Minnesota Timberwolves Season Preview

6 10 2008

My NBA Northwest Division preview continues with the Minnesota Timberwolves:

Minnesota Timberwolves

2007-08 Standings 22 – 60, 13th Western Conference

2008-09 Predicted Record 40 – 42, 4th Northwest Division, 10th Western Conference

Projected Starting Five:  Al Jefferson, Kevin Love, Mike Miller, Randy Foye, Sebastian Telfair

Sixth Man:  Rashad McCants

Al Jefferson, Randy Foye and Corey Brewer are hoping to bring the Timberwolves back to respectability.

Al Jefferson, Randy Foye and Corey Brewer are hoping to bring the Timberwolves back to respectability.

As expected the Minnesota Timberwolves were one of the worst teams in the NBA last year. They traded away the face and heart of the franchise, Kevin Garnett, and watched as he won a title. At least it proved that GM Kevin McHale can build a championship team, only problem: it was his old team, the Boston Celtics.

Only the very churlish would begrudge Garnett his title but in many ways his triumph with the Celtics was a slap in the face for Timberwolves fans. It proved that if McHale had surrounded Garnett with class and talent they might have won a title.

Instead McHale proved incompetent at building a powerhouse contender (except for the one year when Garnett had Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell as his running mates) and last offseason they blew the team up. At least they acquired talent in exchange.

Al Jefferson is the cornerstone of the franchise. He is a powerhouse post player who will be an All Star sooner rather than later. However he is at best a lackadaisical defender, an area where Garnett excelled.

The other “star” of the team is Randy Foye. At the moment Foye shapes as another example of McHale’s incompetence. Foye was acquired in a draft day trade for Brandon Roy, AKA All Star Brandon Roy. While Foye projects as a solid NBA player, albeit one struggling to find a position (is he a point guard or shooting guard), Roy is classy and almost led the young Trail Blazers to the playoffs. If Roy was in Minnesota then most probably Garnett would be too. 

The remaking of the team continued in the offseason. The T Wolves drafted OJ Mayo then immediately traded him, Antoine Walker and Marko Jaric for Kevin Love and Mike Miller. For once the Timberwolves made a good transaction. Mayo is undoubtedly talented but he didn’t want to play in Minnesota. Love on the other hand did and provides the T Wolves with a passing big man. The fact they also acquired Miller, a classy underrated shooter and shed Walker and Jaric was a bonus.

However the Timberwolves have a weakness at centre and point guard. Jefferson is more of a natural fit at power forward but with Love on the roster he will be expected to log minutes in the middle. At the point Telfair is the starter but he has failed to live up to his potential so far.

The Timberwolves will be better this year. They’ll struggle to defend but they have enough young talent that they’ll start their climb back up the standings.

Coach:

Randy Whittman is the Timberwolves coach but he doesn’t inspire a whole mass of confidence. Minnesota has fired better coaches than him recently, most notably Flip Saunders but also Dwayne Casey.

Bench:

Minnesota have a solid looking bench. If Rashad McCants can adjust to a sixth man role he is capable of providing a spark. Ryan Gomes and Craig Smith are bruising reserves who would fit in well in Utah with Jerry Sloan. Corey Brewer needs to develop this season. He was a major disappointment last year though it was perhaps more puzzling why he was taken so high in the first place.

Star Player:

Al Jefferson is the Timberwolves undoubted star. This year he should go close to an All Star berth but he will have to raise his play to MVP level to make anyone forget Kevin Garnett.

Team MVP:

How Randy Foye plays will determine how good the Timberwolves can be. He and the coaches need to decide if he is a point guard or shooting guard. I’ve projected him as a shooting guard at this point. However he has a Chauncey Billups kind of physique, he just needs to develop a Billups like game.

Final Prognosis:

The Timberwolves will improve this season but not enough to make the playoffs in the west. In Jefferson, Love, Foye and Gomes they have a good young core and the addition of Miller brings some class and poise to the team. They could win anywhere between 30 and 40 games.

 

You can find an index of past Previews here.





