Buddy Hield is having a breakout season

The Sacramento Kings have started the 2018-19 season better than anyone outside of California’s capital city would have predicted, and third-year shooting guard Buddy Hield deserves a significant share of the credit.

Hield is tied for the team lead in scoring, averaging 18.7 points per game while shooting 47.4 percent from the field, 42.9 percent from three-point range and 82.9 percent at the free-throw line. His 5.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game are also career-high numbers.

The Kings are 8-6 following Monday’s win over the Spurs. The franchise that hasn’t made the playoffs in 12 years is currently in eighth place in the Western Conference.

It’s unlikely Sacramento hangs onto that playoff seed — slow-starting yet star-studded teams like the Rockets, Jazz, Lakers, Pelicans and Timberwolves are all behind the Kings in the standings — but they have noticeably improved from last season, when they finished 27-55.

The Kings are trending in the right direction, with Hield enjoying a breakout season as one of the important pieces of their rebuilding project.

Two years ago, when Hield was crowned college basketball’s national player of the year by a majority of outlets, there was no reason to believe he wouldn’t go on to become a star in the NBA.

Hield averaged 25.0 points per game as a senior at Oklahoma, leading the nation in three-pointers and leading the Sooners to the Final Four. He was taken No. 6 in the 2016 draft by the Pelicans.

However, Buddy didn’t exactly take the league by storm. Midway through his rookie season, he was traded to the Kings as part of the DeMarcus Cousins deal.

The history of NBA stars who were discarded during during their first year by their first team is short, but it has happened before. Chauncey Billups and Joe Johnson come to mind — both of them were traded by the Celtics as rookies and bounced around for a few years before earning All-Star status.

Hield could follow a similar path. Early into his third season, he is producing at a consistently high level. And more important than his stats, Hield appears to be carrying himself differently. He is playing like he believes he is the best player on the court.

Hield may not be “The Man” in Sacramento (yet). That title could go to point guard De’Aaron Fox, who is tied with Hield for the team lead in scoring at 18.7 points per game. Perhaps it’s being groomed for rookie forward Marvin Bagley III, the No. 2 pick in the most recent draft. The Kings have one thing in common with the two-time defending NBA champion Warriors in that they don’t have a clearly defined No. 1 guy.

But Hield is at least carrying himself like he wants to be the Kings’ top guy. He is calling for the ball in the fourth quarter. He wants it at the end of quarters so he can take the last shot, like many stars do.

Another thing that stars do is respond strongly to a subpar performance.

On Oct. 23, Hield had by far his worst game of the season, scoring just five points in a loss to the Nuggets. He bounced back by scoring 20-plus points in six of his next seven games, including a season-high 27-point effort in a win over the Hawks.

The jump shot — and the range that comes with it — will always be the bread-and-butter of Hield’s game. But this season he is becoming more of a well-rounded scorer instead of a pure shooter. He’s also showing improvement as a ball-handler and passer. His Defensive Rating is even a career-best 100.9 this season, which ranks third-best on the Kings.

Hield is leading the Kings in shot attempts and ranks second in minutes played. Head coach Dave Joerger is keeping Hield on the court when it matters, and Hield wants the ball when it matters. And he’s producing when he gets it.

All-Star nods and having his name at the top of the marquee may still be a few years away for Hield, but this season it looks like he has put himself on a realistic road to what seemed like a certainty when he entered the league.

Thank You Jimmy Butler

Jimmy Butler

On Monday, it will become official. Jimmy Butler will be a member of the Philadelphia 76ers. Over the course of the past year and a half, Butler has put Minnesota fans through it all. He taught Minnesota how to love basketball again. Butler gave Wolves fans a sense of hope and optimism for the future. He got Minnesota back to the playoffs, a place they hadn’t been since the Kevin Garnett days. Then, he also taught Minnesota that they can’t be too fortunate. Right when fans were hopeful of the future, ready to make another run at the playoffs, Butler asked out. But, let’s forget about that and look back on the good times that Jimmy Butler provided for Minnesota. Timberwolves fans, it’s time to say “Thank You” to Jimmy Butler.

 

Jimmy Butler,

Thank you for bringing back basketball hope to the state of Minnesota. The 2017 NBA Draft had Minnesota buzzing after the trade for you was completed. Wolves fans finally felt like they had a legitimate chance at making the playoffs again for the first time since the 2003/04 season.

Thank you for giving out your phone number when you were introduced in Minnesota. Wolves fans bought in on that day. People could sense your determination and will to win, it was very apparent.

