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The Wolves hold the 3rd seed currently with 18 games left to go in the 2017-18 season, sitting at 38-26. That said, they only hold a 4 game lead over the 9th place team, which means they could easily not make the playoffs.
After losing Jimmy Butler for what should be considered the rest of the regular season, the Wolves need someone to step up for the rest of the season and get the Wolves into the playoffs for the first time in 14 years. Naturally, the expectations are that KAT and Andrew Wiggins step in and make a difference. But there will be the need for Taj Gibson and Jeff Teague to leverage their experience as well as the bench needing to be productive. The Wolves just need to play mistake free basketball.
That said, the next seven games look brutal.
@Portland (On TNT)
@ Utah (On ESPN)
vs Boston (On TNT)
vs Golden State (On ABC, and essentially a home game for the Warriors)
@Washington DC (On NBA TV)
@ San Antonio (On NBA TV)
vs Houston (On NBA TV)
To hold on to their 3rd place position, the Wolves will need to go at least 5-2. To hold on to their comfortable playoff hopes, they will need to go 3-4. The Wolves either play an elite team at the top of either conference or a team that is trying just as hard to make the playoffs.
The bad news in all of this is that it is likely that by the time the Wolves play the Spurs, Kawhi Leonard could return. The Wolves haven’t played well against these top tier teams all season. On top of that, the teams that seem winnable on this stretch are playing better than normal.
The Wolves are up for what should be an incredible test of what this team is capable of without Jimmy Butler. The stretch should certainly prepare the Wolves for the final stretch of 11 games after that as the race for the 3rd through 8th seeds in the West heats up.
Your long-lost blog,
The Timber Rebuilder
Oh, the glory that was the Andrew Wiggins game winner. First off, enjoy below through a slow-motion, infinite loop of the game winner.
Here is it full speed.
This game was crazy. The amount of big shots hit felt like a video-game version of a playoff game. The hype for seeing these two new-look teams was exceeded by leaps, bounds, and buzzer-beaters. The fact that Russell Westbrook’s multiple big 3s, KAT’s floater to take the lead, and Melo’s three with 4 seconds left to take back the lead, will all be overlooked. Andrew Wiggins, aka Cornrow Andy (shout out Augie 5000), bka Maple Jordan, took the ball full court in 4 seconds and hits a contested three from between the half-court and three-point line. There is no better chemistry builder than a buzzer beater on the road.
So taking a turn, I wanted to ask a couple questions, to really understand how great this was. I’ve been reading the Shea Serrano book, Basketball (and Other Things), and it has inspired me to ask questions to analyze things.
Is Andrew Wiggins ‘clutch’?
I think we can say he is now. Right? He hit a game winner against the Suns as he was draped in the, twice his size, PJ Tucker.
As mentioned here, that was only the third time the Wolves hit a shot to win as time expired and would’ve lost had they missed.
Wiggins shoes up twice here. That’s pretty significant I’d say. Wiggins had practiced this shot he just made though. Not long ago either. Just a few days before this game winner actually.
That all said, being clutch is all about opportunity. You have to play in close games. You have to get the nod from the coach to take the shot. And clutch doesn’t mean you hit 100% of the buzzer beaters but that you are at or above your regular shooting percentage when the pressure is on. So, I do think now that Wiggins has hit a good amount of these buzzer beaters, we can label him clutch.
Who had the best responses on twitter?
Obviously Zach LaVine and Ricky Rubio. I mean, even though LaVine technically called Wiggins an old lady apparently.
I wanted to burst into tears seeing that LaVine and Rubio were happy for Wiggins. Especially after Rubio just lost at the Target Center. Good to know they are still watching. Definitely miss those guys.
Folks on the National scene were taking notice as well.
But the best is the humble brag by Wiggins himself.
Who is better, Green Shoe Andrew or Cornrow Andy?
Cornrow Andy has a smaller sample size so we will have to see what else comes out of it but he is off to a strong start. Wiggins hit the halftime buzzer beater in the home opener on Friday and then managed to hit this game winner as well. CRA has also been scoring at will this season, all while filling the box score (something his haters love to call out). His jump shot looks great as well. This alone indicate that Cornrow Andy is trending up.
