In case you missed it (and at this point I doubt anybody reading this site missed it) Flip Saunders has been named head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves. He actually appointed himself leader of the sideline from his lofty perch where he currently sits as president of basketball operations. This is the second time that Saunders will coach the Wolves. He is the franchise’s career wins leader by a huge margin from the days when he led from the sidelines the teams led by Kevin Garnett on the court. They made the playoffs a bunch of times.
Purely on the merits: Saunders is a decidedly satisfactory basketball coach. He’s coached good players to pretty good seasons. He’s coached great players to very good seasons. He’s coached undeveloped players to terrible seasons. He is respected but not necessarily admired. For more on What Hiring Flip Saunders Means, check out Andrew Sharp’s piece for Grantland, or Britt Robson’s for MinnPost.
The part that I need to write about today is something I’ll try to avoid harping on too much in the future. Beating dead horses is a hobby of mine and many other writers – particularly ones that devote their time and energy to this frustrating franchise – but it gets tiring and is usually not fun to read.
In an offseason without games to report on, every Wolves-related event that might affect the course of the future–whether in a small or large way–gets reported.
One event that might affect the Wolves’ decision of if, when, and where to trade Kevin Love is Love’s recent trip to Boston. Love reportedly went to Boston just to learn more about the place. From Jerry Z’s story:
“I’m here to just check out the city and see what it’s like,” when asked why he was in town.
When a Boston Globe reporter approached him Saturday afternoon at a Boston hotel, Love said, “I’m sorry man, I can’t do nothing, I can’t.” He was referring to his inability or unwillingness to talk publicly about the purpose of his visit.
(Eds. Note: I wonder if K-Love took the Freedom Trail tour that every other citizen-tourist who travels to Boston because he wants to learn more about the place ultimately takes. If so, he could’ve got a lot just from this Lonely Planet vid.)
Given all this, some issues emerge from Kevin Love’s little offseason getaway..
Patrick J: There has been a lot happening around the Wolves over the past week. First, we got word that Kevin Love was likely going to use his early-termination option to explore free agency after the 2014-15 season.
At the same time, there were murmurs that the Wolves were looking closely at former Timberwolves player and Raptors coach Sam Mitchell as Rick Adelman’s replacement as Twolves head coach.
When we last wrote, both of these stories had an air of uncertainty around it. Woj had broken the Love story in one of his “should-I-really-believe-this” megaexclusives. And the Mitchell news crept upon us out of nowhere and felt like a shock to the system.
Since then, the Kevin Love news has only gotten more play, while the Sam Mitchell rumor quickly went away (Eds. Note: There has been some speculation that Mitchell could end up as an assistant on Joeger’s staff) –replaced by the rumor that current Grizzlies coach and Minnesota native Dave Joerger will be the one who succeeds Adelman on the Wolves sideline.
The Inbox below is a list of scenarios that do not seem implausible ways in which the Wolves could decide to go with whatever type of “rebuilding” strategy they will have to do, assuming that Love is traded and Joerger is hired.
Continue reading below the fold to see how we rate them… Continue reading
So, this week we learned that Kevin Love has given the Wolves’ leadership notice that he intends to exercise the early-termination option in his contract after next season and become an unrestricted free agent.
It was Adrian Wojnarowski who reported it, so take the story for what it’s worth.
COINCIDENTALLY (?), word leaked that Sam Mitchell is a strong candidate for the Wolves coaching job.
If, like most Wolves fans, you felt as though you’d been double-tapped after reading those news items, continue reading below. Continue reading
Canis Hoopus Roundtable Part I
Patrick and I, along with some other Wolves writers that you are familiar with, participated in a little Roundtable/Q & A over at Canis Hoopus. Go check it out.
Learning from The Machine
I recently read an interesting paper, entitled “Profiting from Machine Learning in the NBA Draft (paper available here).” The author of the paper is Philip Maymin, Assistant Professor of Finance and Risk Engineering at the NYU School of Engineering. Maymin has written several articles applying machine learning techniques to NBA basketball.
Here’s the study’s abstract: I project historical NCAA college basketball performance to subsequent NBA performance for prospects using modern machine learning techniques without snooping bias. I find that the projections would have helped improve the drafting decisions of virtually every team: over the past ten years, teams forfeited an average of about $90,000,000 in lost productivity that could have been theirs had they followed the recommendations of the model. I provide team-by-team breakdowns of who should have been drafted instead, as well as team summaries of lost profit, and draft order comparison. Far from being just another input in making decisions, when used properly, advanced draft analytics can effectively be an additional revenue source in a team’s business model.
Based on The Machine’s* projections, we’re going to discuss some choice decisions the Wolves made in past drafts.
Andy G’s mom likes Mike D’Antoni. (Original photo from Twitter.)
The Punch-Drunk Podcast has been on hiatus for a while. But now it’s back. With more discussion of the Wolves’ vacant coaching position. (Eds. Note: Andy G’s stanky-leg Comcast internet connection cut out at the very end, so when the Comcast Gods restored connectivity, the pod was split into two parts. This is part two. Part one is here. )
In this edition, we recover from Comcast-induced technical difficulties, discuss the pros and cons of some potential candidates for the Wolves’ head coaching position, and speculate that Andy G’s mom has a crush on Mike D’Antoni.