Tracking the T’Wolves – Teach me How to Tumble

Published: February 23, 2012

Chris and Mason get back after it, this time taking a look at what we can learn from the only team to beat the T’Wolves twice so far this season.

After a one-week “Tracking the T’Wolves” break during which Chris and I both wrote our own rebuttals on two different topics (mine to Bernucca and Chris’ to Wilson), we have returned to take a look into how those Timberwolves from Minnesota are most effectively tamed. In order to do so, what better way than to evaluate the only squad that has beaten the T’Wolves more than once this season? That team is none other than the Memphis Grizzlies. I’ll break down what the Grizzlies have done right against them from a basketball perspective, and then Chris will add in his own always unique insight.


Mason’s Take: Memphis’ 3 Keys to Tumbling T’Wolves

1) Make Beasley their leader in FG attempts. In Memphis’ first game against the T’Wolves, Beasley took 16 shots, making just 5 of them, along with 5 turnovers and misses on his only two FT attempts. He fared better in their second matchup, making 6 of his 11 attempts, but only totaled 13 points since he failed to get to the line even once. While Love will routinely get the most looks for Minnesota, if Beasley hangs close behind, it often spells doom for them. Check out the Timberwolves’ record given the following qualifiers:

  • Beasley shoots 1st or 2nd most on the team: 3-8
  • Beasley shoots 3rd most or lower on the team: 8-4
  • Beasley attempts 9 or more shots: 6-11
  • Beasley attempts 0-8 shots: 5-1
  • Beasley doesn’t play: 6-5

See what I mean?

2) Encourage their guards to shoot jumpers. No Minnesota guard apart from Ridnour has shown an even moderately respectable mid-range (10-22 feet) jump shot this season, and all of their guards are shooting below 36% from 3-point range. Wesley Johnson and Wayne Ellington shot a combined 1-13 in their two games against Memphis from 16 feet and deeper. If you make them shoot from the outside instead of letting their big men go to work inside, you have a good chance to beat them.

3) Attack their 2-guards on offense. Tony Allen went 8-8 in the two teams’ first meeting, and Quincy Pondexter went 7-14 in their second matchup with Allen sitting out. With a most common back court of Rubio and Ridnour, the T’Wolves often give up height to opposing 2-guards and struggle to compensate for this fact.


Chris’ Take: What Remaining Opponents Can Learn From Memphis, TN

The Mississippi River connection here is strong. New Orleans, Memphis and Minneapolis are the only three NBA cities sitting on the mighty river. New Orleans’ future can be fast-forwarded with a terrible finish from Minneapolis. Memphis has provided the blueprint.

We’d be thrilled if the Tumblewolves had to set up shop in Memphis for every game from now until the end of the season but I hear that that never happens so let’s move on to the next best thing.

Which teams get multiple shots at being our hero? My top secret calculations say its the Lakers, Suns, Blazers, Clippers, Warriors, Kings and Nuggs. These teams can learn a lot from Memphis’ playing style (as Mason expertly outlines above) but I believe there is more that can be done, all in the name of helping New Orleans. What changes can the above cities make to do a better job of achieving Memphis magic? I have some very feasible ideas.

1) Los Angeles converts the Dodgers from a major to minor league team.
This may not make sense to you but listen up, naysayer. The Redbirds are the AAA affiliate to St. Louis and Redbird is another name for the Northern Cardinal. Memphis is south to St. Louis. If a North Cardinal can live south of the World Champion Cardinals then Los Angeles may be willing to go through with this. Anything is possible.

2) Phoenix starts another Beale Street Music Festival.
There actually is a Beale Street in Phoenix and there are probably at least 2 bands in the desert so why not? Works for Memphis. Likely to work for Phoenix. If not Phoenix try Portland. There are probably at least 3 bands in Portland. All things are possible.

3) Speaking of, Memphis has an incredibly rich music culture.
Johnny Cash, Elvis, B.B. King and many more all got their start there. What if we convinced the city of Memphis to loan whatever statues, plaques and museums to some fellow NBA cities? I vote B.B. goes to Sacramento. Nothing is impossible.


  1. Pingback: Tracking the T’Wolves – Top 10 or Bust! (Series Finale) | New Orleans Hornets |

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