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Tag: Minnesota Timberwolves (page 1 of 2)

Ward-Henninger (Western Conference Preview): OKC Has “Operation Shutdown Potential”

Russell Westbrook will be looking to follow up on his MVP season alongside the Thunder’s two high-profile offseason acquisitions, but guest Colin Ward-Henninger foresees chemistry challenges ahead (Keith Allison/Flickr).

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Colin Ward-Henninger of CBSSports.com helps preview the talent-loaded Western Conference after an action-packed offseason replete with key player movement.

8:54-9:52: “Paul George actually had a higher usage rate and more touches than Melo last year, and we all know what Russ [Westbrook] does on the court. And he had a hard enough time playing with Durant, and then when Durant left, we saw the madness that happened last year with just the NBA record usage rate of like 40 percent or something like that, which is insane, and it’s hard to just turn that off. I think it’s going to take a while…I think it’s going to be very difficult. I think that Paul George is going to have the hardest time adjusting, because I think he’s going to be the one who’s expected to take fewer shots. Melo, we hope at this stage in his career understands that he’s not the No. 1 guy or even the No. 2 guy in this case, but you never know. And these are two guys that can opt out of their contracts, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. So if they get 20 games into the season and they don’t like playing with Russ, there’s some Operation Shutdown potential there.” Continue reading

Tim Faklis: Timberwolves Primed for Playoffs as 5 or 6 Seed

Andrew Wiggins, just 22, has been mentioned in Kyrie Irving trade rumors, but Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor says he wants him in town for the long haul (Jose Garcia/Creative Commons).

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The Minnesota Timberwolves have missed the playoffs in each of the past 13 seasons, while finishing with more losses than wins over the last 12. However, the tide is about to turn, according to our guest, Tim Faklis, who contributes to A Wolf Among Wolves, Wolves Wired and FanSided’s The Step Back. He argues that the team’s active offseason, highlighted by the blockbuster trade with Chicago that landed Jimmy Butler, has placed it firmly in win-now mode. Tim touches upon a wide assortment of topics, including the Timberwolves’ expected improvement and whether or not they should try to trade for the Cavaliers’ Kyrie Irving. Let’s see if these excerpts leave you howling at the moon:

3:20-4:02: “He [Butler] is not a dynamite perimeter shooter, but pretty much every other aspect of his game is something that they’ve missed, especially defensively. They were the worst defensive team in the NBA by a lot of measures last year. And Butler brings in that defensive toughness that [coach Tom] Thibodeau’s been looking for since he joined the team really… I think part of Thibodeau’s plan is to have Butler teach the both of them [Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins], especially Wiggins, how to work on that end.”

12:02-12:39: “Jeff Teague has been up and down from season to season in terms of his 3-point shooting. The hope is that he’ll be up in Minnesota with guys like Butler, guys like Wiggins, guys like Towns there to initiate most of the offense and him just to kind of bring the ball up and then play. Continue reading

Keith Smith: Clippers Face “No-Win Situation,” Celtics Target Hayward

Chris Paul’s exit further complicates the Clippers’ and Blake Griffin’s looming decision of how to handle his unrestricted free agency (Keith Allison/Creative Commons).

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Though the free agency period does not officially begin until July 1, the landscape of the NBA has already shifted dramatically after the draft, a few franchise-altering trades and a couple front-office shake-ups. To help us sort through all the madness of the last week and predict the remaining changes to come, we’ve brought on Keith Smith, who covers the NBA for Real GM and Fan Rag Sports, and has been presenting detailed analyses of each team’s offseason plans on his show, NBA Front Office. With Keith, we break down the ramifications of the blockbuster trades that sent Chris Paul to Houston and Jimmy Butler to Minnesota, discuss the fallout of the Knicks and the Cavaliers severing ties with executives Phil Jackson and David Griffin, respectively, and, of course, try to forecast the eventual landing spots for Paul George, Gordon Hayward, Blake Griffin, George Hill, Paul Millsap and all of the other high-profile free agents and likely movers this offseason.

7:03-7:30: “One of the things that’s really funny about the Blake Griffin question is you can see it going one of two ways. You can see Blake Griffin saying, ‘Forget it. We can’t replace CP3. I’m not gonna be able to win here now. I want to move on. I want to get out of here and go somewhere else.’ Or you could see Blake Griffin saying, ‘Finally, it’s my team. I have it to myself. I don’t have to deal with this guy yapping at me all the time, and we didn’t necessarily get along great.’ So that’s where it becomes really tricky.”

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Dame, C.J. and Nurkic Propel Portland Toward Playoffs (Power Rankings: March 29, 2017 Edition)

With brilliant play since the All-Star break and a little help from his friends, Damian Lillard has led the Trail Blazers into sole possession of the Western Conference’s eighth seed (James Schumacher/Flickr).

