Minnesota Timberwolves Season Review: Player Ratings

J.C. LilleheiContributor IIMay 1, 2012

Minnesota Timberwolves Season Review: Player Ratings

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    The 2011-2012 Minnesota Timberwolves finished with a record of 26-40, which is a massive improvement from last year, but the season seems to be a bit of a disappointment as things went downhill drastically when Ricky Rubio tore his ACL. Many players had great seasons, while others struggled to contribute much at all.

    I will give my own personal ratings on a scale of A to F of each Wolves player's season-long performance. 

Kevin Love

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    Season Statistics: 26.0 PPG, 13.30 RPG, 2.0 APG, 44.8% FG and 37.2% 3PT

     

    Coming off of an amazing season last year, I had high expectations for Love and wasn't sure whether or not he could maintain his amazing pace.

    However, Love exceeded all my expectations and made it clear that last year was not a fluke and he is clearly the best power forward in the NBA.

    He has become a dynamic scoring option, and that is rare for someone who prides himself as a gritty player who isn't afraid to do the "dirty work." Love has very few weaknesses besides his defense, and overall he had one of the best seasons in the NBA this year. 

     

    Rating: A+

Ricky Rubio

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    Season Statistics: 10.6 PPG, 8.2 APG, 4.2 RPG, 2.2 SPG, 35.7% FG and 34.0% 3PT

     

    Coming into this season, there were many varying impressions of Rubio. Most people assumed he would be a bust, just another overhyped European prospect.

    However, after the first game, it was clear Rubio could straight-up ball. In fact, he was a top candidate for R.O.Y. before tearing his ACL.

    Rubio is one of the best, if not the best passer in the NBA already and definitely the flashiest. We already knew his shooting was suspect, and at times that showed, but shooting can be worked on.

    The most surprising part of Rubio's game was his defense. He is a phenomenal defender and does a great job at getting into passing lanes. When he went down injured, the Wolves' points-allowed-per-game suffered dramatically.

    The ACL injury was an unfortunate end to his awesome rookie season, but I expect him to be back at full strength for the beginning of next season.

     

    Rating: A 

Nikola Pekovic

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    Season Statistics: 13.9 PPG, 7.40 RPG and 56.4% FG

     

    Last year, Pek was absolutely awful and hard to watch. He committed the most fouls per minute in the NBA by a landslide and did not give many of us hope for great things to come.

    However, the big man turned out to be one of the most improved players in the NBA and, thanks to Darko's lack of effort, took over the starting center spot for the Wolves.

    Pekovic is a very smart player for one reason: He realizes what he can do and what he can't do. Pek lurks around the basketball, inhales rebounds (especially offensive ones) and has a nice post game. He even managed to shut down the force known as Dwight Howard, which is quite an accomplishment.

    I find him to be a very enjoyable player to watch, and this kind of success story was one of my favorite parts of this season. 

     

    Rating: A

Michael Beasley

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    Season Statistics: 11.5 PPG, 4.40 RPG, 1.0 APG, 44.5% FG and 37.6% 3PT

     

    Michael Beasley had a disappointing 2011-12 season. After averaging close to 20 PPG last season, Mike's production dropped off. A lot of this can be attributed to his diminished minutes, but also to a genuine lack of effort.

    Beasley can be an explosive scorer, but he is far too inconsistent at this point in his career. His three-point shooting this year was superb, but other facets of his game were not.

    He would have games like against Houston when he scored 34 points on 10-of-14 shooting, but those games would be followed up with performances like when he scored three points against the Suns in 19 minutes.

    Unfortunately, I believe that Beasley's time with the Wolves is up, and I wish him the best of luck with whatever team he ends up with.

     

    Rating: C+

J.J. Barea

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    Season Statistics: 11.3 PPG, 5.7 APG, 2.8 RPG, 40.0% FG and 37.1% 3PT

     

    Barea signed with the Wolves after a magical run last year and winning the NBA title with the Mavericks.

    Barea spent the majority of the first half of the season injured, and that hurt his consistency. At times he can be a "black hole" with his questionable shot-taking.

    He had some great games at the end of the season, which could be considered garbage time, but I think he provided good veteran leadership to a rather young team.

    He plays more like a 2 guard rather than point and needs to realize that distributing is just as important as scoring.

     

    Rating: B-

Wayne Ellington

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    Season Statistics: 6.1 PPG, 1.90 RPG, .60 APG, 40.4% FG and 32.4% 3PT

     

    Wayne Ellington is supposed to be a shooter and in a sense a three-point specialist. Unfortunately, he doesn't really excel in either of those things. His three-point shooting of 32 percent is far too low for someone who the team is supposed to rely on for knocking down open threes.

    I don't see much value in Ellington and don't expect him to be more than a role player anywhere down the road.

     

    Rating: D

Wes Johnson

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    Season Statistics: 6.0 PPG, 2.70 RPG, .9 APG, 39.8% FG and 31.4% 3PT

     

    When the Wolves drafted Johnson fourth in the 2010 NBA draft, I, like many others, had high hopes for the talented Syracuse player. He had an okay rookie year and made second team All-Rookie, but this season was completely abysmal.

    Johnson started 64 of the 66 possible games this season and posted stats similar to, if not worse than, Wayne Ellington, who started a grand total of four games this season. Johnson takes way too many threes and does not make nearly enough to justify that.

