I still can't wrap my mind around the fact that the Wolves couldn't beat one of the worst teams in the league while they were missing one of their best players. The fact that they blew a 25 point lead is painful enough, but this is also the second time in a week that they've blown a lead against Seattle without Ray Allen in the lineup. In checking to see how we ended the season matchup against the Sonics I also noticed that the Wolves had lost to Seattle earlier this season, that time without Rashard Lewis in the lineup. That got me thinking. I dug through all their losses this season and determined who, if anyone was injured or racked up a DNP against the Wolves. Obviously in the NBA, there are a ton of players who don't play, most of which are insignificant - Ronnie Brewer not playing may not crush the Spurs. So I went through and marked down players who have played a significant role for their teams this season, usually including the five starters and the sixth man, assuming he's a contributor.
Of their 41 losses this year, 21 of them were to teams that were missing a starter or a sixth man. 11 of the 21 losses were to teams who's winning percentage was below .500. 10 of the 21 losses were to teams that were missing one of their stars. Here's the list with the stars in bold.
Team, Player Not Playing, Winning %
Sacramento, Sharif Abdur-rahim, .429
LA Lakers, Kwame Brown, .535
LA Lakers, Lamar Odom, .535
Orlando, Grant Hill, .458
Cleveland, Larry Hughes, .597
New Orleans, Peja Stojakovic, .444
Houston, Yao Ming, .639
Milwaukee, Charlie Villenueva, .357
Toronto, Chris Bosh, .549
New Jersey, Nenad Krstic, .465
Atlanta, Tyronne Lue, .370
Atlanta, Joe Johnson, .370
Phoenix, Boris Diaw, .757
Utah, Matt Harpering, .662
Seattle, Rashard Lewis, .408
Seattle, Ray Allen, .408
Seattle, Ray Allen, .408
Washington, Antawn Jamison, .543
Charlotte, Sean May, .375
Boston, Wally Szczerbiak, .310
Miami, Dwayne Wade, .535
Obviously each player has a different effect on each game, but it seems like the Wolves go to sleep when their opponents best players are not in uniform - especially against teams that are already bad. I can understand a Cleveland beating the Wolves missing Hughes because of LeBron, or even Houston missing Yao, because of McGrady. But Atlanta without Joe Johnson? Toronto without Chris Bosh? SEATTLE WITHOUT RAY ALLEN/RASHARD LEWIS!? It's ludicris. And to do it over and over again! It's like losing to the Wolves without Kevin Garnett - it shouldn't happen. I realize it does, just as a 12 seed beats a 5 seed, but it's not something that should happen more often than not. Not unless you're Atlanta, or Charlotte, or Seattle, or Milwaukee, or Philly, or Boston....
Which brings me to my sad conclusion: The Wolves have scratched the surface on that status. They're scraping the bottom of the NBA barrell, but in such a way that they cannot benefit from their failure. Atleast Boston's record is so bad that they have a reasonable shot at the #1 pick, not to mention having a draft pick at all. Charlotte is barely a toddler when it comes to the age of the franchise - still have draft picks though, don't they? Atlanta is mired in a hellish ownership/front office situation - hey just like us! Oh. Wait. They have draft picks. We don't. Not to mention the lack of salary cap room, dedicated players, or managment. Our franchise player is getting up in years and yearns to be in the playoffs, to win a championship, and to go out a winner. It's not happening. Not any time soon anyways. He's getting frustrated. Now we're testing his loyalty, his desire to put up with a franchise that has given him no support on the floor and no sign that they care to deliver a winning product. Or, more accurately, hasn't shown the ability to make the right decisions to put together the parts of a winning product. Yes, KGs contract effects that to an extent, but not the way a bunch of bums with bad contracts do.
I'm preparing myself for a return to the dark hole this franchise was burried in until the arrival of The Kevins. I just hope Glen Taylor gets rid of the right one before we lose them both.