(Eds. Note: This is the third and final installment of a three-part series of guest posts from friend of the blog Jon Wallace (@jonwallace3), a Duke graduate, current Washington, DC resident, great American, and die-hard Blue Devils fan.)
Part I: Jahlil Okafor
Part II: Justice Winslow
Tyus Jones, he of Apple Valley, Minnesota lineage, is the third of the three freshmen from Duke declaring for the draft. He is also the prospect with the murkiest future. A 6’1” point guard with excellent vision, high basketball IQ, and average athleticism, Jones will probably have to wait until the playoff teams start picking to hear his name called. However, he has shown that he can fit in with other high usage players and take over the game when it’s Magic Johnson’s favorite portion of the game, winning time. In fact, if there is one indelible legacy that Jones leaves at Duke is that of being perhaps the most clutch player since Laettner or Battier. When Duke was down or needed a spark, Jones created something. When they needed free throws to ice the game, Jones knocked them down. When Duke needed a bucket at the end of the shot clock while trying put a close game away, Jones would rise up and hit a three. He did it against UNC (twice), UVA, and Wisconsin (twice).
(Eds. Note: This is the second part of a three-part series of guest posts from friend of the blog Jon Wallace (@jonwallace3), a Duke graduate, current Washington, DC resident, great American, and die-hard Blue Devils fan.)
Part I: Jahlil Okafor
Draft Notes from a Dookie
Hi again, I’m Jon W. You might be familiar with me from Part I of this series, on Jahlil Okafor’s NBA prospects, or from the post I wrote here a while back in which I compared and contrasted John Wall and Ricky Rubio.
Please excuse my brief indulgence into the draft and NBA career prospects of the Duke early entry candidates from an unabashed Duke homer. This team has been one of my favorite sports teams to follow in my lifetime so there is no way I can be unbiased in the evaluation of these three players. That said, I will try to give you my honest and candid opinions as to the strengths, weaknesses, and NBA prospects of Jahlil Okafor, rising prospect Justise Winslow, and Minnesota native Tyus Jones. There’s bigtime interest in these guys in Timberwolves circles–and for good reason.
I’ll spend this post on Winslow–who is the most athletic of the three and is projected to go as high as fourth overall. Part III of this series will be on Tyus Jones. Read on below the fold for more on Justise Winslow.
Jahlil Okafor: Future Timberwolf?
(Eds. Note: This is a guest post from friend of the blog Jon Wallace (@jonwallace3), a Duke graduate, current Washington, DC resident, great American, and die-hard Blue Devils fan.)
Draft Notes from a Dookie
Hi, I’m Jon W. You might be familiar with me.
Please excuse my brief indulgence into the draft and NBA career prospects of the Duke early entry candidates from an unabashed Duke homer. This team has been one of my favorite sports teams to follow in my lifetime so there is no way I can be unbiased in the evaluation of these three players.
That said, I will try to give you my honest and candid opinions as to the strengths, weaknesses, and NBA prospects of Jahlil Okafor, Minnesota native Tyus Jones, and rising prospect Justise Winslow. There’s interest in these guys in Minnesota.
This is for good reason. I’ll spend this post on Okafor–who is the most realistic future T-Wolves player, and the best prospect of the three. My next two posts will be on Jones and Winslow.
Shabazz Muhammad and Andrew Wiggins
Andy G and Patrick J: As the NBA Playoffs begin, we’re going to continue recapping the season that was for the Timberwolves. We’re breaking this down into general positions, with a focus on who is still on the roster — as opposed to the slew of players who were traded mid-season, like Corey Brewer and Thaddeus Young. In case you missed Part I on the guards, be sure to check that out.
Today, we’re talking forwards. Basically, there’s a lot of hope at the three and a lot of uncertainty at the four. Read on below the fold for our takes.
