Showing posts with label Minnesota Timberwolves. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Minnesota Timberwolves. Show all posts

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Corey Brewer is Coming Back, Y'all!

The Timberwolves definitely seem to be putting together something that actually looks like a plan. After the draft that a lot of local guys didn't like, but I did (seriously, watch out for Lorenzo Brown!*), the Wolves did something that we haven't seen in many a year - paying a reasonable amount of money for free agents who fit the needs of the team.

With the re-signing of Chase Budinger and the grabbing of Kevin Martin, the Wolves have secured a couple of guys who know and love Rick Adelman's system, and play well in it. Losing Kirilenko is somewhat annoying, but seeing as he ended up taking millions upon millions less dollars to play in Brooklyn, it is safe that the Wolves couldn't have done anything to keep him. Very good basketball writers (as opposed to reactionaries that live on radio and daily fishwraps) started getting worried that the Wolves had gained offense but had lost way too much from an already shoddy defense.

So, one freakishly skinny defensive dervish gone; let's get a new one, and the Wolves did that in bringing back IDYFT Favorite Corey Brewer. He doesn't have AK's game on the offensive side, no doubt. Brewer is a career .416 shooter from the field, and a very pedestrian/bad .298 from the three point line. He's a bit of a spaz, to be honest. But I love the guy.

He plays defense on the perimeter and causes nightmares for opposing small forwards/shooting guards. He's 6' 9", with a wingspan closer to 7'. He's got quick feet. He sometimes gambles too much on passing lanes, in part because he's so good at getting in those passing lanes that he over-commits. He's a terror on the perimeter, and has the span and speed to block what looked to be uncontested lay-ups. I love having Corey Brewer back on my team. I never wanted him to leave it.

A lot of Wolves fans were borderline outraged when the news hit Corey was coming back, but they aren't getting what Corey is being brought in to do. He's not here to score. That's what Kevin Martin is for. Corey is back in Minnesota to play perimeter defense, cause turnovers, and be a great locker room guy. There's a reason that the Denver Nuggets (who won 26 more games than the Wolves did last year) played the guy 24 minutes per game. He's gotten better at his role. And he's got some pretty impressive stats to bring along back with him to Minnesota.

Corey was Top 10 in steals per turnovers (he'll be joining another underrated Top 10 guy from that list in Dante Cunningham). Corey was just one spot below Josh Smith in points scored per 48 minutes last year. Again, I can't call him efficient, exactly, but I think he's more efficient than his shooting percentage suggests.

Essentially, for the $11 million that AK opted out of, the Wolves got Kevin Martin and Corey Brewer. That's weird...that's Timberwolves math that MAKES SENSE.

And hey, for small market teams who feel like they can't get free agents - it is amazing what a respected coach and GM can do for you. I don't think any of these guys sign without the Adelman/Flip combo running the show. (Sorry, Kahn, you crazy bastard, you undoubtedly made free agents more expensive).

Oh, also, the Wolves signed Ronny Turiaf, which gives them a center trio of Pekovic, rookie Dieng, and Turiaf. That's as good of a trio one can ask for at the Neglected 5 in the NBA.

But back to Brewer. I'm looking forward to more of this:

 *I'm saying that as the guy who liked Pekovic before anyone knew who he was, not as the guy who was against trading OJ Mayo for Kevin Love on draft night.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Another Analysis of the Wolves Draft, By Another Person Who Doesn't Know That Much

The mood around the Twin Cities today was a fairly dark one, after Flip Saunders and the Timberwolves traded down and selected Shabazz Muhammad at #14 in the NBA Draft. How dark? Let's go to the Star Tribune's Jim Souhan:  "Muhammad makes Kris Humphries look like Magic Johnson." I don't think that's accurate, if one can figure out if Souhan actually means that comparison, or whether he's been hyperbolic in that funny and helpful way that sportswriters like to be. But we can at least agree that it wasn't meant to complimentary, yeah? (For the record, I've had an up-and-down (in a non-sexual way) relationship with Souhan)

Every local media analyst seems pretty convinced the Wolves made a huge mistake. But there's a couple of problems with that, problems that have very little to do with how good Muhammad will be as an NBA player.

The first problem is that this wasn't a great draft. Everyone said so. There wasn't a guaranteed impact player in the bunch. Nerlens Noel, the guy everyone thought was going to be Top 2 fell to #6, and Anthony Bennett, a guy most people had sliding down the board went #1. There wasn't even a consensus Top 2. That's rare.

So, in a draft like that, how upset can anyone get? How can it go from "This draft doesn't feature a ton of talent, so it's kinda anyone's guess" to "OH MY GOD THE WOLVES HAVE REALLY SCREWED UP THIS TIME". (See MPR's Newsman Bob Collins' Twitter feed to see how little I'm exaggerating that). I'm not sure when CJ McCollum magically transformed from an undersized, injury-prone two-guard to the Savior of the Franchise, but that's the player most of these guys feel like we should have gotten.

The second problem is the bigger one in my mind, especially for those of us who listen to the experts on the radio, read their columns in the newspaper (they still print those!) and assume, because they are in the media, that they have some insight that we don't. Sometimes they do - particularly the inside politicking of a franchise. KFAN host Dan Barreiro and Star Trib Wolves writer Jerry Zgoda had a quick Twitter exchange in which it was clear that both had been told that Muhammad was not going to be a member of the Wolves. They had inside dope, but it was wrong, or rather the circumstances changed to make Muhammad a reasonable pick-up (namely, getting a second first-rounder to go along with him). But when it comes to evaluating talent, when it comes to judging ability, these experts on the radio and in the newspaper aren't any better at it than the average schmo.

They are often rather brazen about it. This morning on KFAN's morning show, with Paul Allen and Paul Charchian (a veritable nexus of credulous boobery, as has been discussed previously), they were "analyzing" Shabazz Muhammad's game, and both admitted they were basing it on some limited information. How limited? Paul Allen was basing everything he was saying on the one game that UCLA played against the Gophers in the NCAA's. Charchian was going off what he saw on YouTube. FOR REAL. Without doing a lick of work, I have researched Muhammad's game more thoroughly than the guys paid to talk about it? By watching 2 UCLA games last year? Incredible. Jim Souhan's article is more of the same.

Hell, Britt Robson, a basketball writer I love to no end, basically admitted to be working off completely received knowledge, because he doesn't watch college basketball. To his credit, Robson also points out that anyone thinking this draft was the Most Important Thing ever are kinda crazy.

Sometimes, they are just outright wrong. I can't believe these sentences are still up on the St. Paul Pioneer Press website, for example. Tom Powers writes the following about Muhammad: "And it was discovered that his birth certificate was purposely falsified and that he really was a year older than everyone thought. That's a big deal when you're a teen and able to dominate younger kids."

