There has been nothing to suggest that he is ever going to demonstrate the kind of court awareness and affinity for teamwork required of even an adequate defender.
Couple that with his maniacal desire to cut, drive, post up, shoot and rebound near the basket on offense, and you have one of the very worst transition defenders in the NBA — the anti-Butler. That’s chief among the reasons why Bazzy was hung out to dry on the free agent market this offseason, forced to accept a minimal one-year deal to return to the Wolves and try to redeem his reputation for a bigger payday. That he is the “next man up” when Butler is unavailable is a huge red flag on the Wolves’ ability to compete for a playoff spot and a stain on Thibodeau’s roster construction as President of Basketball Operations.
Plus-minus is a pretty crude statistic by which to measure performance. But it is hard not to notice that Bazzy was minus-19 in 31:02 of play during a 23-point loss to Indiana on Tuesday. He was minus-22 in 28:45 of the 21-point loss to Detroit on Wednesday.
Bazzy was far from the only culprit, however. The legion of Wolves-watchers who warned that there would be a steep drop-off in defense due to the departure of Ricky Rubio and the arrival of Jeff Teague received particular validation in the Indiana game, when journeyman point guard Darren Collision erupted for 16 assists (his highest total since his 2009-10 rookie season) and 15 points in their matchup. Worries about the porous defense of the second unit backcourt of Jamal Crawford and Tyus Jones were also amply on display.
But the most alarming defensive lapses belonged to Wiggins and Towns; not because they are “worse” defenders than Bazzy or Teague, but because the nature of their failings continue a disturbing trend, and because they are destined to be the heart and soul of this franchise over the long haul.
Crumbling cornerstones
As a longtime advocate (but not apologist) for Wiggins, it was a joy to watch him supplement his dynamic half-court offense with better ball-movement and rebounding and an inclination to get himself open away from the ball, especially for three-pointers. Defensively, abetted by Butler, who takes the more arduous wing assignment, Wiggins also seemed more attuned.
But after hitting the game-winning shot in a high-profile road game versus the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday, Wiggins once again faced — and failed — what has become the familiar challenge of proving he could go at full capacity when the spotlight was dimmer and the opponents more obscure. He had 7 points on 9 shots and missed five of six free throws in the blowout versus the Pacers, but of greater concern were the lapses on defense both Tuesday and Wednesday.
A backcourt player with his athleticism who leads the club in three-point attempts should be an automatic deterrent to transition buckets and yet both Indiana and Detroit ran at will. Furthermore, his late close-outs on both weak side shooters and attempts from behind the arc were a chronic problem for team defense. A maximum-salary player earns his money by consistently taking care of business at both ends of the courts. A stubborn refusal to stay engaged remains the most glaring and enigmatic flaw in Wiggins’ game.
Physical effort rarely if ever seems to be an issue for Towns. Offensively, he showcases a marvelous, comprehensive package of skills on a nightly basis. The footwork in the paint is profound. Be it at the rim or beyond the arc, his shooting touch is extraordinary, as are his ability to receive passes or score off the dribble.
Andrew Wiggins
The still-needs-improvement parts of Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns were on display against the Pacers and Pistons. (Photo: Raj Mehta/USA TODAY Sports)
But on both ends of the court, Towns can lapse into hero ball, attempting buckets and blocks that are low-percentage gambits and can screw up spacing and teamwork. It is hard not to associate those foibles with the hubris and faux accountability he is occasionally prone to flashing in interviews.
The grandiose modifiers seemed to begin during the preseason last year. Asked what he worked on over the summer, KAT replied “everything” (up to and including interviewing Hall of Famers to find out how to be a team leader). I’m still not sure if he understands what a distancing mechanism that is from specific dissection of his performance. It would obviously seem churlish and petty to measure the progress of each aspect of his play against the assumption that it was a specific focus of his offseason work.
In a similar vein, more than a few times last season, Towns would proclaim that a Wolves loss was “all on me,” or “all my fault,” even as the box score had him down for 25 points and 16 rebounds or something. No one owns all the blame in a team game, but the player who can specifically cite what error(s) they committed that negatively impacted the outcome is simultaneously being more accountable and demonstrating the self-awareness to learn and improve from the failing.
Towns has been better at that this season, possibly because Butler has become the alpha leader on the roster this year. But in the euphoria of the Wolves locker room in OKC following Wiggins’ game-winner, KAT began his post-game remarks by expressing dissatisfaction with his play, especially his defense. Having watched the game on television with the opinion that it was one of his better all-around performances of the young season — 27 points, 12 rebounds and an increasingly successful grind against physical center Stephen Adams — I asked him after shoot-around on Tuesday what specifically had bothered him about his play. And after initially patting himself on the back, his answer did show glimmers of how he is a student of the game.
“I mean, just things. I think throughout the whole game, the three, I was shooting it very well in preseason and I am not shooting it very well at all. I was happy to have a few of them go in when we really needed them,” he replied, but then dug into the meat of the question a little.
“You know, I’ve been taking a lot of pride, from the beginning but especially during this offseason really, in being a better preparer and being a little better defensively. I didn’t get some rebounds that I thought would have really clinched the game. I thought defensively I did some things I possibly could have done better. Russell [Westbrook] his one or two threes in a row; I need to make sure he doesn’t even shoot another one. I just wasn’t up enough on the pick and roll. That falls on me.” (This was something Thibs chewed out Towns and the other players for near the end of the game.) “But you know, finding ways to win, we did a good job defensively making it hard and really holding our lead as a team,” Towns continued. “I just thought that, everyone has a part and I just wanted to do my part, on the offensive side but even more on the defensive side. I felt that I floundered in some opportunities to really clinch the game.”
