Puppies to Wolves? How Can Each Wolf Howl for Next Season?

Timber WolfAnalyst IIJune 5, 2009

BOSTON - FEBRUARY 01:  Paul Pierce #34 of the Boston Celtics is fouled by Al Jefferson #25 of Minnesota Timberwolves on February 1, 2009 at TD Banknorth Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Celtics defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves 109-101. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

There's a lot of talk about the draft, the free agency, and trades amongst the Timberwolves, and quite frankly, who can blame us?

We love our Wolves and we want to see them succeed, so we only want the best for the Timberwolves. The Timberwolves have a huge chance to get incredibly better this off-season with five draft picks total, over $20 million in cap space, and tradeable prospects.

With that being said, we still have great players, and here are ways for each and every Timberwolves player to improve next season.

Al Jefferson (PF/C)

Stats: 23.1 PPG, 11.0 RPG, 1.7 BPG, 0.8 SPG, 0.497 FG% and 0.738 FT%.

Strengths: Incredible footwork, great strength, Kevin McHale post-up moves, great rebounding skills, evolving defender, good mid-range shooter, clutch player. Al Jefferson is the total package, and possibly the most polished PF/C in the NBA as of today.

What Al Jefferson Needs To Get Better At:

  1. Leadership: Al Jefferson is no doubt the best player on the team, so he needs to start acting like it. He needs to become the leader in not just scoring, but telling his teammates that he demands perfection, and getting in their face when he needs too (Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade have been seen yelling at their teammates). 
  2. Defense: Al Jefferson has gotten better on his steals and blocks category virtually every year since his rookie season, so there's no reason why he can't do it again.
  3. Athleticism: Al Jefferson is becoming a great athlete, but even he has stated that this off-season, he wants to look like Dwight Howard. This is not a major deficit in his skills, but to see Al Jefferson knock the shot clock off the goal would be amazing.
  4. Durability: Hopefully Big Al can recover from his torn ACL and play 82 games, and dare I say the playoffs.

Conclusion: There's not too many things to improve here, but the small things that are, are the things that could make Al Jefferson a future Hall of Famer.

Randy Foye (PG/SG)

Stats: 16.3 PPG, 4.3 APG, 3.1 RPG, 1.0 SPG, 0.4 BPG, 0.407 FG% and 0.846 FT%.

Strengths: Quick, Agile, 3-Point shooter, great clutch shooter, great strength for a PG, smooth in transition, evolving defender, great free throw shooter, great all around shooter and tough. Randy Foye is a SG in a PG's body, and can play 3 point shoot out with the best of them.

What Randy Foye Needs To Get Better At:

  1. Facilitation: Randy Foye can dish the ball when given a chance, but he tends to turn the ball over way too many times. He needs to work on this extremely if he's going to be a combo guard.
  2. Consistency: Any Timberwolves fan knows Randy Foye can score, in fact that might be his strongest asset. Randy Foye is deadly when he gets it going, but he gets it going, virtually 1/3 of the time. Foye was playing through injuries through March and February, but before that in January, he was pretty consistent, averaging 19 PPG. We need that all year round.
  3. Adjustment: As a second man to Al Jefferson, Foye is the perfect compliment, and in January, Jefferson and Foye were the duo to beat.  When Jefferson went down, and all the attention was on Foye, he did not know how to create his own shots, and thus struggled. I'd recommend Foye play a lot of scrimmage getting double teamed during this off-season.
  4. Defense: Playing PG, Foye is solid on defense, as a SG not so much. As a PG, Foye has blocked many shots, but as a SG he's got to be able to hold guys 6'4'' to 6'9''. This could be hard for Foye, but if Dwyane Wade could do it, Foye can too. He just has to work at it.
  5. Basketball I.Q: Foye is getting smarter with this, but if his I.Q was a little higher, he could be a solid second guy to Jefferson, but with new guys coming in, Foye could be seen as a sixth man, or even worse..

Conclusion: Randy Foye is going to be a hit-or-miss next season. He's going to have to realize that if he's going to help this team, he needs to help in every way he can, and that does not just include scoring. If Foye makes these adjustments, we're looking at a very solid 2 guard, a starter, a most improved player candidate, and maybe even an All-star.

