Platoon Of Production

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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Wolves Minute Hosted By John Focke

Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman is being creative. As he learns the tendencies and capabilities of his new, young team, the veteran coach is mixing and matching his way through games with different combinations of personnel on the floor.

At times, it looks like platoons of new bodies entering games. But no matter who he’s put in, the Wolves have responded with production.

Over the past three games, a span in which Minnesota is 2-1 against Miami, Dallas and San Antonio, different players have found ways to step up each night. The result has been a boost in confidence up and down the Wolves bench knowing anyone and everyone could be called upon.

“Our second unit is very good,” forward Anthony Tolliver said. “And we’ve got a very energetic second unit that I think can give a lot of teams problems off the bench.”

Minnesota showed its depth over the weekend. Against the Heat and Mavericks, Timberwolves substitutions resembled line changes in the second quarter. Combinations of Tolliver, Ricky Rubio, Derrick Williams, Anthony Randolph, JJ Barea and Wayne Ellington hit the floor to give starters much needed rest during a span of five games in eight days.

The reserves responded. In those two games, Minnesota’s bench combined for 51.5 percent of the team’s points and provided sparks of energy. Rubio collected his first double-double and five reserves scored in double figures against Miami.

Against Dallas, Tolliver’s pair of 3-pointers in the fourth helped ice the team’s first win of the season.

“Our job off the bench is to give us a spark, or whatever we need,” Ellington said. “We were sitting over there watching, so we have a chance to have an advantage and see what’s working and where we can come in and where we can help the team.”

On Monday against the Spurs, the starters were the story. Kevin Love—whose steady production is averaging 25.4 points and 15.2 rebounds per game—led the way as all five starters recorded double-digit points.

The Wolves’ starting five of Love, Michael Beasley, Luke Ridnour, Wes Johnson and Darko Milicic scored 86 of the team’s 106 points in Monday’s win, including 19 from Ridnour and Beasley.

The result? In the lock-out shortened season, Minnesota could combat its condensed schedule by sharing minutes up and down the roster. Aside from Love and Beasley, no one on the team is averaging more than 27 minutes per game—a benefit for saving energy during game-heavy stretches during the year.

Nine of the team’s 11 players who have seen action this year are averaging 18 minutes or more per game.

“It’s going to be huge, especially with so many guys who can play on this team from top to bottom,” guard Luke Ridnour said. “There’s going to be a lot of back-to-back, back-to-back-to-back (games), and we’ve got to use those young legs to our advantage.”

Adelman said part of the method is simply seeing which combinations of players work best and see how they compete.

“You just know how this season is going to go,” Adelman said. “It’s going to be very little practice time, so you just hope you keep people healthy.”

How Adelman’s rotations will look as the season progresses is unknown, but through five games Minnesota is making the most of whoever the coach puts out on the floor.

Right now, the Wolves are enjoying seeing everyone contribute.

“I’m excited moving forward,” Tolliver said. “If we keep it that way, great. If we don’t, it’s whatever coach wants to do. But as of right now, that second unit, I love playing with those guys.”

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