Wolves Record These Past Two Weeks: 2-6
With the All-Star game upon us, I suppose we might as well look back at the train wreck that has been the last two weeks(which will from this point on be referred to as "this week" because it's easier to say). It's February 15th, and the Wolves have amassed a grand total of 5 wins this calendar year. I've said it before, and I'll say it again -- is there *really* anybody left that thinks the Wolves are better off without Kevin Love? They've fallen all the way down to 12th in the Western Conference and are currently tied for the 6th worst record in the league. This isn't the way this season was supposed to go. Injuries have completely derailed the season, and I can't imagine the Wolves ticket office is happy. If you'll recall, they ran a season ticket campaign earlier this year that promised partial refunds if the team didn't make the playoffs. There's no way they could have seen this coming, but I wonder how they're feeling about that decision at this point. The team was able to remain competitive in most games, but it's clear they just don't have the firepower to play with pretty much anybody at this point.
Ricky Rubio: A-
It feels like Ricky Rubio from last year is finally back. The second year player averaged 13.5 points(on 41% from the floor), 9.2 assists, 3.5 rebounds, and 2.1 steals this week. While he might not be necessarily helping the team win, he is making them a lot more watchable simply by adding in the wow-factor. His ability to do the occasional extraordinary thing makes this team fun to watch even in losses, because you find yourself not wanting to miss that next crazy thing, whatever it ends up being. Ricky still doesn't have his touch from beyond the arc back. I probably shouldn't say "back" because he's never been a great 3-point shooter, but he's not back to where he was last year, anyway. One thing that never really left was his court vision, but he finally seems to have that level of quickness back that helped him complete those plays.
Chris Johnson: B
Unfortunately with Rick Adelman back on the bench, Chris Johnson is racking up a lot more DNP-CDs these days, and I'm not entirely sure why. To be fair, Johnson is about 160 pounds soaking wet, so if you're playing matchups, maybe he doesn't match up very well with the Reggie Evans-types. The thing is, the Wolves aren't really in playoff contention anymore, so why not give the former D-Leaguer some playing time? On top of that, he actually looks pretty good when he's out there. He isn't a complete Ndudi Ebi-type of a continual disaster on the court. He's productive. In fact, on the season he's averaging 6.4 points(on 72.2% from the field), 2.9 rebounds, and nearly a block per game in only 12 minutes. I'm not saying he should be the permanent backup center, but Greg Stiemsma is snagging fewer rebounds and half as many points(not shooting nearly as efficiently as Johnson) even though he's averaging more time on the court(30 seconds, but still). Long story longer, I think we'd all enjoy some more Chris Johnson in our lives.
Luke Ridnour: B-
I'm giving Luke more credit for the second half of this week than the first half, but he's been on fire lately. Emerging as the team's most reliable scorer, Luke's averaging 19 per game on 56% shooting over the past 4 games. Just in time? Ridnour's name has been floated around in trade rumors, and there was word the Knicks had some interest. I was critical of Luke as the team's starting point guard, but I actually really like his current role playing off the ball. He can be a bit more of a defensive liability in that spot, but it really helps his offensive game shine. Rubio does a great job finding him in open spots, and Luke's been making people pay for leaving him open.
Nikola Pekovic: C
Pek seems to rack up points and rebounds with the greatest of ease. But do you ever stop to wonder how much more effective he'd be if he didn't miss so many shots within 5 feet? This week he converted 47% of his shots, but when you consider that literally none of his shots come from beyond 10 feet, and he hardly ever gets blocked, 47% doesn't sound quite as sexy. Pek often get the "strong like bull" phrase thrown about, but sometimes it's more like "bull in a china shop". A bit more finesse on his interior shots would do him well.
Mickael Gelabale: C+
It was Feast or Famine this week for the Frenchman: 4 good games, 4 completely nondescript ones, and nothing in between. What's particularly strange is that when he was on, he was REALLY on. In his 4 games in which Gelabale scored in double figures, he shot nearly 70% from the field, including 72% from behind the three point line. Yet, as great as those shooting performances were, in 3 of his other games he attempted a TOTAL of 4 shots. I think if you happen to be shooting the lights out, we'd all prefer that you at least attempted some shots. Then again, maybe it's a feeling that he has, and he wasn't feeling it on those days. Who knows.
Derrick Williams: C-
It was a bit of a weird week for Derrick. Against Utah, New York, and San Antonio, he actually looked like he wanted to be a go-to scorer. And yet at other times, he seems perfectly content to just kind of blend into the background. This can obviously be very frustrating, because we've all seen exactly what he's capable of when he's confident. As you expect from Derrick, even though he didn't quite show his all-around game during every contest, he did have a handful of highlight reel plays this week. Will one of them make our Highlight of the Week? Stay tuned! (foreshadowing!)
Timberwolves Dancer of the Week:
A staple of last year's column, "Timberwolves Dancer of the Week" has been missing so far this year due to a lack of new pictures of the new squad. Well, they finally launched the pics and the site, so we're finally launching this portion of the column. In honor of Rube Chat member "Rock Me Abbrederis", our inagural recipient of the Dancer of the Week is Tracy. When asked what three things she'd want to survive if stranded on a desert island, she went a tad outside of the box, but I love the answer: "Well if it's not too much to ask I'll take a fully functioning Starbucks. I'll be pretty lonely so I'd like to bring some friends along. And finally, I'm going to go out on a limb and say a boat." I'm guessing that newly founded Starbucks location won't get much business once Tracy and her friends set sail on her boat.
Photo Courtesy of timberwolves.com
Wolves Highlight of the Week:
You probably never could have seen this coming, but this week I had to go with Derrick Williams, who caught an alley-oop off a particularly snazzy play that started with a fast break and a behind the back pass from Ricky Rubio:
Wolves Twitter/Instagram Photo of the Week:
Derrick Williams finally opened up his store that he's been teasing on Instagram and JJ Barea wore Shaquille O'Neal's shoes, prompting ensuing hilarity, but this one had to go to Ricky Rubio(on Instagram as ruuufio). Not only is Ricky embracing winter(which, by the way, completely flies in the face of pundits who, before the draft, claimed the weather here was a horrible fit for him), but he's also wearing a snazzy vintage Rolling Stones sweatshirt:
Image Courtesy of Ricky Rubio 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.