Thank you for playing with 100% energy and effort every game of the season. It’s not always the easiest thing to play at full effort, especially when you’re playing 40 minutes a game, thank you Tom Thibodeau. But, you didn’t complain. No matter how tired or out of breath you were, the effort was always there.

Thank you for providing Wolves fans and NBA fans across the globe with a number of classic GIFS. Especially my favorite video of you messing with Taj after a failed full-court heave.

Thank you for bringing the Minnesota Timberwolves back to the playoffs. It was a long 13 years for Minnesota basketball. It was quite the drought. I think half of Minnesota didn’t even realize we had a professional men’s basketball team anymore. But, that night at Target Center against the Denver Nuggets to get into the playoffs was special. Target Center was rocking, and there’s a chance we won’t see the Target Center like that again, at least in the immediate future.

Your time in Minnesota came to a sour end, and Wolves fans won’t be happy with that. But, for a franchise that had been missing the “it” player for over a decade, thank you for showing Minnesota what it’s like to watch winning basketball again.

Jimmy Butler Trade: Initial Reactions

Jimmy Butler

When the Sixers and Wolves get on the phone with the league office on Monday morning, it will all be official. Jimmy Butler is being traded to the Philadelphia 76ers. The complete trade is as follows: the Wolves will send Butler and Justin Patton to Philly in exchange for Robert Covington, Dario Saric, Jerryd Bayless, and a 2022 second-round pick. Initially, it looks like a deal that both sides should be comfortable with, at least given the circumstances. Minnesota finally gets to move on, and hopefully, start looking like a basketball team again. The Sixers get a third star to pair with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. For the purpose of this article, I will be providing reactions on the side of the Timberwolves.

 

It was time to move on

When push comes to shove, the Timberwolves had to trade Jimmy Butler. They already let the situation go on too long, and it was beginning to take a toll on the locker room. Media members who were in Minnesota’s locker room following their loss to the Kings last night described the scene as frustrated and beat up. Despite the players insisting that the Butler situation wasn’t affecting their play, it was hard to deny the lack of chemistry on the court for Minnesota early in the season.

 

Was this the best deal?

Perhaps Minnesota didn’t get the best deal. Their best offer could’ve came before the season when Miami reportedly offered Josh Richardson and a first-round pick to Minnesota. The Wolves balked and had to settle for what they could get. However, the deal they did get was not equal value, but good value considering the situation.

 

The new-look Wolves

Perhaps the biggest winner in this trade is Karl-Anthony Towns. It appears the Wolves are ready to run through the all-star center on offense, something Wolves fans have been pleading for all season. With Butler out of town, Towns and Wiggins will be the main scoring threats for Minnesota, and with all the talk about Minnesota not being able to win without Jimmy, those two players should be motivated. Additionally, getting Covington and Saric provide long-term stability to the roster that sets them up great for the years to come. While the team may flourish under a coach not named Tom Thibodeau, this was the first step in the right direction.

Robert Covington and Dario Saric
Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

How the new guys fit in

If I had to guess, Covington and Saric should see themselves plug right into the starting lineup. While Thibs may decide to keep Taj Gibson in the starting lineup, with Saric coming off the bench, Saric needs to be the starter while Minnesota plays this season out.

The biggest upside to the return for Minnesota is the spacing that Covington and Saric provide. Covington is attempting 5.9 threes per game this season, while Saric is also shooting 5.4 shots from downtown this season. Minnesota has been focused on the three ball so far this season, and Covington and Saric will provide even better spacing for Minnesota when they enter the lineup. In Philly, Covington and Saric were a big reason why Embiid could be so efficient in the paint. Guys who were defending Covington or Saric could not sag off those guys to help on Embiid, because both players are effective shooters from three.

Another upside in the return for Minnesota is Covington’s defensive ability. Widely known as a great perimeter defender, Covington will likely guard the opposing team’s most effective player night in and night out. Minnesota is not a great defensive team, and while trading Butler will hurt their defense, adding Covington will make the drop off a little less hurtful.

 

Conclusion

As I have said all too many times, this was a move the Wolves needed to make. It was time, everybody knew it, and it was getting obvious on the court. While the Wolves likely won’t be contending for a title anytime soon, this was the first step in the right direction in getting Minnesota where they want to be.

Rookie Update: Trae Young’s game management

(photo cred: SB Nation)

A couple days ago, Trae Young and his Atlanta Hawks played the Miami Heat and came out victorious. While a win over a well-coached Heat team with a winning culture is certainly impressive, the most impressive feat was Young’s ability to make good decisions with the ball.

