With the lockout likely to linger well into October and perhaps into November, trying to preview the season of 30 teams that might not actually have one seems about as worthwhile as raking leaves on a windy day. But I love raking and the wind only makes it last longer. We here at Razzball have you covered, even if you didn’t want to be covered. That’s love. You’ll appreciate it when you’re older. Look at it this way, the only way any of this stuff can be disproven is if the season starts. So go ahead, NBA, make me a fibber! I dare you. Until then, consider this fantasy basketball gospel. Don’t even bother reading anything else – dem’s all lies. From now until the start of the season, we’re bringing you the 2011 Fantasy Team Previews, which will focus on each team in order to paint a clearer fantasy picture. Who’s starting? Who might surprise you? And who might make you want to hurl yourself off a bridge in a few months. Enjoy! Next up – The Minnesota Timberwolves (The West’s worst, or Westwurst if you intend to put it in a bun and eat it.)
Gained – Derrick Williams, Ricky Rubio, Brad Miller (after his microfractured knee is healed in January)
Lost – Jonny Flynn, Tanguy Ngombo (another ace pick by the T’Wolves!)
Probable position depth –
PG – Luke Ridnour, Ricky Rubio, Sebastian Telfair
SG – Wes Johnson, Martell Webster, Wayne Ellington, Malcolm Lee
SF – Michael Beasley, Derrick Williams, Lazar Hayward
PF – Kevin Love, Anthony Randolph, Anthony Tolliver
C – Darko Milicic, Nikola Pekovic, Brad Miller
Surprising Team Fact From Last Season – The Wolves played with the fastest pace of all 30 teams (96.5, a full possession faster than the Knicks and Nuggs). Hand it to Rambis, if you’re gonna look terrible implementing a system into a roster that can’t support it, might as well do it by whizzing past people.
Number of Top 20 Fantasy Players (par 0-1) – 1, Love
Number of Top 50 Fantasy Players (par 1-2) – 0
Number of Top 75 Fantasy Players (par 2-3) – 2, Beasley
Number of Top 100 Fantasy Players (par 3-4) – 0
Number of Top 200 Fantasy Players (par 6-7) – 8, Randolph, Ridnour, Williams, Johnson, Milicic, Rubio
3 Concerns Heading Into the Season
1. Has the Goodship Rubio sailed on already?
Rubio averaged .451/.767/6.5 pts/2.7 rbd/4.2 ast/1.9 stl/0.1 blk in 42 games with Barcelona last season, played even worse than that in 20 Euroleague games last season too. You could double those stats and he would only be mildly interesting as an unproven 21-year-old entering the NBA. He can’t shoot, might have foot issues, doesn’t particularly want to play for the team he’ll be playing for, couldn’t start in Europe and isn’t going to start in Minnesota. YouTubbed montages of Rubio are one thing, 82 games of Rubio playing I Spy on the bench with Sebastian Telfair, are quite another.
2. David Kahn wants to run an up-tempo offense next season. Does David Kahn know the Wolves played the most up-tempo game in the league last year?
Probably not. As long as your best player is an unathletic PF, there’s only so fast a team can go and still be successful. “Who said anything about success?” -David Kahn, who has already kind of committed to playing Rubio 25 minutes a night.
3. Stop messin’ around, is Anthony Randolph going to produce this season or not?
I believe he will. Trick me once, shame on you. Trick me twice, shame on me. Trick me with three different teams, might as well call me Client No. 9, ’cause that’s a lot of tricks, Spitzer. If you had asked me in December or even February of last season, I’d have said Randolph was not likely to be much in this league. And you did ask me. And that was what I said. But after he was traded from New York, he went from averaging 2/2/0 in 8 mpg to 12/5/1, with 1.5 stl+blk in 20 mpg with Minnesota. I don’t love the glut of forwards in Minnesota (I haven’t mentioned Derrick Williams yet, I already went over his prospects here), and I’m not recommending you take Randolph anywhere in the first 100 picks, but if he can carve out 24-26 mpg for himself, get a little more comfortable, we could see a 14/6.5/2 sleeper pick averaging 2+ stl+blk per game.
Fantasy Disappointment in ’11 – Ricky Rubio. The hype will undoubtedly get Rubio picked 50 players before he should go. Rubio means fair (as in, “meh”) in Spanish. Need more be said?
Biggest Fantasy Contributor in ’11 – Kevin Love. If reasons for Love being the team’s biggest contributor were lakes, Minnesota would have a thousand of ’em.
Deep Sleeper – Wesley Johnson. From month-to-month last season, Johnson just couldn’t get out of his 9/3/2 rut. He was craving it, but Wes Cravin’s don’t mean a whole lot in the end (take THAT “The Hills Have Eyes!”) He’s young and likely to avoid much of the blockage awaiting the 3 and 4 positions. (That being said, I can see the T-Wolves attempting an up-tempo offense with nothing but Ridnour and guys over 6-foot-7, can’t you?) I think Johnson will have a better per minute year than he did last season, but Johnson’s 26 mpg might be harder to come by now that the Wolves are deeper. So deep is where you’ll want to go to pick Johnson.