Kevin Love (PF/C)

Stats: 11.1 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 0.6 BPG, 0.4 SPG, 1.0 APG, 0.459 FG% and 0.789 FT%.

Strengths: Incredibly high basketball I.Q, hard work ethic, great free throw shooter for a big man, incredible knack for rebounding, evolving scorer, aggressive, and quick learner.

What Kevin Love Needs To Get Better At:

  1. Scoring: He has to develop a mid-range game if Al Jefferson continues to play center.
  2. Defense: Brook Lopez averaged over a block his rookie season, Kevin Love should do the same next year. Kevin Love has an incredible basketball I.Q, so it should not be hard for him. He has great hands, so he should easily be able to get deflections and ultimately, steals. He should be averaging 1.0 BPG, and 0.7 SPG next year at the VERY least.
  3. Athleticism: Kevin Love needs to tone down and buff up at the same time. He's already tenacious and a evolving scorer, but what if he could jump higher, or move quicker? If that happens, Kevin Love is starting to look like a white Kevin Garnett.
  4. Not Being A Rookie: He really does not play like one, and he won't be one anymore, so the Wolves fans demand Kevin Love averaging a double-double next year, no if's, and's, or but's. 13 PPG, 10 RPG, 1 BPG. Those are sophomore stats to me.

Conclusion: Kevin Love was a rookie, but now is his time to shine. Show the world that Kevin Love deserved to win rookie of the year, show he should have made the first all rookie team, and show how he's going to help the Wolves get to the playoffs next year, and not get the donuts.

Ryan Gomes (SG/SF/PF)

Stats: 13.3 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 1.6 APG, 0.3 BPG, 0.3 SPG, 0.431 FG% and 0.807 FT%.

Strengths: Consistency, Efficient, High Basketball I.Q, Good 3 Point Shooter, Good Defender, High Strength and Durable.

What Ryan Gomes Needs To Get Better At:

  1. Scoring In Bunches: He led the Timberwolves in 3 point percentage with 0.372, so he should shoot a little bit more, and shoot smarter shots. He should drive the ball more as he can play SG through PF.
  2. Defense: He has to get better on his blocking and stealing. He doesn't really have either down pat, so that should be his main focus.
  3. Leadership: The guy is so quiet, the loudest thing on his body is his shoes hitting the court. He does not make a mistake, and he's solid offensively and defensively, so he should become somewhat of a older brother to the Wolves, despite being young himself. By older brother I mean, saying "good job,", "keep shooting the ball," "give the ball to me on the pick and roll." Those things will make Ryan Gomes better.

Conclusion: Ryan Gomes does not have many weaknesses, yet his strengths aren't incredibly strong either. So he should also work on his strengths more, and we could see a great forward and shooting guard.

Sebastian Telfair (PG)

Stats: 9.8 PPG, 4.6 APG, 1.7 RPG, 1.0 SPG, 0.2 BPG, 0.383 FG% and 0.819 FT%.

Strengths: Killer crossover, finesse passer, good free throw shooter, highly aggressive, highly tenacious,and good stealer.

What Sebastian Telfair Needs To Improve At:

  1. More Assists: At this point, Sebastian Telfair's starting point guard job is on the line, and if he cannot produce more assists, then the Timberwolve's will acquire someone who will, as Randy Foye is likely to remain as SG.
  2. Consistency: In his last 7 games, Telfair averaged 16 PPG, but only 5 APG. In order for Telfair to keep his starting PG job, he's going to have to average more than 9 PPG, and more than 4 APG, he's going to have to get up to 13 PPG, and 6 APG, and increase from there.
  3. Defensive Consistency: He's 6'0'', and has a knack for stealing, and has a knack for stealing. He can become a great defender, but he has to do it on a consistent basis. He averaged a steal per game, and had plenty of games where he had more than 2 steals, yet some games where he had none.
  4. Running Plays: This may not be Telfair's fault, but if Telfair is going to run the team, he has to make plays, and develop plays. All point guards know where their players like the ball, yet Telfair has yet to show it with his low assist totals.

Conclusion: Telfair is a decent point guard, yet he does not fit the bill for a starting position. Telfair would be a great backup PG because of his low turnover totals. Telfair went through a stretch of 40 assists in 4 games, and only 4 turnovers, if he could do that all the time, we wouldn't need a point guard. If he does this next year through the whole year, I'm liking our point guard of the future.

