The more significant upgrade has been Rubio's floor leadership. Last season with Joventut Badalona -- a smaller Spanish club also based in Barcelona -- he had pushed the tempo ceaselessly, but that recklessness wouldn't do for the championship team he now leads. He has become a more disciplined point guard for Barcelona.
"Sometimes he was not taking into account the value of the ball and knowing the moment of the game," Messina said of Rubio's former style. "Now in the Euroleague, he knows when is the moment to try something and also when it is better to be safe and control the situation -- and he has done this without losing his killer instinct."
--There is also a lot of other information in this article. It's worth a read if you're a fan or are interested in the Euroleague.
Ricky Rubio takes 2nd place for the Euroleague's Best Defender Award
Meanwhile, NBA fans need take note: Finishing second was FC Barcelona wunderkind Ricky Rubio in what was reportedly “a very close race” – “one of the closest ever” reportedly – among the top three, with Diamantidis finishing third. In fourth through sixth places came Barça’s Fran Vazquez, CSKA’s J.R. Holden, and Stephane Lasme at Maccabi Tel Aviv.
--Continue on to BallinEurope to see video of Rubio getting 6 steals and 5 assists in 4 and a half minutes of a game. STUD!
Sorry for the late news update. Slim pickings across the web today, but did pick up this one on Big Al and Love's trade value from a Hoopsworld chat:
Well that's just neat. Hopefully he comes over some day I guess.
Slam Online Posts Their Top 5 Draft Prospects
We are all going to be deprived of a great joy on draft night — watching David Stern struggle to pronounce the names of the international players picked in the first round. With normally around five players from abroad picked in the first round each year, we are treated to a few tongue twisters from Mr. Commish. This year there are only two international guys projected to go within the first 30 names called out, but at least one of them has a name fun to say. Here’s the top five international prospects for this year’s draft.
It seems likely that some of these guys will be targets with our Charlotte pick, so keep an eye on them.
Cuban on the NFL Draft
The always quotable and fantastic Mark Cuban in his latest rant on the NFL draft stealing viewers from the playoffs:
"I know we're just little piss-ants compared to the NFL, but seriously, the NFL is turning into the ugly American when it comes to sports leagues," said Cuban, who, not for nothing, considers Cowboys' owner Jerry Jones a friend. "They don't give a crap about anybody but themselves."
The guy has a point, as always. Mark Cuban is fantastic. I wish all owners had his passion for winning and were as quotable. Sure, he gets in trouble with the refs and surely the players must think he is a complete nincumpoop at times, but imagien if Taylor were that way. I would go to the games just to see his antics.
As for the playoffs, let's not forget the time has come for NBA players to start playing with effort. I remember last year's playoffs started slow with plenty of blowouts and then suddenly the Bulls/Celtics series became easily the most entertaining set of basketball games I have ever seen (Game 6 2OT battle that is on NBATV every other day, anyone?). Let's hope for a similar series this year and it involves the Lakers getting upset by OKC. If not, the Spurs/Mavs, Suns/Blazers and Nuggets/Jazz have potential for some great games. The rest, meh, maybe not so much. I thought Charlotte, Milwaukee, Miami and Chicago would be putting up much more of a fight. Props to Portland for taking game 1 in Phoenix without Roy. Is Camby ever going to decline? Guy's an iron man.
That's all for today.no comments
TWolves Will Find Their Alpha Wolf
By Matthew Hayden at Bleacher Report:
I expect that guy above (Evan Turner) to be in a Timberwolves uniform when the new season starts.
No, seriously, there's a good chance.
The Minnesota Timberwolves GM David Kahn recently held a "end of the year" press conference that featured some interesting topics of discussion, but the biggest topic that Wolves fans should be happy to hear is that the GM knows that the Wolves need their "go-to scorer", or "#1 guy", the "block" to the building block, the core to the nucleus, etc..
- I'm excited, but I just can't get my hopes up until after the Draft Lottery on May 18th. We're DUE for a top 2 pick, but I probably just jinxed us. Prepared to be drafting 5th.
The NBA's Worst Defenders
By Henry Abbot at TrueHoop:
- Jonny Flynn
- Kevin Martin
- Andres Nocioni
- Charlie Villanueva
- Andrea Bargnani
Honorable mentions are: J.J. Barea, Jeff Green, Yi Jianlian, Drew Gooden, Al Jefferson, Will Bynum, Jordan Farmar, Derek Fisher and David West.
