When I make my girlfriend mad or sad, she makes me say three nice things to her. Since these Minnesota Timberwolves have made us all so mad and sad in the last two days, I have chosen to only say nice things about them, at least three of these things. Plus, Tom Schreier has been begging me to keep it short.
1. .500 Babyyy!
I mentioned in the final paragraph of my last article that I would see y’all when the Wolves were 1-3, but they beat a legitimate first-round home court contender in the Utah Jazz. As a result, the Timberwolves are 2-2, and they play the Winless (née Washington) Wizards (0-4) on Friday, which will be night two of a road back-to-back. Last night, the Wizards lost to the now 1-3 Chicago Bulls by eight and will get another chance on Thursday to avenge their loss to a subpar roster. This is a new “series” concept the NBA is adopting from MLB because of COVID-19. I especially love this concept because the Wolves are notorious for playing games that you’d like back, and this could give us some consolation or double-pain, which is definitely more likely now that I think about it.
Last week, I believe I called the Wizards “frisky” and “rejuvenated,” but Russell Westbrook is still putting up inefficient triple-doubles (45% true shooting and 17 turnovers in three games). He is, however, a plus-15 in three games, putting up positive plus/minus numbers in each of those losses he played. There’s a totally feasible pathway to 3-2 if Josh Okogie can return from his strained hamstring, but I still think the Wizards will pull it together at some point. Let’s hope it’s not Friday!
2. We Should Get More Players with Three Letter Animal Nicknames
Ant “A1 from Day 1” Man Anthony Edwards is still the most promising looking rookie:
Yes, we are happy that he made a stepback, but most importantly, he has made it to ESPN’s Twitter feed, which means Wolves Twitter is finally getting some MSM due respect. On top of that, he can’t help but woo everyone with his authentic and comedic charm.
Before going 4-for-10 from the field Tuesday (0-for-3 from inside the arc), he began 3-for-3 from deep. Even more titillatingly, at least two of the 3s were off the catch, something we haven’t seen much up until tonight. On the season, he’s a respectable 8-of-24 from three.
My podcast co-host Chelanga texted that he’s worried about Ant Man’s free throw rate. Although he has made all of his free throws thus far, Edwards didn’t get to the line once and he has only gotten to the line in two of four games for six total free throws. This is an indictment of his offensive aggressiveness about which the scouts scoffed pre-draft.
Another indictment of his aggressiveness is that he had zero dunks last night. A player with this type of explosiveness and athleticism should be dunking in every single game, and at one point, the ball was passed to him on a cut with a wide-open lane to the basket. Not seeing where everyone was on the court, he stepped back for a long two. Court awareness and anticipation can help him be more decisive.
My last indictment is that against the Lakers, he was once again atrocious in transition.
Thirty-one-year-old Markieff Morris, who was right next to Ant because he was guarding him, beats Edwards down the court. The silver lining is that he has shown us new skills of his with each game. But remember we’re keeping positive:
3. Ricky Rubio and Jarred Vanderbilt came to life!
Until Tuesday, Rubio had been averaging 7 points, 4.3 assists, 3 rebounds and a steal. Against the Clippers, his box score was 17 points, five assists and a steal on only nine shooting possessions (eight shots, an and-1 and a regular trip to the line). Especially because of his on-ball defense to this point, he is quickly proving to us that he might be the only starting-level point guard on the team.
Naz Reid is defensively this:
Ed Davis is this:
So who do we have in KAT’s absence? I guess…. Jarred Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt had nine points, six rebounds, and one assist/steal/block on six shooting possessions. He also looked like the best option defensively. Honestly, at this point, Ryan Saunders doesn’t have much to lose, so I think he should try Vanderbilt in place of all Davis minutes if only to see what he has in the guy, and if Naz isn’t scoring at least 15-20 points a game, he will likely be a liability overall on the floor. Thirty-one-year-old Mafuzzy Chef Serge Ibaka can’t be beating you off the dribble from near the 3-point line like this:
WOW, I got to three whole nice things about this sad, sad Karl-less [KATless?] .500 squad! I hope the Wolves can now forgive me for being so mad and sad. Tune in next week for more madness and sadness!