Monthly Archives: August 2013

Stan Van ID’s The Big Blogging Challenge

The whole world has different challenges now with the 24-hour news cycle and just the volume of stuff that’s out there. And everybody has to get out there. So you’ve got all these people now, because it’s online 24 hours, if I want to get noticed, I got to have something different. And so the beat reporter writes his story and the team played well and blah blah blah. Well, I can’t write that same story now. Nobody’s going to read it.

–Stan Van Gundy, in his interview with Ethan Sherwood Strauss of TrueHoop, identifying the single biggest challenge facing NBA bloggers in 2013.

I highly recommend checking out the entire interview — Parts 1, 2 & 3.

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by | August 27, 2013 · 7:16 PM

SportsVu, Tactical Diversity, and Beating Dead Horses

Zach Lowe reported yesterday that the NBA will be contracting for all 30 arenas to install SportsVu cameras; the ones that track everything that moves during a basketball game. (Players, referees, the ball.) Up to this point, the technology was optional and only available at the team’s expense. (Apparently, cameras cost about $100K.) Half of the teams used them, the data was therefore incomplete, and the organization of that data was entirely the team’s responsibility.  With the news that the league will be manning the SportsVu wheel going forward, video analysis will undoubtedly progress. Team strategy will evolve, as will our ability to assess player performance. Talent will always be the top indicator of team success, but NBA franchises — right now — will have an opportunity to locate and exploit the game’s existing inefficiencies that are revealed by SportsVu.

A Concern

The NBA is very much a “copycat” league. People like Tom Thibodeau and Gregg Popovich come up with great ideas, win tons of games with them, and then everybody else takes notice and tries to do the same. With this massive weapon of video technology added to the scouting arsenal of all teams, I suspect the winning strategies of the day will be imitated more quickly and effectively than ever before. If every team plays offense like the Spurs and defense like the Bulls, won’t it all get boring in a hurry?

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Special Commentary on the National Basketball Association

Irving and Bennett are going to be beasts this year in Cleveland

Irving and Bennett are going to be beasts this year in Cleveland

Andy G: Our blog subheading reads:

“Commentary on the Minnesota Timberwolves and the National Basketball Association.” We’ve been better about the former than the latter. Most of our readers are Wolves fans, so it makes sense. But we’d like to branch out just a little bit. Patrick J is moving his self to Pittsburgh in a couple weeks. While The Steel City has no pro hoops, it is driving distance from QUICKEN LOANS ARENA. (Eds. Note: Pittsburgh was home to one of the best basketball movies of all time.) In Case You Missed It, that’s where Kyrie Lee Irving plays. With this in mind, we thought it’d be fun to expand our coverage — however informally — on a selective basis to include cool and/or interesting players around the league. We’ll call it…

What will we call it?

Patrick J: Something like Punch-Drunk Select Team (PDW ASSAULT? Too soon?). Gives that shady AAU exploitation feel to it while retaining NBA coverage of players we’re interested in watching anyway. (LEAGUE PASS ALERT!)

Andy G: I like it. PDW ASSAULT will be a short list of players around the league that we’ll focus extra league-pass attention to, and blog about at least semi-regularly. For good measure we’ll add a “PDW ASSAULT” link to the Categories sidebar, for organization.

Without further ado, here’s your 2013-14 PDW ASSAULT roster:

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Brewer the Winner

brew

Corey Brewer went to The State Fair today. @TWolves_PR covered it in detail, hashtagging #BrewerOnAStick through Corey’s adventures around The Great Minnesota Get-Together. If there was an unofficial “welcome back” for Brew, this was probably it. Brew is not a star player and never will be, but it’s hard not to spew positive thoughts when talking about the guy. He always smiles, he works as hard as any player you or I have ever seen, he owns a goat, and he unquestionably demands that most intangible of characterizations:

WINNER

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Offseason Jottings: Best Jerseys, DeJuan Blair, and the Timberwolves

The Original King

The Original King

It’s deep offseason. There isn’t much happening. So we jotted some notes on a few topics in typical INBOX fashion. Check it out below the fold.

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Everything You Need to Know about Jonny Flynn in One Quote

What Flynn lacked in game, he brought in smiles.

What Flynn lacked in game, he brought in smiles.

This quote from Jonathan Abrams’ fantastic new piece on Flynn is revealing:

Flynn spent last season with the Australian National Basketball League’s Melbourne Tigers. “I really wanted to play in a place that was English-speaking,” Flynn said. “That was really my main focus. I want to know what’s going on around me.”

Flynn’s curiosity about new languages and cultures is as voracious as his interest in learning a new offense or being a pass-first point guard.

Ugh.

It’s worth reading in full. Set aside some time–and maybe an alcoholic beverage or two–to digest it properly.

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A Pek-Sized Commitment

pekkkkk

artwork by Holly Grimsrud: http://www.hollygrimsrudart.com

Well, that took a while.