That's just factually wrong. His birth certificate was not falsified. It was his birth certificate that lead the LA Times to conclude that Muhammad's age was incorrect in the UCLA media guide. Finding this out takes about 30 seconds of Googling, which Tom Powers just doesn't have time for, because he's too busy not doing anything resembling basic research. Why should facts be important to a member of the media? I guess budgets cuts mean that Tom Powers, who was/is/will always be a Stupid Fat Fuck is allowed to write whatever he wants. And I'm not really sure how it is that big of an advantage Muhammad got all through his years in basketball, playing against people younger and older than him throughout high school and college. Was he beating up 10 year-olds on the court when he was sixteen? Nope. Again, Tom Powers is a Stupid Fat Fuck, who could maybe get sued for getting this very, very basic fact of the story so very wrong.

So, with that said, here are more observations from a person who doesn't know that much more than you do about the Wolves picks, but probably just as much as anyone else you've listened to (aside from the crazy people who run the full time Wolves blogs like Canis Hoopus or A Wolf Among Wolves - those guys use analysis and shit. (that sounded mocking. it wasn't. I love those blogs. They make charts, and I don't know how to do that)).

#14 - Shabazz Muhammad (UCLA). Perhaps one of the more divisive picks of the entire draft, leaving aside #1 Anthony Bennett, which made Bill Simmons poop himself a little, and Noel falling down to #6. Muhammad is a bit of a conundrum. But without getting into all the stats, he is a good to great midrange shooter, and was 42% from the three-point line in his one year at UCLA. The Wolves were the worst three-point shooting team in the league, needing to get hot at the end of the year to get above 30%. For every person who says he lacks a work ethic, there's another person who will swear up and down that he works as hard as anyone. For every critic who says he's a black hole on  offense, and points to his terrible assists numbers at UCLA, there's a proponent who points out that his job was to shoot, not pass. My guess is that between Ricky, KLOVE, Rick Adelman, Shabazz will get sorted out in that regard. He's great in transition, but some folks worry that his high scoring percentage in transition means he's terrible in the half-court. Not from what I've seen. On a team where he'll be coming off the bench for at least his first year, if not first two, he'll be asked to do what he does well, which is score. He needs to work on his defense, but his cause there will actually be aided by the Wolves 2nd First Round pick:

#21 - Gorgui Dieng (Louisville). He's already the press' preferred first round pick (He loves cold weather!). Quick aside - remember when people argued that David Kahn screwed up terribly by drafting Ricky Rubio, because he'd never come here, because the winters are too damn cold? No? IT HAPPENED. I like Dieng, too. Here's why I like him - I have watched a ton of Big East Basketball (oh, and I hate Louisville), and I watched Dieng transform himself from awkward tall guy who could block shots into a much more complete player. He can absolutely block shots - his timing and wingspan (Jay Bilas says,"drink!") are a great combination. But over the past couple of years, he's learned to pass well, often triggering plays on the baseline from the top of the key. He's limited offensively, but he's learned that at his height, he just needs to go up aggressively to make a difference. He reads the floor extremely well. He's just a smart player, who is still learning and willing to do so. The Wolves haven't had a great shot blocker since Kevin Garnett. Dieng will provide a defense in the paint not predicated on taking charges, and we can applaud that, as taking charges is the kind of bullshit stat that the Joe Smith's and Shane Battier's of the world got their money. And with a shot-blocker in the middle, maybe Muhammad's perimeter defense doesn't have to be spectacular right off the bat. Put them on the floor together, and let Muhammad just filter his man into the middle into the waiting, go-go-Gadget arms of Gorgui. And it should be noted I haven't seen a player who doesn't appear at least 25% better offensively just by being on the court with Ricky Rubio (see Derrick Williams). Gorgui better like alley-oops (spoiler: he does)

#52 - Lorenzo Brown (NC State). I wish I could say I was shocked that Brown was still there at #52, but there's one thing College Basketball doesn't lack, and it is athletes. The fact that Rodney Williams of Minnesota and Khalif Wyatt of Temple are both signing free agent deals speaks to that. But I have watched a lot of Lorenzo Brown, more than any talking head in the Twin Cities, and I'm here to tell you that this kid is going to be something. He's a steal here. And I think he'll contribute right away - he's a tall-ish combo guard (6' 5") who gives the Wolves some options outside of the Short Combo of Luke Ridnour and feisty but annoyingly inconsistent JJ Barea. While not crazy explosive (no one the Wolves picked will be in the Dunk Contest) he's athletic enough to finish at the basket. He's not a great shooter, but the Wolves system is probably just fine with that at the moment, considering that their plan seems to be to run a traditional point. But I really can't wait for this kid's first steal and dunk in transition. I don't think I'll have to wait long.

#59 - Bojan Dubljevic - Essentially, no one in America outside of Pro Scouts know a thing about this guy. I'll just link to DraftExpress and leave it at that.

In my mind, the Wolves got three guys who will contribute something pretty much right away. They won't be starters - this wasn't a starters kind of draft. But they got three players who are worthy of more optimism than is being sent their way currently, particularly at the local level. (notable exception: the aforementioned geeks at A Wolf Among Wolves).

It wasn't a tranformative moment, but Michael Jordan wasn't in this draft. The Wolves did just fine, in my humble opinion. And at the very least, I know more about that Tom Powers, who is still just a stupid fat fuck.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

God Bless You, TimberTrolls

you Crazy Spaniards. We fucking love you guys!

Yes, Flopping In Basketball is Soccer's Fault. Sure

I was listening to Tom Pellisaro on 1500 ESPN in the Twin Cities Wednesday evening, and he was talking with Star Tribune malcontent Jim Souhan. They were discussing the Timberwolves complaints about the rough treatment Ricky Rubio has gotten of late. (A legit beef, I think, having watched about as much Timberwolves basketball as one can). Rubio has been getting hammered by moving screens.

And if you can count on one thing the local sports guys in the Twin Cities have in common (aside from girth), it is a given that with even the smallest window to bag on soccer, they will (Star Tribune Twins beat writer LaVelle Neal excepted).

Sure enough, Jim Souhan suggested that guards of the Wolves might be flopping a bit--Rubio is occasionally (not often) guilty of that charge, while JJ Barea is guilty of it about five times a game. But then Souhan said what I knew he was going to say, even as I was hoping against hope he wouldn't. He said, and I paraphrase*, "Well, of course they do--it's the influence of soccer. They come from soccer-influenced countries and they learn the flop there, and now they bring it to the NBA."

Which is a nice and tidy story, but also total bullshit. The flop and assorted other foul-drawing techniques were alive and kicking out their legs well before the wave of South American and European soccer-floppers were in the NBA or NCAA. Greg Paulus didn't learn how to flop from the Italian National Team; he learned from John Stockton. JJ Redick learned the leg kick flop from Reggie Miller. Reggie, who in his own self-produced ESPN 30 For 30 feature (which was awesome) basically admitted to transforming a John Starks glancing headbutt into one of the most violent acts witnessed in a NBA playoff game.

Not to mention, Bruce the damn Bowen!**

On the opposite side of the coin, I could easily mention that Steve Nash doesn't have a reputation for flopping, and seeing as he grew up loving soccer and watching soccer and playing soccer, and recognizes the obvious connections between basketball and soccer (myriad, by the way), he seems like he would be a great candidate for the Souhan Axiom. But he doesn't fit, because as I previously mentioned, the Souhan Axiom on Basketball Players who Grew Up With Soccer is total bullshit.

