With the season 32 games old, the Minnesota Timberwolves sit at 16-16, a fitting record as the team waits impatiently in basketball purgatory. Still three games behind the Mavericks, the Wolves are on the outside looking in on the Western playoff scene confident that they have outperformed their record. As there is always room for improvement to go with the positives, here are some of the New Year’s resolutions that I hope are being carried out in Minnesota.
Rick Adelman & Flip Saunders – Find the starting unit some help
With the starting five unit dominating floor time for the Wolves, the team will undoubtedly need to acquire or develop depth to relieve the pressure on this unit. The second unit continues to be mixed-and-matched without any seriously chemistry or style developing, too often becoming the Barea show as both the offense and defense slip with the starts off the floor.
Ricky Rubio – Be Aggressive and stay aggressive
Having written about this before, the details can be spared. He’s a good player, but not quite as good as we thought. He may never develop a consistent jump shot but he can improve and more importantly, he can balance the inaccuracy with regular driving to the rim and drawing fouls, similar to what he did in his first two years in the league.
Kevin Martin – Stay healthy
Possibly the least replaceable player in the squad aside from Kevin Love. Has had his share of injuries during his career, I dread to think about the effect a prolonged absence from Martin would have on the teams spacing. For me, Alexey Shved is more intriguing than effective, so i’m content with the 10 minutes per game he logs without wishing for too much more.
Corey Brewer – Relocate energy to the defensive side of the ball
I wanted to call for improved 3-point shooting from Brewer. But for a seventh-year veteran with a career 3-point percentage of 29.5, improvement probably isn’t coming. What has been lacking though is a commitment to defense which led to his three-year, $14 million deal this summer. Bringing a brand of athleticism that is a rare resource in this Minnesota roster, more effort needs to be made in tightening up the perimeter instead of the constant leaking out for fast break offense.
Gorgui Dieng – Find consistent rotation minutes
With rim protection a staple of winning basketball. The Timberwolves may have to believe in Gorgui Dieng at some point this year. His foul rate could probably put him in prison but he will only learn the nuances of interior defense through his own mistakes. The starting frontcourt can’t stop a thing but their aversion to fouling helps make up for that. If the Wolves’ defense is to improve though, they may need to take the risk with Dieng.
Shabazz Muhammad – Become an NBA player
Just 1.1 minutes per game probably isn’t what the scouts had in mind for the top high school prospect of 2012. Muhammad needs to do what he currently has not been able to, prove to Adelman that he deserves playing time above Mbah a Moute and Robbie Hummel. Corey Brewer’s starting berth is currently a distant dream, but if the rookie can rack up points in the D-league whilst playing passable defense, he should see more than the 42 total minutes he’s logged so far.