15 assists later, we see why Young was such a highly touted prospect.

Lucky for you, I am here to take you through this game, as well as others. Read on and find out exactly why Young has had a promising start to his career. Take a peek into his future and see how Young has adapted to the NBA game, and proving why scouts may be wrong about his game management skills.

Flashback: Where did we have Trae Young ranked?

Young was our number four prospect overall. His player profile highlighted some of the usual strengths for Young: NBA Range, extreme handle, excellent vision. It also profiled his weaknesses, such as his slight frame, shot selection, and inability to quarterback the game (or so we thought.)

During his initial NBA season, we expected Young to have some growing pains. He is going to take pull-up jumpers when he should pass instead, he is going to take contested shots among the trees, he is going to take 30 footers 9 seconds into the shot clock. Fine, okay.

Yet, what Young has shown so far is encouraging. With each game, his decision making has become better. While it may not always show in the turnover numbers, it shows in the eye test. Thankfully, there is plenty of game tape available.

Stick with me as I take you some early season progression of Trae Young’s game.

1. Pass this ball!

Earlier this year, against the Dallas Mavericks, Trae Young dazzled during the late stages of the game. Yet, he still made a crucial mistake when driving against forward Maxi Kleber.

Young beat Kleber off the dribble and darted towards the hoop, where rim-protector DeAndre Jordan was waiting. Seemingly, Young was scared by the prospect of DJ, and decided to cut back into Kleber in order to put his shot up. Consequentially, the shot was swatted.

Young missed a wide open Alex Len in the corner. Len has not been known to be a 3-point shooter, but check out his current 3-point numbers.

Per Game Table
Season Age Tm Lg Pos G 3P 3PA 3P%
2017-18 24 PHO NBA C 69 0.0 0.0 .333
2018-19 25 ATL NBA C 9 0.7 1.8 .375
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/6/2018.

Additionally, Len is taking half of his 3-pointers from the corner and hitting 37.5 percent of those attempts. What’s my point? Young should have kicked this ball to Len for a corner triple. Instead, he went back into the much taller defender and had his shot blocked. Check out the video below.

2. The right decision.

Bad decision by Young, correct? It seemed like he learned from this mistake, however. Look at what Young did against the Heat during the opening stages of their game. After beating Josh Richardson off the bounce, Young sees the monstrosity of Hassan Whiteside coming to protect the paint. So, what does he do?

This time, Young noticed that Kelly Olynyk was also coming over to be a shot blocker. Olynyk left his man, Omari Spellman, wide open. Young displayed his top-notch vision and slinged a gorgeous one-handed, left-handed pass to Spellman who drilled the triple.

The change in decision making here is noteworthy.  Will Young continue to make this good decision? No, not all the time. But his ability to recognize this shot-blocking threat and find the open shooter is nothing to be taken lightly. Simply put, not every starting NBA guard can make this read or deliver this pass. 

3. Using the body correctly

Guess what? Its Kleber time again! This time around, Young absolutely embarrassed Dennis Smith Jr with some nifty ball-handling (Sorry, DSJ!) Then, he takes on Kleber. Young is able to go strong into the chest of Kleber, and then bounce away from him. This gives him the space possible to put up a solid layup attempt, which goes in.

In the prior Young/Kleber clip, Young moved back into Kleber, but it did not create space. In fact, it eliminated space. Watch below and see exactly what I am talking about. This is what Young needs to do more of.

Young can finish around the rim, despite his small frame. He needs to pick and choose when to do so, however. Yet, the signs are showing that Young may be getting the hang of this.

4. Manipulating opposing big men

Out of all the Trae Young footage I have watched this year, this clip may be my favorite. And for good reason, too.

The Hawks run a horn set here, and the play is designed to free up either Spellman or Kent Bazemore for a 3-pointer. We know this because Len abandons his pick for Young and instead, runs crosscourt to set a screen for Bazemore. Bazemore (probably) has the option of going backdoor for a lob or coming around the pick to get a catch-and-shoot trey. He is well defended and the option for a pass is not there.

Young’s next read is to be for Spellman who popped to the perimeter. Yet, Young is doubled off of the pick, and has no clear angle to Spellman. What he does next displays his high-level basketball IQ and a growing sense of patience.

Young’s first two options are blown up, so he maintains his dribble and takes Olynyk one on one. KO’s upright stance is not ideal for the Heat. What’s more, capable defender Josh Richardson gets turned around, and in that instant he loses Spellman who cuts hard towards the rim.

