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Wiggins' and Towns' improvement, impressive wins against the Rockets and Hornets, Derrick Rose as best NBA sixth man, the Wolves bench, and more are discussed this week. As usual, Rambling On god-king Erik Ritland interviews Wolves analyst Beartrap McManus.
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You issued your apology to Derrick Rose last week, which I heard he accepted. We know you’ve come around on him, but do you think he deserves the NBA Sixth Man Award this year? Would you consider the Wolves bench one of the best in the NBA?
If Rose is able to stay healthy and produce at the level he has, he should absolutely be a Sixth Man candidate.
As for the Wolves bench, they’re great and certainly one of the best in the league. Okogie and Tony T could be rotation players for just about any team in the league, and I’d imagine they’ll eventually move Tolliver by the end of the season if they can’t find playing time for him. He’s too good to not play, and there have already been rumors of interest from other teams.
Since all the post-Butler Wolves do is win, they’ve gone 2-1 since we last spoke. Their one loss was on Saturday to the Celtics. What happened in that loss? What did you think of all the traveling calls?
It was just a matter of the Celtics playing better. The Wolves dug themselves into a hole in the second, as they allowed their offense to stagnate with a lack of ball movement and too many isolation plays. They did manage to tie it in the fourth, but Boston responded and shut down any momentum they’d gained. There were some pretty egregious calls in that game but I’m not sure it affected the outcome.
After a somewhat shaky performance against the Celtics, the Timberwolves came back with a vengeance in their decisive 103-92 win against the Rockets. What did you take away from that game? Are the Rockets not the team we thought they were at the beginning of the year?
Many expected the Rockets to take a step back from last season after they lost two of their best defenders (Trevor Ariza and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, who are both excellent floor spacers as well). The Carmelo Anthony experiment failed as most had predicted, but I don’t think anyone saw them struggling this much.
The Rockets offense looked like it had made a return to last year’s form for most of the first half in their loss against the Wolves, but Minnesota rallied and gave one of their most impressive defensive performances in some time. They were incredibly disruptive with forcing turnovers and did an excellent job suffocating Houston’s shooters.
Although they were losing late in the game, Towns led the Wolves to a 121-104 trouncing of the Hornets. How impressed were you with Towns’ performance, and that of the rest of the team in the victory?
One of the biggest criticisms of the Wolves in the Butler era was that the offense relied too heavily on isolation ball and Jimmy creating the offense, mostly for himself. His being gone has opened things up for Towns and he seems more than comfortable as the go-to guy down the stretch in close games.
KAT has also seemingly been playing much better and smarter since the Butler trade. He’s using his size effectively in the post, taking it to smaller defenders, and has been killing slow-footed when he puts the ball on the floor from the perimeter. These are tools he’s always had, but Butler’s absence has given him the room and the possessions to play up to his potential.
Andrew Wiggins has been improving a little bit lately. Are you impressed at all? Do you think it’ll be a trend or a mirage?
It’s tough to say with Wiggins, but I’m really not comfortable calling it a trend until he sustains his improved play and effort over a longer period. Either way, it’s encouraging, and I’ll take it.
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.