Wolves Record This Week: 1-2
Even though our favorite basketball team posted another losing week, the games were at least more entertaining than they were last week. All three contests were close(at least until the last few minutes), and the Wolves had legitimate opportunities to win every one. They'll have a chance to get back on the winning path tonight against Randy Wittman and the Washington Wizards, who come into the game 9-31, which places them tied for dead last in the Eastern Conference. Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let's look back and grade out the week.
Chris Johnson: A-
I'm not suggesting he should have been considered a late entry for the All Star game(or am I? More ont hat later), but considering what Chris Johnson should have been expected to bring to the table as a D-League call up, he's been outstanding thus far. In some ways he's showing some aspects of his game that I think we all wish we could see out of Derrick Williams. Of course, I'm specifically talking about his level of energy. While Derrick sometimes plays his game with a "too cool for school" swagger, Chris Johnson is all about using his athleticism to his distinct advantage by playing a fearless and somewhat reckless style of basketball. There's a reason the guy has made 12 field goals, and 7 of them are dunks -- because if it's there, he's going to take advantage of it. He's also using his springs on the defensive end, and has totaled 5 blocks in 3 games, including 3 against Brooklyn. His aggressive play has also led to too many fouls on the defensive end -- Against the Hawks he racked up 5 of them in only 9 minutes of play. What matters though, is that he's not playing like a 10-day contract kind of a guy. I don't think I'm alone in thinking he'd ultimately provide a lot more value to this team than veteran forward Lou Amundson. Hopefully he's able to stick around at the end of his deal.
Mickael Gelabale: B
As electric as Chris Johnson has been, he's also kind of overshadowed the play of Gelabale, the other 10-day contract signee. Gelabale has been consistent if not flashy over his three games. Playing the role that Josh Howard was playing when he was on the team(it feels like a long time ago), Gelabale has been a productive backup that doesn't make too many mistakes. So far, he's shot 54% from the floor and has averaged 6.5 points per game -- which, by the way, would both be considered career highs from the forward. Bottom line: He's been a very ample backup so far, but really not much more than that. At this point, if the Wolves were only able to sign one of the 10-day-ers, I'd probably take Johnson(even though he doesn't fill as much of a need).
Hawks Broadcast: B-
Since Monday's Martin Luther King Day matinee game was not on local television, and since NBA League Pass was offering a free preview, I was able to watch the Wolves take on the Hawks on the Atlanta-based Fox Sports South broadcast. I liked: Hawks play by play guy Bob Rathburn. He called the game objectively and has a solid cadence in his approach. He wasn't the type to really use any catch phrases and he was overall nice to listen to. I didn't like: Local Atlanta-based business commercials. They really just all seemed pretty poorly produced. I did like: The Fox Sports South Girls. Nuff said. I didn't like: League Pass's unwillingness to show the post-game show. I really wanted to see how theirs was. I did like: Commercials for Checkers. They have an awfully tasty looking selection of $1 sandwiches. Too bad there aren't any locations around here anymore.
Derrick Williams: C+
The biggest problem with Derrick's game is the general level of inconsistency that we see with him. That also ends up leading to some pretty uneven playing time(which could have a hand in his inconsistency). He's gone a bit cold from deep lately, making only 2 of 7 shots this week, and only 3 of his last 18. His post defense still needs some improvement. As athletic as Williams is, he's only managed 18 blocks this year in 35 games, and only 6 in his last 23 games. Compare that with Johnson's 5 in his last 3 games. Even though he's been starting as of late, his minutes have been inconsistent. After playing 37 minutes against Atlanta, he was on the court for only 23 against Brooklyn. And after having a great third quarter against the Nets he didn't even get off the bench in the fourth quarter. It's no secret that his playing time status has been weird all season, and Terry Porter isn't really helping things.
Terry Porter: D+
I'll preface this by saying that I like Terry Porter, and he seems like a great assistant coach, but these last few weeks of him filling in for Rick Adelman have been anything but impressive. The Wolves consistently look good in the first halves of games before consistently falling apart in the second halves. Monday's tilt against Atlanta was a great example. After holding a commanding lead throughout much of hte first half(including an 18 point lead at one point), the Wolves were outscored by 22 in the second half. His rotations have been strange at times, including the Wednesday's Williams debacle, and calling Ricky Rubio's number near the end of the game before mysteriously sitting him back on the bench after a time out. It's been well documented by now, but Rubio was none too happy about it. It all makes you wonder how these past two weeks might have gone under Adelman's reign.
Ricky Rubio: B-
Still strugging to regain his confidence as a scorer, Rubio is thankfully making strides in other areas. He has recorded 6 assists in six straight games, and while he frequently passes up open shot attempts, he has gotten more aggressive in driving to the basket, often making layups or drawing fouls. He went to the line 12 times this week, which is actually more than any other Wolves player not named Andrei Kirilenko.
Andrei Kirilenko: A
Without question the MVP for the first half of the Wolves season, Kirilenko was also the team's most consistent player by a long shot. This week he averaged 16 points, 7.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 2 steals per game. He's one of the more dynamic players in the NBA and I don't think anybody expected him to be contributing at the level he is. In fact, his numbers across the board are ALL above career averages. He's been awesome to wach, and it's too bad the rest of the Wolves season hasn't gone the way AK47 has.
All Star Presence: F(currently)
All Star reserves were announced this week, and -- not surprisingly -- no representatives from the Wolves. The only one worth a consideration would have been the aforementioned Andrei Kirilenko, but there were unfortunately more deserving individuals out there. However, there are still possibilities for Wolves players to contribute. After putting on a show in last year's Rookie/Sophomore game, will Ricky Rubio be invited back to play on the other team? Alexy Shved and Derrick Williams could also get an opportunity to play in that exhibition. I personally think Rubio would be a great fit in the skills challenge, but would he accept an invite if one were to arrive? I'm already thinking Chris Johnson might be able to give a better showing at the Dunk Competition than Derrick Williams did last year, but would they ever throw out an invite to somebody who just burst onto the scene(assuming he's able to secure a long term job from the team)? When will Minnesota be represented in the Shooting Stars competition? Who wouldn't want to see a lineup of JJ Barea, Seimone Agustus, and... Wally Szczerbiak? It should be a thing!
Wolves Highlight of the Week:
This place seemed destined for newcomer Chris Johnson, but what highlight to pick? Hell, why not a full highlight reel from his first game, which included several impressive alley-oops:
Wolves Twitter/Instagram Photo of the Week:
Dante Cunningham(on Instagram as dlamarc33) makes his triumphant return to this section after posting this great picture of his nephew. I would have killed to have a motorcycle and an awesome helmet like this when I was just a lad:
Image Courtesy of Dante Cunningham 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.