Minnesota’s Young Gunz
While watching the Minnesota Timberwolves beat the Boston Celtics on Monday night I was left asking myself why the T-Wolves are so bad this season (17–39 at tip of the Celts game). They are such a young, loaded team their record should be worlds better! On a nightly basis you’ll see the likes of… Andrew Wiggins (20.7 PPG/1.9 APG/3.6 RPG/16.46 PER), Zach LaVine (13 PPG/3.1 APG/3 RPG/14.93 PER), Shabazz Muhammed (10 PPG/0.5 APG/3.1 RPG/14.52 PER), and unquestionably one of the best young big men in the league, Karl-Anthony Towns (17.2 PPG/10.2 RPG/1.8 BLKSPG/23.06 PER) take the floor. So it left me asking myself what could be stopping these players from putting together a winning season?
And then I realized… The problem lies in the fact that these hyper talented players are not taking the floor together. For most of the season the nightly starting lineup the T-Wolves generally trot out consists of Ricky Rubio at the Point, Wiggins at the Two, the incredibly washed up Tayshaun Prince at Small Forward (believe me this hurts, I’m a die hard Pistons fan), some combination of Dieng and Bjelica at Power Forward, and Towns at Center. This is not a lineup that’s going to win you games… EVER.
The T-Wolves should take a page out of the Warriors playbook (I know, easier said then done) and run a small, hustle heavy lineup out there to space the floor and play the uptempo style these kids were born to play.
Who does that lineup consist of you ask? Well let me tell you.
I’m gonna work this thing in reverse.
C — Towns (no brainer, just get the ball in his hands and he’ll score from under the basket, beyond the arc and mid-range… he’s a freak and I love him for it)
PF — Shabazz Muhammed (only 6’6” but he’s got a big body and some nice moves around the bucket)
SF — Andrew Wiggins (the guy’s 6’8” and probably still growing, he’s like an ectomorph version of LeBron)
SG — Zach LaVine (no question this silky smooth high flyer should be out there as much as possible)
PG — Tyus Jones
That’s right… I said Tyus Jones!!!
It’s time the T-Wolves parted ways with the Ricky Rubio experiment. I don’t care that the guy is averaging 8.8 Assists Per Game and has a 17.96 PER, I just can’t watch him jam up these young, fast players anymore by trying to cross everybody over and throw as many crazy passes as possible. This isn’t an AND1 Mixtape Ricky, just get the ball in the hands of Towns, Wiggins, and LaVine and get out of the way!
The solution to this problem… Enter Tyus Jones.
He’s just the most solid, even keeled player you could ask for to run along side these young Wolves. He runs the playbook well when he’s out there and gets as much as he can out of the end of the bench. He also had a masterful control of a Championship winning Duke offense that featured mega talents Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow so he has no problem playing alongside all the skill that lines this T-Wolves roster. Not to mention he’s just a flat out hustle machine.
For example, he probably had the play of the game against the Celts reading an Evan Turner pass, intercepting it and tipping it back towards his basket then splitting Avery Bradley and Jonas Jerebko to get to the ball and lay it in. Just the kind of heady, high energy play that he would likely make a couple of times a night if he were starting and not coming off the bench.
Now you guys might think I’m crazy to suggest the T-Wolves start Tyus Young over Rubio but just remember the reaction people had to the Warriors benched Andre Iguodala and David Lee in favor of Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. Everybody thought that was a bad move and it’s worked out masterfully for the Dubs. Now I’m not saying Jones and LaVine are going to have that BIG of an impact (though LaVine certainly has the potential to) but it never hurts to put young athletic players in your starting lineup and experiment when you’re already well on your way to a high number of ping pong balls in the Lottery. Just saying.
IN TYUS WE TRUST
Look out for Adreian Payne…