Rodney Carney (SG/SF)

Stats: 7.2 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 0.7 SPG, 0.4 APG, 0.4 BPG and 0.416 FG% and 0.758 FT%.

Strengths: Fast as hell with a killer take off, killer dunks, killer athleticism, good three point shooter, tenacious defender, good stealer, and evolving all-around scorer.

What Rodney Carney Needs To Improve At:

  1. Basketball I.Q: This is really one of the only chinks in his armor. Carney is a total package without the I.Q. He's a pure stud, if he learned to dish the ball a little bit more, and utilize his jumper, he could very well become the future starting SG for the Wolves.
  2. Consistency: In 19 games in which he had at least 25 minutes on the floor, Carney averaged 13 PPG. In Carney's last 10 games he averaged 15 PPG. However a good three point shooter, has been known to force his shot, in a loss to the 76ers, he shot 7 out of 8 from the 3 point arc, but in the last ten games, he shot 27 for 71 from the 3 point arc (which includes that 76ers game). He has to learn to take better shots, and he can be deadly from all around the floor.

Conclusion: Rodney Carney is a stud, but he has to be consistent, and has to develop a better feel for the game before he can become a starter. He has the athleticism to lead on a fast break, and can steal despite his minutes, but he's just going to have to become a better player all around. It'l be interesting to see if Carney has more minutes on the roster, or if he's even re-signed.

Corey Brewer (SG/SF)

Stats: 6.2 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1.0 SPG, 0.2 BPG, 0.411 FG% and 0.737 FT%

Strengths: Fast, quick learner, great lock down defender, strong, hard work ethic, evolving scorer, and evolving great all-around basketball player.

What Corey Brewer Needs To Improve At:

  1. Durability: He already suffered a torn ACL injury, so this is a huge thing that he's going to have to get better at. He's going to have to buff up, get more muscles, because although strong, but the guy is a toothpick.
  2. Better Offense: Corey Brewer was starting to come around, but he's going to have to keep it up. His 3-point percentage went from 0.194 as a rookie, to 0.417 as a sophomore (which is better than his field goal percentage).
  3. Athleticism: The guy was seen at Florida jumping over Al Horford and dunking the ball to please the crowd, where's that dunking now? Corey Brewer was starting to become a slasher, but sometimes cannot finish due to his athleticism. He's going to have to jump higher, move faster, and slash harder.
  4. Blocking: If the guy his height can average 1 SPG in 20 MPG, than he can average 0.5 BPG in 20 MPG. Corey is going to have to look to deny the ball, and use his size to his advantage.

Conclusion: Corey Brewer is a player bound to explode or implode. We don't know, but it would be nice to see the Corey Brewer who had 15 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 block show up every game.

Craig Smith (SF/PF)

Stats: 10.1 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 1.1 APG, 0.4 SPG, 0.3 BPG, 0.562 FG% and 0.677 FT%.

Strengths: Strong, Tough, Good inside game, scores in bunches, tenacious offensively and defensively and evolving basketball I.Q.

What Craig Smith Needs To Improve At:

  1. Perimeter Scoring: I'm sorry but if Craig Smith said it, I got to agree with him. (he did say he needs to get better this off-season).
  2. Rebounding: He needs to get better if he's going to be a backup SF or PF. He needs to grab more boards at his time on the floor.
  3. Athleticism: You'd figure for a guy to have his type of build, he'd be dunking on guys all the time. He has to work on this as well.
  4. Foul Trouble: If Craig Smith had stayed in the season finale of the Timberwolves game, they would have won. But he get fouled out in 18 minutes of the game, and had 18 points. That is ridiculous. He fouled out four times last season, and for a guy who only averaged 19 MPG, that is outrageous.

Conclusion: Craig Smith can very well be a polished scorer, as he's demonstrated before by putting on 15-20 point performances. He has to get stronger faster, quicker faster, and learn to use his strength and aggressiveness to aid him in avoiding foul trouble.

The Final Conclusion: The Wolves have plenty of people coming to join the roster, but let's not forget who's already on the roster. Each player has something to improve on, and they all can bring something new to the table that they have not brought before.

Notable Mention: Bobby Brown, Brian Cardinal, Mark Madsen


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