Wolves Feels – 2018-19 Season Is Upon Us

I really started loving the NBA when we were in 2nd grade a few years before we met each other.  That was the first year I remember really playing basketball.  It was my second year of organized ball and the first year I cared.  I got basketball shoes and I loved the sport.  I’d watch NBA stuff on the weekend and when NBA Inside Stuff (third grade) I was hooked.  The Bulls were my team.  MJ was a god.  The first year I started playing ball was 1988 (first grade) and the first year I really loved it was 1989 (second grade) and that’s also when our cub scout pack went to a Wolves game at the Dome.  I loved it so much my Dad took me to half a dozen more games that year (no clue how my parents afforded this one with me being 7 and my brother being 2 I have to imagine there was next to no money to spare already).  I was hooked.  Pooh Richardson was my man.  Doug West eventually but the Wolves weren’t great so I still loved the Bulls.  Since everyone already loved MJ and I thought he was a god also I was for some reason drawn to Pippen. 

I always felt like Pippen played insane defense and I always felt like that was my jam.  I never had a portion of time playing basketball where I figured out scoring lots of points.  I just was never good at working a defense.  I mean honestly I was never that good.  But defensively I always felt stronger.  Since Pip was always outscored by MJ I was drawn to him.  

Then the Wolves drafted KG.  Before KG I was so-so on the Wolves.  I’d go to games every year but I didn’t really care if they were winning.  KG changed that, I wanted them to build a contender around him.  I started watched and learning about the pieces around him.  The college season mattered.  The draft was important.  Understanding the process of finding gems in college mattered.  I started trying to understrand why guys were killers in college and got killed in the pros.  

My basketball IQ started expanding and I was understanding the game at a different level.  I started to see patterns within the league (nothing brand new just started seeing the stuff that lifers have been living with).  There are eras.  There are windows.  The game evolves constantly.  If the big man is valuable today, understand going to figure out how to make non-bigs valuable.  Its just constant evolution that is tied to the greater development cycles.  

I’m a fan of the NBA but its really through the lens of the Wolves.  

Here are the Wolves in 2018 going into the season.  They’ve got as much talent as they have in over a decade.  You could make arguments this is their most talented team ever.  The ceiling in high.  It feels like the whole thing could implode or just fail to leave the pad.  The KAT/Butler/Wiggins combo is sick if they are all on the same page and clicking.  I don’t think we have seen that yet.  I don’t think they are trying to get there either.  Butler doesn’t appear to think Wiggins/KAT have the internal drive to be winners.  Wiggins doesn’t seem to think there is friction.  KAT clearly doesn’t like Butler big-timing him.  It seems to be adding layers and levels of difficulty to the game to be fighting within your own team.  

When you go around and read the various season previews for the Wolves there is a large swath of variance.  The Wolves could be the #2 seed behind the Warriors or they could be in the #10 spot looking for ping-pong balls.  

I’m not as worried about the record.  I don’t honestly think anyone beats the Warriors this year unless they are wrecked by injury.  Or if there is some unforseen infighting between their stars.  

The Wolves need to be judged and growth.  Where is KAT arguably today in the NBA at the 5 position?  What developments will he make this year?  Can he become the scariest low-post scoring threat in the league?  Will there still be 15-20 games this season where he’s a no-show or non-factor on the offensive end?  Does defense matter to KAT?  

Wiggins what are you?  Wiggins are you a good stats, bad team monster?  Wiggins are you just a monster?  Wiggins will you show-up for more than 70 games this year?  Wiggins can take over a game.  Its happened way too infrequently but it can happen.  Can we see that wiggins this year.  The one that just decides this game is shut-down in the first five minutes of the fourth.  Again this has only happened a few times in his career to this point.  Or is it going to be the defer to the crowd Wiggins again?  

