My typical order of operations for running this blog is to write first, read later. During the season that means I watch the game, think about a post theme on my fifteen-minute walk home, and then immediately start banging on the keys. I do this for two main reasons that are equally important to me: First, I don’t have a lot of time during the work week to spend on the blog, so I need to be as efficient as possible. Writing while thoughts are fresh and I’ve yet to unwind from the game is the least wasteful of time. Second, it’s the best way for this blog to provide a unique perspective. If I’ve already read other takes, I’ll be more accurate but less original. So with those considerations in mind, I bang out a post as best I can, press “publish” and then read the other fine Timberwolves websites and blogs, usually discovering mistakes I made but also setting my previous thoughts in a fuller context.
I didn’t do that with last night’s draft. That’s partly because, after the Muhammad and Dieng picks, I strolled down the street to my favorite bar for a some post-draft decompression. By the time I got home it was too late to start writing. But I also wanted to read other takes first because, well… THE WOLVES DRAFTED SHABAZZ MUHAMMAD!!! Unbelievable. Pat and I have written a few different ‘Bazz-related posts, and I kind of sort of thought they were at least a little bit in jest. Don’t get me wrong, I’m far from a Shabazz Hater; just didn’t seem possible that this team, coached by this coach, at this juncture, would opt for such a polarizing prospect.
More on all of this later, when I get some time to fully digest it.
for pre-draft scenarios and opinions.
If the Wolves draft Shabazz Muhammad, Flip won’t have to ask for his longform
Eds. Note: This mock isn’t necessarily intended to predict what teams will do, but to spell out what WE would do at each pick. Some of that is likely to map onto what teams actually end up doing on Thursday, some isn’t. Part 1, which covered picks 1-8, is here.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves – Shabazz Muhammad, SG/SF, UCLA
Patrick J: If the draft were to unfold as we outlined it here, there won’t be any great options left for the Wolves at #9. That said, the Wolves need a shooter and scorer on the wing. Shabazz Muhammad is a shooter and scorer who plays the wing. Most fans hate Shabazz. They don’t like that his dad RON HOLMES (!) forged Shabazz’s birth certificate. They don’t like that Shabazz never collected any assists. They don’t like that Shabazz didn’t play well against the Gophers during the only game most of them probably saw Muhammad play all season long. Me, I don’t care about Shabazz’s age, his Daddy issues, his passing, or his putative attitude problems, which is (at this point) overblown since we don’t know beyond vague RUMINT that Shabazz has any attitude problems. What I do care about is obtaining a scorer who is taller than 6’1’’ and can score without being ball dominant. Shabazz does that in his sleep. He wouldn’t be a great fit for every team, but I think people are selling short the fit he could be on our team.
To close, I will quote RON HOLMES:
“Bazz is going to blow up in the NBA lets team up and blow this thing up!!!” Holmes wrote to a Times reporter in a text message. “I’m going to need a publicist anyway why shouldn’t it be you. We can do some big things together.”
Doesn’t that convince you?
(More of Ron’s Ruminations are here.)
Adam Silver will be rollin’ phat on Draft night
Eds. Note: This mock isn’t necessarily intended to predict what teams will do, but to spell out what WE would do at each pick. Some of that is likely to map onto what teams actually end up doing on Thursday, some isn’t.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers – Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky
Patrick J: I think the Cavs go with the conventional wisdom here. In a draft without a sure-thing superstar, you go with talent and size, especially when there’s a seven footer with potentially upper upper level shotblocking skills and defensive instincts.
Andy G: Can’t disagree, here. It’s not so much that NERLENS is can’t-miss as much as there’s probably not a sure thing anywhere in this draft and it’s pretty easy to see how his game carries over to modern NBA defense, often times built around roaming paint protectors.
Plus, that flat top.
Ben McLemore to the Minnesota Timberwolves
Some of McLemore’s intangible qualities — mainly his assertiveness, focus, and competitiveness — have a number of front offices concerned about his future prospects. The Kansas guard also isn’t a great off-the-dribble creator, so a team bereft of playmakers may ask McLemore to shoulder more offensive responsibility than he is ready for, which could irrevocably damage his game and confidence. More than perhaps any potential lottery pick, McLemore needs a stable, winning environment to help mold good habits while also letting him grow into his game at his own pace. In Minnesota, Kevin Love fills the role of first-option scorer while Ricky Rubio plays the part as the primary, off-the-bounce creator. McLemore would only be required to help the Minnesota attack in ways that play to his strengths — attacking in transition and using his sweet stroke to spot up from the outside in the half court. It would be a much easier transition for McLemore, allowing him to perhaps slowly grow his offensive game in a similar fashion to the aforementioned George. And by combining with Rubio, Love, Andrei Kirilenko, and center Nikola Pekovic (if he’s re-signed), playoff appearances would likely follow, aiding McLemore’s development as a winning player.