So, Young fakes a layup attempt to free up the space needed to dump a pass off to Spellman. Trae has minimal room to make this pass, but sneaks it in there regardless. Spellman gets an and-one. Watch the entire clip for two angles of this play.

This play shows you the eyes that reside in the back of Mr. Young’s head. His playmaking ability is much better that what we saw during his college days, as he has more court to operate with. NBA spacing has done wonders for Young already, and he will continue to take advantage of spacing as his game grows. His ability to force opposing bigs into troubling situations is truly impressive sometimes.

5. Turning down good shots

Uhhhh….who thought we would be criticizing Young for turning down 3-pointers during his rookie season? Not me.

During this play, Young collects his rebound from a miss and resets the offense. Eventually, he gets the ball in a pick and roll and has tons of space for an open trey ball. Before I show you the film, take a look at how much space he has for the 3-point shot.

young 3 spacing.PNG

For a guy with such shooting prowess, this needs to be a pull-up 3-point attempt. Needs. To. Be. NBA analytic nerds probably cursed aloud when they saw this poor decision making. Young would go on to make a running jumper, but it was an inefficient shot that will miss more times than it goes in.

6. Pushing the pace with the pass

At Oklahoma, Young had an absurdly high usage percentage. My guy held the ball for what seemed like forever. Scouts worried if this would carry over to the League. So far, it looks like Young has made some substantial changes to the way he approaches offense.

Specifically, Young has placed an emphasis on pushing the pace. Yet, he is not always doing this by flying down the court with the ball in his hands. Young is letting that thang fly, and finding wide open players for both fast break 3-pointers and dunks. Example one is below.

Young never puts this ball down after receiving it with one hand. Love the celebration as well. In this next example, Young shows that he still has to learn when it’s the best time to make this pass.

As the Heat score this bucket, keep your eyes on Trae. He never takes his eyes off of Taurean Prince. Young rips a full court pass to Prince and hopes TP can make something out of nothing. Miami already has defenders back and the play eventually results in a travel from Len.

This is still promising, though. Young clearly already has great chemistry with Prince. Not only does he let Prince operate with the ball on a ton of possessions without interfering, but he constantly looks for Prince during breakouts. If anything, it may be Prince that needs to be more alert! The clip below will demonstrate what I mean.

Wrap up

We are still way to early into Trae Young’s career, but he is surely proving the “bust” scouts wrong. Mile Bridges has some words to say to these people.

Want some more Twitter stuff? Yes, you do. We all do. This one comes courtesy of a fellow stats nerd. With all the early season rookie hype going to Luka Doncic (as well as Wendell Carter Jr, among others), we may have overlooked Young’s hot start to his career. His first few games compare pretty well to another NBA legend.

Hmmmm….Of course, to project Young to be the next Big O would be irresponsible. But, Young is quieting critics everywhere. His decision making is constantly improving. Sure, he has to continue to nail down when to shoot the ball and when to make the right pass. This will come, however, as Young has shown he is trending in the right direction here.

Get on the bandwagon now, people. There is still room.

@Mattesposito

11/4 Timberwolves @ Blazers Rapid Reactions

Final Score: Blazers: 111, Timberwolves: 81

In what was a gloomy night with General Soreness, Jeff Teague, and Derrick Rose out, the Wolves showed little life. Tonight’s Rapid Reactions will be a little different. The reactions will be mostly from the fans, getting their thoughts on the game. Let’s dive in!

My Thoughts:

Your Thoughts:

As you can tell, all is good in Wolves land. Sleep well Wolves nation.

And as always, ice up, you don’t want general soreness.

One way the Suns love to use DeAndre Ayton

(photo cred SB Nation)

Let’s catch up with DeAndre Ayton, shall we?

At ProCity Hoops, we had DeAndre Ayton ranked as our number 2 overall prospect, right behind that Luka guy who is already the best player on the Dallas Mavericks. When scouting Ayton, we dug deep and tried to find out what his strengths were beyond simply being a behemoth of a man.

Sure, Ayton is a physical freak who moves in ways 7-footers should not move. Oh, and he has decent touch and mobility. His passing was something, however, that was always underrated. Ayton possesses the vision to pass out of double teams, something he saw often in college.

Yet, the Phoenix Suns are using him in a different way. They are giving him the ball around the perimeter, then having him face the basket and make reads (see Horford, Al.) Instead, the Suns seem to be running an extraordinary amount of dribble handoffs (DHO) through Ayton. It has paid off; look at Ayton’s stats and assist numbers so far throughout the year. Below is his assist percentage.

