As I'm wont to do, I report the obvious things last. First, the Wolves lost to the Spurs last night in double overtime. Second, the nation elected a President for the January 2009-January 2013 term, and some legislative plebes as well.
Back to the Wolves. Was the loss last night disappointing? Yes, although I was very entertainined. Was the loss last night expected? Yes. I never seriously thought we would win that game, even when Al Jefferson hit that jump hook in the first overtime. Being a Wolves fan, I actually expected a three to fall through the hoop, but then Tony Parker couldn't break Shaq's Timberwolves' opponent scoring milestone (on a personal positive, I have Parker and Duncan on my Fantasy Team...I got Parker in round 10 because people don't want someone whose position in fantasy is limited to just the PG slot).
Anyway, this is actually a positive post for two reasons: Telfair and Turbo (Brewer). I wanted the team to take Turbo with the 2007 pick, and last season I developed serious doubts about his future in the NBA. However, I try not to get too down on rookies in bad situations, and I figured that as far as having an impression about someone I've only talked to for about 6 seconds (last year at the "Meet the Players" event at Gameworks) and observed 41 times from a seat that was 150 feet away that he genuinely cared that his game was lacking and that he was losing badly (and being a contributor to the losing) for probably the first time ever. Due to the frustration on his face during games, I trusted that he would work in the off-season. At one point this summer, one of Sonia's news posts included excerpts from an interview with Turbo. His simple statement was that "we're (meaning him and former Wolf/Gator Chris Richards) better." As a fan, I like statements like that. It's simple, believable, and provable. Through four games, I agree. His handling has improved to the point where I don't cringe when he dribbles, and his offensive decision making has improved dramatically. In particular, his shot selection, outward confidence, and off-the-ball movement are better. I no longer fear his ability to make it as an NBA player and starter, though there's plenty of work left.
Unlike Turbo, the other player I had no expectation for (and didn't even want), but grew to respect and enjoy was Bassy. I even felt compelled to defend him this off season from critics that probably didn't watch him play last year. My impressions of Bassy as a basketball player are simple: he seems like a young man with immense talent; talent that led to overhype; overhype that led to unnecessary spite and unrealistic expectations. It is in this environment that the mortal prep-to-pro (the non-physical freaks of nature) players have taken two paths from my observation: they either self destruct or become humble, work on their craft, and earn the respect of opponents, teammates, and fans. As a fan, Bassy now has my respect and support. He improved steadily last season in both his individual game and as a decision maker for a team, and even though it was only his first game last night, he showed the same improved decision making, confidence, and desire to be better that I observed at Target Center last season.
My overall observations will be narrower this season than last because my vision is limited to that which the television camera can capture. I am no longer a season ticket holder, the reasons for which I will post another day, but I can say from the three games I've watched that this team is, and will continue to be, much more entertaining than the two iterations I've seen live. I have only planned on coming to one game live, to pay homage to the King, but I feel it's going to be money well spent, not just because of the King, but because of the hosts.
No one gives a damn about the Minnesota Timberwolves. Not anymore.
You want proof that the Timberwolves no longer exist? During the 2008-2009 NBA Season the Timberwolves will be appearing on TNT, ESPN and ABC a whopping zero times. We are so uninteresting to the nation that out of roughly 150 nationally televised games, the NBA didn’t have the heart to show one minute of Timberwolves basketball. This should make you angry. I’m angry. The Timberwolves exist at the fringes of NBA life these days and it’s time to become a different sort of fan and a different sort of team. We need to be mean. Fans, players, coaches, announcers, vendors, cheerleaders, everyone; get mean. Big Al mean.
You can blame ping pong balls or an endless line of bad management decisions regarding free agents, bird right players and draft picks but the fact remains, twenty years of Timberwolves basketball produced one NBA superstar and that star was pre-destined. KG was on the cover of SI before he even played an NBA game. KG was talked about by Charles, Kenny and Ernie every week on TNT. KG was splashed all over national television for 12 years and when people saw KG, they saw the Timberwolves. As far as all-timers go, Kevin Garnett was unique for one reason: he actually wanted to play for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
KG spoiled me. He turned me into a NBA brat.
