Orlando Magic (0-1) @ Minnesota Timberwolves (0-0)
The new shooting guard is here! The new shooting guard is here! There are too many horrible excuses for perimeter scorers that have been trotted out over the years to dampen our spirits on this phone book opening day.
Let’s just say the arrival of Kevin Martin is something to celebrate and his continued health is something to pray for.
Orlando starting lineup:
PG Jameer Nelson
SG Arron Afflalo
SF Maurice Harkless
PF Jason Maxiell
C Nikola Vucevic
Fresh off last night’s season-opening loss in Indiana, the Tobias Harris-less Magic are in the midst of a post-Dwight Howard transition. Nelson is still there at the point and Hedo Turkoglu is buried back there on the bench, but the Magic have acquired some youth through trades and the draft.
It won’t be long before they go all in on giving Victor Oladipo, Harkless, Harris and Vucevic extended minutes.
Actually, they’ll probably get big minutes all year long.
Minnesota starting lineup:
PG Ricky Rubio
SG Kevin Martin
SF Corey Brewer
PF Kevin Love
C Nikola Pekovic
The new shooting guard and the new (old) small forward make their regular season Wolves debut tonight. There’s a possibility Brewer could be coming off the bench, but even if Chase Budinger were healthy, I would be advocating to start Brewer.
The biggest knock on this starting five is defense. Brewer is not the lock-down defender Flip Saunders would have you believe he is, however he is a lengthy and active body that generates steals. The pairing of Brewer with Rubio should make the memories of Andrei Kirilenko a lot less bitter this season. The back cuts and run outs will be nice on offense as well.
Health, health, health.
The concerns for the health of Love, Pek, Rubio and Martin are going to be season-long. But reports of J.J. Barea’s improved health shouldn’t go ignored. With Luke Ridnour’s M.A.S.H. unit place-holding role now in Milwaukee, Barea is going to get a long leash as Rubio’s backup. I’m confronting my personal history of advocating for a J.J. trade back to Dallas or whoever would want the little flamethrower and thinking he could fit nicely with this crew if he’s “good” J.J.
Rebound, rebound, rebound.
The bash brothers health will be a season-long concern, but the offensive boards will be a huge advantage as long as they are on the floor.
Improved three-point shooting = Humming Wolves offense.
Welcome to Minnesota, Kevin Martin. I look forward to watching you spot up for wide-open threes, post up smaller shooting guards like the ones the Wolves have been forced to start the last few years, and make smart cuts without the ball while being the solid second ballhandler Rick Adelman’s offense requires.
Enjoy the win and the season, Wolves fans. The new season is here.