Advanced Table
Season Tm Lg Pos G MP PER AST%
2018-19 PHO NBA C 8 253 22.5 17.7
Career NBA 8 253 22.5 17.7
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/4/2018.

Compare that assist percentage to other skilled big men who operate often from the DHO, such as Horford (20.5 percent), Joel Embiid (19.5 percent) and Anthony Davis (19.5 percent.

We listed Ayton as being a soft screener with poor technique in our scouting report. But, the dude is so freakin’ big that he can still be wildly effective. His IQ for the game and ability to make the right read gives Phoenix the confidence to have Ayton run DHOs. In fact, many times Ayton does not even dribble, turning this DHO into a simple HO. Regardless, let’s go through the various options Phoenix can score from using Ayton as the handoff-screener.

 

The Pull-Up

Having Devin Booker on your team must be nice.

Especially when you have a monster setting screens for you after a nice handoff. This is exactly what Ayton does for Booker on plenty of occasions and the two seem to have solid chemistry already.

On this play, Ayton pops between the elbow and the perimeter, catches a pass and then immediately looks to handoff to Booker. Here is the crazy part: Ayton never really sets a screen. The mere threat of him impeding the path of Dennis Smith Jr is enough for DSJ to slow up and let Booker get half a step on him.

Oh, and when Booker gets half a step on you…..

Watch these two go at it again, this time versus the defensively astute Golden State Warriors. Ayton hands off to Booker, then Ayton rolls to the rim, which is something he did not do in the previous clip.

When Ayton rolls, his combination of athleticism, wingspan and size demands that defenders must stick with him. We call this roll gravity. Despite 7-footer Damien Jones and 6’9″ forward-turned-center Kevon Looney being next to Ayton, Andre Iguodala feels the needs to stick with Ayton.

Iggy realized his mistake, but it was too late. Booker got just enough separation and popped for a beautiful 15 foot jumper. Swish. Watch below.

The Drive/The Cut

Eventually, teams will catch on to this set. They will recognize that a DHO/HO with Ayton and Booker will likely result in Booker looking for his pull-up. Considering Booker is a lethal shooter this makes sense.

Yet, this play can be used to free up driving space for the receivers of the handoff. In this next clip, also against Golden State, Ayton runs a rarely seen corner handoff with Isaiah Canaan.

Watch as Ayton sets the softest of screens against Curry. I’m not sure you can even call it a screen, but Ayton still disrupts the path of Curry, who is trying to stick with Canaan. Curry gets beat, and Draymond Green has to help.

Canaan could have (and should have) flipped a lob pass for Ayton, who was rolling to hoop unguarded. Uncharacteristically, Draymond underates Canaan’s scoring ability and lets him score a layup. All of this was made possible by Ayton’s massive frame and rollability.


Memphis looked like another team that may have wised up to this play. Here, the Grizzlies try and prevent Josh Jackson from taking a handoff from Ayton. Smartly, Jackson does a quick V-Cut and strides towards the hoop. Ayton slings a gorgeous one-handed pass to Jackson, which finds its way between two defenders. Jackson then scores a layup.

When teams try and prevent guards or wings from taking this handoffs, Ayton can beat them by making great reads like the one seen above. His passing ability and vision is both underrated and underappreciated, although not for long.

In this next video, the Toronto Raptors recognize that this play is to be a DHO from Ayton to one of Phoenix’s guards. So, the Raptors prevent both Booker and Canaan from receiving this handoff. In fact, Danny Green and Kyle Lowry, two plus defenders, do an excellent job at preventing this.

Yet, the shifty Devin Booker fakes out Lowry, cuts to the hoop and gets a nice read from Ayton for a layup. Ayton’s ability to hit a 17-foot jumper keeps Jonas Valanciunas far enough from the hoop that the rim is unprotected and Booker can take advantage of it. Expect more of this going forward.

What is Next to Come

Ayton has shown the skill to roll to the rim and throw down lobs. He wants to do this when coming out of these DHO and screens. At Arizona, Ayton did not always have the space to do this, however. This may be why this particular skill was not written about indepthly during all of the 2018 scouting reports. See for yourself below.

Ayton runs a DHO for current New York Knick Allonzo Trier. He rolls to the rim for a lob pass, but there is not enough spacing. UConn can keep a defender in the paint to prevent this passing from ever happening, and recover quickly enough if the ball is swung to the perimeter.

