Ladies and gentlemen, it's just about that time of year again. The free agency market has died down, the ESPN rumors section is fairly barren, and little else of excitement is coming from Target Center.
Yes, folks, that means it’s just about time for the build up to the season to begin. The Summer League has passed, and now we are left to wait until training camp begins in mid-late September. For now, however, we can finally start to analyze the roster that David Kahn has put together.
Let us begin with the point guards.
Before we go any further—no, Ricky Rubio isn’t in a Timberwolves uniform. Yet.
Jonny Flynn, the other acquisition in what has been called “The Year of the Point Guard”, has suffered the Timberwolves' "second season curse," as he recently underwent a hip surgery expected to sideline him until November at the earliest.
That leaves the Wolves with recent signee Luke Ridnour as the starting point guard. Ridnour is a veteran of the NBA and has been with several fairly good teams. He has made playoff runs with the Seattle SuperSonics (remember them?) and as recently as last season, the Milwaukee Bucks.
Ridnour was brought in to facilitate the trade of Ramon Sessions and Ryan Hollins to the Cleveland Cavaliers and was meant to have the role of a backup, perhaps playing 20 or so minutes a night.
However, Flynn’s injury puts Ridnour in a spotlight he hasn’t seen since his time with Seattle. Ridnour’s experience in the league should be a plus to this young Timberwolves team. Having a player at the helm who has experience reading defenses and making decisions should have a great impact on a team that will very much be looking to gel early in the season.
Flynn, as mentioned, is expected to return sometime in November. It is also probably a pretty fair guess that it will take him another two weeks or so to really get “up to speed” for the 2010-11 season. All totaled, Flynn will likely miss about a month and a half of the regular season.
This does have some implications as far as Flynn’s development goes. David Kahn made his philosophy clear regarding the point guard situation even before the full extent of Flynn’s injury was known. In media sessions, he said that Flynn and Ridnour would both have the opportunity to make the starting position their own.
Flynn’s absence has rather evidently given Ridnour the starting spot on a silver platter, and it will of course take an even greater effort from Flynn to unseat the veteran. Flynn will have to start the season coming off the bench, and will need to show definite improvement in order to regain the starter’s jersey.
That being said, we should see a marked improvement out of Flynn this season. Of the five positions on the court, it takes the longest amount of time for a point guard to fully develop. The position requires a very precise combination of agility and court vision. While the athleticism is often a natural occurrence, the vision to be a quality passer on the court is a skill that takes time to attain.
Flynn should be able to further develop that skill in his sophomore season. He already showed some improvement towards the end of the season in that regard as he began to understand the triangle system better. As he continues to play within the triangle system, he will consistently improve.
Also of note is the return of Sebastian Telfair. Traded away to the Clippers last summer, the Brooklyn native returned to Minnesota in the trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers that sent Ramon Sessions and Ryan Hollins away from Target Center. It was initially thought by many pundits that Telfair’s contract would be waived along with Delonte West’s, but with Flynn’s injury, Telfair has stuck around and appears set to be the backup point guard for the year.
All of this is, of course, a precursor to the presumed arrival of Ricky Rubio. The Spanish sensation will continue to play with his Barcelona team in 2010-11, but has still spoken of being excited to play in the NBA. Presuming that Rubio does play in a Timberwolves jersey, he will very likely be able to win the starting spot due to his much-heralded passing ability.
To sum things up, look for Ridnour to be the starter for the first part of the season with Flynn regaining the top spot somewhere around the early or midway point of the season. Ricky Rubio’s performances in Spain and in European competition will also continue to bear a glance every now and then, as well.