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
September 14, 2019, 7:27 pmGiannis AntetokounmpoPF, Milwaukee Bucks
In a recent fan question session Bucks' GM Jon Horst hinted towards signing Giannis Antetokounmpo to a supermax extension when eligible.
Horst mentioned that he cannot technically discuss an extension until he is eligible, but said Antetokounmpo will be a Buck for a long time. The Greek Freak will be eligible next summer and is all but sure to get a supermax extension.
Source: Fox Sports Wisconsin on Twitter
September 14, 2019, 2:53 pmTacko FallC, Boston Celtics
Tacko Fall (mild knee sprain) is expected to miss one week after a collision in workouts.
With training camp two weeks away, Fall should be ready to roll by then. He is currently on an Exhibit 10 contract, battling for the final roster spot with Javonte Green (partially guaranteed) and Kaiser Gates (Exhibit 10). Fall is an intriguing talent at 7'7" but is not expected to be fantasy relevant in his first season even if he does make the team with the Celtics already carrying four center eligible players on guaranteed contracts.
Source: Jared Weiss on Twitter
September 14, 2019, 12:14 pmNicolas BatumSG, Charlotte Hornets
According to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer, Nicolas Batum and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist have been informed that, "The agenda is youth and development."
The article adds that both players will have a chance to compete for minutes but the Hornets' top priority will be to develop their younger players which bodes well for Dwayne Bacon, Miles Bridges, Devonte Graham, P.J. Washington and Willy Hernangomez. Miles was already putting up near top-100 value to close the season at around 25 minutes per game while the rest of the players could all produce fantasy value if given the minutes so they should at least be put on the watch list to see how the preseason plays out.
Source: Charlotte Observer
September 14, 2019, 10:26 amBogdan BogdanovicSG, Sacramento Kings
Bogdan Bogdanovic finished with 32 points on 10-of-17 shooting and drained seven triples as Serbia topped Czech Republic 90-81 to finish in 5th place.
Bogdanovic also added four rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block and was certainly one of the most impressive players in the tournament. Although he has the talent to be a successful full-time starter, the 27-year old will likely be relegated to a similar 25-27 minute, off-the-bench role he played last season with Buddy Hield, Harrison Barnes and newly added Trevor Ariza also on the wings. Nikola Jokic also did his usual thing this game with seven points, 14 rebounds and seven assists. Boban Marjanovic and Nemanja Bejlica were not really involved in this one, playing only two and eight minutes, respectively.
September 14, 2019, 7:40 amDonovan MitchellSG, Utah Jazz
Donovan Mitchell scored 16 points with 10 assists as US beat Poland 87-74 on Saturday to finish seventh place in the tournament.
Mitchell was an efficient 5-of-6 from the field and 4-of-4 from downtown but the bigger story of course was USA's disappointing showing as this was only the second time that they finished outside the top-3 in the FIBA World Cup since 1978. Kemba Walker (neck), Jayson Tatum (ankle) and Marcus Smart (hand/quad/calf) all sat out the final game as they now have two weeks to rest before the start of training camp.
September 13, 2019, 12:54 pmEvan FournierSF, Orlando Magic
Evan Fournier scored 16 points to lead France in their semifinal loss to Argentina by the score of 80-66.
This was a really poor showing all around in an elimination game by the French team. Fournier scored an inefficient 16 and was joined by Frank Ntilikina's 16 as two of just three French players in double figures.
September 13, 2019, 12:51 pmRudy GobertC, Utah Jazz
Rudy Gobert was invisible in France's loss to Argentina in the semifinals of the FIBA World Cup, scoring just three points and pulling down 11 rebounds in 29 minutes.
This just wasn't enough from Gobert, who couldn't impose his will against a weaker Argentina squad on paper. Joining him in the "forgot there was a game" club was Nicolas Batum, who consistently finds a way to do nothing in heavy minutes. Batum's line in this one was a paltry three points (1-of-6 shooting), five boards, one assist and a block.
September 13, 2019, 12:42 pmPatty MillsPG, San Antonio Spurs
Patty Mills was the star for Australia, scoring 34 points and hitting four triples against Spain, but Australia fell in double overtime 95-88.
Mills did as much as he could but he just didn't get enough help from his supporting cast. Joe Ingles couldn't find the basket and only had four points (to go along with 10 rebounds and seven assists). With that off night of shooting from Ingles, the Aussies needed someone like Matthew Dellavedova (six points) or Aron Baynes (six points) to step up.
September 13, 2019, 12:39 pmRicky RubioPG, Phoenix Suns
Ricky Rubio approached a triple-double in the semi-final win over Australia with 19 points, seven boards and 12 assists in 38 minutes.
It was another big line for Rubio in the semis, who has been a stalwart for this Spanish run to the finals. He was inefficient from the field (6-of-19) but ran the offense well and should be a factor again in the final game.
September 13, 2019, 12:35 pmMarc GasolC, Toronto Raptors
Marc Gasol carried Spain to the FIBA World Cup Final in a double-OT win over Australia, finishing with 33 points, six rebounds and four assists.
Gasol had a great outing to lift Spain here and they should have a great shot at winning the title against Argentina. We'll see how this high workload summer affects him going into the new season.