It would be wrong to say we were “anxiously” awaiting the news of Pekovic re-signing, because it seemed inevitable.  His potential suitors burned up their cap space elsewhere, the Wolves were reportedly offering market value, and… well, no respectable RFA takes the qualifying offer.  Pek was going to be re-signed.  The only questions were for how much money and for how many years.

Those questions were answered today when Flip Saunders broke the news that a deal had been reached.

Flip’s Twitter account makes me laugh.  When he’s trying to spell a foreign prospect’s name, it makes me cringe.  But it usually makes me laugh.

Jerry Z has all of the important deets over at On the Wolves.  Five years, $60 Million is a big commitment, but it’s a big commitment to a good player.  Importantly, the five year detail does not preclude the “super-max” offer to Ricky Rubio, the way it would have if the team used it on Kevin Love.  Apparently there are some incentives in the deal, but it sounds like roughly sixty mil.

This is good news, if not surprising news.  Nikola Pekovic is a good player.  Maybe even a very good — sometimes almost great — player.  Pek is smart.  He understands where he should be on the floor at all times.  On both ends.  He has a soft touch with his right hand hook, along with a drop step that must make Pete Newell smile in his grave.  Pek can make free throws, and — on defense — Pek can “wall up” to contest drives without fouling.

But most of all, Pek is a fucking badass in the paint.  Without a traditional “superstar” scorer in the mold of LeBron James, Kobe Bryant or Dwyane Wade, and without the rangy team athleticism to hang their hat on elite defense, the Timberwolves need a different way to become great.  Ricky Rubio’s passing helps.  Kevin Love’s patented combination of rebounding and shooting certainly doesn’t hurt.  Pekovic adds an element of interior muscle that just exhausts opponents.  Maybe not Dwight Howard or Marc Gasol, but in 20 or more different NBA matchups the Wolves have an advantage where the opposing center is focusing mental and physical attention on keeping Pek out from under the rim.  It’s not an easy task, and it’s a way that teams will have to adjust their game plans around us, rather than vice versa.  Having sat through so many of these games since KG left, it’s refreshing to see the Wolves dictate personnel matchups.  Again, not every night, but a great deal of them.

In any case, I won’t spend more words than this news is worth.  You know who Pek is and what he brings.  He’s a fan fave.  “The Godfather.”

I’m glad he’ll be here for five more seasons.

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Close Encounters of the Weird Kind: Michael Beasley, Bassy Telfair, and Punch-Drunk Wolves

Beas and Bassy: Back again in the PHO

Beas and Bassy: Back again in the PHO

A few days ago, Andy G recalled a late-night encounter with Michael Beasley on the streets of Minneapolis that he and Friend of Punch-Drunk Wolves Brian J had a few years back. Andy G recounted how the incident illustrated Beasley’s  fierce loyalty to struggling teammate Jonny Flynn – a quality forgotten amid Beasley’s off-court problems and on-court lapses. Sebastian Telfair was also involved.

Andy’s story went like this:

“Why can’t you just say you like Bassy? Why you gotta say you like him way more than Jonny?”

Those words were directed at my friend Brian, who had spent too much time in Kieren’s Irish Pub after a weeknight Wolves game in early 2011.  We were headed home — me directly, Brian to his bus stop — when we came upon a slew of Timberwolves and Pacers hanging outside of Seven Steakhouse, presumably having finished dinner and waiting for their rides.

Brian decided that was a good time to accost Sebastian Telfair.  Rather than just offer a high five and passing word of praise, Brian took the extra step of “bringing it in for the real thing,” and told Bassy that he liked him WAY MORE than Jonny Flynn.  The implication was clearer than Brian’s speech delivery: Flynn was awful, and a great deal of Wolves fans preferred to see Telfair at point guard.  (By the way, Sign Number 298,278,397,293 that your favorite team is Lottobound is when you like Bassy Telfair WAY MORE than the guy playing ahead of him and feel obliged to loudly proclaim as much publicly.)

As Brian delivered those Guiness-laced words, a tall young man in the group took issue. It was Michael Beasley. Mike was upset.

It would be an exaggeration to call this a confrontation. After all, Beasley didn’t mush Brian. But Beas made it known that ripping his teammate – even Flynn – was not cool.*  So we walked on.

I’ve always been intrigued by Michael Beasley as a basketball player.

The incident on the street made me respect him as a teammate, and, to a lesser degree (and if only for a fleeting moment) as a person.

There were a half-dozen other NBA players there.  All were within earshot. Only one stood up to the dipshit comment made by the drunk fan.

Players — especially teammates — are a fraternity. They should protect each other.

This was a harmless situation, but Beas was acting on principle – almost on instinct.  He’s loyal.

Brian J–an integral actor in this Dramedyeventually responded in the comments section. His recollection was a bit, ummm, *different* from Andy G’s.

Brian J’s account provides new information, additional nuance, and some intriguing analysis. We’re publishing it in full, below the fold:

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Bayno Being Bayno

“Bayno credits these courts, this city, for supplying the lessons leading to his successful playing and coaching career. He does the clinic each year except for rare occasions when his schedule makes it impossible. He has known many of these players for years and helped most of them one way or another, whether with phone calls to college coaches or regular guidance from afar.

