Yesterday, as reports emerged that Rick Adelman was to step down this offseason. I found myself thinking not of great disappointment but of relief. The Adelman era began with great hope, an injection of energy, as a potential Hall of Fame coach with impressive credentials came to lead the Timberwolves back to the postseason for the first time since 2004. In the end though, it seems the matters in his personal life regarding the health of his wife have grown to far outweigh the positives of coaching the Timberwolves. There are few more noble reasons to step down from such a role.
Arriving in tandem with Ricky Rubio in the summer of 2011, it seemed to be set up perfectly. The great basketball mind was to come in to reinvigorate the team and Rubio was to be his muse. In many ways, it played out like that. While the Wolves’ winning percentage leaves us wanting more, the aesthetics were never missing. Under Adelman, the Rubio-Kevin Love connection blossomed into becoming one of the league’s most enterprising partnerships.
However, it takes more than such a duo to build a winning team and in truth, the rosters talent upon Adelman’s arrival was insufficient. In his first season, the second-, third- and fourth-most played players were Luke Ridnour, Wesley Johnson and Derrick Williams, all three of whom now occupy various rotation spots on teams filling out the bottom end of the league.
You can go either way. Adelman’s era will likely end with no playoff appearances despite possessing a consensus top-10 NBA player. Simply, this can be viewed as unacceptable and possibly as a failure. In reality though, situations are not so simple. The constituent aspects of the roster were substandard throughout the Adelman regime. This year’s Timberwolves are clearly the best since the Kevin Garnett era but in untimely fashion they ran into the buzzsaw that was the 2013-14 Western Conference.
It’s reasonable to suggest that Adelman wasn’t helping the situation, but the integral qualities of this year’s team has been it’s ball movement and it’s scoring ability. Its top 10 offense, let down remarkably by a weak bench, is the calling card of this team. Without Adelman’s system, it’s quite possible that the talent on this team will be seen for what it is: maybe Kevin Martin is an aging and one dimensional guard? Does Nikola Pekovic’s offensive ability outweigh his defensive shortcomings? Can Rubio thrive as a point guard without an outside shot?
NBA coaching searches don’t often follow logical reasoning, nor do the impending results. Some have said that only a handful of coaches truly affect team performance in the league and finding an unproven coach who can do this is not easy. Unless the Timberwolves strike gold in the next coaching search to uncover the next Jeff Hornacek or Steve Clifford, it may not be long until fans are reminiscing over the Adelman era.
In other, more positive news, the Wolves massacred the Los Angeles Lakers last night 143-107. The victory is obviously not notable for any other reason other than the pure fire that the Timberwolves rained upon the Lakers all night long. It was a victory of biblical proportions and afterwards the only surprise was that Shabazz Muhammad didn’t mount the announcers desk to reel off emphatic scripture.
Shooting 67 percent from the field generally is conducive to victory, in this case it was the best field goal percentage of any team this season. This game was so uncompetitive that it almost negated itself, if Kendall Marshall and Ryan Kelly emerge in a point-shaving scandal in the near future, you heard it here first.
I haven’t looked at the schedule but I really hope that the Lakers don’t have to play anybody the Sixers or the Bucks for the rest of the season, just to save basketball fans from the trauma of witnessing live executions.