–Brett Koremenos, in his Grantland post, “Four Ideal Prospect-to-Team Fits in the 2013 NBA Draft.” For the entire post: (http://www.grantland.com/blog/the-triangle/post/_/id/66726/four-ideal-prospect-to-team-fits-in-the-2013-nba-draft)
In a podcast with CBS Sports, Jonathan Givony was asked to name one player that is “confounding him” right now — meaning that his opinion differs significantly from what he’s hearing from NBA teams. His response:
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has really moved up draft boards significantly over the last few months. He has a really good chance of being a top-ten pick on Thursday now. And while I like his talent — I like a 6’6″ guy that can really shoot the ball and is committed to playing defense — that can really score, I wonder if he has the mindset to be a top-ten draft pick and really carry an NBA team; to be a go-to option early on in his career. I wonder about that. I think that he is more comfortable being a complementary type — being a third or fourth option player. I liked him a little bit more when he was projected just outside the lottery, in that 15 to 25 range as opposed to a top-ten pick. I think really that’s what the draft is all about, it’s all about value. I think all these players are talented. I don’t think there’s a single guy that’s going to go in the first round that cannot play. I just think that it’s a matter of expectations. It’s a matter of where you fall in the draft and what opportunity you get to how you can actually become.
I’m back from the Philippines. Jet lag is my master.
But it was a good visit.
Basketball euphoria was high in Manila. Everyone was all about the Finals, despite the fact that we were tuning into games live at 8:30 AM local time.
A few thoughts on hoops in the Philippines below the fold.
After a more-than-week-long roller coaster of reports involving Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and the LA Clippers, it seems that a deal has finally been struck. Rivers will coach the Clippers next season. Assuming he isn’t fired or doesn’t force another trade (!) he’ll also coach the Clips for the two seasons after that. The Celtics receive a first-round pick in 2015 and the financial relief of paying a cheaper coach to lead what looks to be a rebuilding team.
Perhaps more interesting is the part of the deal that has not — and probably will not — happen: Kevin Garnett won’t be joining his coach, as was originally hoped for and expected. Howard Beck reported in Friday’s Times that David Stern was skeptical that the teams could arrange transactions including both coach and players that pass muster under the collective bargaining agreement. Today, after the Rivers announcement, Paul Flannery reiterates that the league views the Rivers/KG situation as “either/or” for the Clippers, and that in light of today’s news, Garnett for DeAndre Jordan is off the table. Flannery notes Garnett’s no-trade clause and finds it likely that KG will remain a Celtic.
In the internet spirit of KNEE-JERK REACTION I thought I’d pay a quick visit to espn.com — specifically, the Trade Machine — and come up with a
n unlikely plausible trade proposal that brings Garnett back home to Minneapolis, where he spent his prime seasons as the greatest ever Timberwolf.
Why the Wolves do it:
The first basic lesson taught in law school is how to read a case. Reading the decisions of judges and justices is widely considered the best way to “think like a lawyer.” Cases are the best representation of the adversarial system put into effect. There’s a set of facts, a law that governs the scenario, a decision made by a judge or jury, and the reasoning laid out to support the ultimate finding. But the most important sentence in the entire case — and that’s usually all it is; one sentence — is the issue. It’s phrased either as a question or a sentence beginning with “whether” and it provides the framework for the ultimate conclusion. With this in mind, advocates do all that they can to frame the issue in the best way for their client.
It’s just speculation, but when it comes from Wolfson you can bet it’s based on something real.
James Gandolfini Is Dead at 51
On a day separating historic basketball games played by the Spurs and Heat, tragedy struck the arts. James Gandolfini — Tony Soprano — died of an apparent heart attack while traveling in Italy. There are film and television critics that can eulogize “Tony” far better than I, but this event is worth acknowledging here. All sorts of indeterminable debates have played out between The Sopranos, The Wire, and a growing list of premium tv series’ that have pushed the entire genre ahead of film in the two thousand teens.
There is no doubt when the transition began. It began with Gandolfini’s Tony Soprano, the most lovable degenerate that any of us has ever [not] known. [QUASI-SPOILER ALERT] — If you watched The Sopranos, then you know what I mean when I say that the power in Tony’s character was that — by series end — you absolutely cared about his fate even though you had come to completely despise him. The genius of Tony was in the passionate ambivalence of the viewer. Tony wasn’t for reductionists and he wasn’t for the self righteous. He was complex. So was his family. Anytime Carmela felt sorry for her sad state of marital affairs — and it happened a lot, and Tony was always to blame — the context would develop in the form of heated argument. The only thing we became sure of was that life is never simple. Tony delivered that message with his temper, his foul mouth, his shitty grin, his infidelity, his points of loyalty, and his forever unpredictability. I don’t know if The Sopranos is the greatest television series in history, but I know that there has not been another like it, and I know that there has not been another character like Tony. There never will be.
Rest in peace.