In the weeks leading up to the 2008 NBA Draft the brat in me wanted OJ Mayo to swoop down out of the sky and save us from NBA obscurity. I wanted a superstar. I wanted the Timberwolves to be able to show some leg to the nation again. I missed the TNT crew talking up the Wolves. A superstar would stir up the fan base and add a whole new legion of fans across the country. OJ Mayo has been in the national spotlight since he was a 7th grader and is a household basketball name. Months later, I realize the pick of OJ Mayo would have been a major disaster for the future of the franchise. This has nothing to do with OJ Mayo the basketball player. It has everything to do with OJ Mayo playing for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
OJ Mayo only wants to come to Minnesota twice a year and dress in the visitor locker room. That’s it. OJ Mayo doesn’t want to learn McHale’s post moves. OJ Mayo doesn’t want to buy a $200 Dolce & Gabbana skull cap and grand marshal the Holidazzle parade. OJ Mayo only wants to play the Wolves and leave. If the Wolves would have retained Mayo’s draft rights, he would have Marburied this franchise for good. OJ Mayo has the big lights in his eyes. He wants Manhattan, he wants Brooklyn, he wants Chicago, he wants Los Angeles. He doesn’t want Minnesota. I highly doubt he wants Memphis. Judging by the “excuse me” expression on his face while he wore a T-Wolves hat on draft night, Minnesota was a place where OJ would have faked a smile for 3 years then forced a trade. He would have been a quick fix that would have helped us temporarily get over our superstar complex but would have done little to alleviate the most important thing to the future of this franchise: winning.
During the time of KG the philosophy was to assemble a couple of solid players, whoever (and I do mean whoever) they could afford around KG along with a below-average low-dollar bench of reclamation projects and guys who averaged 2 year NBA careers. McHale’s attempts at finding other star players to run next to KG were always cases of too soon or too late. It’s all well documented in our fragile pro basketball psyche. Googs, Marbury and Garnett were poised for championship runs but they died young. Chauncey Billups was morphing into an NBA Championship type player while playing next to best buddy KG when McHale inexplicably chose to keep Terrell “Tuberculosis” Brandon over the future finals MVP Billups. The list of other stop-gap names is littered with disasters and disgraces sans one beautiful year when eeny meeny Minny moe worked and KG ran with Sam Cassell and Latrell Spreewell. They made one run.
That run is all we have. I remember how promising the future was when KG was in his second year. There was no doubt in my mind the Timberwolves were going to be NBA Champions during KG’s career and here we are, 13 years and one serious championship run later.
A new direction has been taken at 600 First Avenue N. and I applaud it. The front office of the Timberwolves has put an end to signing love em’ and leave em’ type players. It began with the brilliant signing of Al Jefferson to a long term contract in which Big Al actually took less money as not to burden the future of the franchise. The trend continued on draft night when the Wolves traded OJ Mayo to Memphis for Kevin Love and Mike Miller. Love’s favorite NBA player is Kevin McHale and he is convincing when he says he wants to play in Minnesota. Mike Miller is from South Dakota and he is convincing when he says he wants to play near home. Signing Ryan Gomes to a cheap long term contract was also a step in the right direction. The draft picks of Corey Brewer and Randy Foye were no accident either. These guys won’t be taking drama classes anytime soon.
Al Jefferson is already one of the best 20 players in the NBA and he wants to play in Minnesota. We are lucky to have Al Jefferson, he just isn’t the national media darling KG is. He does have all-timer potential and he’s as mean as they come. Mike Miller is not a superstar but he is one of the most coveted outside threats in the NBA. There’s a reason why the Lakers and Heat have been trying to get their hands on Miller for years. I still believe that we have no idea how good Randy Foye is. Foye, more than any other player, is the key to the Timberwolves future. Brewer is here to play defense and Love is here to fundamental the hell out of opposing teams. Love is one of those players that drive opposing players, coaches and fans mad. Love will be hated. There’s one X factor on the 08-09 Wolves. Rashad McCants. No doubt McCants can score with any tier 2 NBA player but defense and desire are his biggest questions. It’s up to him.
All of this sounds promising except there is one major issue going forward with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Who is going to lead the way? It may be time for McHale to be a man and walk to Randy Wittman’s office and say “Witt, I love you, but it’s over. It’s me and it’s you.” If the Wolves do any unnecessary stumbling this season, Wittman and his career .333 winning percentage need to go. Then McHale needs to get bold and send a flattering love letter to Avery Johnson.