Green Shoe Andrew was pretty impressive though. GSA was slamming on all of the league’s biggest and best shot blockers while averaging 26.1 points when wearing green shoes.
Was this the best buzzer beater in Wolves history?
I think so. Time will tell. The iconic Malik Sealy buzzer beater, where the entire team piles on him, is unforgettable. The Kevin Love buzzer beater against the Clippers on ESPN where he walked away with his hands out and a youthful Ricky Rubio (we still miss you) jumping on his shoulders. The celebration alone makes it among the best and that shot captured what the hopes and dreams were for that rebuild around Love and Rubio.
But those were both plays from half court and they came off of timeouts. Andrew Wiggins took the ball full court in 4 seconds after the devastation of losing a 2-point cushion to a 3-pointer by Carmelo Anthony. Wiggins had to free up to get the ball, use Karl-Anthony Towns’ potentially illegal screen to shed Paul George, and pull up from the OKC logo with a few tenths of a second left to spare, just so the celebration would not be interrupted by an official review. ALL OF THIS, WITHOUT TAKING A TIMEOUT. Are you kidding me? I take my ‘I think so’ statement back. Yes, this was the best buzzer beater in Wolves history. How many others have their own blog post?
Oh, and because Wiggins does lack in the celebration department, Aaron Brooks helped here:
Where do we go from here?
First off, stop questioning his contract. The man deserved it.
Secondly, enjoy it. The Wolves have not looked perfect out there but this will certainly help. I can’t wait to see the rematch on Friday. We will likely see Angry Russell, which is the worst beast you want to see in the league.
Lastly, Sam Mitchell was right. Something I don’t like to say. But Mitchell was absolutely right. He snapped back at Doogie Wolfson when he tried to question Wiggins’ drive and ability.
Yes, this happened.
Big shout out to Mohamed Elabbady for creating these in MyTeam in NBA2K18. Our very own, Timber Rebuilder jerseys. To add them on Xbox, just search m0swagger
If you don’t know, we love playing 2K. We typically spend time on MyTeam collecting our favorite old and new Timberwolves. We will also spend time winning rings for the Wolves in MyLeague or MyCareer. If you play 2K as well, tweet us and we can run online.
Frigid temperatures, aggressive mosquitos and an abundance of lakes might be the first topics when thinking how to describe Minnesota. However, these topics didn’t come to mind with the implementation of the new Minnesota Timberwolves. Currently, Nike has officially released two colorways; the Association and the Icon.
The Timberrebuilder team was invited out to meet with CEO of the Timberwolves Ethan Casson and infamous designer Rodney Richardson. Richardson, along with a team of designers at RARE envisioned and developed a Timberwolves brand that spoke to the state, the city, and the fan contrary of topics we initially think.
In a previous interview Richardson describes, “Minnesota can be a hard place to live, due to the harshness of its cold climate. It can also be one of the most beautiful places. Not only do we apply that to the natural landscape of Minnesota, but also to the city landscape,” Richardson said. “While it’s tough, it’s also beautiful. The people of this area love their city. In turn, the city loves them back. With this great love of place, there is a pack-like mentality, which aligns with the characteristics of this team’s totem: the timber wolf.”
In describing the newly released uniforms, Richardson’s kept in mind auroras and the coniferous landscape Minnesota embodies. He wanted a lot more of the volt green to be shown but represented with the midnight blue.
These jerseys will only be worn for the six Saturday home games and we are still waiting on one more silhouette of the uniform to be released at a later date.
I didn’t want to write anything out of emotion. Draft night was crazy. It was surreal. I couldn’t believe it happened. I joked that I wouldn’t believe anyone said about Jimmy Butler trades unless it came from Doogie Wolfson on twitter. But it happened. The Wolves landed Jimmy Butler and the draft rights to Justin Patton for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, and the rights to Lauri Markkanen.