“For the series, the Heat have scored 131.7 points per 100 possessions when James is on the floor without Wade, and just 100.8 when the two have shared the floor, per NBA.com. The Heat are minus-12 for the series, but the James–Mike Miller–Ray Allen super-shooting trio is a crazy plus-50 in just 68 minutes, per NBA.com. The James-Miller-Chalmers trio is plus-43 in just 80 minutes, and the combination of those four players is a stunning plus-49 in just 29 total minutes together, per NBA.com.”
–Zach Lowe, on the Heat’s success during the Finals with LeBron on the floor next to three-point shooters (rather than with D-Wade). As we continue the search for tip-the-scale factors, this one looms large heading into the season finale. Game 6 was [barely] saved by the Wade-less lineup in the middle of the fourth, and nearly lost when Wade went back in. He’s not healthy and he’s a poor enough fit with James that a great coach like Popovich will exploit it for all its worth. The rest of Lowe’s fantastic piece here: (http://www.grantland.com/blog/the-triangle/post/_/id/66008/10-key-thoughts-on-the-greatest-most-insane-nba-finals-game-in-years)
One paragraph of instant reaction to one of the greatest NBA games I’ve ever seen:
It’s tough to escape the feeling that San Antonio’s chance was tonight. Not only did they get THE DUNCAN GAME (30 points 17 rebounds) but they also got a whole bunch of awkward shots to fall at times when Miami was turning up the Heat. (!) I’m thinking of Splitter hook shots, Leonard push shots, and Parker fadeaway threes to tie the game with a minute to play. Kawhi had a chance to ice it and only made one of two free throws. If the Spurs don’t win Game 7 — and they probably won’t — he’ll probably never win a title and he’ll never live that down in his own mind. That sucks. Ginobili made key mistakes. It’s hard not to focus on Spurs errors because they had all the good fortune tonight and it was their game to lose. But then again, LeBron WITHOUT HEADBAND was incredible. As is always the case whenever LeBron is on the floor, his adrenaline-boosted drives are almost unstoppable. The only thing that put tonight’s win in jeopardy after he turned on the jets was Erik Spoelstra bowing to Dwyane Wade by subbing him back in (he shouldn’t have) and calling an iso set for him that turned into a fadeaway jumper that badly missed. Coach Pop decided to one up his nervous opponent by taking out Duncan on key defensive possessions that ended with Miami converting second chance points. All in all, it was a well played game and I’m probably wrong to focus on mistakes. In any case, I fully expect Miami to win Game 7 at home and this series to be remembered for the Game 6 that Jesus Shuttlesworth saved for his new team with a wild corner trey that was more routine for him than anything else. Gotta love this.
Another huge LeBron Game 6 tonight, and it never hurts to remember Puck.
Following its alarming home loss in Game 5, the Heat faced elimination and LeBron James’s legacy was once again put on a fiery trial. On Wednesday’s Inside the NBA, the final of the season, Barkley spoke to James and the camera:
LeBron James, I love watching you play. It’s time you do your thing. I’ve been telling people – they don’t believe me; they’re living in the past – it’s your team. You are the best basketball player in the world. It’s time for you to say, ‘Hey guys. Get on my back. We’re going to win Game 6. We’re going to win Game 7.’ Don’t defer to anybody. You are the best. Quit listening to all this [garbage] you hear from all these reporters. You are the man.
I don’t know if LeBron watched Inside, or heard about Barkley’s plea, but he certainly carried his team on his back. …
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Off the court, I’m a nice guy. On the court, I want to play. I’m a guy who wants to win. That’s what it takes to be the best. I’m not just looking to get drafted. I’m looking for my team to be a playoff team, to be an All-Star. That’s something I always try to look for and setting goals to reach out to.
–Shabazz Muhammad, in his post-Wolves workout interview with timberwolves.com. For the entire piece: http://www.nba.com/timberwolves/news/1-1-uclas-shabazz-muhammad
timberwolves.com Blog Profile: Punch-Drunk Wolves
Mark Remme and the good folks at the Timberwolves website asked us to participate in their weekly blog-profile series. We appreciate being included and had fun answering the questions.
So, I’m temporarily stranded in Tokyo, after being temporarily stranded in Atlanta. At this rate, I’ll make it to Manila by the time I’m scheduled to return to DC.
Stay classy, Delta.
But hey, it’s summertime, and the living’s easy…
The photoshop gone viral
Quite a last 24 hours for Punch-Drunk Wolves. Andy G is in Chicago. I’m leaving today for Manila. And Anthony Bennett.
Allow me to humblebrag for a moment.
As I was getting home from work yesterday, I got an email from Jon Wallace, who guest-blogged a story recently on the Wizards’ draft strategy.
Jon wrote to me and Andy G:
Did you guys see the picture on Anthony Bennett’s instagram? http://instagram.com/p/ae2FzoqVWY/
Later, at 8:21 Eastern , Jon wrote back again, saying:
Also mentioned in this WaPo article, as the lede