There isn’t a better model for what the Timberwolves need to do on and off the basketball court than emulate the team I hate more than any other in the NBA, the San Antonio Spurs. In 1996, the San Antonio Spurs hired Greg Popovich and they hit their second jackpot, the first being winning Tim “Somebody Stole My Pony” Duncan in the lottery. Avery Johnson was Pop’s point guard and has already proven himself as a head coach with the Mavericks. He was canned in Dallas because of overblown expectations. The Mavericks championship window was already closing when Mark Cuban fired Avery Johnson.
Hire Avery Johnson and let him implement the fundamentals and head games that will turn this Timberwolves team into consistent winners and annoy the hell out of other teams. Here’s a guy who overachieved as a player by sticking to the fundamentals and getting into other teams heads. Here’s a point guard who won championships running the offense through a dominant big man. Here’s a coach that learned the ropes from one of the greatest cheap shot coaches in NBA history. In addition, he’s already coached a team to the NBA finals.
It is time for the Minnesota Timberwolves to turn into asshole fundamentalists in the best basketball sense of the word. It is time for the Minnesota Timberwolves to become the team that annoys the hell out of other fans and teams by playing team basketball and doing the little things.
Speaking of little things, Avery Johnson would be the perfect person for Kevin McHale to look down to. Go ahead, Witt, prove me wrong. I dare you.
I was looking for an image for my Kevin Love article from Friday and threw "Kevin Love" and "Chocolate Milk" into a Google search to see if I'd randomly get something that fit the article. Not surprisingly, absolutely nothing showed up that was at all relevant. However, this beauty of a picture did manage to make its way into the results. At first, I was certain it was a photoshop job, but after careful analysis, I'm pretty sure it's completely legit. Anyway, just for kicks, we'll start a little "Create a Caption" contest for this photo in the comments for this article. The winner will recieve his or her choice of a thumbs up, a pat on the back, or a Howl in our forum.
When I woke up the morning after the 2008 NBA Draft to find that OJ Mayo had been swapped for Kevin Love, I was beyond irate. I saw this as yet another example of McHale getting infatuated with a draft prospect and throwing all logic into the wind. As Love's linebeard stared at me mockingly from the Timberwolves.com homepage, I began having traumatic flashbacks to Ray Allen for Stephon Marbury and Roy for Foye.
Eventually, when the full scope of the deal, including the huge financial ramifications for the Wolves, was finally brought to light, cooler heads prevailed, and I became a big fan of the trade. Over the course of the off-season I even managed to talk myself into the Kevin Love era and found myself gushing about his outlet passes in several season preview pieces. Truth be told, most of this could probably be chalked up to subconscious self-preservation as the past four Timberwolves seasons have taken a tremendous toll on my psyche. At this point, I'm clinging onto any ray of hope like Jeff Van Gundy on Alonzo Mourning's leg.
Needless to say, when the 2008-09 Season tipped off, I needed Kevin Love to have a good game. I'm not counting on the guy to be a superstar by any means, but if the Timberwolves are going to contend any time soon, then Love has got to be a solid, solid role player. If he can establish himself as a consistent double-double, a good passer and shooter, and avoid being a defensive liablility, the T-Wolves will be in really good shape. Thankfully Mr. Love brought a very respectable 12 points on 62% shooting, 9 board, 2 assists, and a game-high +20 differential to the table.
Those certainly aren't awe-inspiring stats. In fact, looking purely at the boxscore, you could argue that Ryan Gomes, Randy Foye, Mike Miller, and Rashad McCants had nearly as good of a game. However, as anyone who followed this game closely can tell you, Kevin Love's 12-9-2 was perhaps the most valuable/effective 12-9-2 this franchise has ever seen. To help set up this argument, I'm going to use the example of Rashad McCants. You see, Rashad outscored every other Wolf besides Al Jefferson. However, to get to his 15 points, he required 18 shots of which he missed 11. When you really break it down, McCants only shot 39% while the rest of his teammate combined to shoot a solid 51%. The argument can then be made that had Rashad not taken his eighteen shots and instead distributed them amongst his other teammates, the Wolves would have actually scored 18 points (18 x 0.59 = 9.2 x 2 points per basket = 18 points) instead of Rashad's fifteen and would have been three points ahead of the game. Look, I understand that the logic behind that math is flawed for many reasons, but the main point is that it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that McCants wasn't the most effective player out there.