Not to say that soccer doesn't have flopping. Of course it does. It is often egregious. But to be fair, soccer can be much more violent than basketball  as well. At least, I don't remember the last time I saw bone poking through a sock in a NBA game. I can't watch the video of Eduardo's leg getting broken, but maybe you can!

And it is worth stating that the best player in the World, Lionel Messi, never dives. Sometimes to his own detriment. I mean, for real, watch this highlight real of him getting savaged, and tell me that soccer players are all a bunch of flop artists who don't take real contact, or however that tired argument goes. Soccer isn't "The Beautiful Game" every single time it is played, but I think if you come away from a highlight package of Messi slipping tackles and shirt pulls and takedowns and go "Enh" then there is probably something wrong with you.

*You want his exact wording, you can go here.
** Yes, that was an odd reference to NewsRadio's Jimmy James "Kermit the Damn FROG" But seriously, Bruce Bowen was a flop-artist extraordinaire, and he didn't grow watching soccer, I'm guessing.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Hey, Maybe It is Time To Talk Timberwolves

No better time than Super Bowl Sunday to delve into the particulars of hardly anyone's favorite basketball team, right*? I know you, reader, better than you know yourself, and at some point, possibly during NBC's examination of Tom Brady's chin dimple's magical powers to heal sick baby otters, you thought to yourself, "My God, I'd rather read a homer's take on the Minnesota Timberwolves than listen to this shit." You were being facetious, but all the same, YOU ARE WELCOME. Also, reader, you are correct--you have been masturbating a lot more lately, and it is freaking out your parents/lover/kitties. (am I scaring you with how much I know about you, reader? Don't be scared. It is our secret.) (Did the italics kind of make that creepier? Good.)

If you haven't been here in the Twin Cities, you don't know how desperately bad it has been. I mean, you surely have some idea, if you follow basketball. But you don't really know. You don't remember Ricky Davis being here. You don't remember Nbudi Ebi, or Will Avery, or Marko Jaric. You probably don't remember the brief hope we held that Eddie Griffin was going to turn his life around here. Instead, he jacked off in a car he was driving, and later committed suicide (or maybe he was just super drunk) by driving into a moving train. It felt like an apt metaphor for the team as a whole.

But surely, you've sat on your undeniably nice ass, and have watched some SportsCenter highlights of Ricky Rubio alley-ooping to every guy in a Wolves jersey outside of Luke Ridnour. You know the Wolves are better now. Hell, three games ago, a blogger at suggested that the Wolves might make the playoffs. That's borderline crazy talk, and yeah, that blogger has the dubiously super-white name of Fran Blinebury, but still--it happened.

You, dear reader, might point out statistics like: the Wolves have won more games on the road this season than they did all of last year. Or that they've won 12 games out of 24, compared to the 15 out of 82 last year.

And you are right. Let's get into the whys and wherefores and whos and hows and whats and all that.

Coaching Matters. It is safe to say that everyone who watches basketball knows this. So how did the management team at the Wolves take it for granted for so long? The Wolves have been in the league since 1989, and exactly one coach (Flip Saunders) has taken them to the playoffs. The record under various coaches is staggering--The Timberwolves have had eight coaches who led the team in at least 100 games. If you remove Flip Saunders from that mix, you get a combined record of 255-686, which we can all agree--that's terrible. I defended Kurt Ramis a number of times (more in his first year as a coach than his second year, when the Wolves were barely on TV) and I was wrong on that front. And David Kahn was wrong to hire him in the first place--but Kahn corrected that move, and bringing in Rick Adelman has undeniably been a major factor in the improvement of the Wolves. He's upgraded the offense and defense in pretty surprisingly quick fashion, considering the lack of time to practice every team in the NBA has had to deal with this shortened season. One of the biggest improvements, but one of the least talked about, is their defense, particularly in the fourth quarter. Last year, they were dead last in opponent's field goal percentage in the fourth. Last time I checked, the Wolves were now in the Top 5 in that category. And if a game is close in the fourth quarter, it is a winnable game. Especially with a functioning offense.

Kurt Rambis' triangle, that simply did not fit the players here, is gone (maybe, at some point, we could discuss how the Triangle really works well if you have one of the best shooting guards in a generation, and otherwise? Shrug). There's an undeniable synchronicity here--Rick Adelman brings in a great pick and roll game just as the Wolves are welcoming a devastating pick and roll point guard in...

Ricky Rubio. A lot of the national media assumed that Ricky would never play with the Timberwolves. That the very fact that David Kahn had drafted him had doomed him. That he could never survive a Minnesota winter, and if he did, he'd be so disappointed in his teammates that he'd demand a trade. That seems pretty goddamn unlikely at this early point--Ricky's shooting percentage is total shit (though (somewhat oddly) he is shooting an impressive 44% from the three-point line on the road) but he's had more double digit assist games than any Wolves point guard I can remember since oft-injured Terrell Brandon. Ricky's shooting percentage is terrible, as I said, but when you watch his games, it does feel like he hits the ones that matter. And meanwhile, as you've seen, dear reader and national highlights watcher, his assists are often breath-taking. And he's still all of twenty-one years old. He also boards pretty well (he is 6' 4", which surprises folks) and plays smart defense. He's as good or better as advertised. Something that doesn't get mentioned enough--his intensity and leadership on the floor. I've read multiple local stories about how he takes charge on the floor. Hugely important for a team that has had a distinct dearth of leadership on the floor (to the point where there was some discussion of changing the team name to the Distinct Dearths).

So those are the changes--the rest of the roster is essentially the same (with the obvious exception of rookie Derrick Williams, who happens to play the most log-jammed spot for the Wolves). JJ Barea is also new, and does figure to help out a great deal, but he's barely played, as he is just now getting back from a nagging hamstring injury. Oh, and Brad Miller, too. but he's yet to play 10 minutes in a game.

That's how you take a terrible team and make them a .500 team after 24 games played. But some of those same old issues continue, and need to be addressed before this team can really take the next step.

Who's the 2? A rotating band of guys have been taking turns at that. Most recently, as Rick Adelman has given Ricky more and more minutes at the point, it's been Luke Ridnour. He's had some excellent games--last night's win over the Rockets, for example--where he went 8-14 (4-6 from 3 PT) and scored 22 points.  But he still plays a style I described in his first game as a Timberpup, back in 2010: "started hot, continued shooting when he wasn't particularly hot and then got hot again at the end, and maybe played a little spazzy at times when I was expecting him to slow the game down a bit." He's one of the closest things to a savvy veteran**** the Wolves have right now, and he's still a little spazzy at odd times. The kind of thing that doesn't kill your team, but does make you scratch your head--and he's not really a shooting guard (his height alone makes it problematic). Playing Ridnour and Rubio together has been working, but it definitely feels like it shouldn't. But options are limited--Wayne Ellington must be frustrating the hell out of the coaching staff behind the scenes. He goes from playing 15 minutes and scoring 13 points to being a Coach's Decision (as he was last night). Martell Webster brings amazing defensive intensity, and a pretty sweet mohawk (no matter what some people say) but has been so injury prone that it is hard to sit back confidently and say, "Yes, Martell Webster will play 40 games this season." Martell also makes me nervous because he fits a classic Wolves gambit--"Hey, that dude fucked us up pretty good when he played against us--let's bring him in!" The only problem is a lot of dudes fuck us up pretty good, even now. Please witness Anthony Morrow's 40+ effort from a couple of nights ago (in a losing effort for the Nets). Crazy random fact--Martell Webster's mother was probably killed by the Green River Killer. (I just read a damn good graphic novel about that!) The shooting guard is pretty important to an offensive's efficiency--it has "shooting" right in the job description, after all--and with KLOVE and Rubio drawing so much attention, someone who can make it rain consistently on this team would make them more dangerous by a large factor.

