Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Minnesota Timberwolves: Have draft day blunders kept them out of theplayoffs?


The NBA Playoffs have not been kind to the Minnesota Timberwolves over the past decade.

In fact, the T-Wolves and the NBA postseason are practically not even on speaking terms at this second, and Minnesota currently holds the longest playoff drought amongst active NBA franchises as we speak.

Can you say "separation issues"?

Think back to nearly ten years ago when Kevin Garnett, Wally Szczerbiak, and Flip Saunders graced the Minnesota parquet floor with veteran cameos from Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell during the 2003-2004 regular season. They dominated the Western Conference, earning 58 wins behind Garnett's career high 24 points and almost 14 rebounds per game while snagging the top seed in the Western Conference playoffs.




It's hard to believe, but that was the last time we saw the Timberwolves in the NBA postseason.

Wow.  

Following the 2004 NBA Playoffs, the T-Wolves went through four different coaches over three years, including Flip Saunders (current Pres. Basketball Operations for T-Wolves), Kevin Mchale (current Head Coach of the Rockets), Dwane Casey (current Head Coach of the Raptors), and Randy Wittman (current Head Coach of the Wizards).  Naturally, the team struggled to adjust and when Kevin Garnett finally hopped on a plane to Boston after the 2006-2007 season, Minnesota was in full-blown "rebuild mode."

However, despite big rookie signings in Ricky Rubio (5th overall pick in 2009 NBA draft) and Kevin Love (5th overall pick in 2008 draft) over the last few seasons, as well as Nikola Pekovic's recent development in the post, their rebuild has been anything but successful.


They've made some very questionable personnel moves since 2004, starting with their decision to trade veteran PG Sam Cassell to the Los Angeles Clippers for Marko Jaric and Lionel Chalmers after missing the 2005 playoffs.  

The beginning of the end people.

However, it was really their draft day antics that truly ensured their problematic rebuild.



Minnesota spent their last three top 10 picks on duds like Jonny Flynn, Wesley Johnson, and Derrick Williams, two of which have already moved onto other teams.  Also, they've had opportunities to draft and sign guys like Ty Lawson and Brandon Roy, but opted for draft day trades instead.

Tell me if this doesn't sound crazy, but Brandon Roy was traded to Portland for Randy Foye.

I know someone had to have been fired over that trade. 

("You're fired." - Donald Trump voice)

Minus Love and Rubio, the T-Wolves have literally gone through almost 20 NBA draft picks since 2004 with relatively little to no success.  And nowadays, the verdict is still out on Shabazz.

At the beginning of last season, the Wolves looked like a playoff team on paper.  Between recent additions like Kirilenko, Schved, Josh Howard, and Barea, they finally seemed to have a veteran bench to support Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio, and Nikola Pekovic.  Unfortunately, they were never quite healthy enough to utilize all of their talent, and they finished 12th in the Western Conference.  A mid-season start from Rubio coupled with Kevin Love's injury-riddled season effectively kept them from playing at the same time on the court, and by the time April rolled around, Love chose to undergo season-ending knee surgery to remove scar tissue.

Love literally played a grand total of 18 games last season.



The good news is that Coach Rick Adelman is back with a healthy group, additional talent like Kevin Martin, and a whole lot of determined Love.  The big question is, with the abundance of Western Conference powerhouses heading into the season are they talented enough to make the playoffs in 2014?

I'd say their due.

Thanks for tuning in,

The Mattman

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