Any time you remove a player from the equation some of those points are going to be absorbed by the other players taking their place. It's the reason why the Lakers don't score 30 less points per game when Kobe Bryant isn't in the lineup. Odom, and Gasol, and Bynum, and that ugly girl who wears a hair band will take the shots Mamba didn't take, but just make them at a less effective rate since they aren't "Kobe". The beauty behind Kevin Love's statline, though, is that almost every single thing he did was pure gravy. Love wasn't scoring off of shots that other people would have made had they taken them instead. In fact, he was doing just the opposite. He was taking the shots that other people missed and turning them into made shots through his offensive rebounding and putbacks. He was turning possesions that would've failed 50% of the time into pure gimmees with his astute passes. He was taking away extra opportunities that the Kings would've had to score and giving them to Minnesota by pounding the defensive glass. By doing these small thing, he was becoming a complete game changer and throwing the normal progression of stats completely out the window.
We established that Rashad McCants was worth -3 points to the Wolves offensively. Using the same calculations, Big Al comes in at +3. Kevin Love managed to net himself a +5 and I can tell you right now that it was much, much higher in reality because most of his scores came off second chance opportunities that he created for himself. I'm not about to re-watch the entire game to figure out the exact number, but Love could have easily been +8 or +10 from what I saw.
So what does all this number-crunching and statistical analysis mean? Well, using an example that's near and dear to Kevin Love's heart, er belly, let's view the Kings game as a glass of milk. Some players like Al Jefferson added some milk to the glass, and other guys like McCants actually drank a little more than they contributed. What Love brought to the glass was the chocolate. He gave the little bit extra that made the game turn out nice and sweet for Minnesota. You can say this same thing about Big Al, Gomes, and several other players as well, but we weren't winning that game without Kevin Love. The big difference between him and the other players is that he made his impact outside the regular ebb and flow of the game. You look at the stat sheet and see that Minnesota shot 48% from the field and Sacremento shot 45%, that the Kings had 19 free throws to the Wolves' 11, that Sacramento out-rebounded Minnesota 45-40, but had 15 turnovers as opposed to 11 and by the time you take it all in you can get the picture that it was a pretty close game. What the numbers don't tell you are all the little extra things that Kevin Love did to tip the scales in Minnesota's favor.
I realize that this was just one game from an NBA rookie and that you can only put so much stock into it. However, if what we saw from Kevin Love was any sort of microcosm of what he can produce throughout his carere, the Timberwolves are in very good shape. Love could easily become the team's secret weapon, their silent game-changer. Mark my words, if twenty games from now the Minnesota Timberwolves are exceeding all expectations and nobody can point to a real reason why, this article will tell you the answer. Kevin Love is turning the milk brown in Minnesota and Wolves fans are going to be chugging it for years to come.
Well well well. The Wolves kick start the 2008-09 campaign with a spotless record. That's right, we currently have zero losses. We can actually say we are undefeated. Next up on the docket is the Dallas Mavericks this upcoming Saturday night at Target Center, but we'll worry about those trivialities later. It was a good game for the Wolves, but the final score indicates that it was a closer game than it truly was. Granted, I'm just an idiot fan biased, but it appeared like the Wolves were dominating the Kings most of the night. As we have all became painfully cognizant of in the past, the Wolves did their darndest to blow leads and nearly give the game away. In the end, the Wolves showed their take no prisoners killer instinct somehow managed to hold on to the victory, despite a few last second attempts by the Sactown Kings. All in all, it was a good game, and its a good feeling to come out on top of games that we probably should win if we ever fancy ourselves to be title contenders.
Click "Read More" for discombobulated analysis and in-depth thoughts on the game...
I recently conducted a light-hearted Q&A with Ricky from the First Italian Sixers Blog, Sixers4Guidos. Ricky emailed me out of the blue, as he was incredulous intrigued by the fact that the Wolves had apparently signed Kevin Ollie. What else could I do other than set the story straight with him? I mean, I owed it to him as a fellow blogger. Below are Ricky's questions and my answers for him regarding a few outcasts and retreads new additions to the T-Wolves roster for this season:
Ricky from S4G: I was honestly and seriously shocked to see Kevin Ollie is on T'Wolves roster and couldn't believe it until you confirmed it. Can you please enlighten us on how a NBA franchise in rebuilding mode, with a core of young players etc etc, could eventually pick up this old bum, who stole money for his whole career from dozens of franchise, for mysterious (at least to me) reasons? Do you expect him to make the roster and play for Minn?
