Minnesota Timberwolves: Anthony Bennett making waves in preseason

The Minnesota Timberwolves are a week away from the first game of the regular season, and one of the players really standing out so far in preseason play is Anthony Bennett. The Timberwolves have played six games so far in the preseason, getting three wins and two losses. Overall, the Timberwolves have a whole have been pretty inconsistent in their play, but Bennett has done well in all the games. So far, Bennett looks like a great addition from the Kevin Love trade.
There were a lot of questions about Bennett after last season, as he had a terrible rookie campaign with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Many people questioned his effort and talent at times, and some even questioned if he was fit enough to play. However, after going through a tough workout schedule in the off season Bennett appears much fitter, and he also is no longer having the sleeping troubles he had last season, which led to some of his health troubles.
In game, Bennett has been a force, averaging over 10 points and six rebounds in limited minutes

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Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Milwaukee Bucks 10/22/14: Video Highlights and Recap

The Minnesota Timberwolves looked to find some consistency on Wednesday night when they faced the Milwaukee Bucks in a preseason clash.

The new-look Timberwolves had struggled to build momentum in the preseason, and they faced a tough test from a Bucks squad eager to prove they’d put last season’s dismal campaign behind them. 

Watch the video for full highlights. 

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Indiana Pacers vs. Minnesota Timberwolves 10/21/14: Video Highlights and Recap

The Indiana Pacers looked to get their preseason back on track on Tuesday when they faced the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Pacers looked to find a rhythm without star Paul George, and they faced a talented young T-Wolves squad, led by Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine.

Watch the video for full highlights.

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Minnesota Timbertrolls 90210 Season Trailer Is Perfect

This is perfect. 

The Minnesota Timberwolves have undergone a gigantic makeover this offseason, trading Kevin Love and acquiring a lot of young talent. 

Just like the cast of the hit ’90s TV show Beverly Hills, 90210 when they started anew at West Beverly Hills High School.

And thus, the Minnesota Timbertrolls were born. 

Make sure you check out Jason Priestley’s jumper at the end. It’s priceless. 

[Marcos Lopez]

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3 NBA Teams Who Should Pursue Minnesota Timberwolves’ Chase Budinger

Kevin Love may not be the only veteran relocating from Minneapolis for the 2014-15 season.

Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski recently reported that, “The Minnesota Timberwolves are shopping forward Chase Budinger in trade talks, league sources told Yahoo Sports.”

Wojnarowski cites league sources claiming that the Detroit Pistons and Houston Rockets are among the organizations that, “have shown an interest.”

At least one other team has emerged as a possible candidate, according to the Sporting News’ Sean Deveney:

There may well be additional suitors who emerge in the near-term, but all three of these clubs have good reason to be interested in the 26-year-old forward.

Injuries held Budinger to 41 games and a career-low 6.7 points per contest last season, but the 26-year-old still managed to convert on 35 percent of his three-point attempts. That’s an important metric for any team doing its due diligence on the five-year veteran.

For his career, Budinger has averaged 3.4 three-point attempts per game. He’ll grab a few rebounds and serve other glue-guy functions, but he’s principally a spot-up shooter—a committed role player who understands his job.

That’s translated into a career average of nine points per game and three especially productive seasons with the Houston Rockets, who acquired the 44th overall pick in 2009 from the Detroit Pistons.

So it’s only fitting that Detroit is among the teams reportedly investigating Budinger at the moment—one of at least three clubs who should add the Arizona product to the fold.

 

Detroit Pistons

There seem to be legs to this rumor.

“A league source confirmed a Yahoo Sports report about the Pistons having interest in Budinger, a 6-foot-7 forward who appears caught in a numbers game at small forward,” The Detroit NewsVincent Goodwill Jr. recently wrote. “Nothing appears to be imminent, but it looks like the Pistons are at least kicking the tires on Budinger before the season begins.”

Goodwill notes that Detroit will likely be without injured shooting guard Jodie Meeks for at least six weeks into the 2014-15 season. The Pistons also do not have much depth behind small forward Caron Butler, especially if Josh Smith spends most of his time at the 4 spot this season—which he should.

More broadly, this team also needs more shooting. It ranked 29th league-wide with a 51.4 true shooting percentage last season, according to Hollinger Stats. The Pistons also ranked 29th in three-point accuracy (32.1 percent) and 22nd in three-pointers attempted (19.3 per game).

Budinger would fill a very real need, both in terms of the rotation and in terms of the game plan.

More importantly, he and the Pistons make sense together. This is a team looking to turn the corner, one that needs solid veterans to propel a playoff push. The Timberwolves are rebuilding and looking to create playing time for young prospects on the wing such as Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine.

A change of scenery is probably in order, and Detroit may be a mutually beneficial fit.

 

Houston Rockets

Having spent three seasons with the Rockets, you have to believe this is something of a preferred scenario for Budinger.

It doesn’t hurt that Houston is pretty good these days and just happens to have a glaring need at the small forward position. After losing emerging star Chandler Parsons via restricted free agency to the Dallas Mavericks this summer, general manager Daryl Morey quickly snatched up Trevor Ariza to take his place.