The Wolves essentially created a future super team by adding a top-15 NBA player and one of the best two-way players in the league in Jimmy Butler. Getting the 16th pick in the deal was laughable as well. The Wolves moved back 9 spots in the draft with Jimmy Butler for Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine. It is mind blowing.
All of that said, it still hurts 24 hours later to see Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn leave. LaVine was a class act and was nothing but a hard worker while here. Dunn had a series of tweets on how he was begin to love Minnesota. It is a reminder that, as romantic of a game that basketball is, it is a business. Just start watching the jersey sponsorships over the next few years roll in. We will be constantly reminded that basketball is a business.
This trade happened for a few reasons. The Wolves need to win now and it makes complete sense that they have wanted Butler for a while. But I think deep down, the Wolves wanted Jonathon Isaac. Once it was certain that Isaac was going to be taken 6th, I think the Wolves felt more comfortable making the trade and there was a huge drop off from pick 6 to pick 7. There is also some concern about LaVine coming off an ACL tear. A red flag should go up when a player that relies on their athleticism tears an ACL. It’s not that it’s over, LaVine is still young. But it is certainly risky. Lastly, Kris Dunn still has the word ‘potential’ attached to him. Being that he was drafted as a senior and was advertised as ‘ready to play’, this second season means so much more for him and if he still does have potential. I’m still very high on LaVine and Dunn because both have floor skill sets that will be valuable no matter what happens. LaVine can shoot and Dunn can defend. But both were high-risk assets coming into this next year that the Wolves may have sold at the right time.
What has been overlooked is the cap situation the Wolves pulled themselves out of. The new CBA rule allows for teams to offer max contracts to two players on their rookie scale contract. Both Wiggins and LaVine were up for these extensions and both deserve the max. The Wolves obviously need to save one of these max extensions for KAT. On paper, it would be easy to tell LaVine that he isn’t getting the max because of his injury and he isn’t even Robin in the trio of Wiggins, KAT and himself. LaVine could have potentially declined whatever extension offer the Wolves had for him and opted for free agency this summer. That means, there was the possibility that the Wolves could’ve lost LaVine for nothing.
Now bring in Jimmy Butler’s contract. He is under contract for another two seasons with a player option for a 3rd, which he will likely opt out of for a contract he deserves. He will be 30 years old at that time, which means he is under contract for less than $20M a year during his best playing years. To put this into further perspective, Allen Crabbe is making $1M more a year than Butler over the next two seasons. So salary cap wise, this deal was absolutely genius.
Overall, I commend Tom Thibodeau. He spent the last year assessing his roster and didn’t make any crazy moves so that the Wolves could have the flexibility to make a trade like last night’s. It is clear he understands the value of the players on his roster and ultimately, adding an All-NBA player alongside Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins is a risk that needed to be taken. The real issue was the culture here in Minnesota. The culture needs to change. Butler is going to help build a winning culture around the young players and help them truly understand how to play team defense. If there is one area that the Wolves are going to be happy Jimmy Butler is here for on the court, it is on the defensive end.
What can’t be overlooked though is team chemistry. How is Jimmy Butler going to rally the troops? Wiggins and Towns have looked like numbers chasers on the court this season, which has ultimately made winning not look like a priority. There have been times where Thibs has tried to play Wiggins in the point-forward position but it never seemed natural for him to make good playmaking decisions. Butler will be able to help out in that sense but then you have to wonder, what will Wiggins’ role be in the offense now? Will Butler be more of a facilitator on the floor?
The Wolves now have three legitimate 20 point per game scorers on their roster. While I used to be of the philosophy that there is only one ball on the court at the time, the only way the Wolves flourish is tbrough truly unselfish basketball. The Wolves played a lot of ISO-ball last season and that will need to stop. Outside of the Warriors having four All-Stars, the reason they dominated the league is that they let opponents pick their poison and just moved the ball. I’m not sold Thibodeau has the offensive-genius the Warriors have, but they certainly can start watching a ton of tape.
The thing I am most looking forward to in the court is a Jimmy Butler and KAT pick and roll/ pop game. One thing Wiggins and LaVine were unable to do last year is involve KAT in pick situations. Butler has the shot and playmaking ability to involve KAT heavily in the pick & roll.
