Five Things To Watch: Minnesota Timberwolves

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Flip_SaundersAnother season marks another chance to feel optimistic about your favorite NBA team’s chances of making some noise. Other than a few brief stretches, Minnesota Timberwolves fans have had trouble finding any reason to be optimistic over the past few years.

From injuries to frequent coaching changes to frequent front office switches to Darko Milicic, the Timberwolves have had quite an interesting little decade.

This season is a special one. It marks the 10-year anniversary of their 2003-04 run to the Western Conference finals. That was also the last time they managed to make the playoffs at all.

Aside from the 2004-05 season, this year’s squad is probably the team with the highest expectations in the last 10 years.

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Sheridan Hoops Sixth Man Rankings: Week 23

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JR SmithThis week marks the final edition of our Sixth Man Rankings, and we have a winner.

While major alterations to the list have been made throughout this process, the race ultimately has come down to two players on opposite sides of the country: Los Angeles Clippers guard Jamal Crawford and New York Knicks guard J.R. Smith.

Both players are in their first full season with their teams and both were able to add a bench scoring dimension to which neither team had previously been accustomed.

This East Coast vs. West Coast battle picked up its heaviest bit of steam towards the tail end of the season – and is where our decision became a bit easier.

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Sheridan Hoops Sixth Man Rankings: Week 22

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Jamal CrawfordBasketball is a team game, but it is also a game that can easily be altered by a single player, moreso than any other major sport.

And that player doesn’t even have to be a starter.

In many games this season, there has been a fairly strong correlation between the success of the Los Angeles Clippers when Jamal Crawford is doing well – and when he isn’t. The same can be said for J.R. Smith in New York.

With two weeks in the regular season remaining, and the race for the Sixth Man Award heating up, Smith and Crawford will be relied on now more than they may have ever been in the past.

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Sheridan Hoops Sixth Man Rankings: Week 21

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Doc_RiversIf it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

As cliché as that may be, it’s something that NBA coaches tend to live by in terms of player rotations. However, sometimes things break, and it’s the coach’s job to fix the mess.

The Utah Jazz and Boston Celtics both have had to deal with adversity of late and have had to make the tough choice to put their most productive sparks off the bench – Gordon Hayward and Jeff Green, respectively – into the starting lineup.

While this isn’t necessarily what they would have preferred at this juncture of the season, it’s what they have to deal with. So far, both players are making the best of the situation, both individually and as a team.

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Sheridan Hoops Sixth Man Rankings: Week 20

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OKC_Martin_KevinA month of the regular season remains. There is still plenty of basketball to be played and still plenty of chances for teams around the league to solidify their playoff positions.

On the other hand, there is a handful of teams whose executives may be forced to look at the draft lottery and beyond, even with about 15 games remaining for most teams.

The key players off the bench around the NBA are all over the league. They play for teams competing for the Larry O’Brien Trophy and teams competing for the right to draft Ben McLemore or Nerlens Noel.

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