The Wolves have started the season 3-10. We currently sit dead last in the Western conference.
A lot of excuses can be made. We had a 286-day gap between seasons. Karl-Anthony Towns has had injuries and COVID for most of the games. We don’t have a real starting power forward on the roster. Teams are stacked in the West. We aren’t even really that good.
I made this tweet on January 2nd after the Wolves fell to 2-3 after losing to the, then, winless Wizards without Westbrook (four W’s in a row? something the Wolves haven’t done in a while #wordplay)
The Wolves would go 1-6 in that span and now are 1-7. Many games, the Wolves played teams without their best players and would give up large leads. The losses were not due roster composition. The losses were due to poor game management, poor rotations, and seemingly being out-prepared.
I consistently come back to the extended offseason. The reason my sympathy-level for Coach Saunders has diminished is because he has had longer than nearly any other team to prepare and understand his personnel coming into this season, especially the guys who are still on the team. This includes KAT, D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, Juancho, Layman, Culver, Reid, and Vanderbilt. Seeing that many of these guys look lost offensively, individually and collectively, tells me Saunders doesn’t know how to get these guys going. There are endless amounts of tape of what works to get any one of these guys a bucket. Even on previous teams. Watching the confidence drain out of every one of the young players on the team makes me almost miss Thibs… Almost. The reason I say that is because I can’t decide what is worse, seeing players exhausted or without confidence… Lets not go down this road. The Knicks are doing well though.
So why is Ryan still the coach? Because people like him. Why did he get the job? Because people like him. I don’t think people liking him will change. I still like him. His story is amazing and he is a likeable guy. But frankly, he can’t coach at an NBA-level. This is nothing against him. There are many great, likeable people, that can’t coach in the NBA. Mark Madsen is incredibly likeable for example, and he is not an NBA coach yet.
Coach Saunders to this point has just proven that he isn’t adding value that translates into wins. I also have to question his understanding of basketball in general. He has quotes that really make me worry that he may just be overwhelmed by his role and simply isn’t ready. The two below are the ones that make me really worried:
I will stop here. I just think him being a ‘players coach’ is translating into wins and is not the solution.
*Disclaimer: This is a rant and not well-thought through or analytical.