The much improved Timberwolves… I think

Last season I predicted the Bucks would win over 40 games, and I was extremely confident it would happen, even though few agreed with my assessment.  This season I’m going out on a limb with the Minnesota Timberwolves.  I am predicting the Timberwolves will increase their win total from 15 wins to 26 wins.  Again I’m out on a limb, but this time I’m very nervous.

The difference, I think, is that the Bucks are coached by Scott Skiles, the Wolves by Kurt Rambis.  Whereas Skiles runs a predictably tight ship, the evidence suggests the Timberwolves quit on Rambis in March and April of last season.  Minnesota’s team Oppo Win Score went from a very bad 53.64 for the season to 59.56 for March and April.  59.56 is not defense, its active indifference.

But, I have to rely on the numbers.  And the numbers suggest there should be a bit of a defensive improvement this winter in the Land of Lakes (and Sid Hartmann).  I base that forecast on the Marginal Win Score averages of the Timberwolves new roster and on a dirty method of predicting offensive and defensive efficiency using plain  “+/-“, which I’ll explain in a minute.   Both methods suggest the team’s new personnel should be equipped to play a little better defense.

And, strangely enough, both MWS48 and ” dirty +/-” suggest the very same win total for Minnesota (MWS has them winning 26.6 games, “Dirty +/-” has them winning 26.5 games.)

For the “Dirty +/-” method all I did was I went on basketballvalue.com and copied down the team offensive and defensive ratings for each projected Timberwolf player’s respective team when that player was on the court in 2009-10.  After that I apportioned each player’s numbers according to the percentage of minutes I expect him to play this season.  From that I calculated that the Timberwolves would improve their overall team offensive and defensive efficiencies from 101.44-111.55 last season to 103.68-109.33 this season.

Those projected efficiency numbers aren’t great, but if you plug them into Prof Berri’s efficiency differential translation formula, the numbers equate to a winning percentage of .323%, or 26.5 wins over an 82 game season.

Predicted Win Chart

Below are the precise win breakdowns I project using Marginal Win Score and a rough guesstimate at each player’s court time. (I also had to take educated guesses at the MWS48s of the two rookies and the big foreigner).  You can decide for yourself how far out on a limb my numbers are, or how reliable the overall predicted total seems to be.  I must admit, though, when you look at the actual breakdown, it doesn’t seem that preposterous.  It even seems a bit conservative, based on past performance.  But its Minnesota, so we’ll see.

2010-11 Minnesota Timberwolves (Projected Wins and Losses)
Kevin Love…9.2 wins and 0.5 losses
Luke Ridnour…3.2 wins and 3.9 losses
Michael Beasley…3.0 wins  and 7.8 losses
Martell Webster…3.0 wins and 4.5 losses
Wayne Ellington…1.9 wins and 3.7 losses
Corey Brewer…1.5 wins and 8.4 losses
Wesley Johnson…1.1 wins and 3.0 losses
Nik Pekovic…1.0 wins and 2.3 losses
Darko Milicic…1.0 wins and 6.8 losses
Jonny Flynn…0.7 wins and 6.5 losses
Kosta Koufus…0.5 wins and 2.0 losses
Anthony Tolliver…0.3 wins and 4.5 losses
Lazar Hayward…0.2 wins and 1.5 losses
Sebastian Telfair…(-0.1) wins and 1.8 losses

Judge for yourself

Sure, I’m nervous about the overall total predicted wins, mainly because its the Wolves, but to be honest I’m really not that nervous about the constituent parts of the prediction.  If you look at it, the only player I’m counting on to have a high win volume season is Kevin Love, and given that Love will be playing next to the light rebounding Darko Milicic, and given Love’s “vacuum cleaner in sneakers” rebounding performance this summer in the World Games, my prediction for him could be very low indeed.

Other than him, the main thrust of wins come from Beasley, Ridnour, and Webster.  And each of those player’s predicted win totals for next season reflect a devaluation.  In other words, they are conservative.

I guess if one total is a stretch its Ellington.  But I based my prediction on the numbers he put up in the second half of last season.  The numbers were strong.  Besides, I like Ellington’s game.  He defends and he will score efficiently in streaks.

Another wild card is the big man from overseas.  His Euro and Greek numbers are very good.  But how much will he play?  I cannot predict, so I marked him with very low minutes.  But given the team’s lack of size, the big man could play much larger minutes.

So, I’m going with 26 wins for the Wolves.  I invite your ridicule (but not from that one humorless LeBron-loving DBag who thinks he’s a Schoolmarm or something).

BTW, if you have a minute, I have some other predictions to bounce off of you:  Let’s see, I have the Democrats doing well in the midterm elections, the Rams making the Super Bowl, France winning their next war, the Backstreet Boys storming back up the charts, Kmart stocks making a strong rally, British Petroleum winning a Sierra Club Award…

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2 Responses to “The much improved Timberwolves… I think”

  1. palamida Says:

    The T-wolves are tricky, so many unknowns and question marks plus Beasley being a huge wild card.

    With that said, Personally I think they’ll be a bit better than that.
    You’ve discussed Darko in the past (and his unique career), I think he’ll be somewhat better that what you put him down for. Furthermore, I doubt Pekovic won’t see some significant pt. Yes he’s a rookie but he’s one of the good ones :p much like Scola and Marc Gasol he can contribute right away and I suspect he’ll do just that, here we have another Euro big who can safely stay in Europe and earn large sums of money while not straying outside of his comfort zone. Naturally there’s no guarantees but I doubt he’s come over if the plan was for him to be a fringe rotation player – he probably will play more and be moderately effective.
    This team has basically taken so many “flyers” this season, some of which are surely bound to produce in an unexpected way and naturally those that do will receive more PT at the expense of those that don’t.
    Lastly, I wonder how the “national media” will react to a team trading it’s “star” (meaning, Big Al) and improving…
    Whose gonna get the credit for that? Kahn? Rambis? we shall see :p

  2. tywill33 Says:

    I like your prediction of “better”. It gives me some comfort.

    But its funny, the last time I mentioned in a post that the Timberwolves looked like they had to be pretty substantially improved, the post was linked to a Timberwolf blog and the commenters on that blog all had what I would call a pleased but skeptical view. Imagine if you went to a parent-teacher conference for your intransigent son and the teacher said he was doing much better and he might even get an “A” or two this semester, and your answer was kind of “Wow, I guess that would be great if it happened.” Translated, “That’s nice to hear someone predict, but I’d have to see it to believe it.” And these were presumably hardcore Timberwolves fans! They’re jaded, understandably so.

    Most of the comments focused on how awful Rambis’ first season was as coach of the Wolves. I could not have agreed more. He should have gotten better effort out of the team. A similar performance cost Larry K his job. Rambis survived, but probably only because of his connection to Phil Jackson.

    Good point about Al Jefferson, too. And yes, Darko has shown the capacity to play close to average for stretches, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him do better. I also think Beasley could do better. I don’t think Corey Brewer will, though.

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