Dating back to 2006, the months of March and April have not been interesting ones for Minnesota Timberwolves fans. In what was first inspired by a surprising and disappointing inability to reach the playoffs and a draft-pick debt to the Clippers that was protected if the Wolves picked high enough (finished with a bad enough record) the franchise introduced its fans to the concept of intentionally losing games. “Tanking” is the commonly accepted term in NBA circles. In 2006, Kevin Garnett sat out the season’s final 6 games. The Wolves lost 5 of them. The final game — when a win would have jeopardized the team’s ability to trade away Brandon Roy a couple months later — included the most embarrasing, shameless display of tanking in league history. Mark “Mad Dog” Madsen was deployed to chuck up shots that he had no chance of making. Mad Dog was 1 for 15 from the floor (and 0-7 from downtown) and the Wolves lost in double overtime. Welcome to the Twin Cities, Randy Foye.
Monthly Archives: March 2013
A couple weeks ago, in anticipation of the NCAA Tournament, we scribbled some preliminary thoughts on NBA Draft prospects. Now that we’re into Sweet 16 territory, and we know a little more about where the Wolves may end up drafting, we thought it about that time to do another quick #lottobound rundown of our current thoughts on potential Wolves prospects we like.
I pass the baton to Andy G to kick this thing off.
That said, who is #1? My take is, if we somehow win the lottery I think it’s Nerlens Noel or Anthony Bennett. Gotta get the star power at the top of the draft.
If we don’t win the lotto and take Oladipo, we might be getting a better player than McLemore anyway. Victor O plays Jrue Holiday-style defense and seems to have the shooting mechanics to become a pretty reliable secondary scorer. It’d be incredible to watch a Rubio-Oladipo backcourt terrorize opposing guards defensively.
The no-call following Kobe Bryant’s foul on Ricky Rubio was met with a wide-eyed, pleading reaction from the aggrieved shooter, Rick Adelman storming to mid court demanding an explanation, and 51 percent of fans at Target Center booing their lungs out. (The other 49, wearing purple and gold, had a different-but-also-loud reaction.) Twitter was equally reactive. Bitching. Expletives. Allegations of corruption. Probably some unpleasant messages directed @kobebryant.
In truth, it probably didn’t matter, and it is only one play out of a great many that decided tonight’s game. Had a foul been called on Kobe, Ricky would have had a chance to force overtime by making three consecutive free throws. His season free-throw percentage of 77.4 tells us that there is a 46.4 percent chance that he would’ve made all of them and five more minutes would’ve been added to the clock next to a tie score. If overtime is a 50/50 proposition (probably generous, given that they have Kobe and… we don’t) then it means that a foul call would’ve given the Wolves a 23.2 percent chance of winning the game.
The Lakers have won 21 straight over the Timberwolves heading into tonight’s tilt at the Target Center. With the Lakers vying for a playoff spot and the Wolves coming off a dominant win against Detroit, could tonight be the night when the hex ends? That’s why I’ll be watching.
Stay healthy, my friends.
1st Quarter Notes:
Sloppy start from both teams. Pistons scored early off of second chance points. Pekovic ended quarter with 8 points and 4 rebounds. He was heavily involved in the offense. When Budinger entered the game late in the quarter, the spacing and ball movement improved. Wolved led 19-16 after the first.
Andy G: New topic and one that seems to get discussed less and less often: David Kahn. You reminded me the other day about the time he gave Kurt Rambis a homework assignment. (!!!) We’ve come a long way from the days when Kahn wielded such authority over his coach. To everyone’s benefit, Kahn was later able to hire Rick Adelman; an acquisition that naturally shifted the channels of authority over at 600 1st Ave. N. But the degree to which Kahn seems less relevant is significant and poses some questions for the future of the franchise. He still holds the prominent title of P.O.B.O., which should amount to the team’s acting agent in matters such as trade discussion and free agent negotiations. We’ve got a recently drafted #2 pick that should be aggressively shopped and a star center up for restricted free agency. It’s important that the Timberwolves have a clear chain of authority on these matters, both within the ORG and to be transparent to callers from the other 29 teams.
Why is this important? Well, James Harden was dealt to Houston in a swift and covert manner that involved Sam Presti making phone calls that he certainly needed a high degree of trust would be: a) fruitful in terms of possibly ending in a big trade; and b) confidential. I doubt the Wolves had the juice to get The Beard without dishing out Love or Rubio, but we’ll never know because (by all accounts, which includes a Bill Simmons report that Presti first called Golden State and Washington, before Houston) Presti never approached the Wolves. Opportunities could potentially be lost, is what I’m saying.
1) Do you agree that it is important for the Wolves’ authority chain to be clearly defined and transparent to the league?
2) How much — for comedy’s sake — would you enjoy reading about Rick Adelman being assigned homework from Kahn?
Andy G: First things first: The Wolves won by 31 points last night. On the road. On the tail end of a back-to-back. That never happens. I guess I should mention that it came against the Phoenix Suns and — unlike the last time the Wolves played (and lost) in Phoenix — it wasn’t a WESLEY JOHNSON REVENGE GAME. (Wes shot 2 for 12 from the floor.) I’d ask for your thoughts on the game, but I doubt yours are any different than mine, which could be summed up as: Nice to get a win, nice to see Chase Budinger contributing right away, but Phoenix is horrible and we’re in the thick of Tanking Season. If any of that is incorrect, let me know.
Patrick J: Ditto. We like those wins, and as much as that, we like how the team performs so far with Chase on the floor. Granted, they aren’t playing worldbeaters – SAC and PHO are peer teams at best – but still, you see the potential there. It’s almost enough to make me wish I knew how it looked at full strength, with Kevin Love on the floor. But not quite. We’re in the dog days of the season, writing posts that feature Youtube vids of our favorite college prospects whom we’re watching in the NCAA tourney, and are far, far, far from playoff contention. Do you agree that you’d rather K-Love stay away the rest of the season so as not to risk reinjuring his hand, or (let’s just assume this for a fun hypothetical), do you want to see him return so we can see whether a healthy Wolves squad with a few rusty pieces can compete with the Murderer’s Row schedule they have coming up?