With fewer than 10 games remaining on each team’s regular-season schedule, valuable playoff seeding is still up for grabs all over the NBA standings. Some teams, like the Celtics, Blazers and Raptors, look like they’re hitting their stride at just the right moment, building momentum that they hope will continue through the playoffs. Others, like the Hawks and Cavaliers, are just hoping that they can stop the bleeding before it’s too late. As always, the result is much debate and movement in the penultimate regular-season edition of our power rankings.

Biggest Jumps: Portland Trail Blazers (+8), Toronto Raptors (+5), Denver Nuggets (+5), New Orleans Pelicans (+5)

Biggest Falls: Minnesota Timberwolves (-14), Detroit Pistons (-9), Atlanta Hawks (-7)

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Bulls, Grizzlies Slide as Minny’s Momentum Continues (Power Rankings: March 15, 2017 Edition)

Jimmy Butler and the Chicago Bulls halted their five-game losing streak by defeating Charlotte Monday night (Jacob Gaertner/Creative Commons).

A particularly tumultuous period sees the Warriors and Cavaliers dropping to their lowest positions of the season. Meanwhile, every other team has moved up or down at least one spot except for the Clippers and Hawks, who remained at No. 8 and 12, respectively. A handful of sub-.500 squads are recognized for their strong recent play, as the Grizzlies and Bulls are punished for their sluggish performances over the past two weeks. One final fun fact: Last edition, Chicago came in at No. 15, a full 10 spots ahead of the Hornets. This time around, Chicago clings to a single-spot lead over Charlotte after edging the Hornets Monday night.

Biggest Jumps: Milwaukee Bucks (+6), Minnesota Timberwolves (+5), Washington Wizards (+4)

Biggest Falls: Chicago Bulls (-6), Memphis Grizzlies (-5), Dallas Mavericks (-4), Indiana Pacers (-4), Toronto Raptors, (-4) Continue reading

Miami Is Seriously Heating Up (Power Rankings: Feb. 6, 2017 Edition)

In his first season in Miami, Dion Waiters is playing an outsized role in the Heat’s active 10-game winning streak (Keith Allison/Creative Commons).

Up is down and down is up in this tumultuous edition of the power rankings, which features the most movement of any edition so far, with mighty teams struggling and lowly teams rising up. The Cleveland Cavaliers, still the consensus pick to come out of the Eastern Conference, went just 7-8 in January, giving LeBron James his first losing month since his rookie year. The Toronto Raptors and the Houston Rockets, both in last edition‘s top five, have lost eight of 11 and eight of their last 14, respectively. Even the seemingly unstoppable Golden State Warriors, who have occupied the No. 1 spot in our rankings every single edition except for our first, have dropped games since last edition to the Miami Heat and the Sacramento Kings.

On the other side, the Washington Wizards were just 13-16 before Christmas and have since gone 17-4, steadily climbing up the Eastern Conference standings to the third seed, and up our rankings to fourth. The Dallas Mavericks, at one point dead last in our rankings, have won six of their last seven games, their one loss coming to the Miami Heat. And finally, the twice-aforementioned Heat, unquestionably the NBA’s biggest story right now, were 11-30 and 29th in our previous power rankings, before rattling off 10 straight wins, a streak that is still active. These are some exciting times in the NBA.

Biggest Jumps: Miami Heat (+15), Washington Wizards (+8), Dallas Mavericks (+8)

Biggest Falls: Philadelphia 76ers (-8), Milwaukee Bucks (-8), Toronto Raptors (-8) Continue reading

Patrick Fenelon: “There’s Nothing Wrong With (the Timberwolves’) Offense Right Now”

Through seven games, the 21-year-old forward is shooting north of 63 percent from 3-point range (Erik Drost/Creative Commons).

Through seven games, 21-year-old Canadian Andrew Wiggins is shooting north of 63 percent from 3-point range (Erik Drost/Creative Commons).

