Minnesota Timberwolves: 7 Reasons Why the Wolves Can Have a Breakout NBA Season
Due to the recent poor performances by players and poor leadership from team owner Glen Taylor, GM David Kahn and now former head coach Kurt Rambis, it is easy for many basketball fans and experts to think of the T-Wolves as a laughing-stock team even before their season starts.
The T-Wolves have always been expected to lose many games in the previous years, but this upcoming season may be their best chance to become a serious competitor on a nightly basis, and show that they can win against any opponent.
Here are seven reasons why the Wolves can have a breakout NBA season.
Ricky Rubio Will Finally Play in a Minnesota Timberwolves Jersey
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Ricky Rubio will be a immediate upgrade at the point guard position for the Timberwolves.
Last season, Luke Ridnour was usually the T-Wolves starting point guard, and he was not effective enough in the position. Ridnour seemed to prefer to shoot quick outside shots, and had a tough time trying to set teammates up for easy shots.
That could change with Rubio, as the Wolves now should have a lot more ball movement and easier baskets. Unlike Ridnour, Rubio is not known as a outside shooter and will rarely look to shoot from the perimeter. He instead focuses on seeing the floor, driving and dishing to teammates for easy points.
Rubio's playmaking and court vision have always been his strengths, and he has been compared to legendary NBA point guards such as Pistol Pete Maravich, Jason Kidd and Steve Nash.
The Wolves are expected to start Rubio at point guard, and that should significantly help their chances of improving on offense and in the wins column.
Kurt Rambis Is No Longer Head Coach
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Kurt Rambis was not the right coach for the young Timberwolves, and it took Wolves GM David Kahn two years, 32 wins and 132 losses to realize it. Kahn finally fired Rambis this past summer.
It seems that Rambis wanted to coach the young Wolves the same way that his mentor Phil Jackson coaches the Kobe Bryant led Los Angeles Lakers, which is to sit down, stay calm and not say much. That does not work with a roster loaded with young players including the teams best players, Kevin Love and Michael Beasley.
Had Rambis not used the triangle offense by letting the young Wolves run more pick-and-rolls instead of emphasizing defense as his main teaching point, the Timberwolves would have easily won more than the 32 games that they have won in the last two seasons combined. Kurt Rambis, Al Jefferson and Jonny Flynn would probably still be with the Timberwolves as well.
If the Wolves hire a new head coach that is willing to teach and discipline the young and talented T-Wolves, while also emphasizing team defense and letting them play with a offensive system that suits their talents, expect them to improve significantly in wins next season.
Derrick Williams Can Bring What the Wolves Have Been Missing
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The Timberwolves have not seen much efficiency and consistency from their team as a unit, but also from individual players, except for Kevin Love and Michael Beasley on most nights.
If you have been following the Wolves for the last few seasons, you can also agree that their rookies have not been consistent.
Williams may be different as he answers two big needs to the Wolves, which is efficiency and consistency. He is very athletic and has good size to play both forward spots while being able to score from the low post and perimeter.
For many Wolves players, including Kevin Love, creating shots was difficult, with Michael Beasely being the lone exception. It was also very difficult for the Wolves players to win games with Love or Beasley injured, or having a bad game.
So it would not be a surprise to see Williams sub in for one of them if they are in a bad situation.
If Williams steps in and contributes right away as is expected of him, he will help the Wolves win more games, and that should help the Wolves have a breakout NBA season.
Michael Beasley the Alpha Wolf?
Michael Beasley Timberwolves Highlights
Michael Beasley became the most reliable scorer on the roster in his first season with the Wolves.
Not only can Beasley create and score shots from anywhere on the court, but he can also score when it matters most and the game is on the line. No player on the team has that ability, and this was even admitted by Wolves GM David Kahn after acquiring the former second overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft from the Miami Heat during the summer of 2010.
Also, Beasley was a great scorer in college as a freshman, and many players and coaches in the NBA such as Pat Riley, Erik Spoelstra and Dwyane Wade from Beasley's former team in Miami have all complimented Beasley on his scoring potential. Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers and Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant have recognized his abilities as well.
