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:
Point Guard: Kyrie Irving – This one’s self explanatory. Kyrie Lee Irving has the best handles I’ve ever seen. And that’s cool. He’s also a ridiculously good point guard, scorer and distributor. (Eds. Note: Not a very good defender, just sayin’.) Remember when David Kahn said Rubio/Flynn had a chance to be the new Frazier/Monroe? Well, if the Wolves had won the Lottery in 2011 (they came in second), they’d have drafted Star Child Kyrie Irving. Not Derrick Williams. And that would leave them with a Rubio/Irving backcourt. Which is WAY more like Frazier/Monroe than perhaps any other combo of guards in today’s NBA could be. (*Wipes tears*) (PJ)
Shooting Guard: Eric Gordon – Kahntroversial pick. Gordon is equal parts petulant and injury prone. He might also be a snitch. But when he’s healthy and playing, he’s one of the best young two-guards in the game. Gordon isn’t very tall, but he defends. On offense, he can dribble, pass and shoot. He’s a body hunter, always looking for hoops and the harm. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, he’s the biggest X-Factor on the new New Orleans Pelicans; a team with a seeming upside of “fringe title contender” if Anthony Davis quickly becomes a top ten player. So Gordon is as relevant as he is complex. He’ll be fun to follow this season. (AG)
Small Forward: Harrison Barnes – The former “Next Kobe” has a few things going for him in the Intrigue Department. For one, well… he was recently dubbed “The Next Kobe” before mildly disappointing at North Carolina and falling to the 7th Pick in the 2012 Draft. (Eds note: A Wolves “What if?” is what if Harrison Barnes declares after his freshman season, as just about every top prospect does? Do the Wolves draft him over Derrick Williams?) Upon entering the Association, nobody had the same level of expectations of Barnes that they had when he left Ames, Iowa for Chapel Hill. But he’s performed well so far on a Warriors team poised for deep playoff runs. An interesting development came in last year’s playoffs, when David Lee got hurt. Barnes slid over to the four, stretching defenses even further out on a team already boasting the Curry & Klay threat. In a big playoff game versus the Spurs — a series almost as competitive as San Anton’s versus Miami — Barnes was being force fed the rock in the post; a ton of responsibility for a rookie in a second-round playoff series.
Barnes is a tantalizing young player, still searching for his ideal role on a really good team. He’s worth paying some extra attention to. (AG)
Power Forward: Anthony Bennett – Here’s why I’m interested in watching Bennett this season:
Paired with Irving, well, that’s an embarrassment of riches for any avid NBA fan. Plus, I’ll probably be at QUICKEN LOANS ARENA at least once or twice this season to be on-hand for live commentary. (PJ)
Center: Derrick Favors – I’ll leave this one to Big Al Jefferson:
“I told my teammates all season, ‘Utah would be a fool to bring me back, with Enes [Kanter] and Derrick [Favors]. Them boys are gonna be the truth!”
I’m interested in both Favors and Kanter. Favors gets the nod on PDW ASSAULT because he has the physical profile to be a Dwight Howard type of interior presence. Will he reach his potential? What is his upside? I don’t have those answers, but I look forward to digging deeper this season; one in which Favors should see his playing time increase, after the departures of Jefferson and Paul Millsap. (AG)
6th Man: DION WAITERS! – He plays for the same team as my top-two picks. So yeah. I’ll be watching him anyway. But…..I’m in the minority (I think) of people who still think Waiters has a lot of promise and can help a solid team. In a cool way. Sort of how Jamal Crawford seemed a net positive for LAC last season.
But mainly, I watch him because he’s the closest thing this League currently has to a J.R. Rider. I miss J.R. Rider. So Waiters is cool, no matter how inefficient he might be. (For the record: Punch-Drunk Wolves endorses the East Bay Funk and its variants.) (PJ)