When I previewed the Minnesota Timberwolves’ season back in September, I wrote that, at worst, they would still finish with a better record than last year’s (22-60) team. With 11 games left on the schedule and the Wolves sitting at 20 wins, that’s still a possibility. But at the same time, it’s hard to say these Wolves made any tangible improvements over last year’s version.
Staggering to the finish line in ’09, the Wolves lost Corey Brewer (knee) for the season in November, fired coach Randy Wittman in December, lost Al Jefferson to an ACL tear in February, and traded once-promising first-round pick Rashad McCants for spare parts (a.k.a. Shelden Williams) at the deadline. Offseason pickup Mike Miller (9.7 ppg) has also played his worst season as a pro. Even Kevin Love‘s solid play (10.8 ppg, 9.0 rpg) has been overshadowed by the fact that Minnesota could have just kept Rookie of the Year candidate O.J. Mayo on Draft day instead of trading him for K-Love.
So while there is some talent there — led by Jefferson, Randy Foye, Love and Ryan Gomes — the team has suffered from the typical elements that make for a bad team: Injuries, bad coaching, youth, and, apparently, lack of effort/focus.
Getting blown out in Atlanta last night, T’wolves coach Kevin McHale benched his starters for the entire fourth quarter after they’d let the Hawks get out to a 26-point lead in the third. From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:
They sat Monday’s fourth quarter because the reserves, including Bobby Brown, Brian Cardinal and Kevin Ollie, played with more of what McHale termed “spunk.” Starting forwards Ryan Gomes and Mike Miller combined to score only 11 points. Starting point guard Sebastian Telfair scored two on 1-for-7 shooting.
“The reserves played a lot better,” McHale said. “I thought they moved the ball better. They ran up and down the floor. We right now are running on empty with some guys. I think they think it’s OK to give in and say I’m tired. You’re a professional athlete. You can’t be tired.”
Although McHale probably will (and should) get fired this season, does he deserve all of the blame for the depressing situation in Minny? He did put this roster together, true, but he can’t do anything about injuries, and he can’t make guys try hard, if that really is the biggest issue.
Source: Minneapolis Star-Tribune