Chase Budinger Gives the Wolves a Wing

Mar 24, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves small forward Chase Budinger (10) prior to the game against the Chicago Bulls at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Greg Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Over at Canis Hoopus, there is a post theorizing about Chase Budinger’s positive affects on the Wolves’ offense and it glosses over a decade’s worth of Rick Adelman wings who’ve benefitted from it and poses the Wolves’ small, but successful, sample size as evidence in favor of the idea that retaining the services of Budinger is Wolves Offseason Priority #1.

The team both shoots better (47% with, 43% without) and wins…better?….(6-5 with, 20-40 without) when he plays. It could be a coincidence. Or it could not. I’m leaning towards not.

Beyond the obvious….he’s a good three point shooter and above-average athlete on a team fairly devoid of both….I think the core of what propels this team with Chase aboard is the system Adelman likes to run, which is both very flexible and not nearly as flexible as you’d think.

When you break it down, the foundation of Adelman’s system is basically places on the floor that get left open (usually just to the left or right of the free throw line and right under the hoop) and players that know when and how to occupy them.

He posts video of Peja Stojakovic, Kevin Martin and Budinger all lighting it up from deep and getting to the rack, scoring and drawing fouls.

All three of those videos have at least 15 possessions of Adelman ball, and yet you can count on one hand the number of times you see an Adelman player set up shop within 10 feet of the hoop in any one of them. More often than not, all 5 Adelman-ers are above the key, and the action happens when guys make cuts to the hoop off down screens or float out to the Great Beyond. Budinger himself, in fact, won the Pacers game for us on just such a play.

I take issue with this as selective editing — of both the youtube clips and reality, as other personnel on the floor weren’t exactly featured in these individual highlight reels, and just over-generalizing Adelman’s offense, in, uh, general.

That’s because Adelman’s system is designed to not move the ball towards the hoop, but rather move the players towards the hoop, then let the ball catch up. And he knows that his guys won’t make cuts into spaces that are already occupied, even if the occupant is a teammate.

That’s the kind of generalization I’m talking about, but it’s fine, the real sticky wicket is this next bit…

This is not to say that he won’t adjust that….he did it with Yao in Houston and has done it here with Pekovic….but it does mean that, ideally, he’d just as soon not have to. I believe this is what lead him to stick with Vlade Divac in Sacramento and what is propelling the Gasol pursuit here (it’s not just Kahn. Adelman wants Pau too) And made the Kings such a force when Chris Webber was healthy, and what kept them in the hunt when he was not.

Okay, Adelman adjusts to guys who occupy that promised land in the low post, but the high-post passer is probably higher valued in his offense — unless it’s a guy like Pek, or in this example Chris Webber, then they are even made even more effective. What? This feels like talking out of both sides of one’s mouth, but moving on…

…RA wants big guys who can be major contributors and distributors for him without being tied to the post. Even though healthy Webber was their best player, Peja was their most important one. CWebb was an unreal power player in his prime, but what made him work in Sacramento was his ability to pass like a point guard (arguably the best passing post player ever, in my opinion) It was Peja was the guy who capitalized on Open Adelman Spaces, shook up the defense, balanced the floor for everyone else, and ultimately made the system work.

None of this is necessarily refutable, but on the heels of talking up Adelman’s system benefitting even greater from a significant low post presence, talking up C-Webb’s outstanding passing skills — skills for which Pek is not exactly renown — seems like we’re lusting after Pau here and doesn’t add up with that earlier part. But wait, there’s more…

But I do think that the ‘Chase Effect’, or what have you, is real. That Budinger’s presence on the floor, even if he doesn’t have the ball….maybe especially if he doesn’t have it….fundamentally alters the look the Wolves throw at the bad guys and makes them all more effective within the offensive system Adelman runs. By being in different places on the floor, the defense then also adjusts to be in different places.

It’s just theory, mind you, but worth examining. I’ll reiterate that I’ve been led to believe that Budinger is this team’s top offseason priority, which leads to an interesting debate.

This would seem to be the point of the entire article: I’ve been led to believe that Budinger is this team’s top offseason priority.

Topics: Chase Budinger, Minnesota Timberwolves, Pau Gasol

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