2009/10 Review:

The Minnesota Timberwolves have been a bizarre franchise in the last years and for this season, they carry the not likable label of being the worst NBA team in the last 3 seasons! During this span, the Wolves won 22, 24 and 15 games for a terrifying winning mark of just 24.7%!

General Manager David Kahn has been the main responsible for some questionable at best decisions as of late and it’s better that the team shows some improvement or else he won’t last long in the NBA as an executive. Last season he drafted three point guards in the draft and probably one of them (Ricky Rubio) will never play with the Wolves uniform. He chose a head coach that runs the Triangle Offense despite not having the “players” for such system and going for this season, he did not stop and made more “strange” moves.

By signing Kurt Rambis the Wolves were supposed to be an entertaining team to watch, as Rambis wants his teams to push up the pace and score in transition, while using a triangle offense to initiate the operations. Indeed the Wolves were a fast paced team – the third fastest team in the league, however by being not only the second worst defensive team, but also the second worst offensive team in the league, the recipients for this team couldn’t be different than a disastrous season. If it wasn’t for the Nets and the Wolves would have won the most pathetic team award, but there are still some areas in which they actually were worse than the Nets! By looking for the Points Per Game differential from last season, the Wolves were the biggest losers by ending the season with a negative point differential of -9.6 – it means that in average, the Wolves lost every single game by almost 10 points per game!

Yes, the Nets ended the season with only 12 wins versus 15 from the Wolves, but at least they showed some improvement late on the season, while the Wolves ended the season by losing 29 of their last 31 games!

Is there anything good from last season to show for the Timberwolves? Well Kevin Love developed into a solid player that Kahn bet on him instead of Al Jefferson to be the frontcourt leader. Corey Brewer made a nice comeback season and rookie Jonny Flynn showed some flashes in his first season as a pro. Besides that, the Timberwolves were stuck in the NBA’s basement of the floor.

2009/10 Advanced Stats:

Pace 3rd 99.2
Offense 29th 98.9
Defense 29th 108.7
Rebounds 20th -0.52

2010/11 Outlook:

Projected Depth Chart:

PG: Jonny Flynn, Luke Ridnour, Sebastian Telfair
SG: Wesley Johnson, Wayne Ellington
SF: Corey Brewer, Martell Webster, Lazar Hayward
PF: Kevin Love, Michael Beasley, Anthony Tolliver
C: Darko Milicic, Kosta Koufos, Nikola Pekovic

After added 3 Point guards in the last season, GM David Kahn thought that wasn’t enough and signed another Point Guard in this offseason (Luke Ridnour). He took advantage of some salary cap relief and stole Michael Beasley from the Heat for basically nothing. However he made some (more) bizarre decisions regarding Al Jefferson and Darko Milicic, but first he drafted Wesley Johnson after passing in big man DeMarcus Cousins from Kentucky.

After watching Al Jefferson struggling on the court on his first season back from his knee surgery, David Kahn decided that he was no longer belonging in the future of the franchise, as Kevin Love would be the “man” down low and Darko Milicic would enough to replace him at the center position. The decision was questionable at best, but I’m okay with it. However subsequently, he traded Al Jefferson to Utah (a career 17-and-9 guy) for Jazz’s… third-stringer Kosta Koufos?! That was the best he could do? The leaving of Big Al will provide some salary cap relief to the Timberwolves, but surely he is worth a whole lot more than a mere backcup player and some room in the salary cap.

To make things even worse, he inked Darko Milicic a fresh four-year, $20-million deal to be their starting center: a $20 million dollar deal! Please note that in my opinion Darko is far from being “useless”. He came into the league at the age of 18 drafted top 5 in one of the best draft classes ever and ended up on the Pistons that never gave him a chance to play. In 24 games with the Wolves at the end of last season, he averaged 8.3ppg and 5.5rpg and 54% shooting from the free throw line. He is tough and has some fundamental skills with him, however he is yet to show that is worth such money and this is the kind of deal that can hurt you in the long haul.

While Ricky Rubio is still playing in Spain, Jonny Flynn is learning how to play in the NBA. He was one of the few bright spots for the Timberwolves last year by averaging 13.5 points and 4.4 assists per game, but he still isn’t adequate to play in a Triangle Offense scheme. Phil Jackson’s system is favorable for big guards that can shoot from the outside and Flynn is more a penetrator kind of player like Aaron Brooks. He shot only 41.7% from the field and his 2.4 Turnovers vs. 4.4 Assists per game aren’t pretty to monitor. However he is a young kid that played his first year as a pro in such complex offensive system, so we can expect him to grow fast this season.

Ramon Sessions didn’t look comfortable with the system last season and David Kahn replaced him for Luke Ridnour, who is coming from a pretty solid season in Milwaukee and he will likely be the Wolves starting point guard because Jonny Flynn is sidelined after a hip surgery.

After an injured plagued season in which he played only 15 games, Corey Brewer bounced back last season and played in all the 82 games! He showed some offensive production by averaging 13 points per game and shooting 43.1% from the field – he was purely a non factor in his first 2 years in the league and is a good winger defensive player albeit he played in a terrible awfully defensive team. He will share minutes at the Small Forward position with former Trailblazer Martell Webster for a good and solid rotation in this particular position. Both players are young (23 and 24 years old), so we might talk about two players for the future in this franchise, but they have to start showing some production in the present.

With the 4th pick the Timberwolves selected Wesley Johnson from Syracuse. They could draft big man Cousins, but instead they chose him for the future. His athleticism and versatility makes him a potential tough matchup to cover because he can play in different positions. He needs to develop his outside shooting ability, but the Wolves have a real nice talent to work and actually he is one of the few Wolves players suit to play in the triangle offense.

Despite entering his third season as a pro, we still really don’t know if Michael Beasley is a Small Forward or a Power Forward. In Miami he failed to be “the Dwayne Wade supporting actor” and it looks like in Minnesota he will play at Small Forward. There’s no doubt that Beasley has the talent to be a terrific player, but his consistency and work ethic has been questionable so far in his career. He will play in a fast paced team instead of the half court sets that the Heat ran with him, so in theory Beasley would be able be more productive, however it’s all in his mind to work and play hard on the court.

Kevin Love is now the “leader” of this team and he is coming from an impressive season last year that was enough to impress David Kahn to label him as the face of the franchise. He averaged 14 points per game, while grabbing a whopping mark of 11 boards per game. What is more impressing is that he wasn’t a starter last season and logged only 28.6 minutes per game – 11 boards in only 28 minutes per game! His production per 48 minutes is better than Howard, Camby, Dalembert or Noah! Now he will be a full-time starter and he needs to develop his offensive arsenal if he wants to be a top Power Forward in the league.

The Minnesota Timberwolves are stuck in a division where all their opponents have won at least 50 games last season and they are too young to think they can make some noise for the playoffs. Development is the key word for them, while at the end of the season they will play to get more chances for a good draft position.