Are the 2019-20 Minnesota Timberwolves Good?

The Minnesota Timberwolves were the only member of the Northwest Division not to post at least 48 wins in 2018-19, posting a dismal 36-46 record after Jimmy Butler and Tom Thibodeau had a falling-out that led to Butler playing in Philadelphia and Thibs out of a job. Interim coach Ryan Saunders had to make chicken salad out of chicken…not salad, and he was hampered in his efforts by a combination of not-ready-for-prime-time youth (Josh Okogie), veterans not as good as they think they are (Derrick Rose), and the biggest garbage fire in the league (Andrew Wiggins.) Even going 17-25 with …

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NBA Best And Worst Contracts Part IV: Northwest Division

In previous installments of this series, we’ve looked at the relative value of the contracts in the Eastern Conference in terms of Win Shares per minute-weighted dollar of salary. Time for a trip out west, and we’ll run into the namesake of the Wiggins Factor stat when we get to Minnesota (spoiler alert: It’s a train wreck.) If having great value on contracts is a harbinger of making a deep playoff run, you might want to get to Vegas and get some money down on the Jazz. As a quick reminder, a rookie, veteran minimum, or midlevel exception contract should …

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Is Andrew Wiggins the Worst NBA Player of All Time?

Andrew Wiggins is a favorite bugbear of this here site, as dunking on his atrocious advanced stats and pointing out that he’s the biggest reason the Minnesota Timberwolves are hot garbage that hit their peak with a 47-win season and an 8 seed only because they rented Jimmy Butler is fruit so low-hanging that you’d think it was a potato. Wiggins routinely ranks among the absolute most head-scratching wastes of minutes in the league. Consider the following benchmarks: 2,500 minutes played (or about 32 minutes a game over an 82-game season). Here’s where Wiggins’ first four seasons in the league …

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Derrick Rose: Is He Any Good?

Derrick Rose is one of the most polarizing figures in basketball, with eye test fans insisting that he’s the Sixth Man of the Year and statheads countering with “go home, you’re drunk.” Rose drew a ton of All-Star fan votes, but fan vote alone wasn’t enough to get him into the game, and when sensible people got to decide who the All-Stars were, Rose was wisely left off the list. But that’s not the question we’re asking here. We’re asking if Rose is good, and the stats in 2019 don’t care that Rose was MVP once and got a salary …

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Breakfast Special: A Weird, Wonderful Rockets-Raptors Game

In the words of Bill Nye the Science Guy, “consider the following.” The Houston Rockets defeated the Toronto Raptors 107-95, James Harden had 35 points, and Clint Capela grabbed 15 rebounds while Chris Paul had 10 assists, all despite the starting lineup shooting the ball poorly from the field. The bench shot the ball much better, put up big plus/minus numbers, and helped the Rockets to the win. All fairly ordinary stuff, right? Well, that doesn’t adequately tell the tale of a game that at points featured each of the following scores: 25-21 Houston (11:24, 2nd quarter), 49-27 Houston (5:00, …

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Taj Gibson: Is He Any Good?

Defense is a thorny subject when it comes to player evaluation. On the one hand, you’ve got guys like Klay Thompson, who are excellent defenders by reputation but who get murdered in the advanced stats because they’re constantly put on the other team’s best player, and if they’re not quite the superstar defender their reputation makes them out to be, the problem compounds into a point where they have the same advanced stats as the guy who hides on the opponent’s fifth option and can’t even guard him. And on the other hand, you’ve got a guy like LeBron James, …

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Breakfast Special: A Super-Size Russell Westbrook Stat Line

Two conflicting thoughts strike the NBA observer when looking over the box score from the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 122-116 win over the New Orleans Pelicans Thursday night. The first is “wow, Russell Westbrook had 23 points, 17 rebounds, and 16 assists, the guy’s amazing.” The second is “True, but is it even news anymore when Westbrook gets a triple-double?” In 2016-17, Westbrook averaged a triple-double, won MVP, and drew comparisons to Oscar Robertson. In 2017-18, Westbrook averaged a triple-double, and everyone wondered out loud if OKC was Paul George‘s team now and if being a volume counting-stat chaser wasn’t a …

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Breakfast Special: 16 Threes Does Not a Barrage Make, Toronto

The Toronto Raptors beat the Sacramento Kings 120-105 in a dollar-store game where the Raps didn’t have Kawhi Leonard and the Kings didn’t have De’Aaron Fox. Toronto also crowed that they had a “3-point barrage tonight.” They hit 16-of-40. 3-pt barrage tonight @TangerineHoops Game Highlights 📹: https://t.co/gT67vmyo9e pic.twitter.com/UpChVnzNUZ — Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) January 23, 2019 Now, is it really a “barrage” if you hit two more triples as a team than Klay Thompson hit in a game by himself earlier this year? Come back when you make 20 in a game and we’ll talk about a barrage. This was a …

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Breakfast Special: Indiana Pacers, Destroyers of Worlds

Last Thursday, when the Pacers got embarrassed on national television against the Philadelphia 76ers, Pacers Twitter acted like the sky is falling and the team is garbage. Trade Victor Oladipo, they said. Trade Myles Turner, they said. Trade Boomer the mascot, they said. After beating the Mavericks and Hornets by a combined 36 points and holding both teams under 100, are the Pacers going back to the Finals again like they were in the eyes of those same fans before the Philly game? The Sunday game, which Indiana won 120-95, was a condemnation of the Hornets as a viable playoff …

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Breakfast Special: O Myles Turner, Where Art Thou

The Indiana Pacers went 7-4 in the absence of Victor Oladipo earlier this season, 8-4 if you count the Hawks game where Vic came in, had a cup of coffee, and left. The Pacers are 0-2 without Myles Turner, who sat out Sunday with a sore right shoulder as the Pacers lost 121-105 to the Toronto Raptors, who in the process became the first team with 30 wins as they ran their record to 30-12. The Raptors improved to 8-2 without Kawhi Leonard. Things that make you go “hmmm…”, since Toronto has a .688 winning percentage (56-26 per 82 games) …

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