Jonathan Isaac. That is the goal.
The Wolves will reveal their new logo in tonight’s game against the OKC Thunder. There have been some remakes of the logo through hearsay but this one appeared through advertisements on the Star Tribune Website.
It pays tribute to all of the previous Wolves logos. This new logo includes lime green, which will add a new twist to the jerseys.
The draft is always my favorite time of the year. With the Wolves making a push towards the playoffs, it does mean they risk not having a great pick in this draft. A later lottery pick though could be just what the Wolves need going into next season.
The 2017 draft is stacked at point guard. There will be a ton of guard prospects to choose from which will not be great for the Wolves. The Wolves certainly could use a backup/ spot-starter at the two-guard next season but that can be addressed in free agency. I don’t think Brandon Rush is necessarily the answer there.
This draft will have some stretch forwards that could be the long-term partner up front with Karl-Anthony Towns, or just another player to fill out the bench. As the tournament gets started, here are the players I love for the Timberwolves.
Miles Bridges (Michigan State)
The Freshmen reminds me of a Detroit Piston from the 90s. He is incredibly athletic, physical and smart. He has a sweet 3-point stroke and is solid defensively in the pick-n-roll. I don’t know if there is a player I like better than Bridges right now for the Wolves. He is slotted as a late-lottery pick but I can see his stock going up after the NCAA Tournament and through workouts. He has some questionable decision making but I think it is a result of inexperience. He is always a factor when he is on the floor which you don’t always see from freshmen in college basketball. His physical abilities (strength and just athleticism) coupled with his 3-and-D potential makes me feel like he has the ability to be the perfect complement to KAT in the long run. I can’t imagine what he will be like when he becomes 24.
Jayson Tatum (Duke)
It is hard to get a feel for where Tatum ends up but he is worth keeping an eye on. He is also a combo forward but I don’t think he would match up well against bigger power forwards in the NBA quite yet, defensively at least. He started the season off slow but has picked it up quite nice. He has a ton of ‘potential’ as a franchise cornerstone, so there is a good chance he gets taken far before the Wolves pick. It will be good to keep an eye on him though as he is essentially the best forward prospect in the draft.
Jonathan Isaac (Florida St.)
Isaac has probably the best defensive potential in the draft. He is super long and when his body fills out, he will be able to guard both of the forward positions in the NBA. He is a good rebounder, a pretty good perimeter defender and can block shots. He is still working on his 3-pointer, which is a point of concern for me. He also plays a much lesser of a role on his team now than the previous two prospects mentioned. Not a huge concern because Zach LaVine came in with many of the same issues. Isaac will be more of a project though.
Don’t like, but worth watching
- Lauri Markkanen: Lauri is a 7-footer who can shoot and defend. I am not quite sold on him quite yet mainly because I don’t see him fitting well next to KAT, not that he isn’t a good prospect. He also feels like a project like Dragan Bender. With the Wolves committed to Gorgui Dieng now in the long-term, Markkanen feels like he would be more of a redundant asset where the three guys above offer a different flavor in their game than Dieng. Lauri is still worth watching with Arizona because he will be in picking range for the Wolves and his stock could rise in the tournament.
Long Shots (Not in the tournament/ not playing)
- OG Anunoby: OG suffered a season ending injury but screams potential. If the Wolves end up with a much later pick through a trade in the late 1st or early 2nd round, OG might be a guy that can fit well with what Thibs likes. He is a great defender. I would be scared to think what Dunn and OG could be together in the future potentially.
- Ivan Rabb: Rabb is a Sophomore who’s Cal team didn’t make the tournament. He would’ve been a lottery pick last season but was committed to helping Cal win this season. He is going to now looking like a late-1st rounder because he seems like a traditional 4. He is a solid post defender and a good rebounder. His offense is limited but looks like a solid role player.
The Timberwolves just signed Lance Stephenson to a 10-day contract. We probably shouldn’t read into it too much. Much is contingent upon his performance in these next 10 days. Yogi Ferrell just earned a two-year contract in his first 10 days with the Mavericks. Lance has bounced around the league a bit and is looking for a home. With the Zach LaVine injury happening, Lance might have a role carved out for him here for the rest of the season.
I love the signing though. For many reasons. Here is why.
Lance Stephenson can replace the shots Zach LaVine had.
Zach LaVine going down for the season is a big blow for the Timberwolves. Lance Stephenson is the closest thing to replacing the number of shot attempts LaVine had in the offense. The Wolves are very limited in their offense outside of their big 3. Lance at one point was averaging over 11 shots a game. It is difficult to find a player that can feel comfortable to replace LaVine’s over 15 shots a game this season. Shabazz and Bjelica are expected to have greater roles as the season progresses, but they need someone who isn’t shy to take some shots.
