Grading Minnesota: A Look at Every Player on the Timberwolves' Roster Thus Far
At press time, the Minnesota Timberwolves stand at 15-47, good for last place in the Western Conference.
With guys like Kevin Love and Michael Beasley, this team doesn't plan to stick in the gutters for a long time.
It got me thinking, how would all the Wolves fare with letter grades based on their performances 62 games into the season and where can they improve?
One thing that you will find discouraging in the upcoming slides has to do with the lack of defensive firepower on the team. Conversely, offense is a better read.
Without further adieu, I hope you enjoy.
Thanks for reading!
Michael Beasley is attempting to revitalize his career in Minnesota after two mediocre seasons in South Beach.
Beasley, second on the team with 19.3 points per game, is an excellent spot up shooter and is providing intense energy on the offensive end for the T'Wolves. He is shooting 47 percent from the field this season.
If the Pups are looking for a revival to being great, they need to grab ahold of the 21-year-old Beasley and claim him as their long-term option in the small forward starting slot. The future success of the franchise may hinge upon the shoulders of the B-Easy.
One thing that the Kansas State product needs to improve upon is his defensive intensity, something that has kept him from being elite in this league thus far.
I don't know about all you, but I liked the afro and I wish Getty Images would allow me to publish a picture that showed the 'do.
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Now that we have seen his potential, we can decipher that Wayne Ellington is a great three-point shooter. His 40.7 percent clip from downtown proves the previous statement.
Outside of the arc, Ellington averages 6.6 points in 17.6 minutes and is marginal in his defensive efforts.
Honestly, he is about as one-dimensional as it gets, but at the same time he may become the Wolves' most important bench player if he develops skills in the other facets of the game.
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Jonny Flynn, a 2009-10 rookie who started all 81 games he played in, is struggling to find a proper niche in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
He missed the first month of the season due to injury, and has done an okay job since.
Ever since his return to the lineup, Flynn has produced mediocre figures. He is averaging 5.6 points and 3.8 assists, good for second on the club, per game in just under 20 minutes for the Wolves.
He has shown spurts of greatness, but I'm not convinced he's a starter until he displays his talents to the fullest on a consistent basis.
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Lazar Hayward, a 23-year old Marquette graduate, started off slow, but has slowly found himself a place in the Timberwolves' rotation.
He still averages a paltry 3.6 points per game in 10 minutes of playing time. He has come on as of late, putting 16 on the board in Detroit in a victory on Wednesday.
One thing that often goes unnoticed about Lazar is his ability to take shots in nerve-wrecking situations. Some spectators may moan and groan at the sight of a few of these attempts, but I can honestly say I like the grit that this guy carries about him.
Give him some time and he will produce.
I recently wrote a column discussing if Wesley Johnson should be the starting shooting guard of the future. He can either be trade bait or be signed to a long-term deal.
I'll take the former any day.
I'd have to say he's gotten off on the right foot. He's currently fifth on the team with a 9.3 scoring average, and he tosses three rebounds and two assists into the mix. A recent three game stretch saw Wes average 20 points and eight rebounds per night.
He has the ability to shoot lights out, something the Wolves desire in the backcourt.
Currently Johnson is the best defender that the Timberwolves possess, something that can be attested to his hard-working attitude on and off the floor.
I'd say he is having a pretty solid rookie campaign, and he is on the right path to becoming the third best player for the T'Wolves.
What can I say about Kevin Love that I haven't already?
He's an All-Star who is having an incredible season, averaging 21 points and 15.5 boards per contest, the latter statistic leading the league. He also recorded the first 30-30 game in 28 years last November.
His 86.5 percent clip at the charity stripe and 42 percent number from beyond the arc detail his improvement with his shooting. His free throw percentage ranks second among forwards in the league, trailing only Kevin Durant.
Let's put it this way: the NBA has seen seven games where a player has scored 20 points and pulled down 20 rebounds. K-Love has a grand total of six of this such event.
Six of seven isn't too shabby, right?
The 22-year-old UCLA product is the leader of the Wolves, and management is planning to offer a $70 million dollar extension his way. As a Timberwolves columnist, I believe that he is the main key right now in Minnesota returning to relevance in the basketball world.
The only thing that needs work in his game is on the defensive end.
I've said it once; I'll say it again: all you need is Love, Minnesota.
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Darko Milicic is trying to switch the worst possible tag you can receive in the game of basketball—"bust".
After being selected second overall in the 2003 NBA Draft, Milicic is trying, like Beasley, to revive his career in the Gopher State. Critics were all over general manager David Kahn after he signed Darko to a four-year, $20 million dollar contact, but I can't complain just yet.
He is averaging 9.1 points, 5.4 rebounds, and an astonishing 2.2 blocks in just under 25 minutes of play for the Wolves.
His defense also ranks among the best of the guys that don the blue, black and white. Other than Wes, there really isn't anyone I'd rather have on the club in a one-on-one defensive situation.
On the flip side, he turns the ball over too much (2.3 times per game) and gets into foul trouble often.
In 13.3 minutes per game this season, Nikola Pekovic has averaged five points, 3.1 rebounds, and almost a block.
In a weird sense, Pek is a poor man's Darko: good swatting and rebound abilities, as well as above average defense. He has been a bit shaky at times, but the Wolves like what they see in this 25-year-old Montenegrin rookie.
If he played more his grade would be undoubtedly higher. He is just a rookie though, and his opportunity clock for minutes still has hours remaining.
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Having only played in four games thus far for the Timberwolves, a grade is not able to be recorded for Anthony Randolph.
However, I will tell you this: he has tremendous potential in Minnesota. His athleticism beats out anyone on the team right now, and he recorded 18 points in just his fourth game since switching unis last week.
Look for him to gain some weight to compete with Darko for the starting center position when he has adjusted to coach Kurt Rambis's system and gameplan.
The Wolves are confident he will do great things for the franchise, and that is why they traded Corey Brewer for him.
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Perhaps the best shooter on the squad, Luke Ridnour is doing a decent job at the starting point guard position for the T'Wolves.
The veteran on the club at 30, Ridnour is an excellent passer and has over career 500 games under his belt to attribute this to.
The former Oregon Duck is first on the team in assists (5.5), three-point percentage (44 percent), steals (1.2), and free throw percentage (90.4 percent). He is third in scoring with 11.9 points per game.
I'm not sure if the following statistic is correct, but rumor has it that Luke shoots an incredible 55 percent from the corner of three-point land. Wow.
Underappreciated? I think so.
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Sebastian Telfair has sprung to second on the depth chart for the point guard position for the Wolves this season after starting the year as an injury reserve.
He is averaging 7.4 points per game while dishing out 3.1 assists, good for third on the club behind Ridnour and Flynn, the other two quarterbacks for Minnesota.
Other than limiting his turnovers, the 25-year-old isn't doing anything terribly wrong during the 19.8 minutes per game that he averages.
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Anthony Tolliver has tremendous potential to one day start at center for the Timberwolves.
The 6'9" big may be a bit undersized for the job, but one day his game could take him to the hardwood at the beginning of each contest.
For now he is averaging six points in 19 minutes while draining 41.6 percent of his shots from downtown for the Wolves.
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Martell Webster is quietly doing his thing in Minnesota after spending the first five seasons of his career in the Rose City, or Portland, Oregon as we all know it.
The 24-year-old slasher has great potential, and this season in 28 games has already become the best Timberwolf on the bench.
The Seattle Preparatory High graduate is averaging 10.5 points and 3.3 rebounds for the Wolves this season.
Now if only his mucky defense could compliment his above average offensive game.