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The Wolves finish 2018 playing like the 2018 Wolves, Derrick Rose gets all-star consideration, Kat domination, and more in this Timberwovles edition. As usual, Rambling On god-king Erik Ritland interviews Wolves analyst Beartrap McManus.
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Sort of typically, the Wolves have gone 3-3 since Christmas. Any trends, good or bad, that you've noticed?
The overall trend since the Butler trade, not just the last six games, is that the Wolves are pretty much an average team, maybe a little better. They’ve proven themselves capable of some impressive wins but haven’t been able to win consistently, especially when it comes to taking care of truly bad teams like Atlanta. Though it was nice to see them handily beat the Bulls, Heat, and Magic.
What were the best win and worst loss of that span?
The best win was probably the most recent game against Orlando. Despite a truly awful start, our boys in black with green tree lining (the all-time greatest Timberwolves uniforms, if you ask me) overcame terrible first quarter defense and a 19-point deficit and eventually won by 17.
A returning Jeff Teague had a great night with 23 points and 10 assists and KAT was his usual beastly self with another 20-10 game (29 and 15, to be precise). Tony T. got some minutes with Covington being out and did a great job of spacing the floor and pulling the trigger on threes, hitting three of his five attempts including two big ones on consecutive possessions as they came back in the second quarter.
The worst was the Atlanta game. It was only a three-point loss in overtime, but it came at home against a truly shitty team. Unacceptable.
What Wolves have been playing the best and worst during the stretch?
KAT has been their best player by far. He’s been an absolute monster on offense and pulling down rebounds, and often does an excellent job of protecting the rim (though he's still a bit overzealous down there at times).
As for who has performed the worst? I’d say the Wolves defense as a whole. They’ve consistently failed to defend three-point shooters and have paid dearly as a result.
Are you concerned about Derrick Rose's injury?
Not really. I’ve just assumed he’d miss quite a bit of time this season based on his injury history. He had also stopped hitting shots at the same rate he had earlier in the season and hadn’t been nearly as productive before his most recent sidelining due to injury.
I’ve never seen Rose through himself-colored glasses, and his decline this season began almost immediately after I begrudging gave him his due right here in the pages of this fine periodical. I don’t think the Wolves can or should depend on him to win, either short or long term.
Do you think Rose deserves to be in the All-Star game? I think he does, it's a good story and he's played well. It's the All-STAR game, not the Best Players game...
No. He had a truly excellent stretch of play to start the season and has regressed since then, and that’s when his bird bones even allow him even play. It really wouldn’t bother me if he did though, as it would be through fan voting which has always valued names over on-court performance.
The biggest argument I’d have against it is that it’d likely be denying a spot to a more deserving player, likely one on a team with little coverage and recognition. How are new stars going to be created if we continually lower the bar for old ones to retain (or in Rose’s case regain) their former status?
What do you think of the Jimmy Butler situation in Philadelphia?
If media reports are true, I think Butler needs to stop being given the benefit of the doubt when it comes to any sort of disputes with teammates and coaches. One could forgive him for being unhappy in Chicago and Minnesota (two historically dysfunctional franchises), but he was traded to a contender with probably the most promising young core in the league, and his issues still persist.
His desire to dominate the offense, especially at the end of games, at the expense of the team’s best offensive player (previously KAT and now Embiid), is selfish and misguided and is again causing tensions and likely minimizing their chances of winning close games.
Beartrap McManus is an NBA and Timberwolves expert. He has been a life coach for Rambling On god-king Erik Ritland since before time, a consultant for Rambling On since its founding, and Timberwolves analyst beginning in Series Five. He resides with his wife and twelve kids in Hurley, Wisconsin, where his wife owns a popular supper club.