We asked readers for their Wolves-related questions, and they had a whole bunch. Here are some of the best ones, with answers:
Ricky P — Will we see (Ricky) Rubio continue to play in "clutch" time or will his role taper off as the season progresses?
A: It's going to be one of the more fascinating questions as the season goes forward. It hasn't been the smoothest of starts for Rubio, but given his veteran stature, and given that the Wolves brought him here for leadership, it's going to be difficult — once he returns from the health and safety protocols list — to remove him from a clutch lineup even if another lineup combination might be ideal. The Wolves are already asking Rubio to make a sacrifice in coming off the bench. Before the season, Rubio said he wouldn't be thrilled if he had to come off the bench, but he would do it if he thought it'd be best for the team — and if the team was winning. They're not winning right now.
The Rubio-D'Angelo Russell combination hasn't exactly sparked fireworks offensively. The two have an offensive efficiency of just one point per possession when they play together. That's over 120 minutes of playing time. That number is only 1.02 in fourth quarters (which accounts for 30 minutes of that playing time). How long before you can say it's not working? How long do you give them to try and develop chemistry?
Russell likes to be methodical with the ball in his hands and that can sometimes pause a high-tempo offense. He also doesn't need Rubio to set screens for him, nor is Rubio like Malik Beasley, who can knock down the open looks those screen and rolls may penetrate. It has been hard to see how they fit together so far — and fit together specifically in crunch time.
@Justin_V_Allen — "Blasphemy alert... but is it time to think about trading KAT? I just don't really see their endgame with the current roster, even a year or two down the road (unless Edwards suddenly becomes mini-Giannis). I'm honestly ready to blow it up and start again."
A: I get the frustration, but a reset will only delay and thought of contending by even more years. Also, as all these trades for superstars have shown in the last two years, the Wolves will get a haul if they one day do decide to trade Towns or he asks out of town. Given he has three years left on his contract after this one, I think you can afford to wait and see how President Gersson Rosas adapts the team around him in the near future.
That said, I'm not sure how long of a timeframe Rosas is going to have before frustrations mounts internally and externally. Towns is staring down the barrel of only one short-lived playoff appearance in six seasons, if the Wolves don't make it this year. If that number becomes 1 in 7 next year or 1 in 8 two years from now, it's hard to imagine the rumor mill won't crank up again. But again, if that day comes, the Wolves should be able to command plenty in return for Towns, no matter when it may come. So for now, just try to see the roster for what it's worth and what it might become.
@RustyRay1980 — I realize the personal ties to the franchise, and vice-versa, but how much longer is the Saunders era going to last?
A: I wish I had a crystal ball for you, RustyRay. I can't see the future, but I think it's fair to use this year and if the Wolves haven't started to make tangible progress toward the end of this season, I think it's fair to question Saunders' job status. Last year he given a makeshift roster to play for most of the year, one that Rosas was using just as a holdover roster to make deals.
Then they had a month, without Towns, before coronavirus ended their season. This year has been a compressed training camp and Towns already missed a significant amount of time. Assuming health, and in a season when COVID is going through they league that's a big assumption to make, I think you have to give him the season.
Owner Glen Taylor wants to see that tangible progress. Taylor notably said he expects the Wolves to be a playoff team this season, and specifically he wanted to see progress from Saunders.
"We talk about things he's doing and it appears he's doing good things. It appears he's motivating the players and appears he utilizes as much practice [time] as he can, but I'm a guy on results," Taylor said before the season. "Without a doubt, the team needs to improve and we've done a lot of that by bringing in the right guys, but now we have to have them jell and get ourselves into the playoffs."
Let's circle back and see where we're at with this question in April or May.
@MrPeoplesInc — Why do the wolves "go small" with two non-shooters on the floor? (Rubio and Okogie)
A: I think the answer lies partially in the fact the Wolves don't have a power forward they trust. They trust Josh Okogie at 6-foot-4 to guard certain players taller than him more than they do, say, Hernangomez or Jake Layman, late in games. When getting stops is at a premium late in games, Saunders is going to defer to the players who are his best defenders and right now Okogie needs to be on the floor in some fashion in those situations.
This might also be the time for fans to lament the fact the Wolves released Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, and they wouldn't be wrong to be upset, especially as Layman and Hernangomez have struggled to start the season.
@drueck76 — Maybe a unique question, but why is there a Target Center public address announcer if there is no public to address?
A: They want to simulate a game atmosphere as much as possible so a public address announcer is a part of that atmosphere.
@zkindt — When do you think questions about Rosas will start? I get the roster is still far from finished and that Saunders has yet to have a stable team for more than five games but the current roster is so unbalanced it's shown to be unplayable.
A: In general, I think you have to give a general manager at least a couple years to get their vision in place for what they think their team can be. We've seen Rosas be aggressive in his 20 months or so on the job. But the roster is still in flux. There's still young talent to develop. Unless you have a Paul Fenton kind of situation with the Wild where the general manager is deemed to be establishing a bad culture, I think it's fair to give a GM at least a few years.