1. Kurt Rambis Does NOT Run The Triangle Offense
While Rambis has implemented some of the philosophies of the triangle into his offensive system, saying that he runs the triangle is a bit disingenuous.
What Rambis has done is take bits and pieces of similar offensive systems and roll them into one, producing an offense which is, first and foremost, looking for opportunities to get out on the break and create easy buckets in transition.
"I probably never should have described it as the triangle," Rambis said in November of last year. "I should have just termed it our 'flow' offense and that would have been the end of it."
Part of the reason Al Jefferson, the "face of the franchise" in Minnesota since the Kevin Garnett trade, was shipped to Utah this summer was his lack of passing skills.
With a longer, more skilled and athletic roster in place, the Timberwolves will be better equipped to employ parts of the triangle, the Phoenix Suns' run-and-gun, the Princeton, and motion offenses that make up what Rambis is trying to accomplish offensively.
2. Michael Beasley Is Ready To Play - Starter Or Reserve
In 2007 Michael Beasley was the No. 2 overall selection in the NBA Draft after putting up one to best statistical seasons in the history of college basketball as a freshman at Kansas State.
"If I start, then I start," Beasley said. "If I don't, then I come off the bench and I am going to be the same player. Three, four, two, one, six, seven, eight… It doesn't matter what I play, just put me on the floor and I am going to try to make things happen for the team."
On a team without a defined go-to player on the offensive end of the floor, Beasley is expected to have a bigger role in the Timberwolves offense than he did with the HEAT, where Dwyane Wade was the focal point offense.
"I don't want to go out and say, 'I'm going to score 25 points a game or I'm going to score 30 points a game,' because that means I'm forcing it and I'm looking for it," Beasley continued. "The more I force it, the less the team works. I'm just going to go out there and play hard every night. I'm going to give Minnesota a show every night and I'm going to make sure our fans enjoy watching us play."
3. The Timberwolves Will Be Deeper And More Athletic
Perhaps the most important thing is the depth and experience that has cultivated a more competitive group heading into the 2010-11 campaign.
"We've got some more experience, players that have been in the league for a while, we've also got more length, more athleticism, more versatility, we're bigger, we're stronger," Rambis said.
Point guard Luke Ridnour has been a starting point guard in an up-tempo offense. Webster brings outside shooting, athleticism and defensive effort. Rookie Wes Johnson is an athletic wing with good size and the ability to knock down shots. Beasley, obviously, brings a wealth of potential as well as some productivity and playoff experience. Nikola Pekovic has been one of the best centers in the Euroleague the last two years.
4. The Presence Of Darko Milicic At Training Camp Is Vital
In order to be selected where he was amongst a group of such highly-touted prospects, you must have had a great deal of talent. Unfortunately for Milicic, he hasn't had much of an opportunity to showcase his diverse skill-set and develop as a player.
In just 24 games with the T-Wolves, Milicic put his ability to score, pass, rebound and defend on display, averaging 8.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.4 blocks and 1.8 assists while playing just 25.6 minutes per game, the most minutes he has gotten with any of his previous five NBA teams.
"Darko really loves to pass the basketball," Rambis said. "I think as guys grow and learn that whenever he gets the basketball, if they find the way to get themselves open, he's going to get them the basketball. He is very poised and he enjoys passing. I'm encouraging him to get out and to trust his offense, too, and to work on that. The preseason and training camp, that is the time to kind of let that come back to him. He just loves passing and playing defense, those are the parts of the game that he enjoys most."
"Training camp is the most important thing," Milicic said.
5. David Kahn Is Not The Imbecile Some In The Media Have Made Him Out To Be
If you will just step back, forget about what you think you know, and look at the state of the Minnesota Timberwolves today in relation to where they were in the 2008-09 season.
In '08-09, Minnesota won 24 games. That same year, the Timberwolves doled out approximately $66M in player salaries
I will grant you that Kahn's Wolves won only 15 games last season (his first at the helm), tying the franchise record for fewest in a season. Rome, however, wasn't built in one day.
Suddenly, Minnesota is loaded with young athletes, most of which haven't come close to reaching their potential and are still playing out their rookie contracts. The Timberwolves payroll this season is more than $20M less than when Kahn took over. Next season Minnesota has about $22M in guaranteed contracts. Almost instantly, this once-miserable franchise is financially viable. Oh, yeah, and there is more talent on the roster.
6. Wesley Johnson Is Not Your Average Rookie
At 6-7 (with a 7-1 wingspan and 37" vertical leap), Johnson led Syracuse to a 30-5 record and a No. 1 seed in the 2010 NCAA Tournament, while averaging 16.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.7 steals and 1.8 blocked shots per game. He can fill the lane on the fast break, slash to the basket and knock down shots from the perimeter.
At 23 years old, the athletic swingman is more mature, physically and mentally, than most players in his draft class. While he might not have as high a ceiling as Cousins, Johnson is a solid player who should be able to step in and contribute to the Wolves immediately.
"We wanted a wing who can get out, fill the lane, attack the basket and shoot it, too, and Wes fits just that role," Rambis said. "He's long. He's tall. He's very athletic. Those characteristics fit very well in this league. He fit what our needs were."