Lance plays defense.
Lance’s claim to fame was his ability to get into the head and play defense against LeBron James in the playoffs. Lance has a lot of talent, especially defensively. He never backs down from his competition, something the Wolves struggle with. Tom Thibodeau will certainly not be caught yelling at Lance ‘Stop being soft!’. So him coming in for a short tour or for the remainder of the season could be just for his toughness and defensive ability.
Lance is going to come in and play for something.
If there is one thing that the Wolves have struggled with this season is that they often look comfortable. They seem content with the way things have played out. They have patience. Lance Stephenson will not have that mentality. Lance is coming in for a roster spot. He will look to steal minutes and shots from other players. Sometimes this competition is necessary. With the amount of young players the Wolves have, many haven’t had to fight for shots or minutes. Lance will help change that attitude, even if just a little bit. In his previous non-guaranteed contracts, he has always taken an active role. He played great for Memphis late last season. I think he could play a similar role with the Wolves.
Lance is a veteran.
Lance has amazing experience in his career. Lance has played meaningful minutes in meaningful games. He has spent time now with a few teams around the league in different roles. He will serve as a reality check to the young players who have been given a lot on a silver platter this season. The Wolves faithful has been yearning for a veteran presence in the locker room. We finally got it.
Lance has the perfect personality to shake things up.
Lance is a dog. If he is here only 10 days, he will be the most annoying player in practice. The Wolves need a shake up if the playoffs are truly still a possibility. Why not take a chance on Lance? Many were interested in him last summer.
The Timber Rebuilder.
Andrew Wiggins hit a game-winning fade-away jumper last night in a 31-point performance. The shot was cold-blooded.
Andrew Wiggins aka Air Canada black Maple Jordan aka Maple Mamba aka Squeaky Smile is a GOAT.
He has syrup in his veins.
That is all.
Ricky Rubio has been the leading candidate for criticism this season, rightfully so. Rubio has never been able to shoot. All Wolves fans know it. The league knows it. Ricky even knows it. It seems to be haunting Rubio so much that he is passing up wide open lay ups.
We know Rubio’s limitations. I personally have given up on wishing that he would improve his shot. There was an opportunity this summer to work on his shot instead of playing for Spain. That said, I am taking Ricky for what he is.
Ricky is still a really good player. He is an above average defender. While he doesn’t have the greatest lateral quickness, his length disrupts opposing point guards and he plays passing lanes well. He is also a very gifted passer. He can find the open man. He makes the right decision when leading a fast break, as long as the decision doesn’t involve him scoring. He also is an exceptional free throw shooter. He is shooting 87% as of right now.
The thing I love most about Rubio is that he is truly a competitor. He loves to win. He is happy when he wins. He also forgets that he can’t shoot in clutch situations.
These are not invaluable skills to have. In a league filled with elite point guards, it is important to have a guy who can defend. And when you have three 20ppg scorers on your team, a guy to set them up is always helpful.
The question to me has always been, how did Rubio go from being a unicorn to a 50-cent dispensable-toy pony? What happened?
First, the system Rubio is playing in currently is terrible for him. Thibodeau has robbed Ricky of his creativity and autonomy to run an offense as he had while under Flip and Sam. Ricky usually started games with a shot-check when he took a couple quick midrange shots to see if he could make them and keep the defense honest. That no longer happens as much. Thibodeau has taken any comfort Ricky had left on the offensive end.
It also doesn’t help that Ricky is the 5th option on offense for the first time in his career. Last year, he at least had Tayshaun Prince or Kevin Garnett that could refuse the ball offensively. Ricky has a career low Usage % of 12.8%. His previous low was just above 16%.
The next reason Ricky has fallen off is that the game has completely moved completely behind the 3-point line. As the league has become progressively more 3-point oriented, Ricky’s value has slowly dropped.
In 2012-13 when Rubio had his highest Usage % of 21.2%, the New York Knicks led the league in 3-point attempts with 28.9 attempts per game. In 2013-14, Rubio had his best win share of 5.9 and the league’s leader in 3-point attempts was the Rockets with 26.6 attempts. Today, the Rockets, one of the leagues best teams, average almost 40 attempts.
The 13-14 season was the best season the Wolves have had in their playoff drought. The Wolves went 40-42. Ricky Rubio was still ‘developing his shot’ and the Wolves could fly under the radar having a point guard who couldn’t shoot because the league leader in 3-point attempts in the 13-14 season would be 12th best this season.
