One of the TWolves Blog Forum members, paginingstanleyroberts, produced a very thorough post yesterday which analyzed every single move that Kevin McHale has made while running the show for the Timberwolves. As the title of this article suggests, this compilation covers a staggering fourteen years of front office moves for the Timberwolves. It's a great history lesson and a really nice way for Wolves fans to get a look at the big picture and see exactly why this team is where it currently is. I felt this was clearly something that deserved to be promoted from the forum and onto the front page for everyone to see.
I got to hand it to "paging", the man has endurance. I attempted to compile something similar back when this blog first started. The idea was to do a post for each year and I'm pretty sure I made it to about 1996 before getting bored. Well, either that or I got too depressed. As you'll see, this list starts out with a move of sheer brilliance and proceeds to get progressively more painful. If you'd like to avoid high blood pressure, chest pain, and the re-opening of old scars, maybe you'd better skip this article. However, if you've got the stomach for it, you can proceed with caution as it really is a very well-done list.
1. Draft Kevin Garnett: A. No explanation needed. 2. Draft Jerome Allen (2nd): C-. Good enough to stick for a year. 3. Draft Mark Davis (2nd): C-. See previous. Both were picked late in the round. 4. Sign Sam Mitchell: B+. He was inexpensive and productive on and off the court. 5. Sign Terry Porter: B+. See above. 6. Trade Christian Laettner and Sean Rooks for Andrew Lang and Spud Webb: B-. Dumping Laettner was good, and Lang became the third player in the Marbury-Allen deal. Talent-wise, it didn't match up. 7. Replace Bill Blair with Flip: B. Made team a consistent winner but didn't pull off any playoff upsets.
With the Timberwolves starting the season at an underwhelming 1-8, the TWolves Blog Forum faithful have resorted to creating fantasy tales involving the much-needed front office shake-up that we all know will never come. Below, you will find a compilation of our latest group-effort entitled, "Firing Randy Wittman". This story, however, is not your typical work of fiction. It was told in the classic "Choose Your Own Adventure" format, where one forum poster would write a bit of the tale and then leave the group with a decision to make. One by one, we all took turns until we wove our story to its shocking and dramatic climax. For your enjoyment and ease of reading, the entire satire has been turned into a front-page post. I will warn you that it's a bit lengthy, so you might want to print and save this one for the bus-ride home or your mid-day trip to the corner stall. Without further ado, TWolves Blog proudly brings to you...
Choose Your Own Adventure: Firing Randy Wittman
The Story of how a moribund franchise tried to pull itself back from the abyss.
You rub your temples. As the GM of the team your were sure this year was supposed to be different. Last year you went through hell with a roster of half young guys, half deadbeats with bloated contracts. This year through your genius the glut was cleared... the young guys were ready. This team was going to stay in the playoff hunt at least until the all-star break.
It hasn't happened. You've lost and you've done it to bad teams. The owner, Glen Taylor, has called an emergency meeting in 15 minutes because he can't stand this.
If you decide that whatever solutions you can come up with in the next 14 minutes aren't going to be good enough so you email up an excuse to push the meeting back while you think turn to Page 15.
If you have a plan and you can't wait to deliver it turn to Page 117.
What can I say, we're back with one of my most favoritest things to partake in as an NBA Blogger. That's right, the Blogger MVP/ROY Rankings! We're back and bigger than ever in Year 2. As you may or may not remember, BrewHoop started this whole shebang last season, and it continues on with the First Edition hosted by HoopsAddict. Click HERE to see the snazzy first post, and if you are a fan of the NBA and/or awesome NBA Bloggers, I highly recommend that you check it out. It rocks my socks off.
After careful consideration, I wasn't going to inundate you with my boring rankings and comments decided to post my rankings and comments for my 10 MVP's and 5 Rookies of the Year below:
MVP: (10 = 1, 9 = 2, 8 = 3 and so on)
10. Al Jefferson – Guaranteed that for the second year in a row I am the only one to ever give Big Al any votes.
9.Chris Bosh – He good.
8.Carlos Boozer – He’s the most non-descript 20 and 11 guy I’ve seen in a while.
7.Paul Pierce – The Captain and the Truuuuuuuuuth.He’s backing up his self claim of being “the best player on the planet”, while leading the 8-1 Celtics to the best record in the East.Not to mention he’s hitting game winners and dropping 22 points in the 4th quarter like it’s nobody’s business.