With that thoughtful response in mind, I was interested in how Towns would react in the wake of one of the worst defensive performances in the wretched annuls of Wolves hoops. Indiana ran Minnesota off the court. In the first quarter alone, the Pacers scored five times within five seconds of securing the rebound, and another five times within 10 seconds of the board. And after the Wolves came back in the second quarter, the Pacers cinched it by shooting 77 percent in the second half, mostly against feeble resistance. Much of this was on the Wolves starters — Indiana’s starters shot a whopping 19-for-22 in the second half.
Asked the most basic of questions — “What happened?” — Towns delivered a disheartening answer.
“They just got too many transition points. Give credit where credit is due. They just made shots. They just made some difficult shots tonight.” Asked to compare this game to some of the awful defensive performances from a year ago, he replied, “This one was different. I don’t know what you guys saw, but on the court we were just watching them hit some really hard, tough, tough, contested shots. When they are shooting like that, you’ve got to be almost crossing your t’s and dotting your i’s and we weren’t doing that tonight so obviously they just played harder than us and beat us in transition. … We can’t let anyone take our spirit away. We didn’t play as well as we needed to today and we obviously knew that.”
I pointed out that they scored 130 points and only shot 11 free throws, but rather than taking it as a sign that the shots weren’t contested and that the Pacers were getting whatever they wanted, KAT took it the other way. “That’s just another stat that shows you it was their night shooting the ball. … We had a lot of contested shots; they just found their way of getting in the hole. It happens like that. We just have to regroup, learn from our mistakes and get ready for Detroit tomorrow.”
The buck stops with Thibs
Suffice to say that the Wolves were not ready for Detroit on Wednesday, and for the second straight night the combination of lackluster effort, slow recognition, poor instinctual timing, and turnover-plagued hero ball on offense allowed an opponent to decimate Minnesota’s defense.
In the second quarter alone, the Pistons scored 40 points on 15-for-24 shooting, including 6-of-9 from behind the arc. Assessing blame requires a roll call. In rough chronological order, Tyus Jones was beaten for an easy layup. Jamal Crawford made the wrong choice on who to guard in transition. Bazzy Muhammad was way too casual considering his team would not win a scramble for a loose ball on one possession, put himself out of the play with a driving airball on another, and put himself out of position by diving to the basket in the midst of a turnover on a third.
Towns likewise took himself out of transition defense with a forceful drive to the hoop (he wasn’t even in the picture when Detroit scored 5-on-4). On another possession Andre Drummond beat him down the floor and scored on a putback tip-in. Bazzy took a terrible angle and was beaten on a simple cut to the basket.
On a pick-and-roll with Teague and Towns defending, Towns made a show of jumping the pick for the ball handler but then let him go. Teague shifted over to get the ball handler, leaving the roll man open. Taj Gibson came over to get the roll man, and Avery Bradley was wide open for a three on the weak side after an ineffectual close-out by Wiggins. Before that, Wiggins let Avery Bradley cut behind him on the baseline. Taj helped out to deter the shot, leaving Jon Leuer to clean up the miss with a putback.
This is team defense as tissue paper. It is being choreographed by a coach, Tom Thibodeau, generally regarded as the gold standard for defensive preparation and accountability.
Many people, including yours truly, predicted a hefty win total and a playoff berth last season based on Thibs’ reputation for defense and the enormous athletic raw material he had to work with on the roster. That was admittedly premature and grossly optimistic — Thibs himself frequently said he had no illusions about the long haul ahead. He also frequently remarked that last season would be an observation period, with any dramatic changes coming in the offseason.
He backed up that talk with a huge roster shakeup obviously designed to bolster the defense with players intimately familiar and successful with his schemes. The acquisition of Butler and Gibson, added to another crucial year of seasoning for Towns and Wiggins, made it seem automatic that the Wolves would improve on last year’s 26th-rated defense in terms of efficiency.
Thus far it hasn’t. Furthermore, the de facto swap of Rubio for Teague has hurt team defense without noticeably improving the offense. The thin bench, especially on the wings and especially with respect to defense, has been exposed and exploited. And the hope that Butler and Gibson would serve as on-court mentors for the young cornerstones — a turbocharged version of what past-their-prime veterans Garnett and Tayshaun Prince did for Towns and Wiggins under coach Sam Mitchell two years ago — is yet to become manifest.
After the Indiana blowout, Thibs was surprisingly restrained in his criticism of the team. Surely he knows better than anyone that the clock is ticking on the cheap development of his core personnel. The maximum 5-year, $147 million salary for Wiggins kicks in next season; Towns will certainly follow the season after tha — the same year that both Teague and Butler can opt to the final year of their lucrative deals or take their services to a higher bidder.
Meanwhile, a fan base comprised of patsies and cynics wonders if Thibs' vaunted defensive prowess still applies in the space and pace of the modern NBA. Granted, it is only five games in for an upholstered roster missing its alpha leader. But suffice to say that history has not been kind to this franchise. Patience has never been a virtue.

Universal LULU Nation (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Wednesday, 1 November 2017 16:38 (two years ago) link

six months pass...

been nice knowin ya wolves

Very intriguing draft prospect, Duke SG Grayson Allen, will be interviewing with the #Twolves in Chicago. He wasn't on their Day 1 interview list. Interviews continue today and tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/bYHTfGz9ix

— Darren Wolfson (@DWolfsonKSTP) May 17, 2018

The Desus & Mero Chain (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Thursday, 17 May 2018 18:43 (one year ago) link

with luck, hard work, and perseverance, Grayson Allen might become the new Matthew Dellavedova.

A is for (Aimless), Thursday, 17 May 2018 18:55 (one year ago) link

thibodeau needs to thibo go

sprout god (lag∞n), Thursday, 17 May 2018 19:13 (one year ago) link

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