- We only had 2 guys out of the 14 mentioned. That's only 14%. Not bad at all.
Everyone Hates KG Now?
By Kelly Dwyer at Ball Don't Lie:
And because Kobe Bryant is too polarizing, fair-weather fans really haven't forgotton Colorado and Steve Nash a little too ... typical, for years, my consistent answer to "who's your favorite player" has been "Kevin Garnett."
Say that to a basketball nut, though, and you're bound to take a little heat. Because for the duration of his three-season stay in Boston, Kevin Garnett has been rightfully regarded as, well, a bit of an ass.
And this isn't solely due to mainstreaming of his play dates. This isn't because he's on national TV more often, because of the Celtics' status as an elite team. He pulled some of this crap in Minnesota, but not nearly to this extent.
No, this is all on K.G., acting more and more the ass, and forcing people (we only have so much room up there, y'know) to forget what made him so special in the first place.
P.S. KG was suspended for 1 game (tonight), for his role in the fracas in Game 1 vs. the Heat this weekend. Fair? or not?
Please click "Read More" to continue with NBA daily news...
Talkin Bout Playoffs
The playoffs start today and I can't recall ever being this pumped up about them. Most years, I'd largely ignore the 1st round as it's usually just a minor inconvenience for good teams until the real matchups start. But this year, you have Utah vs. Denver, Kobe vs. Durant, Spurs vs. Mavs, Celtics vs. Heat, and a matchup of the 2 best defensive teams in the league in the Magic and the dangerous Bobcats. Any or all of the 1st round series could be amazing in the same way that the Celtics vs. the Bulls was last year. All this without mentioning Lebron or the Suns, who are always fun to watch no matter who they play. This is only the 1st round I'm talking about! The matchups and intensity will only get better as we progress through the rounds.
If you are a fan of basketball, you better be tuned in to this rare and most awesome occasion. In honor of what promises to be an epic year for NBA playoff basketball, I'm going to take the approach of Switzerland and Bonecrusher and rep every player, team, side, conference, and whatever else (except the Lakers of course).
Bull @ Cavs, ABC 2:00 PM US-CST
Bucks @ Hawks, ESPN 4:30 PM
Heat @ Celtics, ESPN 7:00 PM
Bobcats @ Magic, TNT 4:30 PM
Make sure to read Britt Robson's Eastern Conference preview for SI.com
Scoop Jackson at espn.com has a great article on whether or not we've seen the last of KG as "Da Kid"
So the whispers are there. Some are about his age: He's 32, finishing up his 15th season in the league. Some are about his health: He hyperextended his right knee earlier this year, missed the playoffs (same knee) last season. Others, more disturbing, are about the one thing Garnett has always had over damn near every player in the NBA: his confidence.
It's fading, say the whispers.
I needed to not believe that. Not KG. But the signs are there. Could "The Kid" be gone?
-This article gives me hope that KG still has better days ahead of him. If you're a big fan The Big Ticket, this article is well worth a read.
Jazz @ Nuggets, ESPN 9:30 PM US-CST
Thunder @ Lakers, ABC 2:00 PM
Spurs @ Mavericks, TNT 7:00 PM
Blazers @ Suns, TNT 9:30 PM
Britt Robson's Western Conference preview
Read Bill Simmons' latest article for a look at everything he's learned from this past season and his take on the playoffs
Please Click "Read More" for a few bits of Wolves news and the Top 10 dunks of the seasonno comments
The last game of the season is finally here! Soon we will be able to have sweet dreams about John Wall and Evan Turner and no longer have nightmares of Anthony Tolliver, Dorell Wright, and every other fringe NBA player who has terrorized our defense. Before you go start planning your NBA draft party and buying your Evan Turner T-Wolves jersey, we still have tonight's game to attend to. If the Wolves win, we make the playoffs...oh wait...what I meant to say is: If the Wolves win, we avoid tying the 1991-92 Wolves for the worst record in team history. Like anyone cares.
Sporting News game preview
Minnesota (15-66) has arrived at this ignominious position with a woeful two-month stretch, losing 28 of its last 30 dating back to before the All-Star break. One more defeat would match the 1991-92 Timberwolves, who finished 15-67 in the club's third season of play.
"If it happens, it was just meant to happen,' Wolves forward Al Jefferson said. "That's how I look at it. Of course we don't want it to happen, but it's life."