6.Kobe Bryant – There is still something to say about players that help their team win ballgames.Too bad for him he’s “only” averaging 24 points per game.Ha!
5.Tim Duncan – Didn’t everyone pretty much agree that he was washed up like 3 years ago?25 ppg and 10 rpg says otherwise.
4.Dwight Howard – I want him and his 15 rebounds per game to have my babies.
3.D-Wade – Holy revival!Wade is back in black.He’s scored 30 or more points the past 4 games and it doesn’t look like anyone can stop him when he wants to score.And looking at the rest of his teammates, he’s going to need to “want to score” every play for them to have any chance at winning.
2.LeBron – He’s so good that if he doesn’t average 30 ppg, 10 rpg, and 8 apg you wonder what’s wrong with him.
1.Chris Paul – Picking up right where he left off.Leading the league in assists, scoring points, looking studly, you know the drill.Being that voters always reward the second most deserving player from the previous season, CP3 is a lock to win it this year.
ROY: (5 = 1, 4 = 2 and so on)
5.Michael Beasley – Just because Sam Greg Bowie Oden sucks so bad.
4. Kevin Love – If his arms didn’t jiggle so much when he runs I probably would have ranked him higher.
3. Derrick Rose – The mixture of CP3 and Monta Ellis is a bonafide future star.Don’t forget he’s averaging 19 points per game and 5 helpers.Oh and he’s super quick, has incredible court vision, and gets to the rim at will.
2. Rudy Fernandez – He’s “only” averaging 15 points per game on an incredibly deep playoff contender.He can do it all and is uber-athletic.And he’s foreign.That gives him more of a boost right?
1. OJ Mayo – Oh, the agony. Don't worry Wolves fans, we didn't need him and his 21 points per game average. Ladies and Gentleman, the Kevin McHale regime!
When Mike Miller came over from Memphis in the off-season, he was expected to fill the desperately-empty role of "outside sharpshooter" in the Wolves' rotations. Management and fans alike envisioned Miller firing away from downtown, helping to kill triple-teams on Al Jefferson and forcing opposing defenses to stretch.
Instead, Miller seems determined to go against the grain. Despite playing more minutes per night than almost any other time during his career, his shots have actually gone down; he's gone from nearly 12 shots a night to under 10, a confusing reversal considering that he was expected to go the other direction this season. Per 36 minutes, he's taking over 20% fewer shots, and people are starting to wonder: What gives?
I've done a somewhat-scientific study of a random number of completely fictional Wolves fans, and here's what they think:
32%... think he's being paid off by Rashad "5-for-17" McCants.
17%... think that Memphis management promised him an unlimited supply of incredibly girly hair bands, as long as Miller didn't make them look bad for trading him.
15%... believe that Miller's mom told him that sharing will help him make friends on his first day at a new school.
10%... are guessing that Miller's just glad he's not the only white guy on the team any more, and therefore doesn't feel the need to play into the "three-point-shootin'-white-guy" stereotype.
8%... think he injured his head in the same golf cart accident that claimed Jason Collins.
7%... think he's feeling the pressure from the constant scrutiny by the huge and powerful South Dakota media establishment.
5%... are betting that he's just trying not to hurt Mark Madsen's feelings.
4%... think he's angling for a trade to Boston by doing his best Wally Szczerbiak imitation.
2%... think he's probably still just embarrassed about being traded for Marko Jaric.
I wrote a piece on Randy Wittman several weeks ago that was not necessarily an endoresment, but more of a call to suspend condemnation. I had reasons for the post at the time being: (1) Wittman was thrust into an inenviable position with (2) a team that underwent a monumental transformation (KG's exodus and the influx of new players) shortly after he took control, that (3) continued, and still continues, to transform during his tenure. Despite those encumbrances, the team (4) improved slightly under his command as last season progressed and, most importantly, (5) the team seemed, to the casual observer, not to give up on him. Basically, I stated that I was not convinvced that Randy Wittman should be the coach of the Wolves going forward, but I was also giving him a chance now that the team seemed to resemble one that can move forward without major anticipated roster adjustments. However, I asserted that my main indicator of approval would be Wittman's ability to establish a solid rotation.
