Blog Profile Central: Howlin' T-Wolf
Get To Know: Howlin' T-Wolf
Editor's Note: The Timberwolves community is fortunate to have a collection of dedicated, knowledgeable blogs that cover the team year in and year out. It's a network of gifted writers who bring a mixture of insightful analysis and humor to the game of basketball and the Wolves. Over the next nine weeks, Timberwolves.com will profile nine members of this community through a series of Q&A sessions with the founders and main contributors at each site. Part IV focuses on Howlintwolf.com, which began its run in the Wolves' blogosphere in 2009 with the goal of producing the most engaging content a Wolves blog can offer.
Blog Name: Howlin’ T-Wolf
Web Address: www.howlintwolf.com
Year Established: 2009
Main Administrators (with Twitter handles): Jonah Steinmeyer (@howlintwolf, @JonahSteinmeyer)
Contributors (with Twitter Handles): Tom Westerholm (@Tom_NBA), Derek James (@DerekJamesNBA)
What sparked the creation of Howlin' T-Wolf and what is the focus message you try to send to your readers?
Jonah: HTW (Howlin’ T-Wolf) was originally founded in 2009 by Patrick Hodgdon with the vision of reaching out to a growing NBA blogging community. At the time, there was a very small Timberwolves-centric presence in terms of blogs on the web. After HTW’s conception, Patrick realized how quick the Timberwolves fan base and community embraced the site, which led to him making a deal with ESPN’s Truehoop Network to be the exclusive Timberwolves blog candidate. Patrick hired Jonah on to take care of the grunt work and eventually handed the site off to him in April of 2010.
The focus of HTW’s message is simply to deliver the most engaging original content a Timberwolves blog can offer. We strive to give the audience a fresh perspective on current Timberwolves news that you can’t get anywhere else. We leave breaking news to the official news sources but make it our duty to share our opinions in an entertaining, thoughtful manner that anyone can enjoy.
What will readers find on HTW?
Jonah: Readers will find a wide array of stories on HTW. We specialize in commentary, game previews/recaps and extensive profile pieces. You’ll read our fresh perspective on commentary pieces such as David Kahn’s ousting or other news that needs careful analyzing and opinion. If you simply want to learn more about upcoming games, read Derek’s shining game previews, where matchups are outlined and anything beyond that is fair game. We also release joint game recaps for every game, where you can find all three of our different perspectives on that night’s action. And finally we enjoy releasing series where we highlight specific players and their games. Whether its current Timberwolves players (Our very own T-Wolf Rank) or our annual Draft Prospects series, where we analyze incoming draftees and their potential in the league and on the Timberwolves, we want to come out with endless content that keeps the audience engaged and interested in everything Timberwolves related.
From a feedback standpoint, why do viewers choose to come to Howlin' T-Wolf?
Tom: We trick them into it on Twitter? Seriously though, I think HTW has a solid reputation that Jonah has done a lot to build. We use Twitter and Facebook to help reach a larger audience, and is also our medium for establishing most of our dialogue back and forth with readers. Also, Derek and I have our hands in a bunch of different sites around the blogosphere, so I believe that brings in some fans of other teams around the league as well and also just contributes to HTW’s credibility.
What keeps you so dedicated toward analyzing and following the Timberwolves each year?
Derek: I started writing about the Timberwolves three years ago because I wanted to write about the team in a way that I didn’t see others doing at the time. Since then, I’ve found an entire community of other like-minded writers and interested readers who are as big of a fan of the team as I am, and that’s what keeps me motivated to continue doing this. I love writing and basketball, so this is a terrific outlet for me to do so. The readers and my interactions with them are a big reason for me continuing to do so, as well.
Favorite Wolves memory?
Derek: I’ve been a Timberwolves fan since the mid-90s, so there are a lot of possibilities for me here. Many might say the exciting run to the ’04 Western Conference Finals, which was undeniably great. However, I would have to say Game 3 of the 2001 Playoffs against the San Antonio Spurs since this was the first playoff game I ever attended. The Timberwolves were overmatched overall in the series, but the crowd still brought an electric energy and it felt as if we helped push the team to their lone victory in the series. That is hands-down the best atmosphere I have ever seen live and will always say that there is nothing like the Target Center when it’s rallying behind their team.
