Minnesota Timberwolves: Final 2011 Report Cards for Kevin Love, Beasley and Co.
As the NBA Finals are currently here and in progress, the Minnesota Timberwolves are both looking back at the 2010-11 season and looking forward to the 2011 NBA draft this month.
There were some bright spots throughout this year's campaign, but mostly there were disappointing games and 65 losses to go with an embarrassing 17 wins.
These are the final report card grades and explanations for Kevin Love and the Timberwolves starting lineup as well as their head coach and general manager for this season.
Point Guard: Luke Ridnour, Grade: C
Points Per Game: 11.8
Assists Per Game: 5.4
Rebounds Per Game: 2.8
Luke Ridnour was signed to a four-year, $16 million contract with the Timberwolves during last year's offseason. Ridnour was supposed to be the veteran point guard that did his job and hopefully made the players around him better. While the latter is questionable, as to whether or not he did that, the former is exactly what he did. Ridnour played average basketball this season.
He shot a respectable 44 percent from three-point range and was mediocre in points scored and assists. Though, Minnesota could have been way worse off with one of the other point guards on the roster (Jonny Flynn and Sebastian Telfair) running the point guard position.
Ridnour played well enough to earn a "C" grade for the 2011 NBA season.
Shooting Guard/Small Forward: Wesley Johnson, Grade: D
Points Per Game: 9.0
Assists Per Game: 1.9
Rebounds Per Game: 3.0
As the No. 4 pick in the 2010 NBA draft, Wesley Johnson was an excellent and intriguing prospect coming out of Syracuse.
Though, the 6'7" wing never played up to what many thought he was capable of throughout his rookie season in the league. Johnson started the season coming off the bench while playing behind Michael Beasley and Corey Brewer. Then, close to the trading deadline, Johnson was forced to play out of position when Minnesota dealt Corey Brewer to the New York Knicks, placing him in the starting lineup as the shooting guard.
His numbers aren't the whole story when taking a look back at Johnson's 2011 season. He was easily the Wolves' best perimeter defender and was an athletic player on the fast breaks Minnesota did create. Had he shot the basketball better and made more offensive plays, Johnson very well could have been graded higher. He didn't, and that's why he gets a "D" for the 2011 season.
Small Forward: Michael Beasley, Grade: B-
Points Per Game: 19.2
Rebounds Per Game: 5.6
Blocks Per Game: 0.7
After being acquired from the Miami Heat for just two second-round picks and cash considerations, Michael Beasley slid right into the starting small forward position for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
There were the doubts about whether or not he was going to be able to pull his game together and stay out of trouble off the court with his marijuana usage. Beasley pulled through for the Timberwolves, though, and used this opportunity to show the rest of the NBA why he was the No. 2 overall pick in 2008.
While there are some that will say that Kevin Love was Minnesota's primary scorer last season, Beasley was actually the man who created the offensive opportunities. He sometimes played the role of a "point forward" with the ball in his hands as he tried to get the offense going. This must have worked well enough as the Wolves scored the 10th most points per game last season (101.1).
He was one of the few bright spots for the Timberwolves and their future and played a good game to go along with it. Beasley scored 19.2 points per game and did it via the jump shot, driving the lane, and playing in the post. His defense was sub-par last season and that brings his final grade down to a very solid "B-."
Power Forward: Kevin Love, Grade: A+
Points Per Game: 20.2
Rebounds Per Game: 15.2
Blocks Per Game: 0.4
Kevin Love was an absolute machine this season as he finally took over the title as the franchise player and also earned his first All-Star bid. Not only that, but Love took it upon himself to break records by scoring a double-double in points and rebounds in 53 consecutive games, breaking the great Moses Malone's record of 51.
During the season he had a plethora of fantastic games. Most notable was his game against the New York Knicks in which he scored 31 points and had 31 rebounds. Love became the first player to record a 30–30 game since Moses Malone did it in 1982. He also led the NBA last season with 11 20-20 games.
Love put on a show for the Timberwolves and their fans every game he played in. Averaging 20 points and 15 rebounds is no easy task. In fact, this was the first time it had been done since previously said Malone did it in the 1982-83 season.