“I came here to be a better basketball player,” Bayno says later, “and I left a better person.”

The kids leave with another level of basketball knowledge – about 31⁄2 hours each day – and layers of advice about creating opportunities by doing the right thing on and off the court. They leave with Bayno’s email address and the promise that he will be monitoring their progress.”

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by | August 8, 2013 · 10:38 AM

How Adam Silver Dismissed Shabazz Muhammad from NBA Rookie Orientation

Always Be Closing – (1:00), NSFW depending where you work

Last night Andy G wrote about Michael Beasley’s latest drug-related arrest. Today, the NBA dismissed Wolves first-round pick Shabazz Muhammad from its Rookie Transition Program–an achievement shared by a select few. Yes, Mike Beasley is one of Shabazz’s compatriots in this exclusive club. [Eds. Note: Is Basketball Reference tracking this statistic yet? You can almost smell the bling for the petulant blogger who first exploits these ANALYTICS(!)].

Anyway, the story probably goes a little something like this:

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Will The Real Mike Beasley Please Stand Up?

beasley

Michael Beasley is in trouble again

“Why can’t you just say you like Bassy? Why you gotta say you like him way more than Jonny?”

Those words were directed at my friend Brian, who had spent too much time in Kieren’s Irish Pub after a weeknight Wolves game in early 2011.  We were headed home — me directly, Brian to his bus stop — when we came upon a slew of Timberwolves and Pacers hanging outside of Seven Steakhouse, presumably having finished dinner and waiting for their rides.

Brian decided that was a good time to accost Sebastian Telfair.  Rather than just offer a high five and passing word of praise, Brian took the extra step of “bringing it in for the real thing,” and told Bassy that he liked him WAY MORE than Jonny Flynn.  The implication was clearer than Brian’s speech delivery: Flynn was awful, and a great deal of Wolves fans preferred to see Telfair at point guard.  (By the way, Sign Number 298,278,397,293 that your favorite team is Lottobound is when you like Bassy Telfair WAY MORE than the guy playing ahead of him and feel obliged to loudly proclaim as much publicly.)

As Brian delivered those Guiness-laced words, a tall young man in the group took issue. It was Michael Beasley. Mike was upset.

It would be an exaggeration to call this a confrontation. After all, Beasley didn’t mush Brian. But Beas made it known that ripping his teammate – even Flynn – was not cool.*  So we walked on.

More mushin’ for the pushin’ at 0:15.

I’ve always been intrigued by Michael Beasley as a basketball player.

The incident on the street made me respect him as a teammate, and, to a lesser degree (and if only for a fleeting moment) as a person.

There were a half-dozen other NBA players there.  All were within earshot. Only one stood up to the dipshit comment made by the drunk fan.

Players — especially teammates — are a fraternity. They should protect each other.

This was a harmless situation, but Beas was acting on principle – almost on instinct.  He’s loyal.

Let’s recall another example: Remember when Kevin Love and Danny Granger got into it at Target Center?  Do you remember who looked like he was *actually* going to hurt someone, if not held back?  That guy was Mike Beasley. He was defending the guy who stood between him and a spot in the Wolves starting lineup.

It’s often said that if no one likes Mike Beasley as a player, everyone loves him as a person, despite the flaws. When he’s not goofing around for a team video skit, he’s sticking up for Jonny Flynn. He probably rescues cats that are stuck in trees. He seems like a good dude.

Which makes this afternoon’s headline, and Beasley’s growing list of career hiccups,  that much more disappointing.

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Show Me the Money

AriGold

To the great Arn Tellem, who orchestrated that ludicrous Tyreke contract AND got two more of his clients (Vasquez and Robin Lopez) traded to more favorable situations. How? He reps Anthony Davis, that’s how.

That’s been an underrated subplot lately: Teams buttering up power agents by overpaying their fringe clients as down payments for future extensions with the ones they really want. Just call them “down-payment contracts.” An even better example: Dan Fegan represents Martell Webster (mysteriously signed by the Wizards for a comically high $22 million) and John Wall (about to sign an $80 million extension with, yup, the Wizards). Congrats on your down-payment contract, Martell! Does this stuff work in real life? I might hire Tellem before my next ESPN contract — I want to see if I can get House and JackO multimillion-dollar deals.

–Bill Simmons, in Part 2 of his “Midnight Run” off-season column. This touches on Nikola Pekovic, and his weirdly-long and ongoing contract negotiations.  In Case You Missed It, Pek has the same agent as Kevin Love (Jeff Schwartz). In case this is your first time reading anything about the Minnesota Timberwolves, Kevin Love will — in all likelihood — be a free agent in 2015; just two more seasons away. It would shock no one if Schwartz was dropping not-even-a-little-bit-subtle hints about Client A during contract negotiations for Client B. I think that might be how the world works, actually.

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by | August 1, 2013 · 6:12 AM