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Minnesota Timberwolves 2009-10 Season Prediction: Excel In Potential.

Timber WolfAnalyst IISeptember 17, 2009

DENVER - NOVEMBER 18:  Ramon Sessions #7 of the Milwaukee Bucks awaits action against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center on November 18, 2008 in Denver, Colorado. The Nuggets defeated the Bucks 114-105.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Hello Timberwolves fans, I'm here to offer an far in-depth and in-detail prediction for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

It's funny, because my first article was a season prediction, of course that was done before the wrath of Kahn, and now, with the roster almost completed, I can now offer analysis.

I promised myself, and to the loyal fans, that I would cover positives and negatives, and that I will not make the Wolves up to what they cannot be.

I feel that I'm very well capable of doing this, being that I'm a die-hard analyst and fan.

Now, let's get into the prediction, and the actual article.

This roster has been ripped, revamped and renewed from Kevin McHale's inefficient roster, and has been made into a potential high, young talented team.

Roster (not in any particular order):

PG's- Jonny Flynn, Chucky Atkins*, Ramon Sessions, Antonio Daniels

SG's- Corey Brewer, Wayne Ellington, and Damien Wilkins*

SF's- Sasha Pavlovic**, Ryan Gomes, Brian Cardinal*

PF's- Kevin Love, Olekisy Pecherov

C's- Al Jefferson, Ryan Hollins, Mark Blount*

*- Likely to be traded/won't get playing time at all

**- Just signed a contract.

Starters:

PG*- Jonny Flynn or Ramon Sessions

SG*- Corey Brewer or Wayne Ellington

SF*- Ryan Gomes or Corey Brewer

PF- Kevin Love

C- Al Jefferson

*- To be discussed

As you can see, the Wolves has some iffy type problems right now. We have very talented players, but who should start? Here's my analysis on each position that has to be discussed, i.e., PG, SG and SF.

(PG) Jonny Flynn Or Ramon Sessions?

Ramon Sessions. 6'3'' PG.

Strengths on Offense:

  1. Speed: He plays at a speed that his former teammates took a half a season to catch up with.
  2. Mid-Range Jumper: Has a developing consistent mid-range jump shot.
  3. Drives: Gets to the goal at will.
  4. Free Throws: Gets to the free-throw line very often, and converted 80% of them.
  5. Athlete: Throws down when he gets the chance. A good leaper.
  6. Versatile: Primarily plays PG and can play SG.

Strengths on Defense:

  1. Size: As a PG, being 6'3''-6'4'', he has very good size for a point guard. With size, comes length as well.
  2. Steals: Averaged 1 steal last season.
  3. Speed: Good lateral speed to stay in front of his defender.

Weaknesses on Offense:

  1. No three-point range.

Weaknesses on Defense:

  1. Not a lock down defender yet.

Side Notes: Last 31 games: 15.27 PPG, 8.2 APG, 4.4 RPG, 1.23 SPG in 32 MPG

Jonny Flynn. 6'0'' PG

Strengths on Offense:

  1. Shooter: He has a very good form and shooting mechanics, not to mention shooting 58 percent from the 3-point line in the summer league.
  2. Drives: He gets to the goal at will
  3. Freakish Athlete: Tomahawk dunks in the summer league? Need I say more.
  4. Free Throws: Converted 90% of your free throws.
  5. Speed: Very quick, and nimble like a cat.
  6. Body Control: At times he appears to be out of control, but you can tell that he's not, and that's when he absorbs the contact and flips in the baskets.

Strengths on Defense:

  1. Very scrappy defender: always in your face, and it's annoying.

Weaknesses on Offense:

  1. Turnover prone: an average of 5 TO's in the summer league.

Weaknesses on Defense:

  1. Sometimes gives up on a play.
  2. Not a lockdown defender yet.

Side notes: Jonny Flynn is a rookie, with a tremendous upside, and an incredible amount of charisma. Could become the starter eventually this season.

Who Wins The Starting PG Spot?

Honestly, this is very hard to decide. I think Ramon Sessions should start at the point guard position.