Love established career highs in scoring (20.2), rebounding (15.2), assists (2.5), double-doubles (64), field goal percentage (.470), free-throw shooting (85 percent), three-point shooting (41.7 percent) and minutes played (35.8). Not to mention Love had the fourth highest PER last season, higher than Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Dirk Nowitzki and the 2010-11 MVP Derrick Rose.
It's time Love gets his credit and is recognized as one of the top three power forwards in the game today. For his play this season, the only grade suitable for the young 22-year-old is an "A+".
Center: Darko Milicic, Grade: C-
Points Per Game: 8.8
Rebounds Per Game: 5.2
Blocks Per Game: 2.0
Darko Milicic had a resurgent and productive season for the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2010-11. While there isn't a great amount of above-average centers in the NBA, Milicic fits in as mediocre with his own positives and negatives.
The best attribute to Milicic's game is his ability to block shots. There was a period during the season where he was actually the NBA's leader in shots blocked per game. He finished the season with two blocks a game, which was good enough for fifth most in the league.
Milicic didn't bring much to the Timberwolves' offensive game nor did he do a good job at rebounding. Granted Kevin Love reeled in the majority of the boards, Milicic wasn't active on the glass even when Love wasn't on the floor.
Though, there are plenty of teams that would be happy to have Milicic as their starting center. Even though he isn't great, Milicic was a serviceable center for Minnesota last season and deserves his grade of "C-".
Head Coach: Kurt Rambis, Grade: F
2010-11 NBA Regular Season Record: 17-65
The Minnesota Timbeworwolves finished this year's season with the worst record in basketball. That statistic by itself should display how bad Kurt Rambis was for the team.
Thank goodness for Kevin Love working out with other superstars last offseason. If not, he might not have had the record-breaking type of season he had. Surely, Rambis wouldn't have taken Love's game to the next level as most Wolves players regressed as the season came closer to an end. This is just another way of saying that Rambis' skills in player development are poor, and there are many who think a coaching change is in Minnesota's future.
The Wolves have more talent than what their record portrayed last season, and the only reason why they didn't have more wins is because of the head coach, Rambis. He deserves his failing grade and that is indisputable.
Team President and General Manager: David Kahn, Grade: B
2010-11 NBA Regular Season Record: 17-65
David Kahn has taken some intense criticism ever since his infamous 2009 NBA draft where he selected four point guards, two being back-to-back lottery picks.
Though, the 2010-11 season started out very nicely when he was basically given former No. 2 pick Michael Beasley from the Miami Heat for just two second-round picks. Regardless of whether or not Kahn did most of the talking in that trade discussion, he did at least allow it to happen and set up the Timberwolves with a potential superstar at the small forward position. For this, he definitely deserves some credit. Then, Beasley made the trade look even better for Kahn's purpose when he averaged 19.2 points per game throughout the season.
Another move that made Kahn look better than expected was when he made the decision to move Al Jefferson. Jefferson was dealt to the Utah Jazz for Kosta Koufos and two first-round picks while also gaining salary cap flexibility. Although this deal was looked at as a mistake, the main purpose of moving him was to get the young and talented big-man, Kevin Love, more playing time and did Love ever come through. Love put up a 20-15 season, was named an All-Star and won the NBA Most Improved Player award.
Then at the trading deadline, Kahn decided to take it upon himself and get involved in the Carmelo Anthony sweepstakes, but not for Anthony himself. Kahn sent SG/SF Corey Brewer to the New York Knicks for the skilled, but unused, forward Anthony Randolph and Eddy Curry. Randolph has all the potential in the world, but hadn't been able to put it together for the Golden State Warriors or the Knicks before coming to Minnesota. Randolph did show glimpses of brilliance when he had significant playing time with the Wolves and is one of the players on the roster who won't be moved anytime soon.
All in all, Kahn made some underrated deals for the 2010-11 season, but he will be recognized for it with his report card grade. Kahn earned himself a "B" for last season and has already started off well for next season with the news that Ricky Rubio will become a Timberwolf.