    Johnson's biggest perk is his defending, and he does give good effort. I will admit he got better as the season progressed, and he went from horrendous to just okay near the end of the season. Overall, Wes had a major sophomore slump and disappointed across the board. 

     

    Rating: D-

Darko Milicic

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    Season Statistics: 4.6 PPG, 3.30 RPG, .9 BPG and 45.4% FG

     

    Darko's entire NBA career has been a let-down, and to say the least, this season was no different. Darko had games where he appeared to care, such as when he managed to shut down Blake Griffin in the first game against the Clippers.

    But Darko spent most of the season acting as if he didn't care. and that bothered Rick Adelman, who soon benched him for his lack of effort, and he did not play another game from March 18th on.

     

    Rating: F

Luke Ridnour

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    Season Statistics: 12.1 PPG, 4.8 APG, 2.7 RPG, 44.0% FG and 32.2% 3PT

     

    Ridnour began the season as the starting point guard before being switched to shooting guard to accommodate Rubio's move to the starting lineup. Considering that Ridnour spent most of the season out of position and playing against bigger and stronger players, he actually had one of his better NBA seasons.

    He is a trustable shooter who can make an open jumper (cough Wes Johnson) and made some clutch shots, such as his floater to beat the Jazz. As one of the few veterans on the team, he made a significant impact and should not be overlooked despite Rubio's emergence.

     

    Rating: B+

Anthony Tolliver

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    Season Statistics: 4.1 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 39.0% FG and 24.8% 3PT

     

    Tolliver offensively regressed a lot from last season. His three-point percentage dropped 16.1 percent, as did his shooting in general. His minutes also decreased with the arrival of rookie Derrick Williams.

    Tolliver is simply a role player, but he is one of the hardest workers on the team and always gives 100 percent, which is valuable. He has decent defensive capabilities as well, but he, like other Wolves, did not consistently get time.

     

    Rating: C

Derrick Williams

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    Season Statistics: 8.8 PPG, 4.70 RPG, 41.2% FG and 26.8% 3PT

     

    The second overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft had a solid rookie season.

    He had trouble getting consistent minutes because of the log jam at the 3 and 4 spots on the Wolves' roster. He also had trouble adjusting to the pro level, such a committing some head-scratching fouls and his woeful three-point shooting.

    Williams, though, is still crazy talented athletically and basketball-wise, and a full offseason could greatly benefit him. Ideally, he'd get more time at the 3 spot, which would allow him to play next to Kevin Love, but in the end that is Coach Adelman's choice. 

     

    Rating: B-

Martell Webster

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    Season Statistics: 6.9 PPG, 3.60 RPG, 42.3% FG and 33.9% 3PT


    Webster spent most of the first half of the season injured with back problems, and when he finally did return to the team, he didn't make a huge impact.

    Webster was able to step in and make starts at shooting guard when Ridnour was injured but again, like so many of the other Wolves, struggled from long-distance, shooting a career-low from three-point land. He also made one of the most bone-headed plays of the year by dunking when the Wolves were down by three to effectively end the game.

    Webster outperformed Wesley Johnson, which isn't saying too much, but he was a solid player for the team.  

     

    Rating: C

Anthony Randolph

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    Season Statistics: 7.4 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 1.0 BPG and 47.0% FG

     

    Randolph is a talented player, but I'm not sure he fully understands how to use his talents yet. He fell out of favor with the coaches as they felt he lacked effort, and that led to him basically playing very little throughout the season.

    He was extremely effective in garbage time, but he fell victim to the fact that the Wolves simply have too many 3s and 4s on their roster. I don't see Randolph returning next season, but I believe he can contribute on a different team.

     

    Rating: D+

Malcolm Lee

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    Season Statistics: 3.3 PPG, 1.60 APG, 1.40 RPG and 39.0% FG

     

    The second-round pick Lee spent most of the season rehabbing an injured knee that he suffered during the preseason. He signed a three-year contract, though. That's rare for second-round picks, showing that Wolves believe he can be an important part of the team.

    Coming out of college, he was an above-average defender, and he could definitely help the Wolves next season with his defensive prowess. 

     

    Rating: Incomplete

Brad Miller

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    Season Statistics: 2.3 PPG, 1.3 RPG, 1.6 APG, 33.0% FG and 46.7% 3PT


    Brad Miller was brought to the Wolves due to his relationship with Rick Adelman. Miller was in the twilight of his career and added a veteran presence.

    He didn't play much, but when he did play I was impressed with how great of a passer he was. Miller retired at the end of the season, and seeing him cry as he checked out of the last game of the season showed to me how much he really cares about the sport of basketball.

    Brad Miller is a true basketball player, and I will miss him and his unique headband.

     

    Rating: N/A

Rick Adelman

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    Coach Rick Adelman was a revelation this year and showed to me how bad of a coach Kurt Rambis really was. Adelman helped turned the team around and has helped make the Wolves into of the contenders of the future.

    Sometimes I questioned how he decided on playing time, especially with players like Derrick Williams, but it's hard to question someone with as much success as Adelman.

     

    Rating: B+

Overall.

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    The future is bright for the Wolves. With a successful draft and free agency period, I believe they can contend for a top-five seed in the 2013 NBA playoffs and, in a few more years, the championship.