The young club doesn't seemed primed for a victory after losing its last six, including the last two by an average of 25.0 points.
Minnesota, which is guaranteed to finish with the league's second-worst record, allowed more than 130 points for the fifth time in a 133-111 defeat at San Antonio on Monday night.
The Wages of Wins Journal says that Corey Brewer is worse than he was as a rookie
When we look past scoring totals, though, we see that he has declined substantially with respect to rebounds and turnovers. And although he is getting to the line more frequently, his efficiency from the charity stripe has declined as well. When we put the entire picture together – via Win Score – we see that Brewer is actually offering less than he did as a rookie.
-Well I say that he has improved, so they can take their Win Score and shove it.
The Wolves will once again be participating in the preseason European tour
From the Associated Press
The Minnesota Timberwolves will be going overseas again.
The NBA announced on Tuesday that the Timberwolves will play a pair of preseason games in October as part of the league's annual European exhibition tour. The Wolves will face the Los Angeles Lakers on Oct. 4 in London and the New York Knicks on Oct. 6 in Paris. This is the fifth straight year of the "NBA Europe Live" tour. The Timberwolves also participated in 2007, playing games in both Istanbul and London.
The NBA announced on Tuesday that the Timberwolves will play a pair of preseason games in October as part of the league's annual European exhibition tour. The Wolves will face the Los Angeles Lakers on Oct. 4 in London and the New York Knicks on Oct. 6 in Paris.
This is the fifth straight year of the "NBA Europe Live" tour. The Timberwolves also participated in 2007, playing games in both Istanbul and London.
-Sadly, we will not be playing against Ricky Rubio's Regal Barcelona team :(
Please Click "Read More" to see the rest of today's links and the best & worst videos on the interwebs this week
This game apparently wasn't on TV, I was out of state anyways, but it looks like we didn't miss anything. Actually, I'm quite GLAD I couldn't watch it. I mean, the three pictures above tell it all. The Red Frickin Rocket Matt Boner is two-handed slamming it down our throats. My god team, have some respect for yourselves and put a player on his ass for once, instead of letting guys run down the lane without abandon. Just once this year I'd like to see that...
- Jonny Flynn -25 +/- in 21 minutes of action
- Al Jefferson the only starter with a positive +/- with a +1 in 24 minutes of action
- Tony Parker notched a +30 in 23 minutes of action
- Brian Cardinal played 11 minutes
- Ryan Hollins played 12 minutes and still couldn't manage to grab more rebounds than personal fouls he committed
- Love played 23 minutes
- Sasha Pavlobrick was the TWolves leading scorer
- The End.
New Orleans led by as much as much as 28 in the third quarter when Okafor's 6-foot hook made it 74-46, capping a 14-4 run that began with Okafor's 14-foot jumper and included a 3-pointer by Morris Peterson. The game was never in doubt after that as Minnesota got no close than 18 points.New Orleans led 31-25 when the Wolves started to implode. Jefferson was called for traveling while attempting a reverse layup. Rambis didn't agree and drew two quick technical fouls, the first from official Eli Roe and the other from Ron Garretson, the second triggering the coach's ejection.The Wolves have lost five straight and 21 of their last 22 games.Minnesota (15-65), which plays Monday night in San Antonio, needs one win in its final two games to avoid matching the worst record in franchise history, set in 1991-92.
Former Timberwolves guard Isaiah Rider has been arrested in Arizona on suspicion of assaulting his fiancee and reneging on a $150 cab fare.
Mesa, Ariz., police say the 39-year-old Rider was taken into custody Thursday after an officer spotted him driving erratically in a vehicle with three small children inside.
Neighbors reported seeing Rider argue with his fiancee outside their Mesa home Sunday and engage in a tug of war over her purse. Police say Rider then took a cab ride to Phoenix and ran away instead of paying the driver.
Stay classy, JR!
A post game video including music from a high pitched female known as Miley Cyrus (Uphill battle) brought some perspective to the year. In the NBA things aren't always about today, and it's rare that a championship team can be built so quickly. The Hornets do appreciate their fans and obviously make every effort to improve.
But Minnesota, which lost for the 26th time in its last 28 games, showed a spark in the second half, battling back to pull within four points with five minutes to play.
"Our starters didn't come out with the right attitude in the second half. They tried to do it individually instead of working together," said Jackson, whose team has posted the West's best record for three straight seasons. "It got us in dutch."
-Basically, the Lakers are the Harlem Globetrotters and the Wolves are the Washington Generals.