Before I move on to a more firm stance in my opinions on Randy Wittman based on the criteria from that past post, I need to clarify my own position as a writer on this site and in my relation to professional basketball in general. Very rarely do I offer speculation or suggestion on where the team should go or what they should do. I do not work for the organization, I do not see the practices, I do not speak with the players, and I am not, nor do I aspire to be, a member of the media. Other than my ticket representatives, I don't seriously anticipate any discussions with anyone that works for the Wolves (though I would welcome discussions with the dancers). There is also no doubt in my mind that Randy Wittman and the rest of the Timberwolves coaches and staff know infinitely more than me (and probably anyone that reads this) about the game of basketball and the NBA. Thus, my observations are limited to being (a) reactionary to what I see as (b) a fan of the Minnesota Timberwolves, to a lesser extent the NBA in general, and to an even lesser extent, a fan of NCAA basketball.
That being established, my reaction is now this. Like with anything else, sheer knowledge of the subject matter does not equal effective application of that knowledge. In the past week, I listened to analysis on a KFAN show (I believe it was Sludge and Lake where Mark Rosen was a guest, but I don't remember) in which one of the personalities referenced a conversation someone had with Bobby Knight who asserted that Randy Wittman was one of the smartest players he ever had. I won't cast any doubt on that. His basketball intelligence has probably kept him in the league as an assistant for several years and as a two-time head coach. In my opinion, as a fan and from what I've seen, whatever high basketball intellect he possesses is not assisting him during the ebb and flow of the actual games. A coach has to form a gameplan, prepare set rotations around that gameplan, keep the roster motivated and ultimately make adjustments during the game. The players have to execute the gameplan, something I feel they've been doing better this season than last. I was also pleasantly surprised at the insertion of Telfair and Love into a starting lineup that wasn't getting it done (though I will be less pleased if the lineup makes several changes without injury). This leaves in-game adjustments, and as a fan, I think Wittman has failed.
The most recent example in a history of similar situations occured in the Golden State game. The Wolves were down by as many as 13 in the third quarter. Wittman changed his lineup, the players made a comeback, and even took a nine point lead with about 2:30 remaining in regulation (the lead remained static from about the midway point of the 4th to that 2:30 mark). During the comeback and lead increase, the Wolves energy was up and they were making some outside shots. However, towards the mid-point of the 4th quarter, the shots quit falling and the run was over. Wittman left the lineup in that made the run, but didn't make any moves once that team went cold. Aside from the fact that a couple of the players made awful shot selections with a lot of time left on the shot clock (McCants), Wittman failed to switch a lineup that could no longer make it's shots nor protect its lead. This failure may or may not have led to a win, but in my opinion from watching the game, keeping those cold players in, probably lead to a loss. These situations cause me to believe that Randy Wittman, with all of his Bobby Knight certified basketball knowledge, is probably better as an assistance coach who doesn't have to make these kind of in-game calls.
So where should the team go? Like I said, it's not my place to say. Let's just say from a business standpoint, this young team is substantially more entertaining than last year's version and an extra win here and there may help sell a ticket or two.
You can take anything positive that I wrote in my first "Musings" recap (season opener vs. the Kings) and pretty much turn it on its side. By and large, the Wolves looked putrid en route to losing their fourth straight game. I am pretty sure I blabbered on about beating teams like the Kings is something we must do if we ever seriously plan on being title contenders. Well, we failed miserably. If we can't beat the sucktastic up-and-coming Kings, it's going to be a long season. It shouldn't even matter that this game was on the road, as teams like the Kings are "must wins." I humbly rescind my pre-season prediction of 34 wins. I know it's early and all, but if things don't start turning around quickly, I don't see how we can even hope to win triple ten. I'm not sure what anyone would really want to hear about this from me? Was it a "good" game? Ehhh, not really. We were behind from the get go and never really made a serious effort to narrow the 10-pointish deficit that faced us for most of the game. There is zero excuse for giving up at least 26 effing points per quarter to any team, let alone the boring azz Kings. That's just sad, pathetic defense and a lack of effort from everyone. Long story short, we lost a game (again) that most people would think we could win, and looked horrible doing so. You know it's really sad when Kevin Love was probably the biggest bright spot of the night. That's not a knock on him, but rather the rest of our team.
Please click "Read More" for further thoughts and analysis...
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.