Wolves Record This Week: 2-1
Other than a stumble in Boston in which they couldn't seem to make plays when they needed to in the second half, it was a pretty good week for the Wolves. They followed up a blowout win against the Cavs with a close win against the Nuggets. The fourth stingiest defense allowed 100+ points twice this week, but they did manage to win one of them. We all know this isn't the type of team that should be running and gunning, so they definitely don't want to get in that uptempo situation frequently. As Ricky Rubio gets closer and closer to returning, let's take a look back at some aspects of the week.
Kevin Love: C+
It was kind of an up and down week for K-Love. He still managed to produce 2 double-doubles, including a 36 and 13 outburst against the Cavs, but he came off the tracks against the Nuggets. Posting 8 points on a paltry 3-17 from the floor, this was the second time in 4 games that he scored in single digits. That's a bit rare for him. In fact, he scored in double figures in every single game in which he played last season. It was also a rough week for him on the defensive side of the basketball. The interior defense struggled mightily against the Nuggets, and the Celtics to a lesser extent. Love was part of the turnstile that allowed 62 points in the paint against the Nuggets. Javale McGee and Kenneth Faried pretty much did whatever they wanted offensively throughout much of that game. Love couldn't contain Faried, who frequently looked dominant offensively.
Alexey Shved: B-
While Shved still helped make the offense look good more often than not while he was on the court, he also lost a bit of his shooting touch. After shooting the proverbial lights out in his previous three games(51% overall and 59% from distance), he shot only 34% overall and only 16% from beyond the arc in three games this week. Even with his shooting woes, he did average 3 assists and nearly 2 steals per game. He continues to look completely in sync with Andrei Kirilenko, and does a nice job creating for AK. That included a brilliant 2 on 1 fast break in which he drew the defender away from the basket and fed Kirilenko for an easy dunk.
Andrei Kirilenko: A
Kirilenko returned from a four game hiatus due to back issues, and he looked like he hadn't missed a beat. In what we've come to expect from Kirilenko this season, he lit up the box score in several areas. AK shot nearly 60% from the floor this week, and averaged an impressive 13 points, 5.5 rebounds, 8 assists, 4 steals, and 2 blocks per game. Defensively, the guy is constantly wreaking havoc and getting his abnormally long arms into passing lanes and after 50/50 balls. I'm not sure I could be happier with his performance so far this year, generally speaking.
Derrick Williams: D+
Here's an interesting stat for you: Over his last 6 games, averaging about 12 and a half minutes per game, Derrick hasn't logged a single assist. He has, however, averaged almost one shot every 30 seconds. For a guy that's trying to find minutes on the floor, I'm not exactly sure shooting your way back into the game is going to make it happen. If I had to guess, I figure Adelman wants D-Will to showcase other parts of his game. We all know he has the ability to score(when he's not being sloppy with his ball handling), but he hasn't really shown a lot of other pieces of an all around game.
JJ Barea: A-
JJ looks like he might be finally healed from the foot sprain he was dealing with earlier this year. The energetic Puerto Rican point guard has logged 5 straight games in double figures and has shot 50% or better in every single contest. He's also averaged 5.6 assists during that span. He helped lead a bench-sparked comeback against the Nuggets to get the Wolves back into the game after they fell behind by 12 points in the second quarter. I'm a big fan of him when he can be that spark-plug that the team needs, and he's been filling that role well lately, while not forcing it offensively as he sometimes is prone to.
Luke Ridnour: B
Luke shot the ball pretty well this week, at over 50% from the floor, the offense will definitely benefit from having Ricky Rubio back at the point when he returns. The offense lacks some fluidity out there with Ridnour running the team. He currently has an assist to turnover ratio of 2.53 to 1, which is good for 49th in the NBA. Luke generally seems to play better off the ball than when he's playing the role of floor general. He does a great job of finding open spots on the court, and when players find him, he's usually on the mark with his shot. He also tends to get beat when defending opposing point guards in a one on one situation, which of course tends to allow penetration into the lane, which puts the interior defense at a disadvantage(if you watched Wednesday's game against the Nuggets, you know what I'm talking about). A lot of guys on the team will benefit from Rubio's return, and Luke is one of them.
Nikola Pekovic: B
Other than a tough night against the Cavaliers(in a game where he frankly wasn't really needed), Pekovic put together a nice couple of games. Pek averaged 18 and 10 over the other two contests and that included nearly 5 offensive rebounds per game. He's a nice compliment to Kevin Love and the two of them combined do a great job of cleaning the glass and putting back eachother's misses. He also didn't miss a single free throw this week, and that's always nice to see from a guy that's nearly 7 feet tall.
Wolves Highlight of the Week:
Late in a close game against the Nuggets, in a situation in which the Wolves desperately needed a stop, they did just that. This was my highlight of the week:
Wolves Twitter/Instagram Photo of the Week:
In what seems to be developing into a(unintentional) trend, Dante Cunningham(@dlamarc33) once again snags my choice for Twitter/Instagram photo of the week. Who needs a coat for snow removal when you have team apparel? I'm also enjoying DC's faithful canine companion overseeing the project.
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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.