He has more experience, an amazing court vision, and playmaking ability. While Flynn has more charisma, I see Flynn backing up Sessions at least until Flynn cuts down on his turnovers.

Flynn will still see at least 26 minutes on the floor at the point guard position, but Sessions will start for the Wolves.

(SF) Brewer Vs Gomes?

Corey Brewer 6'9'' SG/SF

Strengths on Offense:

  1. Developing Shooter: Developing shooter, and has been known for having really good shooting mechanics. He displayed in the last game in the summer league, a good touch from mid range. Shot 41% from 3-point line last season.
  2. Athlete: He can dunk the ball with force. He's a good leaper.
  3. Drives: He has potential to drive the ball, he was doing it before his injury, and was doing it in the summer league, with his patented spin moves.
  4. Dribbling: Needs work in this area, but has really made strides in the summer league.
  5. Speed: Plays 110% all the time, the guy can run with the best of them.

Strengths on Defense:

  1. Lockdown Defender: Very long and very fast lateral quickness. A problem for the opposition. His very strongest skills
  2. Steals: Averaged 1 steal before his injury.
  3. Weakside Defender: Plays as well on the weakside that he does on the strong side.

Weaknesses on Offense:

  1. Nothing Concrete Yet: He doesn't have one offensive skill as far as scoring, that is really his forte'. He's OK or average at almost everything, but he's developing.

Weaknesses on Defense:

  1. Blocks: This isn't really a weakness, but you gotta name something right? He's not a shotblocker, but that doesn't mean he can't become one.

Side Notes: Just came off of torn ACL injury. Needs rehabbing, encouragement from his coaches, and needs to regain his confidence to truly be effective.

Ryan Gomes. 6'7'' SF/PF

Strengths on Offense:

  1. Shooting: A very good catch and pop shooter. A developing shooter off the dribble. Converted 38% of his 3-pointers last season.
  2. Post: Has some developing post moves, and has great strength in the post.
  3. Fastbreaks: Has shown flashes of finesse on the fastbreak, and is often waiting on the wing for the kickout pass.
  4. Rebounds: He's a 6 or 7 rebound caliber player as a SF.

Strengths on Defense:

  1. Developing defender. He has shown signs of shutting down superstars.
  2. Developing lateral speed: He also uses his length to prevent the opponent from getting past him.

Weaknesses on Offense:

  1. Cannot create his own shot: He doesn't have good enough dribbling skills.
  2. Speed: He's an OK runner, but he's no Speedy Gonzalez.

Weaknesses on Defense:

  1. Not a shot blocker, or stealer.

Side notes: Add's something new to his game every year, and does it well.

Who Wins The Starting SF Spot?

Gomes wins this one, mainly because Brewer is highly unlikely to be a 38 percent 3-point shooter come next season. Brewer has better defense skills and length, but if Gomes wins this one. Which brings us to the shooting guards...

(SG) Corey Brewer vs Wayne Ellington

Corey Brewer 6'9'' SG/SF

Strengths on Offense:

  1. Developing Shooter: He has been known for having really good shooting mechanics. He displayed in the last game in the summer league, a good touch from mid range. Shot 41 percent fromm 3-point line last season.
  2. Athlete: He can dunk the ball with force. He's a good leaper.
  3. Drives: He has potential to drive the ball, he was doing it before his injury, and was doing it in the summer league, with his patented spin moves.
  4. Dribbling: Needs work in this area, but has really made strides in the summer league.
  5. Speed: Plays 110 percent all the time, the guy can run with the best of them.
  6. Size: As a SG, he would absolutely have the best opportunities to score, using his size to get shots off, and even develop a post game if he starts at SG.

Strengths on Defense:

  1. Lockdown Defender: Very long and very fast lateral quickness. A problem for the opposition. His very strongest skills. At SG, he would be an absolute havoc for SG's.
  2. Steals: Averaged one steal before his injury.
  3. Weakside Defender: Plays as well on the weak side that he does on the strong side.

