The Minnesota Timberwolves are currently 1-8 and in fourth place in the Northwest Division in the National Basketball Association.
Despite their young age, inexperience, and the team's 1-8 record, things really haven't been as bad as their record indicates.
After a season-opening 98-86 win over hapless Sacramento at home, Minnesota has proceeded to lose each of the next eight games in virtually every way possible. It's not a matter of if they lose, but how:
Game 2, Saturday, Nov. 1: Dallas 95, Minnesota 85
Game 3, Sunday, Nov. 2: Oklahoma City 88, Minnesota 85
Game 4, Wednesday, Nov. 5: San Antonio 129, Minnesota 125 (2OT)
Game 5, Friday, Nov. 7: Sacramento 121, Minnesota 109
Game 6, Saturday, Nov. 8: Portland 97, Minnesota 93
Game 7, Tuesday, Nov. 11: Golden State 113, Minnesota 110
Game 8, Saturday, Nov. 15: Portland 88, Minnesota 83
Game 9, Saturday, Nov. 16: Denver 90, Minnesota 84
Add it all up and what does it mean? If you look up their statistics, even though they are getting outscored by an average of 96-101 they are still losing, albeit losing competitively. They have out-assisted and out-stealed their opponents while having a better assist-to-turnover ratio.
The reason they are losing is they are getting out rebounded but only at a 44-41 per game clip and out blocked and they are just young, meaning they have to take the bad with the good.
They actually aren't playing that bad, and you can't fault their effort on a nightly basis, they just simply don't have enough players yet who can be relied on to make an impact on a nightly basis.
Some players simply need to step up or ship out
2007 first round draft pick Corey Brewer hoodwinked everyone by riding the coattails of the only credible Florida Gator, Al Horford, into the NBA. Along with fellow underachievers Joakim Noah, and Taurean Green.
Brewers career averages thus far are 5.8 PPG, 3.7 RPG, and 1.5 APG—all this from the 7th overall pick stealing, I mean, making $2.4 million.
(Noah by the way averages 3.5 PPG, 5.6 RPG, and 1.1 APG while making just under $2.3 million, and his numbers are similarly regressing from last year. While Green was a second-round pick by Portland, he couldn't even salvage an NBA career that failed to get off the ground and is currently playing overseas in Spain.)
Kevin Love (8.8 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 1.3 APG)—while these numbers aren't spectacular, they are what I expected from a 19-year-old kid one year removed from his only year at collegian competition. Let's not forget he wasn't a four year starter at some elite university so I'll give him a bit of a break. When you compare him to the man that he was traded for, O.J. Mayo, the likely Rookie of the Year, many Timberwolves fans are bound to look at this as another McHale failure.
I on the other hand, would rather see Mayo succeed in Memphis than ever wear a Timberwolves jersey as that kid will prove to be LeBron II all about endorsements and he'd have bolted the Twin Cities the first chance he got, for the opportunity to play and get paid in a larger market like L.A. or New York. For Wolves fans, he'd have been Marbury II minus the heartbreak. They are better off spared that misery.
Small market Memphis will know all too well what I am talking about once this prima donna's contract is up and that, mixed with the inevitable losing that is sure to come, will cause Mayo to make the easy decision to walk out the door.
I wanted Mayo gone immediately and the draft-day trade is exactly the one I would have made since you get the player you wanted all along, one that will be loyal to McHale and actually listen and want to learn from him (unlike know-it-all Mayo) and a serviceable starter-6th man in area local Mike Miller and valuable salary cap relief.
I think Love has plenty of upside but he must be careful not to fall into the bust category like teammates Randy Foye and Rashad McCants have.
Randy Foye, the seventh* overall pick of the Portland Trailblazers who was immediately exchanged for eventual Rookie of the Year Brandon Roy, in 2007 has been the definition of bust. Many will cut him a break for being injured and he has shown flashes but it simply hasn't been enough.
Many fans will also blame McHale for another boneheaded move by trading away Roy but I don't because we have no proof that Roy would have thrived in this system the same as he did in Portland. Like Brewer, at 10.9 points per game, his numbers are actually decreasing despite an increase in minutes (10.9 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 5.4 APG). Another player who will never be an All-Star despite his high selection.
Rashad McCants (10.8 PPG, 1.2 RPG, and 1.3 APG) has perhaps the most troubling numbers of all. Not only have all three numbers in these categories decreased but coincidentally his minutes have too. What is even more sad is at 14.8 points per game last year, it looked as if he was finally turning the corner.
I could insert a joke about how McCants truly can't, but that's simply not funny because it's true. Like the Florida Gator wave of 2006, he too rode a similar wave with equal disappointing Sean May and Raymond Felton into the NBA in 2005 after you guessed it, a championship winning season.
These kids would make great businessmen selling when their stocks are highest, too bad they can't make as equally impressive ball players.
While the Timberwolves are well on their way to another forgetful 20-62 season, help is on the way. Keep in mind, no one expected anything from them this year or next anyway so that is not the concern. The concern is the fact they are playing hard, yet still finding every way to lose and its becoming predictable.
They are the owners of four first round draft picks in 2009: their own (likely to be top 3 protected), Boston's, Utah's, and Miami's (thanks to the Mark Blount/Ricky Davis 2007 trade).
You can bet that Minnesota won't keep all these picks as it would be disastrous for player development and from a contractual standpoint. Can you imagine paying and playing potentially four more rookies on an already youthful team? There would be neither enough minutes, patience, or basketballs to go around.
Expect McHale to swing (and get jobbed) in yet another draft day deal by some salivating GM. He's gonna have to swing at least one deal with at least one pick, but likely it will be a set of multiple deals that hopefully land Minnesota an actual serviceable veteran or two that can help mentor the young kids, take some pressure of budding star Al Jefferson, and provide additional leadership because he is coming from a team that knows how to win.
Who will that be? I have no idea but I could see a deal with the Knicks for one of their many over stocked guards-a nostalgic return of Marbury maybe? (Even though that would be disaster.)
Thinking cross conference because no Western team will help a rival, it might be best for Minnesota to raid a team like Milwaukee who, mixed with their small market issues, might be willing to part with a Richard Jefferson or to New Jersey for a high priced veteran gamble on the declining Vince Carter.
There is always the free agent route and with everyone gearing up for the summer of 2010 where LeBron, Wade, and Anthony among others are slated to be un-restricted free agents, everyone, including the delusional Wolves, think they have a chance.
Of course no free agent wishing to market himself, would ever choose to sign in the aberration that is "cold" Minnesota.
This is why the trade option described above makes more sense.
If you think its bad in Minnesota, how would you like to be a Cavs fan knowing the days with hometown hero and future globalized icon LeBron James are numbered, and their ain't a thing they can do about it.