GH And Petey's Timberwolves Blog

Thursday, November 25, 2004


This Thanksgiving, I'm thankful that the NBA season has 82 games.

The Wolves just looked awful for the first 3 quarters of the game. We looked alright for stretches in the fourth, but just couldn't get it done against a depleted Indiana squad.

I saw Indiana shoot 52% from 3-point range. I saw Mark Madsen get two layups handed to him, only to fumble the ball out of bounds. I saw KG shoot a Tim Duncan-esqe 61% from the free throw line. I saw the T-wolves all break down the court on a loose ball, only to not come up with it to give the Pacers uncontested dunks (twice). What I didn't see happened last night, when Kandi went to jail.

KG's weak free throw shooting is likely due to his shoulder, which according to Flip Saunders, is still bothering him, so I'm not too worried about it yet.

I'm not sure what to make of the 52% 3 Point shooting yet. It's the second game in a row where a team has shot over 50% from there. Clearly, neither the Sonics nor the Pacers would be able to maintain that high percentage over a large number of games, but our perimeter defense has been lacking over the past few games.

It seems like a good deal of the threes shot against us come when we're playing a zone D. Tonight, I think Flip opted to go with a zone a lot, due to the fact that nobody seemed able to be able to guard Tinsley in the first half. In general though, playing zone against a jump shooting team is not a good idea, and good jump shooting is exactly how Indiana and Seattle were both able to handle us.

For those of you who don't know, the reason zones don't work against jump shooters is that when you run one, there are gaps all over the place for people get open shots. Also, if you pass the ball effectively against a zone, you can force people to rotate and will eventually get them out of position. With a man defense, however, you can tightly contest open jump shots, but are more vulnerable to people driving to the hoop, since you might not have anybody to back you up if your man gets past you.

The problem the Wolves have had with their zone this season is that people like Sam and Wally don't rotate quickly enough. As a result, opposing teams have been shooting 37.1% against the Wolves so far this season, vs. 33.4% from last year.

A lot of people have been hard on Wally so far this year, but in all honesty, he's been fine. His field goal percentage is down a bit this season, and he's been turning the ball over too much. I think I've finally figured out something about him. I think his basic problem is that is court vision is very limited. It's obvious when he's trying to drive that he's not looking to pass until he sort of runs out of options. On defense, you can tell he's playing really hard when he's defending his man one-on-one, but often times, he'll end up about 15 feet off his man and won't realize the ball is going there until the last minute. Both of these things would indicate that he just doesn't have good peripheral vision. Unfortunately for Wally, this is always going to be a limitation of his game. The best thing he can do is just to accept it and stick to making quick short moves and taking open jumpers. No more driving from the top of the key. I know Wally really wants to be a superstar, and is always trying to diversify his game, but it's just never going to happen.

Sam's condition is far more concerning. Tonight, he only played 21 minutes, which would have been a season low if it weren't for the fact he played 18 on Tuesday. Here is a look at some of his stats compared to all of last season:


As you can see, he's way down in all areas. I'm not sure what the problem is. It could be that his hip isn't 100%, or it could just be that he's getting older. Most likely, it's some combination of the two. We can all now see why he wanted a contract extension at the beginning of the season despite the fact that he still had two years left. The truth is that at the end of next season, he'll be a solid backup at best.

During tonight's game, he wasn't even removed because of his lackluster offense (He had a respectable 10 points and 4 assists in his 21 minutes), but because he couldn't play D on Tinsley at all.

On the plus side of all of this, the Wolves started out 9-8 last year, before turning it on and finishing with the league's best record at 58-24. Hopefully, I'm just overreacting right now, and Wolves will pull something like that again before cruising through the playoffs to an NBA championship.