Weaknesses on Offense:

  1. Nothing Concrete Yet: He doesn't have one offensive skill as far as scoring, that is really his forte'. He's OK or average at almost everything, but he's developing.

Weaknesses on Defense:

  1. Blocks: This isn't really a weakness, but you gotta name something right? He's not a shot blocker, but that doesn't mean he can't become one. 

Side Notes: Just came off of torn ACL injury. Needs rehabbing, encouragement from his coaches, and needs to regain his confidence to truly be effective.

Wayne Ellington 6'5'' SG

Strengths on Offense:

  1. Shooting: Great shooter from 3-point range. Great mid range shooter, and is a pure definition of an "off guard".
  2. Dribbling: Has some flashes of taking his opponents off the dribble with his shooting.
  3. Fastbreak: When it comes to getting to that corner shot, he get's there quick on the fast break, and pulls the shot as soon as it's passed to him.

Strengths on Defense:

  1. Doesn't give up: He plays hard every possession on defense.

Weaknesses on Offense:

  1. He's pretty much a shooter right now: need I say more? He can grow into more, but if it's one thing he's really good at now, it's shooting.

Weaknesses on Defense:

  1. Size: Undersized for a SG, at 6'4''-6'5''.
  2. Doesn't really have a knack for defense yet, as far as steals and anticipation.

Side Note: Has great chemistry with dominant ball handling point guards.

Who Wins the SG Spot?

Wolves fans might hate me for this, but I gotta say Corey Brewer. We need guys to be able to do more than one thing right now, especially if Ryan Gomes is going to start at the SF spot.

Shooting is a great thing we need right now, but we need some defense as well, and I think that if Corey Brewer starts consistently, that will help build his confidence, and show why he was a lottery pick.

Now!

With that all said and done, let's look at the starting roster chosen by me (after all it's my prediction):

PG- Ramon Sessions

SG- Corey Brewer

SF- Ryan Gomes

PF- Kevin Love

C- Al Jefferson.

Strengths of the starters offense:

  1. Mid-range shooting: We have very good mid-range shooters. Ramon Sessions, Corey Brewer, Ryan Gomes, Kevin Love, and Al Jefferson are all capable of knocking down mid range shots.
  2. Speed: Ramon Sessions and Corey Brewer will be hard to stop on a fastbreak, as people already can't keep up with Brewer when he gets a steal.
  3. Potential 3-point range (30 percent-70 percent chance): Kevin Love has been working diligently on his 3-point range. Ramon Sessions is a bad 3-point shooter, but has said that's his main focus. Corey Brewer shot 41 percent from 3-point line last season, and if he can shoot at least 35 percent (which he should be able to do), then the wolves have some potential 3-point shooters, not exactly sharpshooters, but guys that can hit the shot if needed.
  4. Inside play: Dominance in the post with Kevin Love and Al Jefferson. Whether it's offensive boards, or shots on the low block, these two will be hard to stop.
  5. Growing passing team: Ramon Sessions is a playmaker, while Corey Brewer is an above average passer. Corey Brewer had the only triple double in Florida Gators history with 10 assists. Kevin Love has possibly the best outlet pass in the NBA. Al Jefferson needs work.
  6. Al Jefferson: He deserves his own point, because he's arguably the most polished PF/C in the league.

Strengths of the starters' defense:

  1. Defense/size on Wings and point: Ramon Sessions, Ryan Gomes and Corey Brewer make up for the offense, on the defensive side these guys will give the opposition a hard time.
  2. Developing Stealers: Ramon Sessions and Corey Brewer can average 3 steals together. Ryan Gomes has been becoming a better stealer every season, nearly averaging one.

Weaknesses of the starters' offense:

  1. 3-Point shooting: Yes, despite the potential, I don't think that the starters will be recognized as one to shoot the ball from the 3-point line.
  2. Athleticism: It's only half way there with Sessions and Brewer. Gomes, Love and Jefferson are not athletes.
  3. Speed Depth: Kevin Love and Al Jefferson are not going to run that well. Although Brewer, Sessions and possibly Gomes will be able to keep up, there's not too much depth with speed in the starting five. But Brewer and Session's by themselves make up for Love and Jefferson.

