Wake up, wake up, the birds are chirping, and the Wolves are about to embark on the end of the happiest part of the 2010 NBA season for themselves, the end!
This season has mainly been about player development, and serious evaluation of the core players on the Wolves roster, some surprises have arised, and there have also been some major disappointment's as the Wolves have lost many games they should have won/could have won, but ultimately came down to the talent level.
In layman's terms, the Wolves need a talent upgrade seriously.
Last season was the same story, as the new Wolves GM brought in new talent and was highly criticized, yet should not be blamed for anything in particular until at least 3 years from now.
For example, drafting Ricky Rubio (passer) and having Jonny Flynn (scorer) would have worked if Rubio came over, than the Wolves would have a capable backup point guard to shoot the ball and score the ball, as Rubio drops dimes, but that's another article.
Let's look at the roster right now....
PG- Jonny Flynn/ Ramon Sessions
SG- Corey Brewer/ Wayne Ellington/ Alando Tucker
SF- Ryan Gomes/ Damien Wilkins
PF- Al Jefferson/ Kevin Love/ Nathan Jawai/ Oleksiy Pecherov
C- Darko Millicic/ Ryan Hollins
It's time to clean out the junk!
Jonny Flynn and Ramon Sessions are both different guards, in essence that Jonny is showing he's offensive minded and is out to get his own shots, and Ramon Sessions is a pass first all around point guard without any range on his shot.
One of them will be flipped during the offseason, it all depends on who has more value in a trade, and the fingers point to Jonny Flynn. Although Jonny hasn't been horrible as a starting point guard, he'd be great as a backup scorer for the Wolves, if not a great starting point guard for another team running a different system.
Ramon Sessions outplays Flynn every night, and if Flynn get's flipped, Ramon will finally get the chance to show what he can do with 30+ minutes a night. But Jonny quote unquote, has more upside, and his potential is still there, and if he can get it together when it comes to finishing and improving his shot, he's not so much junk, but rather out future backup point guard (if that means anything).
Ah it gets interesting.
Corey Brewer has made HUGE strides from the course of the season. Not only showing the capabilities to defend, but knock down open shots, and on occasion create his own shot (although it's not pretty).
Wayne Ellington who was a mystery has provided the Wolves with a true shot maker, on the catch and off the dribble, and has been much better than the Wolves have thought.
In Alando Tucker's case, there hasn't been much data on him, much less playing time, but he's stated that he believes his chance will be with the Wolves, and bringing him back for another season on a minimum salary wouldn't be a bad idea for a hard nose defending type of guy.
Corey Brewer, standing a legit 6'8''-6'9'' has height and length to become a great defender in the NBA, having great athleticism, decent hands and quickness to compliment his lateral speed shows that his ceiling is still rising every day. Not to mention the 31 straight games in which he's knocked down a 3-point shot (a franchise record), which happens to be 3rd best in the NBA to this day. Brewer definitely has a shot to show that he can be a starter in the NBA, and it more than likely will be at the SF position providing he can put on 15+ pounds.
Wayne Ellington should be a Timberwolf for the rest of his career. Head coach Kurt Rambis has said repetedly that Wayne is the only player on the roster that's focused on doing everything completely perfect. He's a perfectionist, arguably already a sharpshooter, and is a very "smart" defender. His future as a 6th man should be in a Wolves uniform
Alando Tucker's future looks dim at this point as a Timberwolf.
The main problem with the Wolves would have to be their wing players, their small forwards make it no better.
Ryan Gomes has the skills to be a solid contributor on a veteran/winning organization. He can play multiple positions, provide a toughness and knock down 3-pointers on any given night. He's most of the time mistake free, can play in the post very well depending on matchups, and create off the dribble.
Damien Wilkins, although has no stats that will impress you, seems to do many things right, and is truly a veteran presence that the Wolves need on a ballclub where all of their best players are under 25. The Wolves organization, head coach, players and fans have all taken kindly to Damien Wilkins and his effort, and provided things go right, his future as a veteran presence off the bench for the Wolves should be excellent for the future.
The plot thickens
Al Jefferson before his torn ACL injury was offensive powerhouse. He couldn't be stopped in the post or on the boards. Quite frankly, he averaged over 20 and 10 using jump hooks and drop steps. But even then, he was a defensive liability, and it's becoming painfully clear that unless your born with some defensive awareness, you can't cram it into the player, and I'm afraid that Al Jefferson will never be good defensively.
Kevin Love? He's going to be an All-Star next season if all goes well. If Jefferson is gone, he'll average 16-17 points, and 12+ rebounds, in 32 MPG, no problem. He can outlet the ball like no other in the NBA, he's virtually a quarterback in the NBA, he closes out on shooters, gives an average effort on defense, and can knock down open shots from around the perimeter. He can pass out of double teams (or period for the matter), and mind you he's only 21 years of age.
Al Jefferson's future with the Wolves depends on one day, the lottery. There are many scenarios in which if the Wolves were to land the number 2 pick, then they would possibly trade Al Jefferson and filler for the number 3 pick to shed some cap space and pick up another prospect/pick. There are many instances in which Jefferson would end up being a Wolf, as in he picks up defensive mentality over the offseason, and learns how to effectively pass out of double teams better.
Nathan Jawai? Oleksiy Pecherov? Don't waste your time....
Well well well, look who we have here.
Darko Millicic although has not been a stat stuffer, but has been key in his short time here. He's has more talent than he has been given credit for, and has shown that "flash" that you get when you look at a prospect, especially a 7'0'' + 280+ pound mobile athletic powerhouse that was projected to be a franchise center when originally drafted.
He's had games in which he's blocked 4 shots in 10 minutes, grabbed 12 rebounds in 24 minutes, locked down the paint, closed out shooters, had a +35 in plus/minus rating, making incredible dishes within the offense, and if not being kept, really provided the Wolves with a small sample of the direction they should go when drafting a big man.
Ryan Hollins, a 7'0'' footer originally thought to be an athletic big man with upside, but could block shots instantly. Well he's athletic, and is a little bit out of control 90% of the time, but has shown the Wolves fans some incredible dunks, and at the very most, he's the 4th big in rotation for the Wolves roster. As in Millicic at the 5, Jefferson at the 4, Love as the 3rd big in rotation in which all would share around 30 minutes at the 4 and 5, while Hollins provides the energy needed when one get's in foul trouble.
The absolute keepers for this team, as in should remain a Wolf after this season.
Kevin Love, Corey Brewer, Damien Wilkins and Wayne Ellington are bonfire keepers. Jonny Flynn, Ramon Sessions and Al Jefferson are dependent on the lottery/draft.
Darko Millicic, yeah you can hate me, but the Euro should be signed for the vetaran's minimum with the option to opt out of his contract anytime if he gets unhappy. I'd like to see him for a full season while he's fully conditioned.
Thanks for reading!