February 11, 2018, 1:09 pm
After another tough road trip the Wolves are ready for some more home cooking. The Wolves have been dominant at the Target Center lately riding a 12-game home win streak, the longest active streak in the NBA.
Their defense has slipped considerably in recent games. The issues from the early season, the lack of communication (especially on screens) and slow in getting back in transition, are creeping back up in spurts.
While on the road these have been exasperated as they commonly occur, but at home they have been able to bring the defensive intensity on a more consistent basis.
The opponent hasn’t particularly mattered in either instance, they’ve allowed many poor offensive teams to torch them on the road (Chicago for instance), but lock down the best offensive teams at home (Oklahoma City for example).
The reason for such a stark contrast remains a mystery. In the long run they’ll learn the hard way if they can’t figure out how to consistently defend on the road like because come playoff time, they’ll have to win a few away from the Target Center.
They’re capable of doing so after having a stretch among the top-10 in defensive rating for a 20-game stretch in December and January.
In the interim they’ll look to get back into some good habits versus a Sacramento Kings team that is embracing a youth movement. The Kings are talented and can come at teams from a number of different looks, making them tough to guard in a way.
They can run in transition with the speedy De’Aaron Fox, while Willie Cauley-Stein and Bogdan Bogdanovic make ideal running mates. They can slow it down and post up with Zach Randolph. They’re a good 3-point shooting team, ranking second in percentage.
Their problem is they don’t quite have a solid identity, a preferred go-to method of offense. Therefore they haven’t yet mastered a trait and the results are typically inefficient offensive sets.
The closest they come to a go-to method is posting up with Z-Bo, but he’s just one player and isn’t the post-up force he once was. He shoots 47.3 percent from the post, but is drawing fouls just 10.3 percent of the time. Randolph doesn’t command the attention he use to down low.
The rest of the Kings have been disastrous in post-ups.
The Kings seem to be at their best when they’re allowed to run. Fox is one of the fastest players in the league and is shooting surprisingly well at the rim for a rookie. Cauley-Stein is a mobile big and excellent rim-runner. Bogdanovic makes smart decisions in transition and is a good passer and shooter.
Of course it’s tough to be a running team with Randolph in the fold.
Defensively things are just as bad. They rank at towards the bottom in defensive rating and struggle to slow down teams in most areas. They give up the highest 3-point percentage and the third-highest 2-point percentage. They struggle stopping the pick-and-roll and post-ups.
They do hold up somewhat okay in transition, perhaps another reason they should speed up the game.
The crux of their issues on defense lie in the pick-and-roll where they get absolutely destroyed, where Z-Bo is the main culprit. He was never a good defender, but teams are targeting him and getting whatever they want. The Wolves rank towards the top in pick-and-roll attempts.
This basically sums up the issues with the Kings. They don’t know who they really are. Their main source of offense on the team is their biggest problem. It’s a microcosm of the grand picture for the franchise. They have a nice collection of young players but are seemingly gun shy about setting them free, instead opting for the vets at most signs of demise, which in turn furthers their own downward spiral.
Despite all this they have shown an ability to turn it on at any point and play with the best of them, as shown with wins over the Warriors, Cavs and Sixers (twice). If they remove the shackles and let the kids run, they can be dangerous. If they hold anchor and feed Z-Bo, they’re easy to beat.
– Taj Gibson vs. Zach Randolph
In an uncommon instance where the opponents’ go-to player is the source of many of their own problems, this matchup pertains more on the Wolves attacking Randolph as a defender than slowing him down offensively. The Wolves are a pick-and-roll heavy team, and Randolph is among the worst in the NBA helping there.
In the last meeting between these teams it took the Wolves longer than it should have to attack Z-Bo, though the Wolves still came out comfortably on top. If the Wolves find themselves in dire need of offense, as unlikely as that may be, the pick-and-roll should reap big rewards.
Jeff Teague – PG
Jimmy Butler – SG
Andrew Wiggins – SF
Taj Gibson – PF
Karl-Anthony Towns – C
De’Aaron Fox – PG
Bogdan Bogdanovic – SG
Justin Jackson – SF
Zach Randolph – PF
Willie Cauley-Stein – C
Harry Giles (rehab) – OUT
Skal Labissiere (shoulder) – OUT
Frank Mason (foot) – OUT
Iman Shumpert (foot) – OUT
Where to Watch:
7:00 ET/6:00 CT on Fox Sports North
May 25, 2020, 3:16 pmTerry RozierPG, Charlotte Hornets
The Hornets are the latest team to re-open their facilities, with the Novant Health Training Center set to open up on Tuesday.
With this, there are only eight teams left to open their practice courts back up, though nobody has been able to engage in any sort of team work yet. Individual workouts are better than no workouts, however, and the league appears to be getting its ducks in a row in terms of returning to play. There's still no firm timelines but things do appear to be heading in the right direction.
Source: Charlotte Hornets
May 25, 2020, 3:13 pmJon LeuerPF, Milwaukee Bucks
Jon Leuer has announced his retirement from basketball.