The pass comes to Ayton, but it was not the one he wanted. He has to dribble around two defenders and take a hook shot. It goes in, but the most efficient play would have been the lob pass.

Against the Warriors, we again see Ayton call for this roll pass. There is no one between him and the rim. Ryan Anderson gets the handoff, uses the screen and opts to take a contested long range two, arguably the worst shot in basketball. This pass must go to Ayton! I mean, look at this screenshot!

ayton roll.PNG

Watch the play for yourself. The Suns were lucky it worked out, but this shot should usually result in a miss. The right read needs to be done here.

Going forward, the Suns needs more of the play shown below. Booker and Ayton execute the DHO perfectly. Ayton rolls to the rim and takes a bounce pass between two defenders. He doesn’t field it cleanly, but Ayton recovers to simply shoot over the smaller help defender.

The (slight) Adjustment

The Suns need to find a way to consistently put three or four floor spacers on the court. Why? This will stretch the defense and give Ayton more room to roll during these DHOs. Think about (homer alert) the Boston Celtics and when they run Horford and a ballhander through screens/DHOs.

Take a peak at what the Cs do here. With Horford (screener), Kyrie Irving, Terry Rozier and Jayson Tatum, they have four shooters on the court. In this set, Marcus Smart, the non-spacer, takes the handoff from Horford. All three of Irving, Rozier and Tatum flash to the perimeter, which draws their defenders out of the paint.

Smart drives hard to the hoop, beating his man. Ekpe Udoh is forced to abandon Horford and prevent Smart from getting an easy layup. Horford receives a lob from Smart which results in a slam.

This was an impressive set against a good Jazz defense. Do the Suns have enough shooters to mimic this lineup? Probably not. Anderson, Trevor Ariza and Booker are traditionally plus shooters, and T.J. Warren has added that to his game this year. Yet, Anderson has proved that his defensive miscues are not always worth the offensive spacing he provides.

The Suns should run out Booker, Jackson, Mikal Bridges, Warren and Ayton in small ball lineups. The trio of Booker, Warren and Bridges should draw defenders to the perimeter. The Suns seem hesitant to run Booker as their nominal point guard, despite him having the ability to do so.

Regardless, Phoenix cannot afford to stunt the growth of DeAndre Ayton or their other stars. Give the young guys some run, while also mixing veteran spacers into lineups with Ayton. This will give him the experience of running DHOs as either passer, lob-finisher, or popper.

11/2 Timberwolves @ Warriors Rapid Reactions

Final Score: Warriors: 116, Timberwolves: 99

Timberwolves:

  • Minnesota held with the Warriors for most of the game, but the Warriors made their typical fourth quarter run to put Minnesota away. However, the Timberwolves’ play up until the halfway mark in the fourth was encouraging.
  • Minnesota was not shy from the three-point line. The Wolves attempted 45 threes in the game, but they connected on just 13 of the tries. In contrast, the Warriors made just as many threes, but it took Golden State 11 less attempts.
  • Jimmy Butler was ice cold from three. After a great display of three-point shooting in the win over the Lakers on Monday, Butler was 0-8 from three tonight. Butler forced a number of shots throughout the game, especially in the fourth quarter when Minnesota needed a bucket.
  • The Timberwolves move the ball with Tyus Jones. The Wolves’ ball movement with and without Jones in the game is a completely different story. Jones recorded eight assists tonight, and when he was on the bench, the Wolves lost all ball movement.
  • The Timberwolves only turned the ball over five times, yet they still lost by double-digits. Against the Warriors, Minnesota needed to play a perfect game to come out with the victory, and in terms of turnovers, they did just that.

Warriors:

  • When Golden State gets DeMarcus Cousins healthy, this team will quite literally be unbeatable. Teams currently have a chance to play a perfect game to beat Golden State. However, when the Warriors add another all-star into their lineup, teams might as well not even show up to the arena.
  • Steph Curry makes basketball look so easy. Curry barely broke a sweat tonight, yet he managed 28 points on 11-24 shooting from the field. In what seemed like a “quiet” performance for Curry, games like this could help boost Curry into another MVP-type season.
  • Golden State dominated the glass. The Warriors controlled the boards on both sides of the ball, gathering 61 total rebounds, compared to Minnesota’s 39 rebounds. The Warriors kept Minnesota off the offensive glass, something the Timberwolves have been very good at this season.
  • No matter how much you like or dislike the Warriors, they are super fun to watch. The Warriors move the ball like no other team in the NBA. When the Warriors are having fun and flying the ball around the court, there isn’t quite anything that compares in terms of pure ball movement.