Reusse's Reality Script: Episode 14 (Woofies Nation)
Get the 1500 ESPN SportsWire delivered to your inbox daily, and keep up with all the news in Twin Cities Sports
The first quarter at Target Center on Sunday afternoon was great entertainment. It would have been even betten if Andrei Kirilenko had not been fouled going for a dunk after Ricky Rubio's fast-break drop pass.
The Timberwolves had 32 points in that quarter, and Rubio was spectacular in running the attack.
Rubio is all the way back from knee surgery, in my opinion. And when Golden State rallied, as you knew would be the case, and came away with a 100-99 victory ... you could see the disgust on Rubio's face as he left the court.
He cares, even with the Wolves now standing at 20-33. And he's a hell of a player.
What's interesting about the Wolves is that, even with the ongoing absences of Kevin Love and Chase Budinger, you like a few of the pieces. Yet, when they get on the court together, you don't like the mix.
As I said, Rubio ... I'll take him long-term. He tries defensively and gets steals. He's not a shooter, and never will be with that flat trajectory of his, but who cares? He runs things well _ and often spectacularly.
He was charged with six turnovers on Sunday, and half of those were passes that should have been handled by teammates and were not. He's been getting 8, 10 assists a game lately, and the output would be higher if there was one shooter for Rubio to find on a consistent basis.
That's where Budinger, and a Love with the three-point stroke of last season, would give balance and more life to the offense. When your most-reliable shooter is Luke Ridnour, you're hurting.
I like the skills of Alexey Shved, even though the rookie was gawd-awful on Sunday. He is erratic and mostly a liability if the coaches try him in the fourth quarter of a close game.
He needs to put on a few pounds in the offseason. And he doesn't play much defense.
Andrei Kirilenko is a high class player, even if he's no longer a high output scorer. The hope is he will either exercise his option to return next season, or he will negotiate a two- or three-year extension.
The reporters who track these things closer than me insist there will be a $12 million per year contract waiting for center Nikola Pekovic as a free agent.
You like his offense (except for those missed bunnies inside), but with hope of signing Love to another big contract in the future, and with Rubio headed for a huge deal ... I don't think $12M makes sense for the Wolves with Pek.
That would leave a void, obviously, but the Wolves are going to have a lottery pick and the Memphis choice in the first round. Finding a center who can offer some offense has to be the priority.
And getting a big guard ... that also would be nice.
Derrick Williams should get credit for keeping himself in great shape through the course of the season. I've seen ballplayers with a bulk problem show up in much-better shape for camp, and then pack it back on as the season progresses.
The activity level in basketball makes that less of a problem, but I was interested in how Williams would handle the weight this winter, and he's done very well.
He also played very well for much of Sunday, and then Williams let Golden State's Draymond Green move him aside to rebound a missed free throw in the final minute ... a moment that killed the Wolves.
Williams remains the Wolves' version of the Gophers' Joe Coleman: He makes a mistake, and he's looking to the bench to see if the coach is going to hook him.
Rick Adelman is never going to embrace Williams as a player. And if the coach plans to return next season, the Wolves might as well move Williams in a trade before the draft.
Put him somewhere where they go up and down floor and Williams still has a chance to be productive in the NBA.
Two players I don't get it are J.J. Barea and Dante Cunningham. I can't stand Barea falling around, forcing shots and playing zero defense. And Cunningham might be OK for 15 minutes a game, but the more exposure you get to him, the more you see a player overmatched against good players.
I love Rubio. I like Kirilenko. I feel like Shved will get better. The Wolves need Budinger's shooting. They need Love to come back with his pout off, and play like a star again.
We're talking next season here. Whatever happens with Budinger and Love in the last 15 games or so is only a preview.
Replacing Pek will be a chore. Barea _ please, get him out of here. And if Adelman is back, Williams won't be.
You look at the pieces individually and like some things. As a whole, there's considerable work to be done again this summer.