Weaknesses of the starters' defense:

  1. Blocks: Kevin Love and Al Jefferson are not going to average a lot of blocks, unless Jefferson commits to defense. Hopefully, Kurt Rambis can get him to do that.
  2. Size in the post: Kevin Love and Al Jefferson are great sized PF's, but Jefferson as a center is undersized.

Overview: Defensively, the starting five is strong. Ramon Sessions, Corey Brewer and Ryan Gomes gives the starters a chance to get stops in clutch situations, which is one of the main reasons that the Wolves didn't win games at times.

Kevin Love and Al Jefferson are going to be quite a duo, but until Jefferson commits to defense, they will get run over by bigs from the Eastern Conference.

Offensively, the starting five will struggle from the three-point arc. They will excel in open mid range shooting, and drives to the baskets.

Ramon Sessions will make Corey Brewer and Ryan Gomes look better, as Ryan Gomes tries to carry the Wolves three-point shooting for the most part.

If Brewer gets back to 41 percent in his first 15 games like last season, then the Wolves are in good shape. If the Wolves are too run, they are also in good shape.

Side Note: I hope Jefferson commits to defense. If you consider what Foye gave us on stop and pop shooting, Ryan Gomes covers that.

If you consider what Mike Miller gave us, Corey Brewer can PROBABLY give us that, and if you consider what Sebastian Telfair gave us, then you can say that Ramon Sessions DEFINITELY is going to give you that and more.

Overall, the starting five is better than last years roster. Offensively, we're better, but defensively, we're much better.

The Bench

The Timberwolves bench, just like the starting five, has a lot of potential. Headlining the bench, we have Jonny Flynn, Wayne Ellington, Ryan Hollins and Sasha Pavlovic.

Wayne Ellington 6'5'' SG

Strengths on Offense:

  1. Shooting: Great shooter from 3-point range. Great mid range shooter, and is a pure definition of an "off guard".
  2. Dribbling: Has some flashes of taking his opponents off the dribble with his shooting.
  3. Fastbreak: When it comes to getting to that corner shot, he gets there quick on the fast break, and pulls the shot as soon as it's passed to him.

Strengths on Defense:

  1. Doesn't give up: He plays hard every possession on defense

Weaknesses on Offense:

  1. He's pretty much a shooter right now: need I say more? He can grow into more, but if it's one thing he's really good at now, it's shooting.

Weaknesses on Defense:

  1. Size: Undersized for a SG, at 6'4''-6'5''.
  2. Doesn't really have a knack for defense yet, as far as steals and anticipation.

Side Note: Has great chemistry with a dominating point guard.

Jonny Flynn. 6'0'' PG

Strengths on Offense:

  1. Shooter: He has a very good form and shooting mechanics, not to mention shooting 58 percent from the three-point line in the summer league.
  2. Drives: He get's to the goal at will
  3. Freakish Athlete: Tomahawk dunks in the summer league? Need I say more.
  4. Free Throws: Converted 90 percent of your free throws.
  5. Speed: Very quick, and nimble like a cat.
  6. Body Control: At times he appears to be out of control, but you can tell that he's not, and that's when he absorbs the contact and flips in the baskets.

Strengths on Defense:

  1. Very scrappy defender: always in your face, and it's annoying.

Weaknesses on Offense:

  1. Turnover prone: an average of 5 TO's in the summer league.

Weaknesses on Defense:

  1. Sometimes gives up on a play.
  2. Not a lockdown defender yet.

Side notes: Jonny Flynn is a rookie, with a tremendous upside, and an incredible amount of charisma. Could become the starter eventually this season.

Ryan Hollins 7'0'' C:

Strengths on Offense:

  1. Dunks: He throws down with force. Absolute force. He does enough of this to become a solid backup, for now anyways.
  2. Long: He's way too long not to dunk.
  3. Speed: He runs up and down the court well enough to warn defenses that a lob is coming his way.
  4. Offensive awareness: He knows when that ball is coming down off the glass.

