In Minnesota the Timber Wolf has finally come off of the extinction list, and so has the basketball team. A lot like the animal, the team is not only thriving, but now find themselves in the playoff hunt. While the timber wolf has been on a fast and steady rise, the team cannot say the same till this year. We all remember last year’s record of 17-65, and let’s not for forget the dismal 2009-10 season when it was 15-67.
But this year they’re a completely different team. They’re focused on winning, making the ridiculous records of the past two years an awful nightmare and staying on task to bring the NBA championship to Minnesota. Now the first two are not that far off the Wolves record is 18-19 and for the first time in years they are at .500. They have already beaten their records from the previous two years and with a tough schedule ahead they plan to fight and keep it that way. This new team is hungry and plays like they mean it. Now the last one might have some scoffing but I say that it’s not as far off as you think.
The reason why it’s a possibility is because the Wolves now have leadership that they didn’t have before, and that leadership is Rick Adelman. He has taken this team to new heights that we have not seen in years. There is an excitement around Target Center that has been missing and Adelman brought it back.
Because of the lockout the Timberwolves and Adelman had little to no time to see what each side had to offer. What the Wolves knew is that Adelman has a 61% winning average and sits at number eight with the most wins as a coach in NBA history at 945-616. He also took the Portland Trail Blazers to the NBA Finals twice and the conference finals when he was with Sacramento Kings. Adelman is a proven coach who plays an eye catching, up-tempo and hard defense style of basketball and that is just what the wolves wanted and needed.
And what Adelman knew is that this is a young team whose offense is strong, defense was weak and that they really needed to succeed as a team. The Wolves showed last year they can score points, they have good offensive players and they got better as the year went on. But we all know good offense alone doesn’t win games. His first step was to make sure that the Wolves defense stepped up their game. It’s at the defensive end where they have to be more consistent and stop the easy baskets. Each one of the players needs to make a commitment to guard their own guy but also be a part of a five guy team. They needed to know that you don’t win unless you make stops down the stretch at important times in the game and that is something they struggled with that last year.
His second step was to get to know the players. Adelman knows that every player and every team is different and he takes that philosophy with him to every city he has been in. His only concern is with what happens from day one with the Wolves. He knew that he had to find a way for the players to believe they can be successful not only individually but as a team.
Adelman not only came with credentials he came with a trusted word. That word along with his proven record got the Wolves on the court quickly and started in a new and better direction. Being that Adelman is such a proven coach that also helped along the guarantee to keep one of our star players: Kevin Love. Love and Adelman have a history together; Adelman’s son Patrick played high school basketball with Love while they lived in the Portland area. Love has said about Adelman “We’ve always had a good relationship. Looking back to high school, I always asked myself, ‘What does Rick think I need to improve?’ I kept asking him for advice whenever I had the chance to talk to Rick.”
Love had stated prior to Adelman coming to Minnesota that hiring him would absolutely factor into Love signing a contract extension with the Wolves. Love also thought it’d be great to play with such a well-respected coach. Love knew Adelman had done everything that there is to do in the NBA and that he adds credibility to the team. And that credibility is much needed. Adelman also has a history of getting the most out of big guys with a good passing record and that is something that Love likes a lot.
Love saw what he did in Houston. A better than .500 record without Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady and knowing that he ended up with Aaron Brooks, Luis Scola and Chuck Hayes. Adelman took that young team and made the best of that situation all while making huge strives and that is what Love knew Minnesota needed.
And all of that is just what the Timberwolves got. Last year if you would have asked any Wolves fans if we would be this far we would have laughed or had you committed. But this is a serious team who is making serious strides to bringing the championship home. Yes we there are still problems but comparing to last year we are well on our way. The great comeback of the Wolves is due largely in part to Adelman. His ability as coach has made all the difference in the world with this struggling team. He knew that they could do better and by laying out plan of action for the team to follow they did. He managed to light a fire that previous coaches could not. New and exciting players need a new and exciting coach. And Rick Adelman is just that. He has pushed this team in the right direction and the followed. Now all we have to do is sit back and watch the Wolves wait for their next pray.