Who's the 3? I mentioned the log-jam when briefly mentioning Derrick Williams. This will probably be his position as he learns how to play it in the NBA, and good lord, look out when that happens, because the kid is just irresponsibly talented, physically speaking. But he may never be a small forward--his one on one defense at that spot has looked iffy at times this year. There's also Wes Johnson, whose step backwards this year is a conundrum to be sure. A guy who joined Stephon Marbury as the only Wolves rookies to hit 100 3-Pointers, he looks a little unsure as to his role. He went 2-6 last night, and one of those was a perfectly executed alley-oop from Ricky Rubio (who, Jesus Pooped On The Cross!**, loves to throw those things). Wes has had good games--he tied a Wolves record for perfect shooting early this season by going 6-6, and those were from all over the floor. Speaking of inconsistency, let's talk about maybe the most talented player on the Wolves--Michael Beasley.

I say, "let's talk", but I really don't know what to say about Beasley. There are games, when he is focused and engaged, where he seems like the second-coming of Kobe Bryant (but without the allegations of rape--Beasley's far too mellow for that shit). Slashing drives into the lane, hitting floaters, stepping back and popping and drawing fouls like no one's business. When the Wolves beat Houston in late January, Beasley was unstoppable--10 of 14 from the field, 12 of 12 from the stripe. A week later, against the same team, he was 3-9 and had a +/- of -7 (team worst).  I don't mean to suggest that there are games when Beasley isn't engaged--I think he is either engaged or TOO ENGAGED. He gets a little too wrapped up in what he is doing, and gets away from the team a bit. What I'd really like to see from Beasley is for his assist numbers go up a little--he can shake guys as well as anyone, but too often he just runs into traffic for no good reason, and makes a tough shot tougher. I have a feeling that if any of these guys really brought defensive intensity to their role, they would jump to the top of the list. It is telling, as of last night, that it's the one spot on the floor where no one can carve out 25 minutes of time. Rubio, Ridnour and KLOVE (the 1, 2 and 4) all went over 30 minutes--Johnson, Williams and Beasley all played under 20 minutes, and Webster probably logged some minutes officially at the 3 as well.

[Intermission]--I've been wondering when KLOVE was going to get sick of the lack of calls he's not getting, and it may have happened tonight, but it is hard for me to know for sure whether he intentionally STEPPED ON LUIS SCOLA's FACE. Take a look for yourself. And do remember that Scola did happen to throw a ball right into KLOVE's KLOVESACK*** just a week ago (whilst trying to save a ball from out of bounds.) Said Kevin, after the game, "He was right there, it happened to be his face just like in Houston where it happened to be my groin.” Hmm.

Who's the 5?  We are getting some clarity here, and it is looking more and more like Nikola Pekovich (who I have fucking loved since Day 1) is getting his chance. After his first game in 2010, I wrote, if I may quote myself here, "He'll take some time adjusting to what is and isn't a foul in the NBA...but he'll get there. And when he does, he'll probably start stealing minutes from Darko Milicic." Now, to be fair, I was excited by Pekovic because of his tattoo featuring a warrior standing on a pile of skulls, and his Ivan Drago/Schwarzenegger quotes (like: "This is the only time I want to come [to the NBA], some time when I am man and all this.")

The Wolves signed Darko Milicic to a deal, that was kind of derided by folks until they realized that it wasn't that much money, NBA wise, and that given the dearth of big men in the league, it wasn't the worst thing in the world. Darko's had a rough start to the year, with injuries and illness, and Pekovic has stepped into that void, and provided some stability to a position on the Wolves roster that is really about converting close in and being ready for both crazy passes and rebounds. Pekovic seems to get that part of the game extremely well. He's highly efficient around the basket, a monster on the boards (and maybe just a monster in general. Have you seen him?). He's also a much better free-throw shooter than Darko--75% compared to to 58% (career). Mike Fratello opined on the NBA Network that the Wolves were paying Darko an awful lot of money to be the second string, but Darko is being paid almost exactly $100,000 more than Pekovic, and they are both below $5 million this year, so that seems like a really, really silly argument, put forth by someone who has just glancing knowledge of the situation. (No offense, Mike!).

So, no big deal, right? Just need to confirm our center, figure out the small forward and find a shooting guard who isn't a point guard. No problem at all. But for now, and I'm sure I speak for all fans of the Wolves, and fans of the NBA in general--we're quite alright with a super-young, exciting, and competent Wolves team.

*my favorite team, though. I've divided my life, at almost 50/50 between DC and St. Paul. But it is really easy to close the book on the Wizards, and has been, since, what, 1996? I barely cared when they got John Wall. And it looks like that was a good reaction, mental health wise. Just sayin'. The Wizards are fucking terrible, and  as a Wolves fan, we've seen what happens when you replace Flip Saunders with Randy Wittman. It worked out GREAT! That's why Randy Wittman is still here, and hasn't been fired by every franchise that has ever hired him.

**yes, I'm trying to make that a phrase that people use. "Jesus Pooped On the Cross, what a fucking game!" and so on.

***that's what people are calling Kevin Love's balls now. Trust me, I'm a blogger.

****It annoys me more than it should that the Google Search of "Trent Tucker Savvy Veteran" doesn't come up with a video of Trent Tucker saying, "SAH-vee VET-TER-ran"

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Timberwolves 1-3 Start Stinks Real Good

You will know a Timberwolves fan by their signs--an almost preternatural ability to cope with (or flat out accept) failure; gallows humor when it comes to trades and free agents; misty eyes with the letters K and G are said together.

I won't go through the entire history failure here--we might simply run out of Internet if I even attempted to do so. But I will point out that a lot of people were confused during the Chris Paul trade that somehow the Wolves #1 pick for next year was involved, but the Wolves themselves weren't. That's because a half-decade ago, the Wolves decided that Marko Jaric was worth a First Round Pick and Sam Cassell. And they were happy about it, back in 2005. (It is stuff like this that makes me angry at the folks who have no patience with David Kahn--he's still dealing with shit like this, you see.)

Here's Kevin McHale on that deal--"We're extremely excited to have acquired Marko...He is a very versatile player who has the ability to play the one, two or three spots on the floor. With Marko, we've added another player who can break down the defense and is a pass first point guard. Lionel [Chalmers, another player acquired in the trade] is a player that we think has some upside and will compete for a roster spot in training camp."

