The Punch-Drunk Wolves League Pass Series has taken on a life of its own. We’re on Volume 5 after two rookie teams, an Eastern Conference Team, and a REACTION POST to the Eastern Conference Team. Since Pat is enjoying some vacation time back in ‘Sota, I won’t be surprised if he follows this one up with some of his own thoughts again. Here is your Western Conference League Pass Team. (Eds. Note: No Timberwolves since we watch those games with Jimmy Pete on the local stations. League Pass EXEMPT.)
PG – Steph Curry, Golden State Warriors: Remember how fun it is to watch Steph Curry play? Me neither. Because he only played 26 games last year on a tanking Warriors team. Not this year. The Dubs now have Andrew Bogut and a supporting cast of wings that actually complement Curry’s playmaking and shooting. As a Timberwolves fan hoping to see them make the playoffs, the Warriors scare me as 8-Seed Competition. Curry will be fun to watch this year. I should add: Steve Nash in a Laker Uniform is more MUST-SEE TV, at least at first, than Curry. But you’ll see the Lakers on national TV so much that they don’t belong on a League Pass team.
SG – Eric Gordon, New Orleans Hornets: You also might struggle to remember what Eric Gordon brings to the table because he only played 9 (!!!!!!!) games last year. He put off knee surgery and was probably watching Hornets games from his old dorm room in Bloomington for much of the season. Seriously, has a star player ever been such a mopey bitch about being traded? (Okay, probably.) I actually like Gordon–love his game and think he’s probably a nice kid who has an innocent teenage personality that sometimes manifests itself as petulant. He didn’t handle free agency with much more maturity than Dwight Howard did. But nobody cared because restricted free agents deal their own hand when they turn down the offer sheet. GETTING BACK TO WHY HE’S ON THE LEAGUE PASS TEAM: Gordon is a slasher and a shooter. He’s a bowling ball in the lane who bounces off bodies and gets buckets. You know what else? He plays his ass off and can D up opposing shooting guards. He and Ant Davis are a helluva nice pairing.
SF – Michael Beasley, Phoenix Suns: Whatever causes Supercool Mike to be so inconsistent with his effort, I hope he figures it out and removes it from his life. He’s got such a pretty jumper and an affable personality. I’d love to see him thrive in Phoenix. When Beasley is on–and he’s on more than some like to admit–there aren’t many better at racking up points in a hurry.
PF – Kenneth Faried, Denver Nuggets: The Manimal averaged 12.2 rebounds per 36 minutes as a rookie last year. Those are almost Kevin Love NUMB#RS. Denver does a cool thing: When somebody else is (for once) getting a defensive rebound, Manimal takes off on a fly route, Randy Moss style. They heave it up to him in the opposite free throw lane and it usually leads to a dunk or two free throws. Denver is VERY fun to watch and Manimal is a reason why. I look forward to seeing what he adds to his game in Year 2.
C – DeMarcus Cousins – Sacramento Kings: Run DMC is an enigma, and when you’re surfing League Pass, enigmas get your attention. One minute, Cousins is showing off Olajuwon footwork and cramming on Pau Gasol. The next, he’s jacking three-pointers and losing shoving matches with Nikola Pekovic. He’s a player to watch for just about every reason.
6th Man – Kawhi Leonard – San Antonio Spurs: Here’s why I think Leonard is a player to watch in 2012-13: He holds the keys to the Spurs future. Last year, he showed INCREDIBLE improvement as a corner three-point shooter. But as Duncan and Ginobili get older, they need more than that from Kawhi. He’s athletic with huge hands and a decent handle. Can he become a threat to take his man hard off the dribble? Can his penetration game develop as quickly as his shooting did? The Spurs are never to be taken lightly, but Father Time is going to win one of these years. That is, unless Leonard buys them another 10 years.