It will be interesting to see what position Wiggins plays. He seems more comfortable playing shooting guard through his career. Jimmy Butler can guard anything from the 2-4. If Wiggins can guard the weaker offensive threat between the 2 and 3, he will be able to take full advantage of smaller shooting guards on the offensive end. While small ball has become the new trend in the NBA, the Wolves could take advantage with their length and potential ability to defend the perimeter.
The next question I have is, what happens to Ricky Rubio? He has all the offensive weapons in the world now at his finger tips. He turned the corner at the end of last year. Does Thibs have Rubio in his future plans? Rubio might play great with the new big 3, but would make most sense is adding a 3 and D point guard. I imagine Patty Mills or Patrick Beverly being potential fits. I also think George Hill could be a potential target. This would mean Rubio’s value would lower as teams know we are backed up at point guard.
The final question is, what position will Towns play? Do the Wolves continue to play Dieng and Towns together? I do think Towns is better playing the 5 with the Wolves bringing in a stretch-4 to help offset the lack of shooting. Heck, I wonder if Bjelica might be better off starting. I think the Wolves could have a good hard look at CJ Miles and Patrick Patterson this summer. Neither are starting caliber forwards, but could offer some lineup flexibility throughout the game in stretches where the Wolves need shooting.
This move will certainly have a domino effect though. The Wolves will likely need to add another piece if they are now serious about competing. Where they end up in the West is still yet to be determined. The Clippers, Jazz and Rockets could look very different next season. I will enjoy this trade for now though, regardless where the Wolves end up next season. It is the first time in a while we were on the winning end of a trade. It is probably the biggest move since the Wolves acquired Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell.
It is certainly a new era of Wolves basketball.
P.S. I am holding off on Justin Patton talks. I was praying for OG Anunoby. Patton will certainly be a project and my expectations are low this season. He is an energetic player which should be helpful off the bench. I thought a fence-swing was more appropriate at 16 with Anunoby, but you can’t win them all.
P.S.S. I updated some more thoughts and wanted to add this comic because it’s hilarious
For those following this blog, you know the draft is my favorite day of the season. Not always by choice, but it is the only thing for the last 12 seasons the Wolves have been at the top of.
The Wolves find themselves in the middle of the draft lottery at pick 7. This is typically an indication of an inflection point in the Wolves rebuild. They usually only go up or down from here. The last inflection point was 2013 when the Wolves pick 9th. They were seemingly on their way on the upwards swing after landing the 13th pick in the 2014 draft. Of course, the Kevin Love drama led to a reset.
So the Wolves are in a position to truly improve their team. The 7th pick is really, really valuable in this draft. The caveat though is, the pick will likely require patience. Every player that is projected in the top 10 is a Freshmen. Every single one. Some of them can have an impact immediately, but none are going to completely change the fortunes of the team that drafts them as of this upcoming season.
With these expectations set, you also have to take into account the goals for the Wolves in the 17-18 season. The Wolves are absolutely looking to make the playoffs. Whoever the Wolves draft tonight might not push the Wolves over the hump this season, but equips them for the years afterwards, which are equally important. The Wolves also have the option to move the 7th pick to really bulk up their lineup with a veteran. Because the Wolves have so many assets and the 7th pick, they could be positioned to be involved in a Blockbuster deal tonight.
So diving into what is available today. There are two players that have been floating that the Wolves should absolutely pursue. Kristaps Porzingis and Jimmy Butler. The only thing that is untouchable would be Towns in both deals. But I have to believe the Wolves will be trying to construct something around the 7th pick, Zach LaVine, Ricky Rubio, and/ or Gorgui Dieng. Many might disagree here, but this has to be the top option for the Wolves. The draft this year is set up in that the picks are extremely valuable.