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The 2-5 Minnesota Timberwolves may be on the cusp of something very promising, but they’re awfully young. Under new head coach and president Tom Thibodeau, that inexperience has likely already contributed to three losses by a combined 10 points. Close losses notwithstanding, the offense, led by Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine and Karl-Anthony Towns, all 21 years old or younger, has been electric, as has the 3-point shooting in particular. Timberwolves expert Patrick Fenelon was gracious enough to join the show to discuss these three phenoms, the prospect of Minnesota improving its team defense, rookie point guard Kris Dunn’s strengths and weaknesses, and a whole lot more. Get teased with some excerpts below:

2:53 – 3:21: Fenelon begins by explaining what has been causing the Timberwolves to blow leads in the third quarter of games: “You wonder if it’s just a weird quirk of youth thinking that they can just sit back and play prevent defense. It’s just a layup line really is what happens in that third quarter. If you look at shot charts, you’ll see that one guy is coming in there and getting layups over and over again. They just stop playing defense. And then turnovers happen.”  Continue reading

The Clippers’ Suffocating Defense Earns Top Spot (Power Rankings: Nov. 11, 2016 Edition)

In the debut of On the NBA Beat’s biweekly (the every-other-week kind) NBA power rankings feature, Doc Rivers’ Los Angeles Clippers lead the field, four Eastern Conference teams rank in the top seven spots, Los Angeles’ other team cracks the top half, the “no-longer-tanking” 76ers occupy the last spot, and so much more.

Our three panelists, Loren Lee Chen, Aaron Fischman and Joshua Fischman, independently ranked the league’s 30 teams from top to bottom. Their averaged rankings produced this 1-30 list and took into account all NBA regular-season games up until and including Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016. Therefore, the results of Thursday’s four games will not be reflected in these rankings, but the blurbs and team records will be completely up-to-date. Future editions will also include each team’s net change from the previous rankings.

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Previewing the 2016-17 NBA Season With James Herbert

James Herbert

James Herbert picked the rise of the Utah Jazz as his most compelling storyline of the NBA season (sixersphotos/Flickr).

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On this episode, James Herbert, NBA writer at CBSSports.com, joins the show to run through the most compelling storylines for the fast approaching 2016-17 NBA season. After an offseason filled with ample player movement and coaching changes, James helps us navigate the new landscape of the NBA, including which teams he thinks improved their chances and which he believes regressed. He also opines on possible breakout players, gives his season award predictions and offers his thoughts on the increasing social activism among NBA players and in professional sports in general.

1:40-4:38 Herbert is very high on the Utah Jazz’s prospects for the season. Here’s a taste:

“I just think they’re gonna be a monster this year. I think a lot of people really expected them to be that breakout team last year — some thought it would even happen the year before, they’d make it to the playoffs — but I think this is really the year that it’s going to happen. They should have been a playoff team last year. They just barely missed out, and that was when they didn’t really have a point guard for the whole season…so I’m a bit more bullish on them than I think even most NBA hipsters are…I think they’re seen as this big team, this enormous team that plays power basketball because of [Derrick] Favors and [Rudy] Gobert, but they can put Trey Lyles and Boris Diaw there as their frontcourt with their bench unit, and they can match up with small teams too. I think it’s really about versatility in the modern NBA, not just going small, and the Jazz have the pieces to play pretty much any way.”

11:03-11:50 Like many analysts, Herbert sees a significant drop-off after the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors. Here’s what he had to say concerning the near-inevitability of another Cavs-Warriors Finals: Continue reading

Sam Vecenie: Celtics Should’ve “Taken Kris Dunn and Continued to Negotiate With Bulls, 76ers”

The New Orleans Pelicans selected Buddy Hield with the 6th overall pick of the 2016 NBA Draft. (christopherm01/Flickr)

Vecenie likes Oklahoma Sooner Buddy Hield’s potential but sees specific room for growth  with the No. 6 overall pick (christopherm01/Flickr).

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The knowledgeable and passionate Sam Vecenie of CBS Sports checks in to review the 2016 NBA Draft. He discusses the uniquely unpredictable nature of the picks, No. 1 overall selection Ben Simmons, Buddy Hield’s pairing with Anthony Davis in New Orleans, the under-appreciated Malcolm Brogdon and so much more.

6:28-7:02: “All of those players [within the four respective tiers] were essentially interchangeable. That got difficult. This draft was so unpredictable. I don’t even know how it even got to where it got to. I don’t know how we ended up with Giorgios Papagiannis going 13th overall, Thon Maker going 10th overall. There were so many surprises, even going outside of the tier ranking system. There were just so many shockers. Guershon Yabusele at 16. It was a weird night.”

9:28-10:59: “(Drafting and stashing) certainly shook up the first round in a lot of ways. The thing with all these international kids is that none of them really wanted to be stashed outside of a few of them. So, basically, the reason you saw (Guerschon) Yabusele go 16 – he’s willing to be stashed in all likelihood…The factor that all of these teams had multiple picks, and the factor that everyone kind of thinks this draft sucks in terms of domestic prospects made teams going into this uncertain free agency period want to say, ‘OK, we want to keep our rosters as clean as possible and have as few of these guys over here now as possible,’ so I think that that’s where you saw quite a few stashes come into play.”

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