Center Pau Gasol took over for Bryant and his 27.1 scoring average with a game-high 29 points and 15 rebounds. Gasol got help inside from forward Lamar Odom, who finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds. Gasol and Odom accounted for 11 of the Lakers' 17 offensive rebounds, which proved to be a critical factor for the Lakers in Bryant's absence. One of Odom's four offensive boards came with 48 seconds left in the fourth quarter, when the Wolves (15-64) were down by only six. Odom rebounded Gasol's missed jumper. Sixteen seconds later, Jordan Farmar fed Odom for a three-pointer that pushed the Lakers' lead to nine and sent a lot of disappointed Kobe followers to the exits. Most fans, many dressed in Lakers purple and gold, stayed around to the end. Phil Jackson is the most awesomest coach ever. From Jerry Zgoda:
Center Pau Gasol took over for Bryant and his 27.1 scoring average with a game-high 29 points and 15 rebounds. Gasol got help inside from forward Lamar Odom, who finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds.
Gasol and Odom accounted for 11 of the Lakers' 17 offensive rebounds, which proved to be a critical factor for the Lakers in Bryant's absence. One of Odom's four offensive boards came with 48 seconds left in the fourth quarter, when the Wolves (15-64) were down by only six.
Odom rebounded Gasol's missed jumper. Sixteen seconds later, Jordan Farmar fed Odom for a three-pointer that pushed the Lakers' lead to nine and sent a lot of disappointed Kobe followers to the exits. Most fans, many dressed in Lakers purple and gold, stayed around to the end.
Phil Jackson is the most awesomest coach ever. From Jerry Zgoda:
When asked why he told fans in the hotel that Bryant was out but wouldn't initially tell reporters, Jackson said: "Those people are important. Those people matter."
The Wolves announced a crowd of 20,200, which goes down as the season's largest, but there were numerous empty seats. And many of the fans came wearing Lakers gear, including No. 24 jerseys.
Jackson was refreshingly honest when asked if he thought the Wolves can expect to sign a significant free agent with all that salary-cap money they have cleared.
"No, I don't," he said. "You have to have a team that competes, first of all. I should leave New Jersey out of it because I think New Jersey will have a bit of a bump [because of new ownership and a proposed new arena in Brooklyn, N.Y.]. Minnesota is a team that's going to struggle to find a free agent. They've got to find one that fits in with what they do."
-Lol! The stuff that Phil Jackson says is just hilarious. I love how he's always ripping on the reporters. When asked if the Wolves have any chance of signing a free agent, every other coach in the league besides Phil would have made up some crap about how we're young and improving and free agents would want to be on this team yada yada yada. Phil's keeping it real. We can only hope that someday Rambis becomes the next Zen Master.
Wolves making a D-League call up?
The Skyforce have fared better at sending players up to the NBA - such as Reggie Williams, an emerging force for Golden State Warriors, and Alexander Johnson.
Stiemsma could join that list after huddling up after Friday's game with Jerry Sichting, the Timberwolves' director of pro personnel.
The Wolves are expected to fly Stiemsma up to Minneapolis for a tryout but still have him back for Sunday's do-or-die Game 3 at the Arena.
Things are hectic around TWB right now as CW is out of town and having internet issues. The weather is beautiful here in Minnesota on this Friday night and makes for ripe conditions for throwing back a few cold ones. But alas, here are some Friday afternoon mini-links for the crazy diehard Wolves fans out there.
Here's the link to the forum game thread: Lakers @ Wolves
Sporting News Game Preview
Trying to avoid matching a season high with their third straight loss, the visiting Lakers look for an 11th consecutive victory over the lowly Timberwolves on Friday night.
It's uncertain if Bryant, averaging 27.1 points this season, will be given a second straight night off to rest his swollen right knee and aching right index finger. As a precaution, the All-Star sat out Los Angeles' 98-96 loss at Denver on Thursday.
Big Al will miss tonight's game
Minnesota Timberwolves forward Al Jefferson has been away from the team this week because a family member is hospitalized in the Twin Cities area, a team official said today. Ted Johnson, Wolves senior vice president of communications, clarified Jefferson's situation after this morning's shootaround practice at Target Center but declined to address the family member or reason for the hospitalization. The Wolves had been saying Jefferson was away from the team to deal with a "personal matter." In-depth Truehoop Q&A with Corey Brewer
Minnesota Timberwolves forward Al Jefferson has been away from the team this week because a family member is hospitalized in the Twin Cities area, a team official said today.