NBA Season Preview Index

3 10 2008

Atlantic Division Previews:

Boston Celtics Season Preview

Philadelphia 76ers Season Preview

Toronto Raptors Season Preview

New York Knicks Season Preview

New Jersey Nets Season Preview

Northwest Division Previews:

Utah Jazz Season Preview

Portland Trail Blazers Season Preview

Denver Nuggets Season Preview

Minnesota Timberwolves Season Preview

Oklahoma City Thunder Season Preview

Central Division Previews:

Cleveland Cavaliers Season Preview

Detroit Pistons Season Preview

Chicago Bulls Season Preview

Milwaukee Bucks Season Preview

Indiana Pacers Season Preview

Pacific Division Previews:

LA Lakers Season Preview

Phoenix Suns Season Preview

Golden State Warriors Season Preview

LA Clippers Season Preview

Sacramento Kings Season Preview

South East Division Previews:

Orlando Magic Season Preview

Miami Heat Season Preview

Atlanta Hawks Season Preview

Washington Wizards Season Preview

Charlotte Bobcats Season Preview

South West Division Previews:

New Orleans Hornets Season Preview

San Antonio Spurs Season Preview

Houston Rockets Season Preview

Dallas Mavericks Season Preview

Memphis Grizzlies Season Preview





Just say “No!” to Starbury

24 09 2008

It seems that the basketballer formerly known as “Starbury” is about to be waived by the New York Knicks. My first thought was cool, now the Celtics or T Wolves can sign him. My second thought was, please don’t sign him.

Throughout his career Stephen Marbury has teased us with his potential greatness. He has the talent and body to be a Hall of Famer, as reflected in his max contracts over the years, yet he seemingly has the maturity of a 4 year old. He was involved in that sleazy Isiah Thomas sexual harassment law suit and even his cousin has written a book about his selfishness.

I remember being gutted when he quit on KG all those years ago in Minnesota. It felt to me like he was tossing away the chance to be the next Stockton-to-Malone. The Timberwolves compensated for the loss of Marbury by obtaining Terrell Brandon but while he was an All Star he wasn’t Starbury.

Marbury seems to have a caustic personality that infests the whole team. He’s been a cancer everywhere he’s been, never more illustrated than when he left Phoenix and they immediately made the playoffs. Hell, the Knicks are prepared to pay him over $20 million to not show up! Now if the Knicks are worried about his personality screwing up their chemistry then you know Marbury is trouble.

I have no doubt that Starbury’s going to end up somewhere. I just hope it isn’t with my teams.





me blood is green

3 07 2008

A few weeks ago the Boston Celtics won the NBA title. This is the first time that the team that I have followed all year has won the NBA championship and I was so happy I buzzed about the house for days. Of course if you talk to Kirsty she’ll tell you what a nervous emotional wreck I was throughout the playoffs, but hey, that’s part of the fun right?

A year ago I didn’t care about the Celtics, my team was the Minnesota Timberwolves and about all they had in common was that they both sucked. Badly. So what changed? Kevin Garnett. He swapped teams – went from the T-Wolves to the Celtics and my allegiance swapped with him. Kinda. I still follow the T-Wolves and yes, they still suck and probably going to suck all the more now that they’ve traded for this guy over this guy.  (word of advice don’t trade away an athletic potential superstar for a big white stiff, just not a good idea). But my blood is now green. And it’s all down to KG.

I guess it’s not so surprising when I think about it. All the other teams I follow I follow because they are the teams of my area. I’m born and raised in Auckland so I follow the Blues and the Auckland rugby team. Ditto for the Warriors. And I’m kiwi so I have to support the All Blacks. It’s the law (though Edwin will laugh when he reads that). I follow the Timberwolves because when I was getting into the NBA seriously I liked their logo. No, I’m not shitting you, I supported them because of their logo. Oh, and a fierce rookie named Kevin Garnett. He just held my attention and hence I followed him. Of course I also loved Hakeem the Dream Olajuwon and all those other greats from the 90s like the Reign Man, Sir Charles, Stockton-to-Malone, his Airness etc etc. But it was KG I loved. And so when he was traded I traded with him. After game 5 of the finals when he stunk I was so angry that K almost banned me from watching any more games. Then he dominated game 6, won the title and everything was right. He even gave the greatest post game speech in the history of the universe.