With the Golden State Warriors(18-24) hosting the Minnesota Timberwolves(22-24) tonight at Oracle Arena (tip off at 7:30 PST), Warriors World reached out to Zach Harper who happens to host ESPN.com’s Daily Dime and also attends every Minnesota home game.

J.M. Poulard, Warriors World: I have long been a fan of Rick Adelman’s offensive sets. In Sacramento, he had Chris Webber, Vlade Divac and Brad Miller as his big men and ran the offense through them with a lot of success. In Houston, the frontline wasn’t as dominant or adept at passing the ball, but he still figured out ways to get the most out of Chuck Hayes and Luis Scola.

In Minnesota, Adelman is doing a beautiful job of putting the ball in the hands of his point guards and then moving around his big men to keep defenses off balance. Indeed, he will have his bigs play at the 3-point line, at the elbows and on the low block for good measure. And just when defenses think they’ve figured out where the ball is going, they throw in a new wrinkle and play high low with Pekovic sealing the opposing center right underneath the rim.

Further exacerbating matters for opponents, Kevin Love has gotten himself into terrific shape and now plays like a hybrid forward. He can step out and hit shots from long-range, drive to the basket, post up his defender and attack the glass for second chance opportunities. In short, the Timberwolves starting frontline is a problem.
So obviously, Mark Jackson is going to have his hands full tonight right?

Zach Harper, ESPN.com: Pek’s ankle has been bothering him for some time, so depending on whether or not he plays completely changed my answer for you.
Let’s assume Pek plays. You’re screwed. Pekovic is the strongest man in the NBA. That’s not even hyperbole; he’s the strongest. A month ago, he had Andrew Bynum thanking god for the invention of foul trouble. It was the only way to get Pekovic to stop bruising him. The thing about Pekovic is he isn’t just your run of the mill Ben Wallace brute. This guy has incredible touch around the basket, he has any post move you need, an unstoppable drop-step to the baseline that lands like a sledgehammer against your thigh, and once he establishes post position, you’d have an easier time budging Oracle Arena. His presence inside allows Kevin Love to pick-and-choose when he wants to play inside and outside. Give Love the space to operate with his skill set and it’s easy to see how he’s fourth in the NBA in scoring and second in free throws made. The inside-out duo of Love and Pek might be the best in the league. Lucky for you, Pek hasn’t been his normal indestructible self.

Let’s assume Pek doesn’t play. You can have a field day with this lineup. Michael Beasley is as inconsistent as they come. Anthony Randolph had to play extended minutes last night and he was just as awful as you probably remember him to be. Anthony Tolliver hasn’t been a consistent shooter all year and Darko… well… that really doesn’t need much of an explanation. Kevin Love has turned himself into the ideal stretch-4 as this league has evolved into more of a spread the floor kind of association. But he needs something to stretch here and the Wolves’ frontcourt without Pekovic doesn’t give much elasticity to that stretch.
When the frontcourt is without its biggest bruiser, the Wolves have to make up for it with backcourt help and I’m guessing sans Ricky Rubio, the Warriors aren’t exactly trembling at the thought of stopping these guards.
J.M. Poulard: Pekovic is undoubtedly a strong man. Last week, I watched in amazement as he routinely pinned Andrew Bynum underneath the basket for post position and the Lakers center was unable to budge him from his spot. His touch around the basket is impressive considering his strength and as you put it, he allows Kevin Love to essentially do Kevin Love things.

As it pertains to the perimeter, Ridnour and Johnson may not necessarily instill any fear into the Dubs’ backcourt, but they aren’t exactly stoppers either. Nate Robinson and Klay Thompson are fine NBA players who will not shy away from putting up shots — especially Thompson as of late — but they will also give up their fair share of open looks. Once they go through a couple of screens, and the Wolves will make them do just that, they will slow down on that end of the court and start to look confused with respect to what their responsibilities are.

After that goes down, Jackson will turn to his bench and have them play some zone defense. Minnesota’s interior passing coupled with their rebounding may force Golden State to abandon the strategy. Indeed, the Wolves have the sixth best offensive rebounding rate in the league and will surely give the Warriors some problems on this front in the contest tonight, especially if the GSW don’t have any individual block out assignments.
While we’re at it Zach, what are your thoughts on Derrick Williams’ play so far this season?

Zach Harper: The reason I worry about the backcourt is if Wes’ shot isn’t falling then he has nothing for you. Sure, his defense is pretty good overall and he’s not a guy that turns the ball over. He just can’t give you anything if his shot is missing the middle of the hoop. Luke has been trying the best he can to replicate what Rubio gave to this team, but he simply doesn’t have the same energy or defense to bring forth. He’s definitely a better shooter and is a different kind of weapon on offense. But sometimes this team needs those spectacular plays Rubio provided to give them a little jolt. Barea is probably supposed to be the spark plug off the bench now, but his effectiveness is pretty inconsistent as well.

Barea dribbles the life out of the ball. He can be a fine creator for himself and his teammates, and they’re still getting on the same page with the offense and finding a common ground for his style of play and the rest of the team. However, there are too many possessions in which he’s dribbling for 16 seconds before he even gets any real progress toward the hoop. The lack of a true creator on this team on the perimeter is killing their offensive flow. Find a scrappy team that doesn’t give a guano and just wants to muck things up (I’m thinking of this current Warriors’ squad) and I think the Wolves are going to have huge problems getting offensive flow. They have to be bullies first and often tonight.

As for Derrick Williams, he’s been pretty darn good lately. To start the season off, we were just hoping he’d give us some fun dunks and alley-oops while he rounded into being a player. Then the team was successful right away and we wanted him to be a franchise piece right away. Instead of complying, he was just floating around the perimeter and being too timid. Something has changed with him and he’s now much better about picking his spots. Get him moving toward the basket and he’s a problem. Then he starts using the space that this naturally creates to get off good jumpers. He’s a total rhythm player in every sense of the word. Defensively, he’s struggling on the wing and learning in the post. But he goes after the boards and will occasionally send a shot the other way.

I don’t know if he fits in long-term for this team at the 3 or as a backup 4, but I like the change he gives to the Wolves off the bench right now.

J.M. Poulard: Thanks for the detailed breakdown Zach, it should help paint a clearer picture of things to expect tonight at Oracle when the Warriors and Timberwolves square off. I’m anxious to see how Golden State competes on the boards and how they choose to defend Minnesota on the perimeter, especially if Johnson is giving them next to nothing as you previously mentioned.
Let’s do this again.

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