A Basketball Prospectus Look At The Timberwolves

Audio: Alan Horton with BasketballProspectus.com’s Kevin Pelton


Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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Given a healthy lineup and full roster with which to work, the Minnesota Timberwolves entered the 2012-13 season projecting as a 56-win team, according to the Shoene Projection System on BasketballProspectus.com.

Basketball Prospectus writer Kevin Pelton joined Wolves Radio play-by-play announcer Alan Horton on Friday in Portland to talk about the Timberwolves’ and their projections for the year. He said with a full lineup over the 82-game schedule, Minnesota’s numbers put them at 56 wins and No. 1 in the NBA in offensive efficiency.

Without a full team, the Wolves’ win total fell to 38 and their offensive efficiency dropped to 23rd overall.

[Related content: CLICK HERE For full transcript of Kevin Pelton’s interview]

“I think nationally everyone took more note of the Denver Nuggets in one version of the projections—we had them first in the Western Conference. But to me, Minnesota was always the most interesting projection,” Pelton said. “You know, I always had a sense all summer that they were going to come out well because I knew that guys like [Alexey] Shved and [Andrei] Kirilenko were players that rated very well statistically—better than their conventional wisdom assessment. So adding them on top of the existing core of [Nikola] Pekovic, when healthy [Ricky] Rubio and [Kevin] Love, is going to make the Timberwolves very good in the numbers’ eyes.”

Pelton touched on the Wolves’ defensive performance amid all their injuries this season, noting that the fact Minnesota was first in the league in opponents’ points per game earlier this month and currently sits fifth is a big accomplishment considering their personnel changes. But some of the offseason moves plus their head coach’s track record suggests it’s not too far-fetched.

“I thought that they would be better defensively with the addition of Kirilenko, but I didn’t necessarily expect a top-5 in the league defense,” Pelton said. “I think Rick Adelman deserves a great deal of credit for that. He made major strides at the defensive end last season, and I think he’s one of the most underrated defensive coaches in the league.

Pelton said comparing Adelman to his predecessors and successors at each of his head coaching stops, Adelman made his teams’ defense better in every situation but one: P.J. Carlesimo taking over for him in Golden State in 1997-98.

Other notes from Pelton on the Timberwolves:

  • Pelton said Nikola Pekovic had a noticeable leap in comfort from Year 1 to Year 2 in the NBA, something that often happens as players make the leap from the Euroleague. He said he was also in a role that was more favorable to him, playing next to Kevin Love and getting teams’ No. 2 post defender.

  • If the Wolves regain their full health, Pelton said Minnesota does have the opportunity to become a dynamic offensive team. The key is holding things together until Love and Rubio are fully healthy.

  • For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter, and join the conversation at WolvesNation.com.