Strengths on Defense:

  1. Blocks: He throws down on the blocks as well. He blocks at a ferocious rate, and was 14th in blocks per 48 minutes.
  2. Defensive awareness: He has great timing with his blocks. He jumps so high that it's hard to get a shot off on him

Weaknesses on Offense:

  1. One-Track Mind: He's pretty much just a dunker right now.

Weaknesses on Defense:

  1. Low post defense: Although strong, he's very nimble, and will have a tough time defending guys like Shaq.

Side Notes: Very emotional and energetic on the court.

Sasha Pavlovic 6'7'' SG/SF

Strengths on Offense:

  1. Shooting: Shot over 40 percent from 3-point range last season.
  2. Athletic: He throws down the dunks and is a havoc on the fast break.
  3. Quick: He will excel on the fast break.

Strengths on Defense:

  1. Consistent: Gives a good effort all the time
  2. Lanes: Fills in the lanes very well.

Weaknesses on Offense:

  1. Consistent: Can fill it up, but hasn't shown the ability to do it over and over

Weaknesses on Defense:

  1. Rebounds: Does not box out very well.
  2. Fouls: Fouls one too many times for a wing

Overview: The Timberwolves have a bench with two capable three-point shooters. Not to mention a guy that's going to backup Jefferson for a few minutes, and a point guard that can possibly become the starter for the Wolves.

Chemistry and the coaching staff

The Timberwolves now have a complete upgrade as our coaching staff. With former head coach Reggie Theus, WNBA title winner Bill Laimbeer, NBA veteran Dave Wohl and assistant coach J.B. Bickerstaff.

One thing I noticed about this coaching staff, is that they are all for player development. Thus making the Wolves the perfect fit.

With Phil Jackson's former right-hand man Kurt Rambis, the Wolves have a hard-nosed coach who will understand mistakes, and still demand perfection. Come on now, he coached Kobe Bryant!

The chemistry will be the key for the Wolves if they want to win at least 30 games next season.

Can Jonny Flynn and Ramon Sessions exist together? Will Brewer get the recognition and playing time or the looks from Jonny and Ramon? Will Jefferson commit to defense? I could go on for days...

Grading The Full Roster

The scale:

A= A rare entity in the league. This means the team completely dominates the respective area in every aspect of it. Ex: 08-09 Los Angeles Lakers defense.

B= A great aspect to the team's qualities. A team that has a "B" grade of a certain intangible means that it excels over the bottom dwellers and uses this tactic to their advantage when they need too. Ex: Golden State Warriors fastbreak scoring.

C= Average for an bottom playoff team/upcoming team. A common grade for most teams that struggle for wins, are on the verge of a breakthrough.

D= Struggles in aspects of the respective intangible. Has maybe one bright spot, but it takes a lot more to win games from this intangible.

F= Might as well just say that the team absolutely sucks at this intangible.

I will grade intangibles that include offense, defense and others:

Offense:

Fastbreak: C+, Mid-Range Shooting: B-, 3-Point shooting: C, Post: B, Passing: B, Athleticism: C, Rebounds: B+, Potential for Offense: B+

Defense:

Steals: C, Blocks: C, Team Defense: B, Help Defense: B, Potential for Offense: B+

Side notes: Jonny Flynn is a leader, on and off the court.

The Final Verdict

I did not mention Al Jefferson and Kevin Love much in the article, because I feel they are the most known players on the roster.

Kevin Love was second in offensive rebounds, and 9th in rebounds overall, so the combination of Al Jefferson and Kevin Love could average 20-25 rebounds next season.

Next season, it's sad to say that the Wolves will either struggle as a young team, or will play like a "good" young team. What I mean is that when Brandon Roy was drafted, the Portland Trailblazers finished 32-50.

I think the Wolves will be highly fun to watch, and I think that while the team will be young, the Wolves will show the world that their youth, along with the hard nosed star studded coaching staff, that the Wolves will be able to compete with any team.

The Wolves will finish anywhere from 30-52, to 36-48.

Thanks for Reading!

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