Dwane Casey's erratic coaching may drive Kevin Garnett away.
As incredibly pumped as I was about the Minnesota Timberwolves’ first two victories, I couldn’t shake one thought that kept rattling around in my head: We were a Craig Smith away from being 0-2. After the Wolves past two lackluster outings, you can up that total to 0-4. That’s right folks, it’s a cold, hard fact that if it weren’t for a way-undersized second round pick who stepped it up and surpassed everyone’s expectations, the sky would be falling in Minnesota. And not just falling in tiny pieces either. The local news would be abuzz about the King Kong sized meteor that just leveled the Target Center.
As it is, we’re a loss away from Kevin McHale coming into his office tomorrow and findng his voicemail completely filled with trade offers. Despite the heart they’ve shown battling out tight games in the fourth quarter, the Timberwolves most recent loss to the Kings made one thing very clear: Heart is only going to go so far. On some nights, games are going to boil down to talent. Heart gets you wins late in the fourth quarter. Talent keeps you in the game until the fourth quarter. And with the Wolves lineup structured the way it is currently, there are going to be more than a few nights where they come up short on the talent end of things.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Sure there are going to be games against the Mavericks and the Spurs where the Timberwolves simply get outclassed. That’s just the nature of rebuilding. But with the players on the Wolves bench, there’s no reason why this team can’t lock horns with 80% of the teams in the league and reasonably expect to win. However, with the players who Dwane Casey is actually giving the playingtime to, that 80% drops down to about 50-60%.
Here’s a breakdown of Dwane Casey’s lineup:
PG: 1st string: Mike James 2nd string: Troy Hudson
SG: 1st string: Ricky Davis 2nd string: Trenton Hassle 3rd string: Randy Foye
SF: 1st string: Trenton Hassle 2nd string: Marko Jaric
PF: 1st string: Kevin Garnett 2nd string: Craig Smith 3rd string: Eddie Griffin
C: 1st string: Mark Blount 2nd string: Eddie Griffin 3rd string: Craig Smith
It’s not the worst lineup in the world. However, on nights like last night when Ricky Davis spaces out, Marko reverts back to 2005-2006 Marko, and T-Hud isn’t on one of his rare hot streaks, things can get ugly rather fast. And judging by the regularity with which those three players put out performances like that, its safe to say the Timberwolves are going to get embarrassed a fair share of winnable games.
But I’m not here to complain. I’m here to offer a solution. And in reality, it’s a solution that a lot of people other than myself are offering as well. It’s a solution so obvious that several hundred, if not thousands of the Wolves-faithful have all noticed at the same time. What is the glaring problem with that lineup above? What just doesn’t make sense?
It’s PG: 2nd string: Troy Hudson and SG: 3rd string: Randy Foye.
It’s been said all along that Randy Foye, while able to play both guard positions, is better suited as a point guard. So why is he nearly exclusively logging minutes at the 2-spot? And why is Troy Hudson, who is erratic at best, taking all his minutes. I understand the concept behind bringing a rookie along slowly, but the Timberwolves just don’t have that luxury. We need Randy Foye available as soon as possible, and that means giving him solid minutes and having them be minutes at his natural position. If that costs us a few games early on, I’ll live with it. Having a matured point guard taking over for Mike James in February is going to help us a lot more than a win here or there in November.
A lot has been made about the Wolves trading Brandon Roy for Randy Foye. In the stat book, it’s been a very lopsided move. But when you compare their respective amounts of playing time, it’s obvious that there’s been far too little exposure to Randy Foy make any kind of assumptions. Had the Timberwolves kept Brandon Roy, everyone would be complaining that they passed on Portland’s young superstar, Foye. From what I saw in garbage time, Randy Foye looks infinitely more comfortable when he’s running the point, and could easily be a major contributor if given the opportunity. Even though the game was already decided and the Kings may have been slacking, I still saw those flashes of brilliance that made everyone so excited about our young acquisition. Talk about the perfect remedy for a team that could use a little more talent!
Kevin Garnett’s biological clock continues to tick away. And at the rookie’s current rate of development, KG is going run out of time. The way I see it, Dwane Casey has two options: Play the rookie at the point, or punch The Big Ticket out of Minnesota.