Rubio is currently in a system in which he can’t thrive and in a league that is trending in a way that exploits his weaknesses further and further. It is unfortunate. It makes me think of Ray Allen in a sense. What is Ray Allen was playing his best basketball in today’s NBA? Would he be better than Steph Curry? Ray Allen played in an era that did not bode well with his strengths but still held most 3-point shooting records until Curry came along.
So please, don’t hate Ricky Rubio. Hate the game that has ruined Ricky Rubio. Had Rubio been in a different era, perhaps without the 3-point line, he would still be a unicorn.
The Timber Rebuilder.
Once upon a time, I was a Timberwolves season-ticket holder. I was excited to see what Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio could accomplish. The product on the court was entertaining and we had hopes of making the playoffs. I also was single, working full-time and still living with my parents, so I had some extra money to spend. I always dreamed of being a season-ticket holder, so once I was financially able to become one, I didn’t hesitate.
I knew that part of having season tickets was that you could resell some for profits. I quickly realized that the only profitable games were against teams that Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, or Kevin Durant on them. There were games were it was hard to even give away the tickets. But reselling some of the games helped alleviate the costs of having season tickets.
Being a season-ticket member has its perks. You get cool stuff for free. They throw in extra tickets every once in a while. They have nice events for season-ticket holders to attend. All in all, you feel important. I loved the experience. I would love to be a season-ticket holder again.
But the issue lay in the Wolves being a losing team. The most losing team actually. The Wolves have the longest playoff-drought in the NBA and the worst overall winning percentage of any other franchise. Attending the games can be fun. It loses excitement though when you see more losses than wins in the 41 games you have access to.
Since my departure of being a season ticket holder, I typically attend games if I get lower-level tickets for free. I will tap into my ‘consumer mind’ later, but that is my tipping point. From the Timberwolves’ perspective, this is the absolute worst state a consumer can be in. I am unwilling to pay for their middle-tier product. For me, I enjoy watching the game from the convenience of my home. I can multi-task. I don’t have to worry about parking. I can save money. I can also tweet live during the game. I ultimately don’t need to work my schedule around attending the game, I can fit it in.
This brings me to the importance of the consumer dollar for entertainment. The golden rule is, a consumer will only pay for a product they are willing to fit their schedule around. Entertainment dollars are different than your regular dollars. Consumers spend their regular dollars on things they absolutely need. These are things like food, rent, etc. After the consumer has factored in all of these expenses, they can choose to spend their money on entertainment. This is if they wouldn’t rather save it. That means, it has to be better than other entertainment options and saving it.
Minnesota is not an easy place to sell entertainment because there are a ton of options. First off, we are one of the few cities to have all major sporting teams along with a major college in the same area. Then factor in all of the other things to do for entertainment like the movies or the mall or the many arcade-like restaurants in Minneapolis. Add to that the fact that the team is losing and essentially not playing for anything.
For the four seasons I haven’t been a season ticket holder, I have had Timberwolves sales reps reach out to me constantly to push tickets down my throat when I don’t have an appetite. Reps that are not genuinely interested in my needs and wants as a consumer call me. They read a script about a package or season ticket price that is essentially at face value. They mask it by putting a limited time on the offer and throwing in another pair of tickets “for free.”
The approach I am absolutely in love with is what the Bucks are doing. They are selling a $150 dollar package that is good until the Bucks win 10 games. So that means, you are guaranteed a minimum of 10 wins for $150 dollars. That is amazing! The Wolves are selling a 5-game package for the same price, in the upper level.
It baffles me that the Wolves continue to use old marketing tactics to try to attract a crowd that is over attending games that mean nothing. The in-game experience has not changed in years. The games are often empty as well. You stick out like a sore-thumb if you are cheering loudly.
I have commented before on the lack of attendance at Wolves games. Things need to get better. The problem is, the approach the organization is taking hasn’t changed. Here are some suggestions:
- Offer something similar to what the Bucks are offering. It is exciting. It is new.
- Update marketing tactics used to attract fans. A great one is ‘gift giving’. Give fans that have a high-factor of converting to a package or season-ticket member free tickets. It will increase the odds that they actually convert.
- Upgrade the in-game experience. The same sounds have been used in the Target Center for as long as I can remember. Please, fix it.
- Get creative with offerings. All of the packages seem the same. Give me something that is interesting.
- Rebuild the fan base along with the team. Start attracting kids to the games. They will be the ones that will be the next generation of season ticket holders.
- Change the brand of the organization to be one that is innovative and willing to take risks. This is one thing the Milwaukee Bucks do great. See my review of their in-game experience when I attended here.
What are your thoughts? This is a blog post that is mainly reactionary and because a twitter rant wasn’t enough.
The Timber Rebuilder.