Timberwolves

Examining The Wolves' Schedule, Hollis-Jefferson and The Wall/Westbrook Trade

Photo Credit: John E. Sokolowski (USA TODAY Sports)

Hello, my good friends. I hope you’re all staying safe and healthy. I also hope that if you have a cat, the cat sits right on your keyboard as you attempt to write your weekly column. Fun times, fun times indeed.

Let’s get to this week’s topics:

NBA Releases First Half Of Schedule

The NBA released the first half of the 2021-22 schedule.

How do things look for the Minnesota Timberwolves?

It’s a tough start for the old Wolves. After hosting the Detroit Pistons to open the season, Minnesota travels to play the Utah Jazz, Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers. After that, they play the Washington Wizards, Denver Nuggets twice and Portland Trail Blazers.

Yikes!

The Wolves need to make the playoffs this season. There’s no excuse not to: They have the talent, they landed the No. 1 pick, and they enter the season with more rest than any other team.

The league plans to play a mini-tournament between teams placed from seventh to 10th in order to determine the seventh and eighth seeds.

Of course, if the Wolves finish ninth or 10th and fail to make the final eight, the team will boast about a “playoff appearance” which is certainly a disservice to reality.

If Karl-Anthony Towns or D’Angelo Russell want to be taken seriously as stars, they need to lead the Wolves to the playoffs. If not, Rosas might need to reassess if those are the two players he really wants to build around in Minnesota.

I’m actually bullish on the Wolves and have them finishing eighth in the West. Hopefully, I’m right.

What Can We Expect From RHJ?

The Wolves signed Rondae Hollis-Jefferson to a one-year deal right after I posted my column last week.

While I think Hollis-Jefferson is a solid player and a useful defender, let’s pump the brakes here. All of Timberwolves’ Twitter acted like the Wolves had just signed Trenton Hassell (this is a test to see if Tim Faklis is reading right now) to a 10-day contract. If Hollis-Jefferson was that much of a difference-maker, he wouldn’t have been a free agent and probably wouldn’t have signed with the Wolves.

I get it. When the Wolves get a guy, we want it to be a huge deal. And it’s a fine signing, but it’s not a signing that will put the Wolves over the top.

Read this snippet about RHJ from a Hornets’ blog:

Hollis-Jefferson isn’t a star. He isn’t a difference maker. He won’t singlehandedly push the Hornets into the playoffs.

“He isn’t a difference maker.” This is an article that is supposed to make Hornets fans want to sign him! I am not convinced!

The story hasn’t changed for Hollis-Jefferson, who I actually liked quite a bit coming out of Arizona back in 2015.

At the draft combine in Chicago, Hollis-Jefferson told me, “My jump shot (is the main thing I need to work on). (I) just want to make sure teams know that if they’re going to leave me open, I’m going to knock that shot down.”

Well, spoiler alert: He hasn’t knocked that shot down. Hollis-Jefferson shot 13% from the 3-point line last season and has shot 21.3% in his career. He’s a liability on the offensive side of the ball.

Another snippet from my draft profile on Hollis-Jefferson:

The team that drafts Hollis-Jefferson will be getting a player who should be able to translate immediately to the defensive side of the ball. He might be the best defensive wing player in the draftThere will always be a role for a player like Hollis-Jefferson in the NBA. What Hollis-Jefferson isn’t so solid at is his offense.

His scouting report hasn’t changed. He’ll contribute defensively, but how much he plays will depend on if his offense has improved at all.

Who Won The Wall/Westbrook Trade?

The Houston Rockets traded Russell Westbrook to the Washington Wizards for John Wall and a super-duper protected first-round pick. It’s so protected that it will probably end up being two second-round picks.

A lot of people probably think this is more about a trade of scenery for each player rather than a trade to improve either team. While it is that, I don’t understand how it’s anything but a huge win for the Wizards. They were able to trade Wall, who hasn’t played since 2018 and hasn’t exactly inspired confidence as a leader, for a player who was actually one of the better players in the entire league during the second half of last season.

Westbrook might not be as good as he once was and he might be frustrating to watch (personally, I dislike watching Westbrook play very much), but that certainly doesn’t make him a bad player.

I’d be surprised if the Wizards don’t make the playoffs with Westbrook and Bradley Beal leading the way.

For the Rockets, well, it doesn’t seem like James Harden is going to end the season in Houston. You really feel for a guy like Stephen Silas, who is well-regarded as a coach. Sometimes you get into situations that you aren’t totally aware of until you get there. I can’t think of an NBA team I’d want to coach less right now.

That’s all for this week. Thanks for reading. We’ll chat next week.

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