With the Kings slowly limping their way back to Sacramento with a 1-2 record in what was supposed to be the easier part of their schedule, the boys in purple have just one last stop to make on their road trip before they can bask in the comfort of Sleep Train Arena's crowd. Stopping off in Minnesota for the last time this season, the Kings are looking to face a young Timberwolves squad that they have yet to beat this season in their first two appearances. Led by Rookie of the Year favorite Karl-Anthony Towns at center, and backed by star-in-waiting Andrew Wiggins and point guard savant, Ricky Rubio, the Wolves are young, hungry and with nothing to lose but some meaningless game in March. Watch for the underrated majesty of Ricky Rubio's passing and defense, watch for the rising hydra of Towns, Wiggins and 2-Time Dunk Champion Zach Lavine as they show flashes of what could be a dominant team a few years down the road, watch as the Kings try to snuff the light out of all that is young and positive in the world!
Wednesday's game against the Timberwolves can be seen on CSN-CA, can be heard on KHTK 1140 and begins at 5pm PST. Let's talk Kings basketball.
Timberwolves by the Numbers:
The Minnesota Timberwolves are a very young, hyper talented squad. Like watching a pup with huge paws gallop their way through a living room, they're a bit of a mess to watch, but there are many little things about them that preview the beast they could become with the proper growth and training. Andrew Wiggins gets complacent in games that don't matter to him. Rubio is a maestro that still hasn't put together how to shoot the basketball with consistency. Zach Lavine is, and never will be, an efficient point guard. The worst I can say about Karl-Anthony Towns is that he is an absolute monster in the making; someone that could spell trouble down the road to anyone that may currently be deemed "The Best Center in the Game". This team has all the pieces to be a Western Conference power, and sooner rather than later.
Right now, however, their squad is like every other still mired in the 20's of wins this late in the season; a bad basketball team. With a record of 22-48, the Timberwolves' problems are numerous, and on both sides of the basketball. Currently the 20th highest scoring team in the league at 101.7 points per game, 11th slowest in pace and 12th in offense, the Wolves have weaknesses that the Kings should absolutely exploit on the defensive end. For one, the Timberwolves take the third lowest amount of field goals a game, and the second lowest amount of threes a game in the NBA, and though they are eighth in the league in total field goal percentage, they're 30th in threes taken, 29th in threes made, and 28th in 3 point percentage. These guys can't make threes! Karl defense, engage! Unsurprisingly, the youth movement in Minnesota is also 21st in the league in turnovers.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Wolves hold opposing teams to 105.8 points per game, 24th in the league in that category and are 29th in defensive rating, and for good reason. They allow the 3rd best field goal percentage to their opponents in the league, and the 9th most three point attempts, but allow their opponents to shoot 35% against them, 14th in the league in that category. While Minnesota holds their opponents to the 12th fewest amount of two pointers, they're a league worst in opponent's two point percentage; allowing them to shoot over 52% from inside the arc. They're 17th in blocks, 18th in steals, 28th in total rebounds per game, 30th if you're looking at just defensive boards.
The Sacramento Kings should absolutely be able to handle a team as young and inexperienced as the Wolves. A team that can't really block shots, can't rebound, and can't hit threes? They were seemingly designed to be a "W" on the Kings schedule, and yet, here they are looking to close in on winning the season series against the Kings. Again, the Kings win and lose now based solely on whether or not they mentally check into the game. If they want to beat the Timberwolves, they will. But for them to want to do anything this late in the season, is a complete crapshoot.
Odds and Ends:
-This team held two former Kings just a month ago, Kevin Martin and Andre Miller, both of whom were released from the team and now both with the San Antonio Spurs. Now, the only former King connection they have is David Adelman, the son of the last successful coach in King's history, who is currently an assistant coach in Sam Mitchell's staff.
-The Timberwolves are currently last in the league in attendance.
Prediction: The Kings lull themselves into indifference early in the game, but get woken up when Zach Lavine decides to hold an impromptu dunk contest. The Kings hold on to win: 109-104.
For the other side of things, head over to the fantastic Canis Hoopus.