Ted Johnson, Wolves senior vice president of communications, clarified Jefferson's situation after this morning's shootaround practice at Target Center but declined to address the family member or reason for the hospitalization. The Wolves had been saying Jefferson was away from the team to deal with a "personal matter."
In-depth Truehoop Q&A with Corey Brewer
Who's your least favorite player to guard?
"That would be Carmelo. He's all about going to that block. He's going to be there all night."
You set a team-record by hitting a 3 in 33 straight games. At what point did you become aware of that, and were you doing anything special?
"No one thought that would ever happen two years ago. I wasn't aware of it until we got to like 25 and everybody started talking about it. I was just playing. I just felt like my game was finally coming together. Everything was just flowing. My defense. My offense ... that was probably my best [stretch]."
Love is happy to be back in the starting lineup
And despite 10 weeks of insisting that he's OK with coming off the bench, Love couldn't hide his delight at escaping the second unit.
"It definitely got me going. You've got energy, your legs are warm, you're feeling good when you start," said Love, who spent 35 minutes on the floor for just the second time since Jan. 11. "I was a lot more energized."
"At one point, I was sulking a little bit. ... I was tired," said Love, who admitted he sometimes complained -- causing Rambis to use him even less. Eight times since the all-star break, Love has been on the floor for less than half the game.
"I want to be great. I want to reach what I know I can be. So I had a few bad games, missed some shots, and laid my head down a little. But I got through it. I stood up and started playing some good games again."
That extra energy must be the reason he only gave up 34 points to Anthony Tolliver.no comments
Charlotte' victory in New Orleans on Wednesday clinched a playoff berth for the Bobcats, and officially conveyed their first-round pick in June's draft to the Wolves. Minnesota acquired the pick, which was lottery-protected, from Denver last June in exchange for point guard Ty Lawson. (The Nuggets traded for the pick a year earlier, for a draft choice that Charlotte used to draft French center Alexis Aijnca.) The pick will be #15 or 16 this year.
Let's shoot for Whiteside, Henry or Monroe here. That would be terrific value for this pick.
Don Nelson set the NBA career record for victories by a coach in the Golden State Warriors' 116-107 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night.
The 6-foot-7 point guard is expected to be a top-three pick in the June 24 draft. Yet he said his decision wasn't an easy one.
"This is the toughest thing I had to do," he said, his voice breaking. "But I was blessed with this decision and I have a great opportunity. I'm going to turn a leaf over and go on to the next stage of my life."
The Chicago native averaged 20.4 points, 9.2 rebounds and 6 assists while shooting 52 percent from the field, 36.4 percent behind the arc and 76 percent at the line.
Turner was moved to point guard before the season, a decision by coach Thad Matta that raised some eyebrows because Turner had never played the position and had been prone to making mistakes with the ball.
Turner is at the top of most of our draft boards I would hope. An all-around solid 2 in the making and exactly what we would want with our top pick. Another guy the Wolves should keep their eye on with their mid-first rounders is Hassan Whiteside, who declared today as well.
Turner will also sign with David Falk, who orchestrated the whole Stephon Marbury debacle years ago and is certainly not partial to small market teams such as the Wolves.
Wall/Cousins also in, amongst others
The freshman All-Americans are among five Kentucky players who declared for the NBA draft on Wednesday, an exodus that includes freshman guard Eric Bledsoe, freshman center Daniel Orton and junior forward Patrick Patterson.
Wall and Cousins are expected to be among the first few players selected after leading the Wildcats to a remarkable turnaround season in Calipari's first year on the job.
Kentucky went 35-3 this season — Calipari's first as Wildcats coach — winning the Southeastern Conference regular season and conference tournament titles before falling to West Virginia in the regional finals of the NCAA Tournament.
This all sounds fantastic right now. All Wolves fans thinking that this may be the year we win the lottery, clinging to false hope. Only about 4 weeks to go until the mid-May lottery apocalypse and the realization that our top draft pick will most likely be Al Farouq Aminu/Wesley Johnson at 5.
Jefferson Sits vs. Warriors Wednesday
Jefferson missed practice on Tuesday and the shootaround on Wednesday morning. Coach Kurt Rambis says the absences are excused and he hopes to have his leading scorer back for practice on Thursday.
Here's hoping everything is going ok with Big Al.