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An apology to Derrick Rose, the teams constant winning (especially their impressive victory against the Spurs), the new life Covington and Saric bring, Wiggins' woes, and more are discussed this week. As usual, Rambling On god-king Erik Ritland interviews Wolves analyst Beartrap McManus.
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Since we last spoke, the Wolves have won four of five games, including killing the Spurs 128-89. They look like a completely different team post-Butler. How are they doing it and what are they doing differently? Obviously they're playing better defense, but why/how has there been such a sea change in that part of the game?
Covington and Saric are both excellent (and fundamentally sound) team and positional defenders. They seem to have helped stabilize things on that end. Covington is also an incredibly disruptive defender who continuously impresses the hell out of me with his strips, steals, and deflections. The timing, skill, and awareness needed to pull those off so regularly is remarkable.
The rest of the team seems to be playing with more urgency and intensity on defense since the trade as well, Towns especially.
Was the Spurs game the most impressive win of the Wolves season?
Easily. The Spurs aren’t what they once were, and were at the end of long road trip, but it was still an impressive stomping of a pretty good team.
Is Andrew Wiggins playing as terribly as most Minnesota sports talking heads say he is?
Pretty much, especially over the last few games. When he’s not scoring, he doesn’t bring enough other stuff to the table to make up for it. There have seemingly been flashes of improved effort at times but it never seems sustainable. I’m ready to give most of his minutes to Josh Okogie at this point.
It’s ok though, Glen Taylor made him promise to work hard before giving him a max contract so it should all work out just fine.
If Derrick Rose keeps playing like he is now, would you sign him to a contract extension, trade him, or just sit tight?
First of all, let me take a moment to admit that I was wrong about how much Rose has left in the tank. After a so-so start, he’s been phenomenal offensively this year. His newly developed 3-point consistency seems less and less fluky as the season goes on, and he seems to have regained much of his slashing ability. He’s still not great defensively, especially at the 2 where bigger guards can shoot over him with relative ease, but his offense has more than made up for it.
I think the Wolves should still sit tight or the time being. His injury history still worries me and there’s still 3/4 of the season left. If the team ends up struggling it might be a good idea to see what we can get for him.
Have you re-evaluated your expectations for the team this year? What percentage chance is there that they make the playoffs?
Definitely. I've been feeling good about the team and its future for the first time all season. Replacing Butler with RoCo and Saric seems to have breathed new life into the Wolves. Even Thibs has made some adjustments to his decade old defensive schemes, as I’ve noticed a lot more switching on D lately.
I’m gonna go ahead and give them a 50.5% chance of making the playoffs this year. A lifetime of following this team has taught me to guard the hell out of my optimism, but I’m feeling pretty good about them right now.
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.