College Wolf: That run-on sentence was almost as brutal as Ollie’s jumpshot. Unfortunately, it does appear that Mr. Ollie will indeed make the team. The thing is, the Wolves are 3 players over the max roster size (we have 18 players and the limit is 15), yet we are short on Point Guards. The conundrum is that Ollie is a PG. It does not appear that our only other possible PG besides Randy Foye and Sebastian Telfair is ready for the NBA. That player would be the D-League whirling dervish Blake Ahern. I just don’t think he’s got what it takes to play consistent PG minutes in the NBA (when it matters during the regular season.) By process of elimination, that leaves Kevin Ollie as our third string PG, since it would be cataclysmic to go into the season with just Foye and Telfair. So yes, I do expect him to exceed even the lowest of expectations and make the roster. Even worse, he will probably play some spot minutes this for us this season. Don’t forget, Big O. was also signed for his “defense” and “veteran presence.” Yay!
P.S. If you couldn’t tell, I was not too excited about us signing Kevin Ollie this off-season. It’s not like Shaun Livingston wouldn’t have had an opportunity to grow here with our squad. Very sad.
Ricky from S4G:Do you know how much money Ollie will make? If it makes you (and Mc Hale) feel better, Sixers gave him more than 12 millions over the last 4 yrs, which is already pretty unbelievable. Ollie should build a statue to his agent, who is a genius, clearly.
CW: As far as I can tell, Mr. Ollie is making approximately $797,581 dollars this season to sit on our bench. In my opinion, that’s $797,580 dollars too many. His agent is quite clearly one of the most brilliant men on the face of this earth; and there is a good chance he was an executive at AIG in one of his previous lifetimes. I need to look into having his agent “represent” me…
Ricky from S4G: Speaking of stiffs/former Sixers, you guys took also Calvin Booth. If I'm not mistaken, Sixers are still paying his salary (thank Billy King, who gave him a PLAYER option for his second year, guess if he exercised it...), a fact that should at least make you forget how ugly he is. Is the Ollie-Booth duo the worst PG-C combination Minnesota ever had? In Philly, it was. CW: Worst PG-C combo ever? Are you forgetting about the Troy Hudson to Michael Olowokandi combination? What out they’ll lull you to sleep by dribbling out the shot clock and then heaving up a brick with less than 2 seconds remaining! How about T-Hud to Mark Blount? T-Hud to Mark Madsen? T-Hud to Oliver Miller? Actually, T-Hud to Oliver Miller doesn’t count because Miller would just take the ball, walk off the court, and eat it. T-Hud to pretty much any center that was on the team during Hudson’s tenure here were all pretty bad. With that said, Ollie to Booth probably still takes the cake. Under no circumstances can I even seriously attempt to top that one.
I would like to point out, I am somewhat excited about having Calvin Booth on our team. For what it is worth, the Wolves are now unequivocally the ugliest team in the NBA. (Number 1 at something!) Between Mike Miller, Booth, Brian Cardinal, Big Al Jefferson, Jason Collins, David Harrison, and Kevin Ollie, no one can touch us. Heck, watching those four guys play would probably be some pretty effective contraception, for as quickly as they’ll drive the women away.
Ricky from S4G: The other Sixer you guys have is Rodney Carney. He drove us nuts for a couple of years (see this post), but he's definitely a talented player that could blossom there, in the right system. What do you expect from the kid, realistically?
CW:To tell you the truth, I actually kind of like Rodney Carney. I was intrigued with him a few years ago when he came out of Memphis into the NBA. I wouldn’t have been sad if we drafted him (although it wouldn’t have been considered a very good pick now.) Anyways, I think he has a solid chance to prove what he can do. From what I hear, he’s a solid defender with good character and tremendous athleticism. You can’t ask for much more than that from a player that is essentially on our team for free. I realistically expect that he makes the team, gives 110%, and probably plays a few minutes per game off the bench. If someone gets injured or traded, he could possibly step in and do ok. Who knows, maybe this will be the year that he “puts it all together” and breaks out. (Please, let me have my delusional optimism, it’s all us Wolves fans have got left.) He could even be the beneficiary of a few patented Love to Carney outlet passes for easy transition buckets this season, who knows. Bottom line, we have nothing to lose with him since you guys are paying pretty much his entire salary (hahaha!) If he turns out to not be worth anything, we simply cut our losses and let him go at the end of the season.
Please click "Read More" to see my Ricky's answers to my questions...
