Rand: Fresh starts are a flop for Wolves' discards

  • Updated: December 10, 2012 - 6:56 AM

Five Timberwolves who "got away"

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Former Wolves center Darko Milicic (31) played exactly five minutes in 10 games for the Celtics, who waived him two weeks ago at his request so he could be with his ailing mother in Serbia.

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune file

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Much has been made about the Timberwolves' rebuilt roster this season, which gave the squad (at least before all the injuries) the appearance of being one of the deepest teams in the NBA.

Perhaps lost in the fray, however, are some of the players who were dispatched to other teams. While not all of them have struggled since leaving the Wolves, enough of them have -- to reach a consensus that Minnesota was wise to reconstruct its roster with new blood. Check out this "starting five" of recent Wolves players:

Point guard: Jonny Flynn. He hasn't played for the Wolves since the 2010-11 season. The good news is he's leading his team in scoring this season. The bad news is that it's in Australia, where Flynn tops the Melbourne Tigers at 16.2 ppg. That's not exactly the career arc one would project for the No. 6 overall pick in 2009.

Shooting guard: Wes Johnson. The No. 4 overall pick in 2010 was hoping a trade to Phoenix would be the change of scenery he needed to revamp his career. "I bounced around in college. One place didn't fit for me, and I went to Syracuse and it was like paradise. It grew on me. So I definitely believe in [history repeating]," he told AZcentral.com in July after being acquired by the Suns. That, however, has not happened. He has failed to gain consistent playing time on a below-average team, logging only 59 minutes of court time this season. He is 2-for-10 from three-point range and is shooting 29.6 percent from the field.

Small forward: Michael Beasley. Here's Beasley, also now with Phoenix, in a nutshell: After starting the first 20 games for the Suns, he was relegated to a reserve role Saturday because of poor shooting and lax defense (sound familiar?). On Saturday, he led the team in scoring with 21 points. However, the Suns were outscored by 21 points when he was on the court (they lost by 18). That brings his plus-minus rating to an NBA-worst minus-162 even though he does not rank among the top 100 players in minutes played. Beasley's Player Efficiency Rating -- a stat created by ESPN's John Hollinger -- has gone down every year of his career. The system is based on a league average of 15. Beasley is at 10.01 this season, the worst mark of any forward (small or power) who plays at least 25 minutes.

Power forward: Anthony Randolph. The ultimate "untapped potential" guy, Randolph has played 25 minutes all season with the Nuggets. He signed a multiyear contract with Denver in July and said at the time, "I feel my talent level will take over and everything else will come naturally."

Center: Darko Milicic. He played exactly five minutes in 10 games for the Celtics, who waived him two weeks ago at Darko's request so he could be with his ailing mother in Serbia. "It's pretty much unemotional because you never got a chance," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said of the roster move. "I'd liked to have had that opportunity. I thought we were building him."

MICHAEL RAND

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