I watched a pretty good chunk of the Minnesota Timberwolves’ game against the Los Angeles Clippers late Monday night in LA.
The Clippers won, collecting their first victory of the season.It was a pretty forgettable effort by the T-Pups.
Jonny Flynn showed some flashes of brilliance, mixed with the occasional rookie mistakes. I liked what I saw from him. He looked like someone that could serve as a building block for this team.
The Wolves still really need a defensive-minded big man to pair with Al Jefferson. For all of Jefferson’s offensive moves, he still lacks on the defensive end. That’s why I thought getting Hasheem Thabeet in this year’s NBA draft made sense, though he didn’t fall to them.
Speaking of the team’s defense, well … it’s awful. This is an incredibly slow-footed team. Flynn and Corey Brewer have quickness, but overall the team lacks both post and perimeter defense. It’s hard to imagine the Wolves will hold many teams below 100 points this season.
The post defense in particular looks like its headed for a long season. Jefferson, Oleksiy Pecherov and Nathan Jawai just aren’t going to get the job done against even run-of-the-mill NBA centers.
Jawai – known as "Aussie Shaq" according to his Wikipedia page – did slam home an offensive rebound on Monday, which sent me into a frenzy. He’s quite the project. Hard to believe he’ll ever be a productive NBA player, yet it’s hard not to find a guy who’s been dubbed "Aussie Shaq" or "Outback Shaq" as fascinating. Jawai reportedly hates the nickname.
My guess is this team will be hard-pressed to win 20 games. I’m thinking an 18-64 mark is what the Wolves will end up with. I realize that’s an incredibly low total – Sacramento was the only team last year to finish with fewer than 18 wins – but that’s how I feel.
Things will improve with Kevin Love, but the great qualities that Love provides don’t make up the deficiencies of this squad. It’s kind a square peg in round hole situation. Love’s a great player, but this team lacks big-time scoring and post defense. Love’s a great rebounder, but not the kind of defender the Wolves need.
This season just doesn’t matter much to the Wolves franchise. Sure, it matters to Flynn and Jefferson as far as their development. But right now GM David Kahn is simply trying to accumulate franchise-changing pieces. I believe Jefferson, Love and Flynn can all be integral members to a team’s future. And with plenty of salary cap space next offseason, more can be added.
The future looks brighter. The path to it, though, will be full of rough patches.