Throughout the course of the season, various beat writers, bloggers, online journalist and columnists will join me in bringing you an inside look at teams from around the league as they roll into the Rip City. Today, Stephen Litel – who has covered the NBA for the past four seasons and writes for the Downtown Journal in Minneapolis -breaks down the Minnesota Timberwolves.
What has impressed you the most about Kevin Love?
It seems cliché, but I’m very impressed with Love’s work ethic. When I arrive at Target Center on game days, it’s about 4:30 pm. Love is already out on the floor with JB Bickerstaff in a full sweat, working on post moves. The outside game and passing are there, but his commitment to improving is how he’s impressed me early.
How good can Jefferson be?
Big Al is already at an All-Star level and, statistically, probably should have made the squad last year. Of course, it’s nearly impossible to secure an All-Star roster spot playing on a team as bad as the Wolves were last season. Jefferson is not shooting well to start this year, but the numbers are still there and he’s shown a much greater passing acumen with outside shooters like Mike Miller to help stretch the defense.
Portland should be aware of _______?
Rashad McCants. Much is made of McCants’ attitude “issues,” but he has shown tremendous growth in the first weeks of the season. Seeming to embrace his role off the bench, McCants has shown the scoring ability he is known to have, coupled with the ability to put the ball on the floor and dish in traffic. With Randy Foye’s struggles to start the year, McCants’ unselfish play has been a bright spot.
So, how is the rebuilding process going by the way?
As far as building a more likable team than ones that featured players such as Mike James and Ricky Davis, the Timberwolves have found success. The players making up the 2008-09 roster are easy to root on, yet have a ways to go before becoming a true playoff contender. The mix this year of youth and experience, as well as a much more balanced team will keep them in most games this year, but defining who will step up alongside Jefferson in crunch time is key for the future.
Do you ever wake up in cold sweat knowing you could’ve had Brandon Roy?
Honestly, the inevitable comparison between the two has not been fair until this season. Both had solid rookie seasons, but the second year is the difference now. While Roy blew up, making the All-Star team, Foye sat on the bench with an injury that kept him out for half the year. This season may go a long way towards determining if the trade was fair or not, even though a majority of Wolves fans would rather see Roy in the new Minnesota uniforms. The concerning aspect is how Foye has struggled with both his shot and confidence to this point, after comparing himself to Steve Nash last year and proclaiming himself a leader on the team.
Big thanks to Stephen Litel for stopping by Beyond The Beat – to read more from Stephen, make sure to check him out at Downtown Journal, or SLAM Online where he writes on the Minnesota Lynx and serves as SLAM’s WNBA columnist.
pic via: hoopsstarsonline