I'm not sure if this will be an every fifth game series of posts about the nearest pro Basketball team but since the Wolves' season is more than 6% done as of tonight, I thought it was a good time to hit the keyboard about the squad. The decision was made easier because of the big man "brawl" in animosity town but even if KAT hadn't pushed back on Jo-el there would be some topics to dive into about the team.
I'll start with what I thought could be the biggest liability this season - the primary ball handling. Teague has been a solid lead guard so far, against players that he should be able to handle on veteran savviness alone. I've been more impressed with the early play of Shabazz Napier, because my expectation of him was about as low as it could have been. He was really good at Uconn and has done enough to stick in the NBA but I didn't think he would even be up to the level of Tyus Jones. He is and should remain firmly entrenched as a reserve but that's a step up from where I thought he should be before the games counted.
The whispers of Tex Burger being used as a point guard have not come to volition yet and I'm VERY okay with it. I know that that contradicts with point #1 but I'm fully on board with the Wolves bringing Culver along slowly. Let him get comfortable with the size, speed & strength of pros before adding too much else to his plate. If he almost never acts as the point guard this year but gets better from game 1 to game 82 then that would be a very successful rookie year.
Part of the progression that he's already shown can be made this season is as a deep shooter. Even without any of the kinds of talents that Golden State & Houston have, the Wolves have made no secret that they're going to be a bombing team. Towns helps in that pursuit and the stated goal of establishing what they want to do so that they can make pitches to free agents with proof to support their claims is smart. And in game five Culver showed that he is already getting more comfortable from the new distance which is a good sign as well.
And of course there is the elephant in the room. Was it necessary to get into a half-hearted tussle with another multi-millionaire? Maybe not. Probably not. However, I like that Towns didn't just let the goon do whatever he wanted. In old school Basketball, the big man was always the enforcer. I don't want Towns to take that role on because the franchise will go as he goes and that would be a terrible way to get injured but as a statement to the rest of the association and his teammates, I really liked that he pushed back.
Roster depth has been an issue in Minnesota for a long time but this early stretch of games has shown that the 13th man is capable of contributing at times - as demonstrated by Gorgui Dieng in place of Towns tonight. Granted, it's against a bad Washington squad but it's good to know when pressed into duty he can hold up & function within the offense that they're running. Which says nothing of the fact that they also have three guys who would probably be in the mix on teams like Washington but are in Iowa for Minnesota.
It's still early in the year but the positives far outweigh the negatives to this point in the season for Minnesota. When some negatives pop up or there are multiple topics worth going into, I'll come back with more Howls or Fouls but it's all good right now, and I'm glad to accept that!