Butler is the person everyone wants to talk about.  I don’t care about Butler.  Butler is going to be good where he plays this year and I think for 2-3 more years.  Should the Wolves resign him this next summer if given the chance? Yes.  Should the Wolves trade him for $0.60 on the dollar yesterday?  Yes.  Butler can change games for either team.  Butler appears to be as much of an issue in the locker room as he is on the court.  Do I think the Wolves should’ve moved Butler this summer?  Yes.  Do I think Thibs things he can change Butler’s mind and get him to resign in Sota for max money next summer?  Yes.  Do I think Butler lives up to a 5-year max contract next summer?  No.  I think Butler’s game won’t age gracefully.  I think Butler will see a precipitous drop-off in his defensive skills.  Butler’s outside game isn’t strong enough to lose a step.  The gravity will be lost.  Butler will still be a good starter for 5 more years.  Max level player?  Nah.  The Wolves will be hitting their peak in 3-5 years.  KAT/Wiggins are young.  We can’t forget that today.  Lining their windows of success up with the rest of the team makes a lot of sense.  The win-now approach when you have GSW in the league as they are currently constructed is foolish.  Plan and play the long-game.  Look at what LBJ is doing in LA.  He’s building.  He’s not constructing overnight.  

The Wolves have rookies too.  Where will Thibs work them into the rotation?  Will Thibs develop anyone?  Does Thibs care about 2-4 years out?  Or is it this year or bust?  

Glen Taylor saved the Wolves.  That’s one of those statements that always has to be said about Glen Taylor.  Past that Glen Taylor has been pretty awful for the Wolves.  As long as Glen is calling the shots we are going to see odd stuff like this Thibs drama this summer.  I’m game for Glen selling the team or stepping down and letting someone else in the family run the show.  I don’t think that’ll happen but its probably time.  

Minnesota Timberwolves 2018-2019 Season Preview The Feels Edition

John and Jeff banter their way through current feelings with the coming season.  There are more questions than answers.  What are fans supposed to do?  Just call each other semi-regularly, record it and put it out as a podcast.  That’s our plan at least.  

Wolves v Mavs

I’m editing our latest podcast right now.  The Wolves are taking down the Mavs right now.  In the pod we said it should be a shit stomping with the starters getting pine in the 4th.  RIght now it’s looking like an early pine night.  The wolves are up around 20 and have been since the middle of the 3rd.

KAT has completely rebound from the Pelicans game.  He’s already sitting on a double-double at the start of the 4th.  The story has been more on the defensive side of the ball.  This is what Butler is going to become my favorite TWolf by the end of the year if he isn’t already.  Dude can have an off night offensively but if he can set the tone to shut down the opposition it doesn’t really matter.

One of the things John and I hit in the pod is adding to the Wolves wing depth via a trade at some point in the season.  The big issue is matching contracts.  During these gamers I’ll take note of guys that would look good in a Wolves uni and then once a week I’ll follow-up and see if any of the guys we’ve seen recently would actually be something we could swing.

One of the dudes we mentioned in the pod was Wes Mathews.  It won’t work contract-wise unless you really get after it.  I don’t know if Wes wants to come off the bench.  If those two things I don’t think are happening, do happen Wes would look amazing with the Tyus/Crawford/Bjelly line.  Otherwise, man its clear why Dallas sucks.  The lack of quality depth on the bench is why they can’t be trusted.

The wolves are letting the Mavs back into the game.  Letting teams back in is clearly an issue so far this season.  Dennis Smith Jr is going to be really good.  No freaking clue what the defense has been doing in the 4th quarter.  J Pete is pointing out over and over how communication is just not happing on the court right now.  With a few defensive possessions, 13 point game quickly comes back to 20.  They haven’t ice it cause two quick misses and a Mavs three has it back to 14.  The clear-path rule is dumb.  Buckets has Kleber beat but because he hasn’t made it across the timeline yet it wasn’t clear-path.  Just a side-out.  Buckets has an easy dunk and two steps later it’s the ball and shots.  This is why dudes commit that foul.

Wolves win but they played the starters too deep.  Not cause Thibs was being Thibs because they just didn’t close it out early in the fourth.  The game-flow in the 4th was decidedly Mavs 30-19.  The Mavs were just too far buried to pull it out.  This has more to say about what and who the Mavs are now then how the Wolves are playing.

There were positives throughout.  Namely when the Wolves still won a game that they were supposed to win.