Last Year's Record: 22-60 Key Losses: Marko Jaric, Antoine Walker, Kirk Snyder Key Additions: Mike Miller, Kevin Love, Rodney Carney
1. What significant moves were made during the off-season? Obviously the big move by the Timberwolves this off-season was trading the rights to OJ Mayo for Kevin Love, Mike Miller, and future cap relief. I'll expound more on that deal later. Right now I'd like to take the opportunity to mention some of the less heralded moves that the Wolves' front office made.
Bringing back free-agents Ryan Gomes and Sebastian Telfair for bargain basement deals was a huge plus for a team desperately needing some stability. After a tumultuous beginning to the post-KG era, it was imperative for the Timberwolves to improve team chemistry by bringing back some familiar faces. While it's true that neither of those gentlemen is going to stuff the stat sheet, they're both quality role players with good attitudes who are only going to get better with age. The signings also clearly show a shift in the front office's methodology. Instead of desperately throwing bloated contracts at mediocre free-agents in a last-ditch effort to improve quickly, the Wolves have decided to be patient, guard their future cap space, and use reasonably priced players to fill in the gaps.
Kevin McHale and Co. have also learned from their past mistakes regarding draft picks. Instead of tossing them around in trade negotiations like candy on Halloween, the Wolves management has shrewdly acquired its own stockpile of picks and could have up to four 1st round selections in 2009 depending on how various teams end up in the standings. One of the less-mentioned, yet still meaningful off-season moves was the Wolves' trade with the Sixers for Rodney Carney, Calvin Booth, and a 1st rounder courtesy of Utah. This move was a pure salary dump on the part of Philadelphia to clear the cap space needed to secure Elton Brand. The only thing that the Timberwolves needed to surrender was a protected 2nd rounder that Philadelphia will likely never even get. After years of watching McHale spending team assets frivolously, it's very refreshing to see deals like this, which have absolutely no downside and only strengthen the Timberwolves' position to make a big move down the road.
As I am wont to do, I was browsing the daily Wolves links on the front page of TWB from October 1st. Interestingly, I came across this article by Don Seeholzer of the Pioneer Press: Minnesota Timberwolves want point guard Randy Foye to turn up the volume. Ok, I thought to myself, they want Foye to be more of a leader, more vocal, improve his game, etc etc etc. I was sure that I was probably going to end up reading something that I've seen before, which tends to happen in the doldrums of the NBA off-season. (The media is not above recycling the same played out stories ALL summer long.) Anyways, I digress. The article itself is pretty run of the mill... your typical fluff piece. The interesting thing in this article was the following quote by Randy Foye, [in reference to always being mentioned alongside Brandon Roy in various articles, conversations, etc]:
"If it wasn't for the injury, I might have been in the All-Star Game, too."
This quote was compelling enough to me to go out of my way to make an entire blog post about it. I have to assume that Foye was completely serious about the comment. You see, without the help of the author, there is no way to know whether or not Foye was joking. But, there is no mention of Foye "laughing" or saying that he was joking immediately before (or after) this quote. The entire article is of a serious nature, and there is nothing to indicate that Foye was making a quip or joke. We can only deduce that the above quote was said in earnest.
So what's the problem?
I mean, isn't it good for players to believe they can succeed?
Shouldn't we be glad that Foye is confident in his abilities coming off surgery?
The problem is that surely Foye can't be serious about his comment? Can he?!?!
I'm not going to bore you all to death by running the same stat comparisons between Foye and Roy. We've all seen them before. Needless to say, Foye does not compare to Roy. In case Randy didn't notice, he also had another thing going against his potential All-Star selection... the fact being that the Wolves were an atrocious (and I'm talking putrid) team when it came time to vote on All-Stars. If I remember correctly (research smesearch), Joe Johnson and Dwyane Wade were the only players in the entire NBA last year to make the All-Star game from losing teams. Now, the Hawks still made the playoffs, and Wade was voted in as a starter, (meaning he was one of the top vote getters amongst fans.) The Wolves won 22 games. Portland finished nearly 20 games better than the Wolves, at .500 You do the math on who deserved to be in the All-Star game.
Being that Al Jefferson didn't make the All-Star game, how could Randy Foye have possibly thought he would have been deserving if "healthy?" In case Randy didn't notice (from the bench,) Big Al was one of only five players in the entire NBA to average over 20 points and 10 rebounds per game. In fact, Al was the only player in the entire NBA to average at least 21 points and 11 rebounds per game. That's obviously some pretty elite company for Big Al. Earth to Randy, Big Al didn't make the All-Star game. Heck, Baron Davis didn't make the All-Star game either. Nor did Deron Williams. Or Manu Ginobili. Some guy named Tony Parker was missing too. In case any readers out there are not aware, the above four guards would eat Foye's lunch without even breaking a sweat. They probably wouldn't even glisten.