The Chris Paul deal notwithstanding, when you get taken to the cleaners by the Clippers, you done fucked up. Jaric is playing in Italy this year; Chalmers is in Russia. So, yeah. But Jaric did help us out, by being part of the Draft Night Deal that sent Minnesota draftee OJ Mayo to Memphis in return for Memphis' draftee, Kevin Love. Now, at the time, I had some worries about Kevin Love:  one post was titled in part, "Kevin Love? NOOOOO!"

Which was stupid, of course. In my defense, I didn't know that KLOVE would lose almost 50 pounds over the course of two off-seasons, or that the Wolves would ship Al Jefferson for two First Round Picks. KLOVE is clearly the face of the franchise now, with Ricky Rubio very quickly moving up the Fan's List of Totally Awesome Timberwolves who also have gorgeous big brown eyes.

So this gets us, finally (and very eventually) gets us to 2011, with Ricky Rubio in the fold, Derrick Williams his rookie cohort, and Rick Adelman leading this young team. (Real quick though--remember when the firing of Kurt Ramis was going to mean that no quality veteran coach would come to Minnesota? Yeah, that was bullshit.)

After an 0-3 start, despite competing mightily with both the Thunder and the Heat (the listless loss on the road to the rag-tag bunch of sucks Bucks in Milwaukee hurt, sure), the Wolves have heard some of the same complaints as before--inconsistent defense, uncertain play at center, and turnovers, turnovers, turnovers. I've personally heard some really stupid shit on the sports radio about how they need to worry about Michael Beasley's personality (which is all heart, all sleeve, all the time) "rubbing off on the young guys." Seriously--the media here sometimes seems to forget that Michael Beasley is 22 years old. Younger players? There aren't many on the roster, even a roster as young as the Timberwolves, than Michael Beasley. (We may not have to worry about Michael Beasley's super-talented, somewhat mercurial nature for a little while. He got injured tonight, and you can hear him freaking out over "being able to see the bone". Not good.)

The Wolves did get a win tonight. Against the defending World Champions Dallas Mavericks! Who I'll admit have been playing exactly like a bunch of guys in their mid-30's who had been trying to win a ring for a decade, and had finally done it. They now have the same record as the Wolves (1-3) but I don't think their opening schedule has been as tough as the Wolves' (seriously--Thunder, Bucks, Heat, Mavericks? You'd assume the Wolves at 1-3 had beaten the Bucks, and had lost to the other 3 teams by double-digits. You'd be wrong). All the same, it seems clear the Wolves have a game plan and personnel that could cause trouble for lots of teams.

What they have is a collection of tall shooters in KLOVE, Derrick Williams, Anthony Tolliver, Beasley, etc who can space a floor, and let their new whirling dervish Rubio take the action to the defense and find the open man. Which he excels at. And now that he is proving that the rap on his game (not a great shooter) is kind of bullshit, it will just open up those guys more. Luke Ridnour, as good as he's been (and he has been quite good--he had the fourth highest 3-point shooting percentage in the league last year, and is a capable assist man, too) is about become the 2nd or 3rd point guard off the bench for the Wolves.

Ricky Rubio's stock was never higher than it was prior to him falling to the Wolves. People were raving about him and about how he could be one of the best point guards in the NBA. When he did fall to the Wolves in the 2009 Draft, there seemed to be some agreement in the media that there must be something wrong with him--that if the Wolves drafted him, the teams in front of the Wolves knew something that they didn't. To be fair, with the exception of Hasheem Thabeet (drafted #2 overall) the players in front of Rubio have all worked out pretty well, too--Blake Griffin, James Harden, and Tyreke Evans have all found happy homes, after all. In fact, after only a couple of years, one could argue that the 2009 Draft Class was exceptional. But that's neither here nor there).

Rubio's stock was never lower than right after the Wolves drafted him, except maybe during the intervening years in which national guys were convinced that Ricky would never play for the Timberwolves; that they had wasted the pick, and it was just another Kahn cock-up. After four games, I think it is safe to say that Rubio's stock is right back where it was during the 2009 draft, that Kahn's proclamation that Rubio is a "transformational player" is no longer getting greeted with eyerolls. The Timberwolves have a point guard who can drive the line, make passes and yes, hit shots like no one they've had at the one since either Terrell Brandon or Stephon Marbury, and I'll say this--six games in, (2 pre-season, 4 regular season) I think Rubio has made my jaw drop more than any of those guys did in twice as many games.

Fuck it. Enough talking. Just look at what this llama-eyed Spaniard can do.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Timberwolves Look Young and Exciting (When Dicking Around in a Gym)

Look, look, look--I know, I know. The Timberwolves are more than likely going to be fairly terrible this season. There are many factors stacked against them--their youth, all of the new guys, the lockout shortened pre-season, with a new coach and a new system, and let's not forget--approximately half a decade of total suck.

But I was pretty geeked up when this team drafted Derrick Williams, despite his confusing height. I have grown to love KLOVE (though I was dead-set against his drafting at the time). I've never been as concerned as others were whether Ricky Rubio was going to come play here.

And again--I know this team is super-young, is running a brand-new system, and doesn't really have the time to learn it. But damn if this footage of them playing 5 on 5 in a gym this week doesn't get me excited. Please note: Ricky Rubio can hit open shots, and if Rubio bounces a pass to KLOVE, he's just going to bounce it to someone else for a dunk. I'm beginning to believe again, which will end in tears, I know. But damn, this team is promising. In that they have shooters of all sizes and shapes.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Confounding Height(s) of Derrick Williams

I'll preface this with the acknowledgement that it probably happens for every player getting drafted, and that maybe, just maybe, in the big scheme of things, an inch here or there doesn't matter much (right, heterosexual ladies and homosexual men?)

But Jesus' silhoutte on a waffle--in this age of constant media coverage of everything sports related, particularly drafts, can we get some agreement on height?

Earlier this week, me and a buddy (occasional contributor Miwacar) were discussing Derrick Williams, and I referred to him as 6' 8", and said buddy said, "I thought he was more like 6' 9"."  And then ESPN's coverage started tonight, and he was listed at 6' 8, 3/4".  So I called Miwacar, and I said, "I guess we were both right."  And we shrugged our shoulders and moved on.  That's a pretty specific measurement, after all.

And now, I'm watching NBA TV's recap of the draft, and Derrick Williams has apparently shrunk in the last few hours, because he's now 6' 7 1/4".

Goddamn it!  That's an inch and half of difference.  This should be a pretty easy thing to determine.  I'm used to 5' 11" guys being 6' even.  I get that.  But this isn't in a media guide, and we aren't talking about a guy hovering between Total Basketball Irrelevance and Super Stardom, like say Kemba Walker is with his 5'11 or 6' 0".  Can we get some agreement on how tall these guys are?  Considering how closely they are measured in terms of speed, jumping ability, emotional maturity, etc--you'd think there would be some sort of physical way of measuring height.  Maybe with some sort of device that contained a ruler, except that ruler was in fact many rulers in a row, and printed on a something more pliant than wood--a tough paper, or plastic maybe.  And you could drop the bottom of it on the floor, and pull it up to measure someone.  We'll call it...THE TAPE MEASURE.  Brilliant!

