The Wolves are five games into the season and optimism is pouring out of Target Center. Wins over Dallas and San Antonio along with playing Miami and Oklahoma City down to the wire is big progress for this team. Next up is Memphis and Cleveland at home before a brutal week where the Wolves will play 5 games in 7 days including four of those on the road. Plus, in a season that will continue to move quickly, it’s time to vote for All-Stars!
Let’s start with that win over the Spurs. The Wolves shot a red-hot 57% from the field (and that’s after cooling way down in the 4th quarter). Doing it against the Spurs, year after year one of the best defensive teams in the league, was a testament to how well the Wolves are playing. Plus, they did it with J.J. Barea on the bench resting his injured hamstring. Offensively, the team is clicking.
Wes Johnson Talks About the Wolves Strong Offense
Memphis is next. This will be the first of four regular season matchups between the teams. Both teams come into the game at 2-3. Memphis played Tuesday night, winning 113-96 over Sacramento. The Wolves lost all four to the Grizzlies last season and they’ve proven to by Kevin Love’s Kryptonite. The Wolves All-Star has only averaged 13 points and 9 rebounds in eight career games against Memphis. That’s his lowest rebound total versus any team in the league. Forward Zach Randolph has definitely played a big part in that. But Wednesday, Randolph may not play. He’s nursing a bruised knee he suffered in a loss to the Chicago Bulls Monday. He’ll be a game-time decision.
Memphis will wrap up the Timberwolves first six games of the season, a stretch of games all against playoff teams from last year. Finishing a stretch of games like that at .500 would have been unthinkable last year. The Wolves have a chance to do that with a win Wednesday, a sure sign of progress for this year’s team. Cleveland comes to Target Center Friday before the Wolves take on another challenge in this shortened season: 5 games in 7 days with 4 on the road. A daunting task to be sure and one that will test their young legs.
Finally, the NBA announced that All-Star voting has opened! The NBA All-Star game is less than two months away. Talk about a shortened season. The game will be played February 26th in Orlando and there are three Wolves on the ballot.
You can vote for Kevin Love who represented the Wolves at last year’s game and has been one of the top players in the league so far (he’s #3 in player efficiency). He’s sixth in the league in scoring , third in rebounding and first in double-doubles. Those are All-Star credentials to be sure.
Kevin Love On The Wolves Postgame Show Monday
You can also vote for Michael Beasley who’s the Wolves second-leading scorer.
And finally, guess who else is on the ballot? Ricky Rubio. A player that hasn’t started one game in the NBA but has made enough of an impact to be included on the All-Star ballot. He’s averaging 8.8 points, 6.4 assists and 3.8 rebounds a game but his impact has been far beyond numbers. He’s proving he can score in the NBA which was a huge question mark. So far, he’s shooting 51% from the floor, a terrific number for a point guard.
But it’s even beyond that. In an age where there are amazingly in-depth stats, here’s one that is proving Ricky to be a superb rookie. A ranking of the league’s rookies on Grantland.com showed the Timberwolves score 10.5 more points per 100 possessions when Rubio is on the floor then when he’s on the bench. He’s making the team and his teammates better. And he’s doing it in the 4th quarter which has been even more impressive. Oh, by the way, Grantland has Ricky ranked as the number one rookie in the league so far. Not bad and a point guard that has been worth the wait.
Ricky Rubio Postgame Comments Monday
You can hear the Wolves and the Memphis Grizzlies on 830 WCCO Wednesday night. Mike Max will have the Timberwolves Tip-Off show starting at 6:10 with the game tipping off at 7:10.