Having broken camp in Mankato, the Wolves begin their preseason schedule this Wednesday in Fargo, North Dakota. They’ll take on Kevin Love’s favorite team, the Indiana Pacers. While the coaching staff looks to implement a pass-and-cut offense and sharpen up the defensive focus, they might just be happy if the game is completed without fisticuffs with Danny Granger and David West. A few rambling observations as we head into the fun part of the year.
* John Hollinger released his player profile projections. It’s an Insider story, so I won’t quote from it, but there are some interesting takeaways if you value Hollinger’s opinions. Hollinger predicts a starting lineup of Rubio-Roy-AK47-Love-Pekovic, and projects each player to surpass the 15.0 mark for PER. If this holds true, it’ll mark a significant departure from Wolves teams pasts in terms of having each position filled by a competent player. PER has its flaws, but productivity from each starting player would be a nice change. Hollinger also agrees with yours truly about Kevin Love benefiting from more minutes at the center position. He accurately describes how Love prefers physical interior play to chasing forwards out to the perimeter to contest jump shots. Love doesn’t block shots, but can be a neutral-type post defender.
* “To his credit, I think of all the guys in camp, he’s been the most consistent.” – Rick Adelman on Derrick Williams. The common themes of the early Williams buzz are that he’s in better shape, showing more consistency, and impressing the coaching staff with an improved attitude. There has been some discussion, on Twitter more than anything, that Williams tweaked his shooting mechanics to remove a “hitch” that could be seen last year. Adelman didn’t notice that. He just seems to notice a difference in conditioning and effort. He repeats that Williams needs to attack the basket.
* “I do think he can be better than Michael. I thought I would never compare somebody to Michael Jordan. But this guy, LeBron James, he does everything well. Michael did everything well. LeBron James is just bigger, stronger, faster. That’s the only difference.” – Charles Barkley. The only way you could argue that LeBron wasn’t on Jordan’s level for the past three seasons is to point out the post-season disappearing acts and wonder if LeBron had a mental makeup that wouldn’t allow him to dominate through an entire playoffs. Now that we’ve seen him do exactly that, I’m not sure what else he can do to prove he “can be better than Micheal.” He is better than Michael. He may not win six championships, or even two or three of them, but as an individual dominant force, LeBron > Jordan.
* [S]ome people say [Dwight Howard is] the best center in the league, but me being an old-school center, I’m going to go with Robin Lopez and Andrew Bynum because they play with their back to the basket.” – Shaq. Even if he clarified that he meant Brook–not Robin–Shaq once again says something stupid to provoke a response. I’d like to see him moved to ESPN where that type of personality has a place during the daytime hours. Inside the NBA is one of the best sports shows around and Shaq really poisoned the well last year. Charles sits there and shakes his head. Kenny gets left out when argument heats up. Bring back Webber. Or McHale. Or even Magic. Or better yet, go back to the three-man weave of Ernie, Chuck and Jet. Please.