Now, without the pipe dream, the most likely scenario is the Wolves will take the pick at 7 and add them to the roster. From the sounds before the draft, the top 5 picks seem pretty solid. Fultz, Ball, Taytum, Jackson, and Fox should be gone. The Orlando Magic will ultimately decide the Wolves’ fate tonight. Had they not just got a new GM, I would feel more comfortable with them making the wrong decision. My biggest fear going into tonight is that the Magic take Jonathan Isaac at 6. It doesn’t make a ton of sense for them, being that Aaron Gordon is their franchise cornerstone, but he certainly will be the best player available.
Jonathan Isaac is easily my favorite player in this draft and for the Wolves. If the Wolves leave this draft with Isaac, I will be the happiest person on the planet. Unfortunately, he didn’t work out for the Wolves. Being that the most realistic scenario tonight is that the Wolves take a pick and keep it, the best case scenario tonight is drafting Jonathan Isaac at 7. There has been concerns about his response to a question around if he does drugs when asked by the Celtics. Celtics and Thibs should have a decent relationship, so the Wolves should know what they need if they take him. With the Magic potentially taking Isaac and the fact that he didn’t work out for the Wolves, my hopes are low and I am trying to think of a consolation.
My consolation on the day of the draft is Malik Monk. A smaller version of Zach LaVine. I typically don’t like taking scorers in the draft. Scoring is not a great skill that translates well in the NBA. Monk, however, can shoot the lights out too. Monk probably has the biggest range of floor and ceiling going into the draft. If Monk could defend, he would easily be a top 3 pick in this draft. He could be the next Rashad McCants or the next Jamal Crawford. There have been some stretch, great shooter comparisons done to Malik Monk. Like Steph Curry and Ray Allen. I think that is wrong. But I see Monk as the 1b pick for the Wolves. Luckily, Isaac and/ or Monk will be available at pick 7.
Dennis Smith Jr is also an intriguing prospect and has the most potential as ‘the guy I can’t believe everyone passed on’. He is extremely athletic and did everything on the court. He seemingly can be compared to Westbrook with his style of play. My issue though is not with Smith, it is more so that I like Dunn and Rubio too much. I still think Dunn is going to be a good starter in the league and also believe Rubio is the point guard this team needs right now to make the playoffs.
Then there was Lauri Markkanen. The best shooter in the draft apparently. Listen, I am sure he can shoot. I just don’t think he will be able to do anything else. Also, a red flag always goes up when a player gets compared to Dirk. A rule of thumb for me is avoid those guys. They never come close. If the Wolves take Lauri at 7, that would be the worst case scenario for the Wolves. If the Wolves trade down and get Lauri, I might be able to sleep at night. Unfortunately, Markkanen is getting attached to the Wolves a ton. There are also rumblings that the Mavs absolutely love him too.
I also like a couple of guys in the later lottery in Zach Collins and OG Anunoby. It could be interesting if the Wolves could potentially move down to grab one of these two. I would not be opposed to having one of these guys if the Wolves don’t get Isaac. I personally like Collins and Anunoby over Markkanen.
The underrated part of the draft is that trades are being made, and not only for picks. There are a few players that could be available for trade that the Wolves could really use. The two players I hope get linked to the Wolves would be Danny Green and Ryan Anderson. Danny Green is a great 3 and D guy the Wolves could desperately use, along with his veteran presence. Ryan Anderson is a crazy shooter who could really spread the floor for the Wolves and could play the Mirotic role for Thibs’ offense.
The Wolves don’t have a 2nd rounder but there has been rumors that they are interested in purchasing one. There are a ton of solid players that could drop into the 2nd round of this draft. I like sleepers like Sterling Brown and George de Paula. Brown is a great 3 and D prospect that could develop into a good role player. I also have been following de Paula since the 2015 draft, mainly because of his physical tools. He has bigger hands than Kawhi Leonard and has incredible length for a point guard. He would be one of the biggest point guards in recent history. He reminds me of Giannis at point guard. Being that it is a 2nd rounder, I have no problems taking a project. I pray Thibs is reading this and takes George de Paula.
Caleb Swanigan, Ivan Rabb, Josh Hart, and DJ Wilson are guys I like if they drop into the 2nd round. Would keep an eye on them.
Thats all for now. Can’t wait for tonight!