That stopped the bleeding and ensures the Rockets an improved perimeter defense in their ongoing pursuit of a championship.

But Ariza will need help on the wing, and it’s worth remembering key bench pieces Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik were lost to trades during the offseason. There’s now a general need for experienced and reliable scoring in the second unit.

Budinger would almost certainly be asked to play an important role from the outset, likely serving as the sixth or seventh man off the bench. It’s a responsibility his health might have denied him a season ago, but things have changed.

“I’ve definitely got my confidence back,” Budinger told reporters this month. “I’m finally feeling great, and because of that my confidence is back.”

The results haven’t been lost on Timberwolves president and new head coach Flip Saunders.

“He’s starting to get his legs under him,” Saunders added. “He hasn’t had a training camp in two years, and the last training camp he had was during the lockout so it was only seven days. This is a whole process for him to get where he wants to get.”

This may be a good time for the Rockets to quietly—and economically—enhance their rotation with a guy just beginning to rediscover his rhythm. With Budinger’s value almost certainly impacted by two injury-marred seasons, Morey might get a much-needed steal here.

 

Portland Trail Blazers

At first glance, the Trail Blazers seem to have everything they need to be a championship contender.

A second glance tells a very different story, particularly if taking a good look at this second unit. Portland’s bench ranked dead last in scoring a season ago with just 23.6 points per contest, according to HoopsStats.com.

And that’s before proven veteran Mo Williams took his sixth-man services to the Timberwolves.

Now head coach Terry Stotts’ depth hinges on the development of untested prospects such as C.J. McCollum, Meyers Leonard, Thomas Robinson and Will Barton. Steve Blake and Dorell Wright will offset that inexperience to some degree, but this is still a pretty thin set of reserves.

Budinger could help change that, teaming with Wright to handle minutes behind starting small forward Nicolas Batum.

Portland’s starting five will almost certainly continue to draw the vast majority of playing time, but a slightly more ensemble approach could do wonders for this roster’s ability to stay fresh amidst deep postseason runs. 

From Budinger’s perspective, the Trail Blazers may be his best chance to win. Despite a four-game sweep at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs in last season’s conference semifinals, this is an emergent force in the Western Conference and likely a step ahead of the weakened Rockets—who lost to Portland in last season’s opening round.

The Trail Blazers would also be an opportunity for Budinger to benefit from an incredibly talented starting lineup—particularly 24-year-old star point guard Damian Lillard. With Lillard, Batum and three-time All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge occupying defenders’ attention, a complementary shooter like Budinger would find his share of open looks and quality touches.

The minutes may be harder to come by in Portland, but there would be no shortage of silver lining.

 

Best Fit?

Budinger has a history with the Rockets, and there may be no team in greater need of veteran depth on the wing—or veteran depth at any position for that matter.

There would be minutes. There would be shots. And there would be just the right amount of responsibility: A potential leadership capacity off the bench and a supporting role alongside superstar anchors James Harden and Dwight Howard.

Harden’s penchant for driving and kicking creates high demand for spot-up perimeter shooting, and floor spacing tends to do wonders for Howard’s ability to operate in the paint.

Houston’s biggest problem may be coming up with the best offer for Budinger, especially if there’s an even remotely active market for his services. Morey doesn’t have many quality young assets at his disposal, at least not the types he’d give away in exchange for Budinger.

It’s also worth noting that the Houston Chronicle‘s Jonathan Feigen recently tweeted that the, “Rockets have zero interest in his contract.”

Maybe it’s posturing. Or maybe it’s a legitimate hurdle. Budinger will make $5 million this season and is guaranteed a player option to make another $5 million in 2015-16—a grand total of $10 million in commitments that may be too rich for Morey’s liking.

But if Minnesota and Houston can find some common ground, they should.

Striking a deal might not alter the league’s balance of power, but it would certainly return Budinger’s career to greener—and familiar—pastures.

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Part Three: Minnesota Timberwolves season preview: Player projections

This is the final part of the Minnesota Timberwolves season preview, the first was a roster analysis of the team, while the second was a prediction for how the team will finish in the division. For this final part, I will be making my predictions about the lineups the Timberwolves will use and how the players getting minutes will do over the season.
Starting Five Projections:
Ricky Rubio
At point guard, Ricky Rubio will again be the starter, and I think he will get more opportunities to score with Kevin Love gone but will shoot a lower percentage as he changed up his shooting form over the off season. His assists and steals should still be around the same in my opinion, with Rubio also still picking up a solid amount of rebounds for the point guard position.
Prediction: 12 points, nine assists, four rebounds and between two and three steals per game while shooting 36% from the field and shooting 30% from three.
Kevin Martin will be the starting shooting guard, and since he isn’t much of a defender or reboun

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Minnesota Timberwolves: Ricky Rubio The NBA’s Most Improved Player?