I get it. I know that professional athletes typically can be egotistical maniacs are confident of their abilities. And don't get me wrong, they should be! However, from what I have seen of Randy Foye in his short time here in 'Sota, he appears to have an ego problem. It tends to get overlooked by the majority of our fans, being that our Front Office has basically dubbed him "The Golden Child." Foye made a comment last year after only a few games back from his injury. I can't remember exactly what it was, but it rubbed me the wrong way, because he was implying that they won the first two or so games he played because of him. That's hardly something that our future point guard and potential leader of this team should be saying. And the way he plays and talks in interviews just irks me. I guess what I am getting at is I am not completely sure that Foye is totally deserving of all the praise he gets, especially when media members say how selfless he is. Either they don't care about what they are writing with their name(s) on it, or they are just idiots that don't pay close enough attention to their subject matter. Foye hasn't proven a single thing in the NBA, other than he can put up (some) statistics on a bad team. That's it. I don't see where/how/why this ego of his is there.
On the other hand.
Maybe I'm just looking too deep into all this. I'd love for nothing more than to see Foye fully realize his potential and make a few All-Star games. A large part of the future success of our team depends on Randy's ability to improve all facets of his game, as well as help lead the rest of our players. And we don't need another player with a massive ego to get out of control and bring this team down... we've already got Rashad McCants.
For America's three major spectator sports (yes, hockey, three), everyday NBA fans have to look more and more to the blogs and bloggers for their NBA news than they do to the mainsteam sources, mostly because the NBA offseason futily struggles as the Jan to the MLB pennat race and NFL season Marsha. This can be a good and bad thing. On one hand, NBA fans can sate their fixes, on the other, unchecked blogging opinion often lacks veracity (or at least research). It's for this reason that I feel the need to defend one Sebastian Telfair, someone who, because ESPN decided to follow him around for a year, probably had/has inflated expectations due to now-unwarranted media attention.
My gut reaction to these statements, without research, is that (a) they were wrong, and (b) they were made by someone that probably didn't watch a single Timberwolves game last year. As I researched it further, it turns out they were both by Tom Ziller at AOL Fanhouse, and the second post was a defense/correction of his first post in which he admits was done without research. I don't know much about Tom Ziller, but I'm sure he's a fine blogger if he was picked up by AOL. As I looked at his archive, I noticed he covers the entire league...certainly a tall task for anyone, even a mainstream writer with a research staff. And, therein lies the problem, categorically making opinions about players you don't see and don't research until it's time to make a retraction and restatement.
Bassy is not Chris Paul, Deron Williams, or anyone of that caliber, and he probably (as in 99%) never will be. Conversely, he'll never get a 5 year, $70 million contract (especially with Isaiah out of control) to mail it in. Speculation after the KG trade is that the guy was simply a filler in the trade, someone Boston wanted to unload. After Foye's injury, Bassy got a shot, and I thought he looked awful...at first. But then he did something he's supposed to do: Bassy got better. Bassy's 5.9 assists per game would normally be good enough to rank him 14th last year...right above Anthony Carter, who the majority of Wolves fans will agree with me in saying that I would much rather have Bassy as a starting PG than Carter. However, Bassy didn't play in enough games to make that list (played in 60, started 51), so when Mr. Ziller looked at his NBA assists leaders when it was time to bash Bassy, I'm sure that's something he didn't consider. Bassy also boasted a 3 to 1 assist-to-turnover ratio, a ratio that makes you a serviceable point guard in this league.
On another note, what Mr. Ziller definitely didn't see that many watching Wolves fans know: No one on this team last year could reliably hit an open jump shot. Bassy was able to get the ball to our shooters in open spots, but they missed the shots. Two huge knocks on Bassy's game: he can't shoot, and he doesn't use his speed and penetration to get to the line. However, I expect him to get better. He's in his fifth season as a non-collegiate pro, meaning he would be a rookie assuming a complete college career. Bassy only cost the Wolves about $2 million last season, and he's getting a modest raise (by NBA standards) for the next two.
I happen to be one of those guys that doesn't mind being criticized or knocked...as long as the knocks are legit. So, from what I've seen with my own eyes: