PACE: #1 99.5
OFFENSE: #24 101.1
DEFENSE: #27 108.3
Kurt Rambis is no longer the Minnesota timberwolves head coach and just because of that the Wolves will be a more competitive team than they were in the recent past. The word “competitive” is actually unrealistic to describe how the Wolves have been over the last few years. Make no mistake. The Wolves were already a bad franchise before Rambis began coaching them, but with him in Minnesota, the Wolves won 27 games while lost 102 – a dreadful 20.9% winning percentage!
What did Rambis do wrong after all? Well, Rambis tried to bring “the showtime” to Minnesota, while implementing a triangle offense to a completely inappropriate Wolves roster. Minnesota was the quickest team in the league, but this didn’t translate into them being an efficient offensive team. For a triangle offense to work, the big players must be able to handle the ball, but the Wolves as a team were the 2nd worst team in the league in TO/rate with 15.06%. They also couldn’t shoot the ball well, as they ranked just 24th in eFG% with 48.25% and 27th in field goal percentage.
The only thing that the Wolves did well was rebounding. Led by the league’s best rebounder Kevin Love, the Wolves were the second best offensive rebounding of the league by grabbing 29.46% of their misses. However, note that they were so bad in shooting the ball that they had multiple chances to grab the offensive board – we are talking about the 5th worst team in the league in scoring at the rim% with just 60.8%.
On the defensive end, the Wolves were dreadful as well – 4th worst team in defensive efficiency, as they couldn’t stop anybody: #4 worst in eFG% allowed w/51.43%; #4 worst in 3pts% allowed w/37.4% and #6 worst in sending the opponent to the free throw line w/32.3% FT/rate.
Now enters Rick Adelman era…
Adelman is one of the best coaches of the game and it was quite surprising for me that he ended up in Minnesota rather than other more “appellative” teams. In my opinion, Adelman did a terrific job in Houston! The Rockets was always a competitive team despite the injuries of Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming and even last season, without a true superstar player, the Rockets were the 6th most efficient offensive team in the league! His teams can also defend as well as in his 19 full seasons, he's had a top-10 offensive team nine times and a top-10 defensive team nine times as well! Curiously, the Wolves would have now the proper players to run fast, so they will likely be one of the fastest teams in the league in this season as well because Adelman is a smart coach.
Ricky Rubio will be the 67th Wolves’ Point Guard in the David Kahn era… all of them who have watched the Wolves draft picks in Kahn’s management will understand this joke. I’ve watched Rubio’s playing several times for his National Team and he is a really good player. He can play defense, but more importantly he has a terrific court vision and a high IQ, he is smart and fast in taking the best decisions. The problem is that he isn’t a shooter and struggles to finish at the rim. Do not overestimate his Euroleague stats because playing for Barcelona is completely different from playing in a fast tracking league like the NBA. Nevertheless, the Wolves have now a Point Guard that really knows how to play Point Guard and excels on the open floor.
I have no doubts that the Wolves will be a fast paced team because they have plenty of athletic young players: Wesley Johnson, Michael Beasley, Derrick Williams and even Kevin Love. If somehow the Wolves find their right chemistry, this will be a fun team to watch!
Kevin Love is now the face of the franchise and he is coming from a historic season. His 31 points and 31 rebounds against the Knicks are unforgettable, but he has to assume the role of being the leader of a young roster. Love isn’t the prototypical rebounder beast that can’t shoot the ball! No, he hit 41.7% behind the arc while attempting almost 3 treys per game! His versatility can open the floor for his teammates inside the post. This bodes well for Derrick Williams who is an aggressive rebounder and finisher in traffic with a soft mid-range jump shot.
Luckily for the team, Darko Milicic will compete with Brad Miller for the center spot and Miller will be extremely important for the Wolves not only because he will put Milicic on the bench, but more importantly because Miller knows Adelman’s system pretty well.
The biggest obstacle for Adelman will be the time! He won’t have a full training camp and the schedule will be heavy, so the Wolves will have to learn fast! Potentially the Wolves are a team that will struggle early on and will progress as long the season goes. The Wolves could be a surprise on the West and just fall short in the fight for the last seed spot for the playoffs! One thing seems certain: they will have a better winning percentage than last season.