Minnesota Timberwolves: Ricky Rubio The NBA’s Most Improved Player?
By Mike Elworth: Owner and Publisher/Hoopstuff…
As I was writing my NBA Award picks and writing the Most Improved Player section, there was really just two names that I considered, Ricky Rubio and Kenneth Faried. However, I chose Rubio as Faried was already excellent, he just has to get more minutes from the Nuggets, but the Timberwolves point guard will become excellent this season. It was an easy choice, Ricky Rubio is my choice for the NBA’s Most Improved Player this season.
Rubio is one of the better distributors in the NBA and is an incredibly gifted ball-handler and is a wizard with the ball, he is a very strong rebounder and one of the best defensive point guards in the NBA, however this league is about scoring the ball. Rubio’s stat line from his 3rd season was strong, with 9.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, 8.6 assists (4th in NBA) and 2.3 steals (3rd in NBA) per game. However his scoring isn’t enough, same with his…

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Philadelphia 76ers vs. Minnesota Timberwolves 10/10/14: Video Highlights, Recap

The Minnesota Timberwolves looked to prove they could survive without Kevin Love when they faced the Philadelphia 76ers in a preseason clash Friday night. Led by rookie star Andrew Wiggins, the T-Wolves looked to find success against a young, rebuilding Sixers squad.

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Predicting Zach LaVine’s Impact for Minnesota Timberwolves This Season

The Minnesota TimberwolvesZach LaVine has the potential to be a future All-Star, but what can fans expect from the 19-year-old in his rookie season? 

LaVine was taken with the 13th overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft. His college numbers weren’t amazing, but his athleticism and ability to shoot from long range were enough for the Wolves to take him in the first round.

As a freshman at UCLA, he only averaged 9.4 points and 1.8 assists per game, but he managed to shoot an impressive 37.5 percent from beyond the arc.  

His struggles in college were mostly due to his inability to score in isolation and his inability to run a successful pick-and-roll. Matt Kamalsky of DraftExpress had a similar opinion:

Using 9.7 possessions per-game, he ranks as the lowest usage player in this group, and as the least efficient scorer in both one-on-one and pick and roll situations. On the positive side, LaVine‘s athleticism shows here, as 32.1% of his possessions came in transition, more than any other player, and while he scored an above average 1.148 points per-catch and shoot jump shot, the team drafting him probably won’t be overly concerned with how he looked on paper this past season as focused as they’ll be on putting him in position to reach his lofty potential a few years from now.

LaVine was drafted as a point guard, but due to his size (6’5″) and struggles in the passing game, he may be better suited on the wing. LaVine‘s athleticism and catch-and-shoot ability are prototypical attributes for any successful 2-guard.  

It’s also worth noting that the Timberwolves already have Ricky Rubio, Mo Williams and J.J. Barea as point guards.   

LaVine‘s biggest strength is clearly his athletic ability. This summer, LaVine showcased his elite leaping abilities with a Twitter dunk contest:

Even though LaVine may be an exciting prospect, his game is still way too raw to make an immediate impact. As seen in the infograph below, he was very inefficient in the Las Vegas Summer League (stats courtesy of NBA.com).

MPG FG% 3P% TOV PTS  
32.3 .397 .263 3.33 15.7  

He was able to score over 15 points per game, but his poor shooting percentage and high turnover rate proved his offensive immaturity.  

LaVine also struggled in the Wolves’ first preseason game versus the Indiana Pacers. The rookie shot 2-of-9 from the field and had as many turnovers as he did points: five.  

Fans can expect similar numbers from LaVine during the regular season. With several guards on the roster, it’ll be tough for LaVine to get on the floor.  

According to ESPN, the Timberwolves depth chart has LaVine as the third-string shooting guard. This could be misleading, because players such as Shabazz Muhammad and Corey Brewer have been known to play the 2-guard spot as well.

With the roster presently constructed, it will be hard for LaVine to average over 10 minutes per game.

He also struggles on defense due to his thin frame.  His skinniness allowed players to bulldoze past him and get into the paint with ease. Fortunately, LaVine is only 19 years old, which means he still has plenty of time to bulk up to a more typical NBA weight.  

If he can mature both on offense and defense, he could find a small spot in the Wolves’ rotation. LaVine has all of the potential to be an NBA stud, but right now, he is nothing more than a mere bench player who could occasionally receive spot minutes.

Projected 2014-15 Season Stat Line

MPG FG% 3P% TRB AST TOV PTS
9.5 .380 .310 3.5 0.5 1.0 5.5

 

All stats are courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com, unless otherwise noted.

Love the T-Wolves? Follow me on Twitter @SupermanJZ

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Minnesota Timberwolves: Thaddeus Young wants wins not stats

Earlier this week, Thaddeus Young, the new power forward for the Minnesota Timberwolves caused some controversy at the Timberwolves media day, saying that even though he is going to take over for Kevin Love at the power forward position, he won’t be replicating the prolific stats that Love put up during his time with Minnesota. Young went on to say that while Love put up impressive numbers, those numbers never led the Timberwolves to the playoffs.
Young, who came to the Timberwolves from the Philadelphia 76ers as part of the trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers for Love, is a power forward who has already been in the league for seven seasons, but is still fairly young at 26 years old. Also with the 76ers last season, Young averaged around 18 points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals per game, so it’s not like he’s putting up bad numbers himself.
Thaddeus Young
A lot of people took Young’s comments as a slight against Love, but it seems to be more of a statement that Young isn’t worried about ge

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