Don't get me wrong--I don't think Derrick Williams' success or failure will be determined by that inch and a half that seems to be in contention.  It's just the idea that we can't that shit straight that I find maddening.  Let's get our shit straight, NBA.  That is all.

Also, welcome Derrick!  I hope you dunk on many people, but especially everyone on the Pacers, who I have worked up a lot of hate for over the years.

Old School Thursday: Special Ed

In NBA Draft news, I'm sure the Wolves kept Derrick Williams. Might have kept Malcom Lee. After that, I'm really not sure.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Photographic Microcosm of the Timberwolves Season

That sums it up, no?  The graphic is supposed to read "Back to Back Road Wins".

Friday, February 25, 2011

Fare Thee Well, Corey Brewer, You Goofy Bastard

I've come to terms with the fact that Corey Brewer has been traded away from the Wolves, despite my rather desperate pleas for it to not happen.  And I understand that while I'm not entirely alone in my disappointment, I'm surely in the minority--I've heard stories of folks on Facebook comparing Brewer's departure to Nick Punto leaving the Twins--a comparison that makes me want to vomit on my fists and punch the people saying it.  Those people get vomit punches!*  I find myself much more upset over the departure of Corey Brewer than I was over Al Jefferson's trade.  After all, this was a guy that less than a year ago the Timberwolves franchise was touting as the Most Improved Player.  And I had beaten them to that point of view.

But I think I was always honest about Brewer's skills--he was and is and will continue to be frustratingly erratic.  He'll be brilliant for a half, borderline retarded for the other half.  He'll rip four steals, but turn over the ball in a half court set five times.  But no one could doubt his passion.  And I do get that the Wolves have Michael Beasley, Wes Johnson, and Martell Webster all playing the same swing spot, and it was a question of redundancy, as much as anything else.  I get all of that.

And I get that Anthony Randolph is here now, and every talking head in Minnesota is telling me that we've got a great new commodity with a high upside--he's 6' 11", with a 7' 3" wingspan!  He's Athletic!  No telling what his ceiling might be!  And he's been on the bench for a couple of games now, and even scored his first points as Timberwolf tonight, and I'm waiting for the look on his face to stop screaming, "If this team hadn't specifically asked for me, I could be playing with Amare and Carmelo."  It's been a week, and maybe Michael Beasley needs to take this kid (all of two years younger than Beasley) and remind him that Beasley was traded in a very similar fashion, and has found a way to be excited and engaged and engaging even though his old team is now one of the most dynamic, controversial, marketable, hated, loved teams in all of the NBA, and he's now on the Wolves. I'm not saying Randolph needs to remake his personality, but I've watched three games with him mostly on the bench, and I don't know if I've seen him once even clap when one of his new teammates sinks a basket.  Get on the trolley, Anthony.

In the meantime, I'm going to remind everyone just how fun Corey Brewer was on this team--on a horrible, horrible team, Brewer provided us with some of the best highlights this franchise has had in half a decade.  He will be missed, honestly.


*I could write a 2000 word treatise on how the Minnesota fan base, regardless of sport or team, is one of the most fickle, impossible to deal with, collective pain in the ass fan base in the world, and I don't know if I would have scratched the surface after those 2000 words.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Jim Souhan Wants to Burn the Franchise Down Again

As I have noted, Jim Souhan is a crazy vacillator.  He can go from "This Team Is Bad But Young, So Be Patient" to "Holy Shit, This Team is Terrible" in just a few days.  It should be no surprise, I guess, to see him further morph into "Blow Up This Franchise and Start Again (Again)" in just a couple of weeks time.  But he's stupid to suggest it.

Last year, the Timberwolves finished with 15 wins.  They have 13 now.  That suggests improvement to me, though I clearly don't know as much about basketball as Jim Souhan does. Will the Wolves win at least 3 more games this year?  It seems likely.

Souhan is full-on pissy after the loss to the Clippers right before the All-Star break: "In the enervating annals of Wolvesdom, we have suffered the Ebis and Averys of outrageous fortune, we have gagged on East Bay Funk and choked on that bitter candy known as Starbury, and yet today, your Minnesota Timberwolves might be the worst they've ever been."

Sorry, Jimmy Souhan, but that's a ridiculous proposition.  They were obviously worse last year.  They were probably even worse the year before.  And in terms of being actually competitive, they were maybe never worse than Garnett's last year before we finally traded him away, and gave him a chance to win somewhere else.  Or maybe Souhan reflects lovingly on the years of Masturbating, Suicidal Big Men and Ricky Davis.

The idea that this team, the youngest team in the NBA, is the worst team in the history of the Wolves is laughably stupid.  Souhan is a reactionary idiot, as I've shown a number of times.

And thus, his solutions are predictably stupid:

#1. Fire the owner.  I actually don't hate this idea, as dumb as it is.  But it's a solid decade too late.  And impossible.  Glen Taylor really, really fucked the franchise when he pushed to resign Joe Smith in violation of NBA rules, and the Wolves lost draft picks in the process.  That's when it was time to fire Glen Taylor.  Now?  He seems like he has a pretty solid management team that knows what it takes to get competitive in the NBA after years of crappy McHale managing.

#2. Fire the GM.  This is a stupid, stupid idea.  Around the league, forever, they've been mocking Kahn, but you know what?  He got two first round picks for Al Jefferson.  He held onto KLOVE, who is only putting together an offensive season that hasn't been seen in 30 years. He got Michael Beasley for nothing.  He picked up Martell Webster; he signed Darko Milicic to a deal that still seems pretty cheap to me.  He drafted Wesley Johnson.  But what does Souhan say about all of those canny moves?   "David Kahn's arrogance prompted him to run his first draft before hiring a coach and, presumably, without consulting anyone who knows anything about basketball. He is the boss who implements 100 bad ideas, knowing that if he lucks out with one innovation, he can build his entire reputation around it while the 99 failures are forgotten."

I'd love to have Souhan explain in detail all the bad moves that Kahn has made.  For all the talk about the bad drafts that Kahn had, he drafted guards and a great small forward. I, for one, like Jonny Flynn and Wes Johnson and Wayne Ellington.

#3 Fire Rambis.  So says Souhan.  "We have reached this unimaginable juncture: Taylor has made us miss McHale. As a coach, McHale could have been great if he had wanted to be. Missing McHale as a GM is like missing eczema."

I couldn't disagree more, and the idea that Souhan thinks that is indisputable makes me think that he might be mildly retarded.  No one misses McHale, except for those of us who remember him, fondly on the radio with a young Kevin Harlan.