Biggest decision the Wolves need to make/address this offseason?
Tom: Didn't they already make it by letting David Kahn go? That was a pretty huge decision. The next biggest decision will be the draft pick, of course, since there are several serviceable shooting guards projected to be within Minnesota's range. Grabbing someone -- be it a draftee or a free agent -- who can substantially contribute will be huge in the Wolves' continued development.
How do you view the Flip Saunders hire as the new President of Basketball Operations?
Derek: While we don’t know exactly how well Flip will fare as the new President of Basketball Operations, I view the move as an example of the organization looking to continue to improve and not stay in a direction that wasn’t working and hoping that just changes one day. I think Flip is a great basketball mind who still understands what his role is and isn’t with the team, meaning he won’t try to interfere with what Rick Adelman will do as head coach. Additionally, his years of work in the NBA and the relationships he has built in that time should only help the Timberwolves in dealing with other teams around the league, something that desperately suffered given David Kahn’s alleged unpopularity around the league. I also think it will be interesting to see how this move influences future moves regarding the team’s direction in ownership moving forward. All in all, I believe this was the right move and should bode well for the immediate future as well as the long-term.
If you’re making selections for this team in the draft, who do you ideally take with that first pick?
Jonah: I can safely say that I’m happy I’m not actually making the picks in the 2013 NBA Draft for the Timberwolves—seriously, good luck, Flip. It’s no knock on the current entries that will be joining the NBA next season, but this is one of the more difficult drafts we’ve ever covered. With no true #1 pick overall and the rest of the projected lottery as scattered as the flying ping pong balls that dictate the order, it’s difficult to gauge where players could go. But from our research in our Timberwolves Draft Prospects series, the Wolves are likely going to see Victor Oladipo, Shabazz Muhammad and Kelly Olynyk, and this is predicting they stay at their currently predicted 8th spot and not shoot into the top 3 come Draft Lottery night on May 21st. The Wolves have some holes to fill both in the shooting guard and center spot, so any of those names are fair choices. But I would like to see the Wolves look toward a brighter future and take Dario Saric, a small forward out of Croatia. The Wolves have seen great success building with international prospects before, and the small forward position may be a big weakness if Andrei Kirilenko doesn’t accept his ‘13-’14 option and Chase Budinger moves to another team during free agency. Saric might be worth stashing now and bringing over in a year, similar to what they did with Nikola Pekovic and then bring him along slowly. It’s not a popular pick but there aren’t many favorite moves in a draft this weak towards the top.
What was the most enjoyable storyline in the NBA this season? Why?
Tom: I'm definitely committing the mistake of being biased to the current moment, but Steph Curry and the Warriors have been the most compelling story of the playoffs, which makes him a top storyline of the season. How often do we see a single guard affect the first two rounds as much as Curry has done with his all-around game? Every time he hits a 3-pointer, it feels like the entire basketball community is holding its collective breath because he's a ticking time-bomb ready to go off at any moment of the game.
Which beat writers do you follow closely to get more information on the Wolves?
Tom: Jerry Zgoda is an important one, to be sure, as well as Britt Robson and Ray Richardson. Zach Harper (CBS Sports Eye on Basketball) and Steve McPherson (Hardwood Paroxysm) both write for A Wolf Among Wolves, among many other sites, are two super-entertaining Wolves Twitter follows as well.
Which are some of your favorite NBA- and Timberwolves-related blogs you follow?
Derek: As I mentioned above, there are so many great blogs and bloggers in the basketball community. As far as NBA, Zach Lowe does great things at Grantland, then there’s CBS’ Eye on Basketball, and of course Hardwood Paroxysm. For Timberwolves blogs, A Wolf Among Wolves, Canis Hoopus and Punch-Drunk Wolves all do great things and come up with some stuff worthy of your lunch-break read. I know I’m forgetting some, and for that I apologize, but there are so many good sites out there.