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|Kevin Garnett, above, goes for a slam dunk with his former team, the Timberwolves.(Courtesy of NBA.com)|
The Minnesota Celtics. Yes, I know, the name doesn’t match the city or state at all, but it’s hard to argue when there are seven former Boston Celtics on the T-Wolves’ active roster (Gerald Green, Mark Blount, Ricky Davis, Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Sebastian Telfair, Theo Ratliff), and an eighth former player in the team administration (Kevin McHale). Allow me to put it in perspective: When the Celtics travel on the road at Minnesota on Feb. 8, there will be at least 25 current or former Celtics in the building. Of the 25, 15 will be the active Celtics there at the time (barring any further transactions), 7 will be the former active Celtics on the T-Wolves, 1 for McHale, 1 for Danny Ainge, and 1 for Tommy Heinsohn. If Bob Cousy is announcing, he adds to the list as well. Wow.
Timberwolves 2006-2007 Team Review
2006-07 Record: 32-50 (3rd place, 19 games back in Northwest Division)
What went right: KG had another stellar campaign with an NBA-best 12.8 rebounds per game, leading the league in that category for four consecutive seasons. Ricky Davis had another nice season, averaging 17.0 points per game.
What went wrong: Not much else went right for the T-Wolves. Big-money point guard Mike James did almost nothing last season, averaging 10.1 points and 3.6 assists. The team missed the playoffs for the second-straight season, after making the playoffs eight seasons in a row. Ricky Davis (a shoot-first type of player) led the team with 4.8 assists per game. It’s hard to win in the West without a legitimate point guard that can shoot and pass well…Troy Hudson used to do that for KG but he was injured far too often to compete.
2006-07 Season Grade: D
Timberwolves 2007 Off-season Team Review
Key Additions: PG Sebastian Telfair, FC Al Jefferson, F Ryan Gomes, C Theo Ratliff, SG Gerald Green, SF Corey Brewer, F Juwan Howard
Key Losses: F Kevin Garnett, PG Mike James, F Eddie Griffin
Reaction: The only team that has made as much off-season headway as the Celtics has been the Timberwolves. Not only did they trade their star player and icon, they added a tremendous amount of youth in the process. As a result, they went from struggling to contend to rebuilding for the future. And to be honest, the future looks bright. Al Jefferson, Corey Brewer, Randy Foye, Gerald Green, Rashad McCants, among many other young talents look to become future stars. The team may have a problem down the road though as both Jefferson and Gomes are due big paydays in the coming years. Either way, the T-Wolves made the right move to rebuild, especially with perennial West contenders Dallas, Phoenix, and San Antonio getting older and older every season. By the time the T-Wolves are ready to contend, perhaps one or two of those teams will fall from grace.
Off-Season Grade: B+
Timberwolves 2007-08 Season Preview vs. Celtics
Minnesota @ Boston, Jan. 25
Boston @ Minnesota, Feb. 8
How the projected starting lineups stack up:
(“x” marks which team has the edge)
|C||Kendrick Perkins||Mark Blount||x|
|PF||x||Kevin Garnett||Al Jefferson|
|SF||x||Paul Pierce||Ryan Gomes|
|SG||x||Ray Allen||Ricky Davis|
|PG||x||Rajon Rondo||Trenton Hassel|
The Edge: The T-Wolves starting lineup could change a lot over the season. While I think Blount is garbage, he’s still further progressed in his development than Kendrick Perkins is now. If Al Jefferson plays center for the Wolves, then they still get the nod at the position. KG gets the nod over any player on the Wolves, especially since he used to play for them. I like Pierce and Allen over any of the young players, and over veteran guard Ricky Davis. Both Rondo and Hassel are unproven at their positions, but the nod goes to Rondo for the talent that’s surrounding him. If Marko Jaric replaces Hassel, then you’re looking at a landslide one-on-one victory for Rondo. Jaric has to be one of the worst players in the NBA that gets more than 20 minutes per game. If he rarely sees the court this season, the Wolves have a chance avoid being the worst team in the NBA.
Outlook: This team will be fun to watch only because of all the former Celtics on the team. I will say that as soon as the KG trade occurred, the T-Wolves became my favorite team from the Western Conference. While I want them to win, it doesn’t look like its happening for a few years.
Final Prediction: 4th, Northwest Division.