Wolves Record This Week: 3-1
After a slow start last week with Kevin Love back in the lineup, the Wolves managed to turn it around this week with wins in Sacramento and Philadelphia, and at home against the Bucks. They fell to the Clippers, but hung in there until the end. It generally was a much better week than the previous two we experienced, and the Wolves got help from a lot of different places. Part of that was defense. In their three wins, they held their opponents to under 90 points. That marks the 8th time the team has accomplished that feat this year. They did it 10 times last year, and a combined 9 times the previous two seaons. They're also allowing 92.3 points total per game this year, which is down from 100.1 last year. That's based on a relatively small sample size so far, but you have to love that improvement. Let's get into some other specifics.
Wolves Starting Backcourt: B
Now, I don't want to say that last week's column inspired our backcourt to play better, but they played better. After getting out-scored and out-assisted last week, they... Were actually still out-scored(120-102) and out-assisted(42-26), but the margins(especially on scoring) were much closer! Stats aside, the backcourt genuinely did play more cohesively and efficiently this week, and can be pointed to as one of many reasons the team played better this week. Speaking of starting backcourts, things might be changing soon...
Ricky Rubio: A++++!
Wolves fans(myself included) got the best news they've gotten for a while when it was announced that Ricky Rubio had officially returned to full contact action in practice. I think I speak for all Wolves and NBA fans when I saw that we literally could not be more excited for his return to the court. When that actually happens is a topic for debate currently. Some have speculated he might be back for this Friday's game against the Cavs, but some have pointed to next week. In any event, he gets high marks just for being on the brink of coming back. I also have to give him credit for starring in a pretty fantastic national commercial for Foot Locker, but we'll get to that later.
Robby Incmikoski: In Memoriam
Ricky Rubio's back, but Robby is gone. The ever-present in-game reporter and sometimes studio host for FSN for the past 3+ years is moving on to Pittsburgh where he'll be doing his thing for the Pirates and Penguins. Gone, but not forgotten, I offer this moving tribute to @RobbyFSN:
Sleep Train Arena? F
Seriously, what an awful name for an arena. It sounds neither cool nor intimidating, and what a bummer for Kings fans to go from something cool like "Arco" to "Sleep Train".
We now interrupt this Wolves based piece to comment on another naming snafu
New Orleans Pelicans? F
Alright, so Louisiana is the Pelican State -- I get that. But that doesn't make it any less of a horrible team nickname. Hornets doesn't make a lot of sense for New Orleans, but -- news flash -- neither do the nicknames of most of the rest of the NBA. Utah Jazz? Los Angeles Lakers? Memphis Grizzlies? Toronto Raptors? None of those areas have much of any of those things referenced in their nicknames. And what's a Knickerbocker anyway? Point being, it doesn't have to make sense, but it also shouldn't remind you of this:
We now return to your regularly scheduled Wolves topics
Alexey Shved: A-
Shved just continues to make a name for himself. Relatively unknown here in the States before his Olympic run, Shved is still impressing in a pretty smooth transition into the NBA. He had another great week, looks almost more confident every time he goes out there. In his last 3 games, Shved is averaging 16.7 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 3.0 assists on 15-of-29 (51.7%) shooting, and 11-of-19 (57.9%) from beyond the arc. His shooting has been off the charts, and he's not just hitting open jumpers. He's also crossing over defenders and creating space for himself to hit these shots. He also has no issue finding other guys if they're open. It's very clear that his cliched-basketball IQ is very high. I'm also impressed with how often he can get easy layups in transition even with defenders close by. Some guys get blocked, but Shved always manages to create enough space to get the layup off and in.
Jim Peterson: A
I'm continually impressed with how much knowledge Jim Peterson brings to the table from the analyst spot. He and new play-by-play guy Dave Benz are still getting into a groove, rhythmically speaking, but if you watched much of the free NBA League Pass preview or NBA TV Game Night cut-ins, you know that we have one of the better analysts in the game. I'd highly recommend reading an interview that he did with MinnPost's Britt Robson(here is part 1 and part 2). Fascinating article in which Jim talks about how his coaching experience with the Lynx has made him a better analyst. He's right -- it's definitely noticeable, and as a hardcore fan, I appreciate what he brings to the table.
Derrick Williams: C+
After registering another DNP-CD to kick off the week against Sacramento, Williams has played in the last three games for the Wolves. He didn't play a ton this in those games, but when he did he played very solidly. He didn't really force anything, and he played within himself and his position. In just about 43 minutes this week he had 19 rebounds and 21 points. He only averaged 5 shots per game, so it's nice to see that he's not trying overdo it and attempt to shoot his way back into the lineup. If you're looking for small steps of progress, these kinds of things are positive signs.
Dante Cunningham: A-
Cunningham continues to bring almost nothing but positive play to the team. Honestly I can't really think of a single time this year when I've questioned even a single play of his. His shooting was a bit off earlier this week, but I applaud him for taking those 15 foot jump shots when he's open because he's been making them more often than he's missed them. He also brings raw energy to the defense and is frequently getting steals and blocks simply due to how much he hustles when he's on the court. I try not to look at the team through glasses that are too rose colored, but I have nothing but good things to say about Dante.
Wolves Highlight of the Week:
My Wolves highlight of the week is Ricky Rubio's national Foot Locker commercial. High on the humor scale, this one is worth a viewing(or five).
Wolves Twitter Photo of the Week:
For the second week in a row, the pick goes to Dante Cunningham(@dlamarc33) for several reasons. First off, the Stiemer photo bomb is great, but he works a Mario reference into his caption even though he's wearing a att that says "SWAG" instead of "M". Titled, "Its me Mario!!!!", here's the winning photo:
Image Courtesy of Dante Cunningham via Twitter via Instagram
Stick with me this season as we continue to look back on the Wolves Week that was. Comments, criticisms, etc? Please drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts. Or discuss it with me on Rube Chat here.
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This article was written by jab. You can normally find him meandering around Rube Chat. Or feel free to email him at email@example.com.