The Timberwolves are the youngest team in the league; they have KLOVE and Michael Beasley.  Those are tent poles, and Kahn positioned the team to hold on to KLOVE and get Beasley.  They have drafted great young talent in Wes Johnson, Jonny Flynn, and Wayne Ellington.  They haven't yet traded away defensive badass Corey Brewer.  They have a ton of draft picks, still.  Pissing on the youngest team in the NBA, halfway through their reclamation project is stupid.  But if Jim Souhan is one thing, it is fucking stupid.  No offense, Jim!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Why I Hope/Think Liriano and Brewer Aren't Going Nowhere

The Star Tribune bloggers have been busy making news/rumors, and both Joe Christensen and Jerry Zgoda used similar logic in explaining why young potential stars are on maybe on the trading block.  Joe covers the Twins, and he wrote about how the Twins would be willing to trade Francisco Liriano if the price was right.  Which is always true, I think, for any player.  "the price is right" is a description and a caveat--what is the price?

But other folks have done a very good job suggesting that Joe C. was getting ahead of himself and ahead of the Twins as well.  Twinkie Town did as good of a job as anyone could have breaking down the stats that Joe C cited, and included a great line about how if you have the best slider in the MLB, shouldn't you use it?  Good point, sirs.  Well presented.

A similar argument that Twinkie Town used when discussing Liriano could be applied to the "news" Jerry Zgoda broke/suggested/opined in covering the Wolves.  Now, no one but the most dedicated Wolves/Corey Brewer fans care about where he ends up outside of the context of the Carmelo Anthony trade.  As it has been noted before, I'm one of those fans.  So I was filled with anger when I read Zgoda's assertion that the Wolves would be looking to trade Brewer, regardless of whether it was part of the Knicks-Nuggets blockbuster or not.    Said Zgoda of the Wolves plans for Brewer: "They're looking to get something of value for a guy it sure seems like they've decided isn't part of their future, not after not talking contract extension with him last fall."

Christensen used very similar logic in discussing why Liriano might be trade bait--the lack of an interest in a long term deal.  But this overlooks something rather large and crucial--both players have a rather obvious injury history.  If a team has a chance to say, "Hey, before we sign you to a big deal, let's make sure you really are healthy", why wouldn't they do so?  The risk is higher with Liriano, because of the way those MLB contract extensions work and the danger of exposing a player to free agency.  But if the Twins know for sure they've got a stud, then they will re-sign Liriano.  For the Wolves, the risk of Brewer getting more money somewhere else is practically non-existent.  (And Brewer's agent is certainly overreaching when (if the reports are true) he's trying to make him a $13 million/year guy)

And that's important, when it comes to Brewer.  His second year was basically a waste--due to injuries, he played in all of 15 games.  He was healthy last year, but played on a totally craptacular team.  His agent is trying to get him paid based on that year, and the Wolves see him and use him (as he would be on any other legit team) as a high energy guy off the bench.  Not signing Brewer to an extension last year wasn't proof that the Wolves were ready to get rid of him, as Zgoda assumes.  It was a sign that the new management is engaging in something that former regimes of the Timberwolves never considered when they pursued Joe Smith, Ricky Davis, T-Hud, Marko Jaric, etc--it is a term known as "risk management".  At that point, Brewer had played exactly one year of healthy non-rookie basketball.  Why would you extend a role player's contract at point?  Play out the string--see what he does this year, and extend when it is appropriate. It is logical, but not a sign of dissatisfaction.

Now, Zgoda also quotes David Kahn as saying that they have too many wing players, and that's probably true.  But seeing as Beasley keeps aggravating his ankle, and Martell Webster has back spasms, it seems that all of a sudden, the Wolves have two reliable wingers--Brewer and Wes Johnson.  I don't see either of them going anywhere.

It is possible when dealing with injury-prone guys with high upside to take the lack of a long term contract offer to be a bigger deal than it is.  Here's hoping that's true.  Liriano and Brewer deserve to stay in the Twin Cities, and prove their worth.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Dear David Kahn: Please, Please Don't Trade Corey Brewer

On a night that featured the Nuggets playing and beating the Timberwolves, during which Wolves commentators Tom Hanneman and Jim Petersen discussed the impact of the Knicks dropping out of the trade talks about Carmelo Anthony, reports started to surface that the Knicks were back in the game, thanks to the Timberwolves.

Here's the thing--everyone knows that Carmelo wants to play for the Knicks, and the Knicks would love to have him.  There are teams willing to trade for him, with the understanding that he'd just play out the rest of his contract with them, and then sign as a free agent with the Knicks.  But maybe the Knicks are nervous that if Carmelo ends up with the Lakers or Dallas, or some other perennial winner, he'll forget about his desire to play in NYC.  That, combined with the Nets walking away, combined with the Knicks rather shocking success already, has really put the Knicks in the proverbial catbird seat (thanks, Thurber).

The Knicks, according to these reports, would just have to give up Eddy Curry's expiring contract, Anthony Randolph, and Wilson Chandler.  And in return, they get one of the five best players in the league.  That seems ridiculous.  But for me, as a fan of the Timberwolves, I'm particularly unhappy with the role we seem to have staked out, as facilitator of the trade, confusing "facilitator" with "stupid sucker".

In making this deal happen, the Wolves would give up Corey Brewer AND one of their first round draft picks to get the expiring contract of Eddy Curry and Anthony Randolph.  There are exactly two things this Timberwolves franchise does not need at this point--more money under the cap and a lackadaisical power forward.  They already have a ton of money to spend on free agents, and they already have an All Star power forward in KLOVE who ain't great on defense.

Let me be clear here--I love Corey Brewer.  Always have.   And to repeat myself a bit--Corey Brewer can be a frustrating player to love.  He will make a spectacular play that sparks a serious comeback (as he did tonight).  Even when the team falls short (as they did tonight) his play still lingers in one's memory as being particularly impressive.  He will also still have games where he scores 4 points, and turns over the ball 3 times.    He's tough to figure, as Wolves color analyst Jim Petersen has said on many occasion.  I don't have a great argument for why the Wolves should not trade him, aside from the fact that I love the style of play Brewer brings.  He's an expressive, explosive, super-athletic skinny bastard who would run into a cement wall if he thought it would improve his team's chances of winning by even 1%.  Yes, his shooting is erratic; his passes sometimes miss the mark horribly.  But no one rips the ball and finishes the other way with as much verve as Brewer.  I personally think he deserves to be in the NBA All-Star Dunk Contest more than anyone in it aside from Blake Griffin (seriously?  Ibaka, Jennings and  McGee?  Guess who the NBA wants to win this contest?) .

In summary, these reports of the rumored, possible, imminent trade of Corey Brewer fill me with sadness, and I'll just beg David KAHHHNN to not trade Brewer.  Anthony Randolph and the Extra Cash Bundle that is Eddy Curry are not enough for Brewer, dammit!  The Knicks are worried, the Nuggets are over a barrel.  Let's go with draft picks, period.   A first and a second, say.  Let the Nuggets find their own terrifically skinny, wildly erratic shooting, defensive genius.  And let's keep ours.

Thursday, February 03, 2011


I'm a little gobsmacked by the reports that the coaches of the NBA, in their infinite wisdom of all things basketball, did not select Kevin Love for the All Star Game.

And the argument that is promulgated is simple:  the Timberwolves have won 11 games.  They've lost 37.  They were just blown out by the Memphis Grizzlies, and not for the first time.  This is the current formulation for explaining the snub.  Yahoo Sport's article on the All-Snubbed team said as much:  "The West coaches evidently didn’t put much stock in his accomplishments because Love’s Timberwolves have won just 11 games."