Injuries completely destroyed Leuer's career, as he played in a combined 49 games over the previous two seasons with zero appearances in the 2019-20 campaign. Leuer's high point came with the Suns, where he averaged 8.5 points to go with 5.6 rebounds, 0.6 steals, 0.4 blocks and a 38.2 mark from deep. His eight-year career comes to an end, with Leuer saying that his body simply won't let him play at a high level anymore.
Source: Jon Leuer on Instagram
May 24, 2020, 9:20 pmKyrie IrvingPG, Brooklyn Nets
Following Governor Andrew Cuomo's greenlight from earlier on Sunday, the Nets will reopen their practice facilities on Tuesday.
The team will open its doors to voluntary player workouts. The team's statement went on to elaborate that they would strictly follow NBA and infectious disease expert protocols as they resume activities. It's another small step in the right direction as the NBA continues its climb towards trying to play actual games.
Source: Malika Andrews on Twitter
May 24, 2020, 8:03 pmKemba WalkerPG, Boston Celtics
Kemba Walker feels that his left knee hampered him earlier this year because of all of the basketball he's played over the course of his career.
The knee pain has been a constant this season, and Walker has missed eight games due to the injury overall. He should be fully recovered for when the season does resume at this point, and if he is able to get enough practice reps in he'll be able to avoid any restrictions whenever the league-wide shutdown is lifted.
Source: The Athletic
May 24, 2020, 7:56 pmAnte ZizicPF, Cleveland Cavaliers
If Ante Zizic chooses to leave the NBA when he hits free agency this offseason, he could draw interest from Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Zizic had a lot of success in 2016-17 when he was last in the Euro League with Darussafaka, averaging 9 points and 6.7 rebounds in under 21 minutes per game. In comparison, he's been an afterthought for the Cavs this season, only averaging 10 minutes per game. Moreover, the Cavs declined to pick up his player option for next season, and they already have plenty of options for the frontcourt between Kevin Love, Larry Nance Jr., and possibly DeAndre Drummond (player option). Maccabi will have to see how much salary flexibility they have this offseason as ticket sales are likely to take a hit in Israel next year.
Source: Euro Hoops
May 24, 2020, 7:33 pmKevin DurantSF, Brooklyn Nets
On Sunday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that professional sports teams based in New York may resume operations immediately.
With Governor Cuomo's green light in place the Knicks and Nets are now just waiting for Adam Silver's seal of approval on getting back into there facilities. The majority of the league now has state approval to access their practice facilities and the NBA is slowly ramping up activities in hopes of resuming games in July.
Source: Andrew Cuomo on Twitter
May 23, 2020, 9:43 pmLeBron JamesSF, Los Angeles Lakers
Ramona Shelburne of ESPN reported that the NBA has entered "exploratory conversations" with Disney on restarting the season at Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida.
NBA spokesperson Mike Bass said the NBA and NBPA have discussed with Disney on restarting the season in late July. Marc Stein reported on Friday that it is looking increasingly likely that games will resume in July, and it appears that the stage for the rest of the 2019-20 season is likely to be Orlando.
May 23, 2020, 9:32 pmLaMelo BallPG, International
The Knicks have LaMelo Ball as their top-rated point guard for the 2020 NBA Draft.
The Knicks have a need at point guard and Ball is considered the point guard with the highest upside in this draft. He had poor shooting numbers in his 12 games in the NBL this past season, shooting .250 from deep and .375 from the field. He is a gifted passer though and averaged 6.8 assists per game in 31.3 minutes, adding 17.0 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.6 steals. If Ball was drafted by the Knicks, he could help younger players RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson get easier looks. Ball will likely be given an opportunity to run the offense by the team that drafts him and he could put up big assists numbers. He also has an impressive steal rate in limited play in Australia, but his shooting percentages are a big concern.
May 23, 2020, 9:15 pmBradley BealSG, Washington Wizards
Bradley Beal’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, said “There are no Beal Sweepstakes and that’s why he re-signed with the Wizards.”
Bartelstein continued to say “Brad re-signed with the Wizards because he wanted to stay in Washington and the Wizards wanted to keep him there.” Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News reported earlier in the week that the Nets had internal discussions with the Wizards for Beal. A trade out of Washington would likely hurt Beal’s fantasy value, but it’s not worth putting too much stock into trade rumors for Beal in dynasty leagues.
May 22, 2020, 9:13 pmJonathan IsaacPF, Orlando Magic
Jonathan Isaac, who sustained a serious left knee injury in January, said his knee is "feeling strong" and that he has been squatting increasingly more weight recently.
Isaac also said recently that he's open to returning if and when the NBA season is resumed and as long as the Magic organization is on-board with it. He has been running on an anti-gravity treadmill and indicated that his knee feels "110 percent" after more than four months of rehab. Isaac is a huge part of the Magic's future and it remains to be seen whether or not they will take the risk.
Source: John Denton on Twitter