Patrick J: On Wednesday night at Target Center, the Timberwolves faced the Oklahoma City Thunder in the final game of their 2014-15 season. That game was meaningful for OKC–the Thunder needed the win, as well as a Pelicans loss, in order to make in the playoffs. (Eds. Note: The Pelicans did not lose. New Orleans is the 8th seed in the Western Conference. Wussell Restbrook is left to stew at home, leap over tall buildings, or do whatever restless superstars who miss the playoffs do. He may want to consult his former UCLA roommate, Kevin Love, who had plenty of experience missing the playoffs until this season.)
For the Wolves, Wednesday’s finale didn’t feel significant at all. It was a continuation of most of ‘Sota’s season, really. The Wolves were out of the playoff race almost as soon as it began, and — through a series of roster management decisions — signaled many times over that they were much less interested in fielding a competitive night-to-night lineup than they were in securing a high 2015 draft pick under the guise of squeezing every ounce of potential out of rookie Andrew Wiggins.
We thought it made enough sense to kickstart the recap process and look at some things we learned about this Wolves team, this season.
Part I will focus on the guards. Part II, which will come over the weekend, will look at the wings.
In this entry, we don’t dwell on Mo Williams or Lorenzo Brown. You already know why.
Read below the fold for more on Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin, and Zach LaVine.
In which we discuss Zach LaVine, Andrew Wiggins, Shabazz Muhammad, Anthony Bennett, and Sean (Mc)Sweeney.
Check out the podcast below the fold and subscribe on iTunes!
A few Timberwolves items to touch on as the season winds down:
- The Wolves lost both ends of a road back-to-back this week. On Tuesday at Sacramento they lost by 5. That doesn’t seem so bad until you realize that the Kings — perhaps also wanting to lose for boosted lottery position — held DeMarcus Cousins out of the game. Rudy Gay scored 33 for Sactown. Omri Casspi poured in 31 of his own. Derrick Williams had 18. Yeah.
The next night at Portland, against a very good Blazers team (but one the Wolves beat in the last game Kevin Garnett played in) the Wolves got predictably throttled. They trailed by 10 after the first quarter, 19 at the half, and lost by 25.
- They continue to sit their best players, aside from Kevin Martin who has returned to action. Garnett, Ricky Rubio, Nikola Pekovic, Shabazz Muhammad, Gary Neal, and Anthony Bennett remain out.
Despite the miserable circumstances he’s been intentionally placed in, Andrew Wiggins continues to impress. Against the Kings he had 26 points and 8 rebounds in +13 action. Against Portland, Wiggins dropped 29 points, along with 5 boards and 4 assists. As was obvious months ago, he’ll win the Rookie of the Year, which is what the entire franchise has been emphasizing, and will continue to emphasize as both a legitimate cause for celebration and a distraction from the shameless tanking effort. The Wolves have HUGE questions going forward about their coaching staff and strategy, their team defense, their medical management, and most of their personnel. But unlike most teams in their building stage, they seem to have landed a franchise player, which is the most important and difficult thing to acquire. As much as I hate the basketball that has been played for most of this season, this is a fact worth acknowledging.
Ricky Rubio’s fourth NBA season has come to a close. Flip made this announcement to local media this morning, explaining that his franchise point guard continues to be bothered by ankle pain. They’d rather he rest now, so that he can perform a standard offseason regimen and not have to worry about additional rehab for his ankle.
Do I believe that he’s actually hurt?
No, I guess I don’t, at least not to the extent that he can’t play. I’ve watched him workout before games and he looks great, cutting hard and drilling jumpers. Flip has told us that Ricky wants to play, but isn’t being allowed to. But that doesn’t matter now. His season is done, and — in most ways — so is his team’s.
Back on March 8, four weeks ago tomorrow, I wrote a “Third Quarter Report,” highlighting what I felt were the big issues hanging over the team as it entered the final fourth of its 2014-15 seaason. The post came in the wake of a huge home win over the Blazers in which both Rubio and Kevin Garnett looked great, and the team racked up 121 points. My post wasn’t entirely positive — I criticized Zach LaVine’s point guard abilities and the team’s dearth of power forwards — but it finished with a positively upbeat tone: I wondered if the Wolves were starting to look like a playoff team.
How foolish that seems now, after what’s gone on.