We don't know, of course, exactly how each coach decided to vote for who.  And they certainly did a better job than the fans, seeing as Yao Ming was voted a starter.  Damn you, Chinese fans!  But here's something I'm willing to wager--they aren't putting stock in KLOVE's accomplishments because they aren't really aware of them.  They haven't watched a bunch of Timberwolves game tape, and then looked at that horrible 11-37 record (hey, they only won 15 games all year last year!) and said, "Despite what I'm seeing in this video, I've decided I just can't vote for a guy who plays for a team that only has eleven wins."  They aren't watching.  Nor should they, necessarily.  They've got bigger fish to fry, like coaching their own team.  But they dropped the ball this time.

The argument of a good player on a bad team is as old as the All Star voting system.  And it is a reasonable argument.  Clearly, the coaches saw through the Clippers record, a solid ten games below .500, and made Blake Griffin an All-Star.  Sure, the Clippers play in the Pacific, which has one team over .500 (Lakers), and the Wolves play in the Northwest, where they are the only team below .500.  Sure, you might think that the Wolves routinely face tougher opponents than the Clippers do, and if their positions were swapped, it would be reasonable to think that the Wolves could match that 19-29 record the Clippers have.  But you would be wrong to think that, apparently.

Here's the thing--Kevin Love isn't just a good player on a bad team--he's putting together a season of the ages.  He isn't just leading the league in rebounding.  He's not just hitting well over 40% from 3-point land.  He isn't just leading the league in double-doubles.  Presumably, those are the kinds of things that make people and coaches shrug and say, "Yeah, but he's the best player on a bad team" and move on.  But there have always been lots and lots of good players on bad teams.  But in almost 30 years, none of those players who were snubbed ever had a 30 point, 30 rebound game.  No one has.  Not in 28 years.  You have to go back to Moses Malone, for fuck's sake. KLOVE has done that.  KLOVE is leading the league in Efficiency.  The four guys closest to him--LeBron, Howard, Griffin and Durant--are all going to the All-Star Game.  KLOVE is averaging over 20 points and 15 rebounds per game.  Yeah, sure--good guy on a bad team--except that hasn't happened since (again) Moses Malone, in 1982.  So this is something special, dammit.  This isn't Monta Ellis.  This is a potentially generational season, and the geniuses who coach the NBA have seen fit to ignore it.

For fuck's sake, NBA Coaches--even the New York Times has noticed!  (OK, is a NYT blog written by an NBA stats geek, but still!)

Monday, January 31, 2011

Timberwolves Plays of the Week

Darko Throwdown!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Kevin Love's NUMB#RS

I'm not sure who else in the league markets their players to the Inside the NBA audience the way the Wolves do.  Last year, when they were trying to gin up some votes for Corey Brewer as Most Improved Player, they put him in a coffee shop, for an extended metaphorical piece on Brewer's intangibles.

It should not take any marketing to get Kevin (KLOVE) Love into the All Star Game, but the Timberwolves aren't going to get accused for not trying if he somehow doesn't make it.  They whipped up an ad for KLOVE's "new fragrance", that directs people to a page that shows off just how gobsmackingly good Love has been this year, and full of quotes from folks around the NBA who are appropriately gobsmacked.  Apparently, Love may not get an All-Star berth.  Not sending a guy that good would be incredibly stupid.  But again, the Wolves are making sure that no one can say, "Oh, if only he weren't playing for the Timberwolves--we might have voted for him if he were putting up those numbers in a major market."  The Timberwolves are doing their damned best to make sure everyone knows what Love is doing, and if they have to resort to oddball viral videos to do so, so be it.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Vacillation, Thy Name is Souhan!

I don't know whether there are actually two Jim Souhans, each operating independently of each other, or whether he's finally succumbed to the syndrome of subjective doubles.  The Victorian author Wilkie Collins, for example, suffered from the persistent belief that he had a doppelganger, who would occasionally show up at his house and attempt to change his writings.  All I know is that in pieces written two weeks apart, Souhan is vacillating wildly.  Leash your doppelganger, Jimmy!

Consider January 12th's headline:

Wolves are still bad, but at least they're bad and have a plan


Will the Wolves ever matter again?

Fascinating!  Let's play Point-Counterpoint with reasonable 2 week ago Jim Souhan taking on today's reactionary Jim Souhan.  Reactionary Jim Souhan, would you like to start?

Reactionary JS:  The problem is that the Wolves, after a series of management and coaching changes, and the trade of the best player in franchise history, and loads of high draft choices and dramatic personnel moves, still stink.

Reasonable JS:  This is a bad team, of course. There isn't enough chocolate icing in the world to make 9-30 taste good. But for the first time in years, this is a bad team with some semblance of a plan.

Reactionary JS:  I want to believe that this team is making progress, but every time you think they're throwing you a steak bone, it turns out to be Styrofoam

Reasonable JS:  The Wolves have been so bad for so long that we view every loss as the latest indictment of a criminally stupid organization, instead of recognizing that this year's failures are different from last year's failures, and all of the failures since '05.

Reactionary JS:  I wish all of this weren't true. I want to believe that...Michael Beasley will find the kind of internal fire that stokes superstars

Reasonable JS: Beasley needs to improve defensively, but he's been better than expected offensively. He will, despite his teammates' teasing, pass the ball, and he scores more easily than any player in franchise history.

This is all to say that it is hard to take anything Souhan says seriously when he clearly has a hard time taking anything he says seriously himself. I've always had problems taking Souhan seriously, particularly when it comes to evaluating talent in almost any sport.

And again, I find it ridiculous that a team whose MVP's of the season so far are both 22 year old kids (Beasley and KLOVE) and who gives regular burn (and gets productive minutes out of) Wesley Johnson, Jonny Flynn, Martell Webster and Corey Brewer (all under 25 years of age) with little to no real veteran help does not have at its goal to win a bunch of games--not even a bunch more games than they did last year.

That said--the Wolves won 15 games last year.  They have won 10 games this year, and seem to be a lock to win more than 15.  But that's not the goal.  The goal is figure out which of these guys, besides Love and Beasley, to build the team around.  They have two 22-year old future All-Stars, and a solid young core to work with.  Who cares how many games they win this year?  The fans?  The fans aren't coming to the games anyway, and that's despite the fact that this team is way, way more entertaining than last year.  This is all about making sure they come next year, and I'm all for that, because I am paying attention, and even though I end up disappointed, I rarely end up turning off the game.

(Note:  as I write this, the Wolves are currently winning a game Souhan predicted they would lose against the Thunder.  It's a close game, and it is still in the 3rd quarter.  But a close game in the 3rd quarter against a quality team didn't happen hardly at all last year, so there)

updated to clean up some horrible grammatical mistakes.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Timberwolves Plays of the Week

not a 3-pointer in the mix this time.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Timberwolves Top 5 Plays of the Week

I've decided that I'm going to post these for as long as it takes for people to recognize that the Timberwolves are a fun, young team that will be good sooner rather than later.

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