Minnesota Timberwolves fans are ready for a new year, and the team is busy preparing for 2012 as well.
Coach Rick Adelman resolves to change the team culture. Michael Beasley resolves to take better shots. Ricky Rubio resolves to keep us tantalized with spectacular passes. Kevin love resolves to lose 25 pounds (oh wait, that already happened).
Needless to say, the Wolves still have a lot of work to do in order to get out of the Western Conference cellar. The team has made a marked improvement over last year in the first two games.
However, all of that will be moot if they can't put some check marks in the win column.
Here are a few tasks the team should put on their New Year's Resolutions.
Turnovers were a huge problem for the Timberpups last year. They were first in turnovers per game and had a paltry 1.18 assist-to-turnover ratio.
The team played well against the Thunder, giving up the ball only 12 times. However, committing 25 turnovers against the Milwaukee Bucks does not bode well for this fledgling team.
Milwaukee scored 29 points off of the Wolves' 26 turnovers. In order to improve their defense, the Wolves need to start by protecting the ball better.
Minnesota fans know the buzz surrounding the team this year. Fans are excited to see Rubio, Williams, Love, etc. However, fans will also only give the team so much honeymoon time before they start to wonder when spring training starts.
The initial buzz has not translated into any victories, yet.
One thing that has stood out during coach Rick Adelman's short time as head coach is his desire to change the culture of the team. Any team that has only won 32 games over two seasons has to change something, and the locker room atmosphere is a good place to start.
As Ray Richardson of the Pioneer Press points out, it won't be easy with the upcoming few games.
The Wolves got down on themselves too easily last year (and the current 17 game losing streak is a good indication as well).
Players need to get mad when they lose a game (here's looking at you, Kevin Love and Michael Beasley). Do not just shrug the losses off. Winning teams don't do this, why should we?
If the Wolves can win one or two games during the next few weeks against a big name team, it will be a good first step in building the collective confidence of the organization.
The Wolves seem to forget about the big names when they come to town. In the first game, Kevin Durant scored 33 points and Russell Westbrook added 28 points.
Looking to the next game, Miami's big three averaged 71 points per game against us last season. In order to win big games against big name teams, we need to shut down the superstar players.
The size our of team makes this a challenge, but the Wolves can't win if players like LeBron, Kobe and Durant keep scoring at will against us.
The Timberwolves' lineup will be subject to lots of manipulations. It probably won't look the same every night. This has its advantages in creating mismatches and maximizing our scoring potential.
One part that does not seem to be working is second year guard Wes Johnson. It's time for the team to move him.
Some people think Beasley should be moved due to his inefficient play, but the fact remains is that he is the best pure scorer on the team. Some rumblings for Luke Ridnour to be moved have surfaced as well. However, he provides a good veteran presence on the team.
That leaves Wes as an odd man out. He never really found a specific role last year. According to Basketballreference.com, Wes had a Player Efficiency Rating of 10.2 last year, while the league average was approximately 15.
Wes also seemed to be lost for the first two games of the season. Even though he provides some needed size in the backcourt, the Wolves need to find a Two guard who can create his own shot.
This was the kicker in both games this season. The Wolves shot less than 75 percent from the line in games one and two. Just a slight improvement from the line would have made a different outcome in both games.