After his Celtics played against the T-Wolves, Rivers said of Beasley:
"Offensively, I've been a big believer in him. I just think he can score. I said it two years ago: I think one day he may lead the league in scoring. He just knows how to score the ball. He has a Carmelo ability to score the ball."
Another reason Beasley could be the Wolves' leader is his fun personality and ability to keep the team loose, while also not being afraid to keep his teammates in check during games. Even though Beasley is only 22-years-old, he was easily the most vocal leader on the team last season.
Next season, under a new head coach and offensive system while playing with new pass-first point guard Ricky Rubio, Beasley should have less pressure on him to try to create and put up tough shots, which can solidify him as the teams go-to-guy, and lead the Wolves to a breakout season.
Anthony Randolph the T-Wolves X-Factor?
Randolph Wolves Highlights
The Timberwolves acquired Anthony Randolph in February 2011, as part of the blockbuster Carmelo Anthony trade involving the Knicks and Nuggets. Wolves GM David Kahn was trying to trade for Randolph for many months because of his high potential, young age and unique versatility.
Randolph just turned 22 years old and stands 6'11", with the ability to play power forward, center and the small forward position if he keeps improving his perimeter game. His skills set has been compared to other NBA players such as former Timberwolves and current Celtics forward Kevin Garnett, Lakers forward Lamar Odom and Heat forward Chris Bosh.
Also, Randolph averaged a career high in scoring last season with 11.7 points per game, while grabbing 5.2 rebounds per game and shooting a career high 49.8 percent from the field. He had these averages in 20 minutes per game and only played 23 games, while starting only three times.
On March 24, 2011, in his first start with the Wolves filling in for an injured Kevin Love, Randolph scored a career high 31 points and grabbed 13 rebounds against the Dallas Mavericks. In his next game against the Oklahoma City Thunder (also a start for Love), he scored 24 points and grabbed 15 rebounds.
No other player on the Wolves roster is like Randolph, and this upcoming season could be a breakout year for him because of the opportunity to have a full season under a new head coach and system. Do not be surprised if he emerges as a big reason why the Wolves have a breakout season.
Wesley Johnson's Sophomore Season Could Be Special
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Wesley Johnson was a rookie for the Wolves last season. His play was not always consistent, but it did allow for him to get selected to play in the NBA's Rookie vs. Sophomore game.
He also played some of the best games of his rookie season playing against Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers.
In a game against the Lakers, he scored a career-high 29 points on 11-for-21 shooting, while also doing a very good job defensively on Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant, who scored 18 points on 17 shots attempted. In his previous game vs. the Lakers, Johnson also scored 20 points while grabbing nine rebounds.
Johnson can play shooting guard because of his three-point shooting ability and can play small forward because of his size and skills. He is very athletic with a 37-inch vertical and has good size at 6'7" 205 lbs. He also has big hands and a 7'1" wingspan which gives him a edge to get rebounds and blocks against opponents.
With a new head coach and the opportunity to play alongside new pass-first point guard Ricky Rubio, Wesley Johnson could have a breakout season and help the young Wolves to more victories.
Who's Next to Breakout for the Young Wolves?
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The Wolves best young players, Kevin Love, Michael Beasley and Anthony Randolph are all 22 years old and entering their fourth year in the NBA.
With two new high profile rookies in Ricky Rubio and Derrick Williams that are both 20 years old, the Wolves may arguably have the highest potential of any NBA team right now.
With the exceptions of Brad Miller and Luke Ridnour, every player on the T-Wolves roster is 26 years old or younger.
Darko Milicic is 26 years old and will be in his 9th year.
Anthony Tolliver is 26 years old and will be in his 5th year.
Nikola Pekovic is 25 years old and will be in his 2nd year.
Martell Webster is 24 years old and will be in his 7th year.
Lazar Hayward is 24 years old and will be in his 2nd year.
Wesley Johnson is 24 years old and will be in his 2nd year.
Wayne Ellington is 23 years old and will be in his 3rd year.
As you can see, many of the Wolves players are young, and most of them are former first-round picks. These players have not lived up to their potential yet for many reasons especially lack of play time.
With a new head coach and the right system that fits their talents, these young players will be in prime position to contribute to a breakout season for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
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