It’s March. Spring is (officially) here.
Flowers are blooming and the air is warm. There’s still piles of snow on the ground and it’s cold as hell. But NBA and NCAA tournament basketball is being played. Basketball fans are in a state of full receptivity, like a f*cking lightning rod.*
Me, I’ve been traveling the last week, first to Minnesota, then to Chicago. Catching games when I could. But travel is disruptive, especially for someone who’s usually planted in his lounger in front of a 60-inch TV with the full suite of League Pass and cable options, and two(!) laptops, one usually dedicated to picking up a second NBA game on League Pass Broadband and the other to NBA Twitter. While on the road I’ve been catching games when possible. But it hasn’t been the same as my home base in The Hoops Junkie’s Blogger Lair. But now I’m back in the captain’s chair, and it’s on.
Anyway, here’s some stuff I’m thinking about.
The Wolves Remain Intriguing In Spite Of Everything
Wolves vs. Sacramento
It’s ironic that the team shot 1-19 from distance in Bud’s first game back. But hey, Chase had the 1. And he had 9 points in 18 mins on 3-7 from the floor (box here). Hope abounds, and I look forward to seeing what he can do the rest of the way.
Wolves vs. Phoenix
Tonight the Wolves play the Phoenix Suns, on the road, in the second night of a back-to-back. They manhandled the Suns back in December . Playing Phoenix means a few things:
- Mike Beasley: The Wolves meet up wit da boi Mike Beasley, the longtime Punch-Drunk Wolves favorite who’s perfectly flawed in a tragically perfect kind of way. (Pure talent, fatal flaw, that kind of thing.) Beas is as FreeDarko as FreeDarko HoF inductees like Gil Arenas and other various enigmas. Unsurprisingly, Beas has been relegated to a nothing role, at least compared to his talent level, and is averaging 10 and 4 in a career low 21 MPG for a 23-46 Suns team.
- Wes Johnson: They also meet up wit da boi Wes Johnson, who in March has been getting lots of playing time (29 MPG) – presumably the Suns are tanking? – and putting up some of the best NUMB#RS of his career with 12 PPG in 10 games in March. Wes played well the last time the Wolves took on the Suns. I didn’t think such a nice, passive guy could have a taste for revenge, but maybe I was wrong. We’ll see if he can do it again tonight. Meanwhile, I will continue trying to block out that the Wolves took him at #4 rather than TRADING DOWN for Paul George or taking Greg Monroe or DMC, which were a few of the obviously superior alternatives at the time.
- Player rotations: This is another thing to watch for. Aside from it being Bud’s second game back, the SAC game saw no Gelabale & no Johnson. Will they be cut out of the rotation permanently, or was it situational? Only Rick knows that. Also, who loses minutes over the rest of the season – Shved or Barea – with Bud getting some wing action? Alexey played 16 last night and J.J. 21.
- Competing interests: The big question about the Suns game is, will anyone be watching? Presumably everyone will be tuning into the Gophers NCAA tournament game against UCLA, and maybe, just maybe, they will be flipping back and forth. That is, if they happen to have TRU (!), which apparently is a network and apparently will be broadcasting the Gophers-UCLA game tonight. I don’t have it or know anyone who does. What gives? Anyway, to the extent we’re able to find a place showing the game, PDW will be scouting Shabazz Muhammed, who turns out to be 20, not 19. Should we care about that in thinking about him as a potential high lotto pick?
- Why we watch: We’re watching mostly as LOTTO BOUND NBA fans, not NCAA junkies. So we’ll miss a lot, but mostly intentionally because we don’t care. (Sidestory: During the Bad Old Days when the Timberwolves seemed truly hopeless, my and Andy’s initial idea for a blog was one called LottoBound.com, where we would discuss college prospects and the Wolves, since all we did was email back and forth to each other speculating about college players who could potentially turn around the franchise. Thank god we’re beyond that point, but still, that’s sort of what we’re doing now. C’est la vie.)
- Marcus Smart: It is ironic that in one of our first looks at wing prospect MARCUS SMART in the national spotlight, the eye test didn’t correspond with his advanced stats. Small sample size alert, but Smart isn’t a tiny LeBron, and he’s not Kyrie or the Beard. He looks more like a homeless, hepatitus B-infected man’s version of Tyreke Evans (who torched Minny last night, so…). So we’re temporarily curbing our enthusiasm on him, though we get that it was just one game.
- Victor Oladipo: Smart’s lackluster performance made me want to watch Oladipo more carefully. He seems better by default. And besides, this:
- Nate Wolters: MN kid done good at SDSU. NBA prospect. Not recruited by the Gophers. Not a new thing. SDSU lost yesterday. Wolters had an ugly stat line, but looked like an NBA player. He knows how to run a pick-and-roll, has adequate athleticism (SURPRISINGLY!) and seems to be a better NBA fit than college, given how he uses his body to fend off would-be hand checkers. His struggles last night were the result of overly physical college defense. We like Wolters as a second-round target for some team, though maybe not the Wolves because we’re stacked at the point?
- Anthony Bennett: Big-time PDW-favorite. This dude has a pure NBA game. He was posting up and calling for the ball like whoa. But because it’s college hoops and his teammates suck, he wasn’t getting it much. He still had 15 & 11 in a struggle of a game. How’s that for analysis?
- Allen Crabbe: In that same game, PAC-12 PLAYER OF THE YEAR Allen Crabbe looked like the real deal. The Wolves may wanna give him a look with the Memphis pick. He’s 6’6″ shooting guard (*ears perk up*) who shoots lots of 3s and also does lots of other stuff.
That’s all for now. Back to the game(s).
*Roger Dodger quote. If you’re male and reading this – and there’s a 99 percent chance you are, unless you’re my or Andy’s mom – watch it.