Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Hardwood Paroxysm's 2008-2009 Season Preview: Minnesota Timberwolves

Somewhere in our process of dealing with previews, Trey Kerby got a bug up his ass. Apparently he didn't catch on to the fact that we actually harbor an affection for the Wolves. His "I have too many day job meetings" glass-half-empty preview is up first.

The best thing that happened to the Minnesota Timberwolves franchise last year was Kevin Garnett winning a title. Seriously. Number two on the list is that they didn't end the season with the worst record in the NBA. Third; Gerald Green rocked the dunk contest. To say Minnesota is a struggling team would be an understatement.

Things aren't getting better this year.

The roster is an exercise in redundancy. There's the Husky Guys (Jefferson, Love, Smith, Madsen, Gomes). There is the Guards Who Don't Really Have a Position (Foye, McCants, Brewer). There is the Guards Who Shouldn't See the Court (Telfair, Ollie, Ahearn) (Editor's Note: Now, you've crossed the line, Kerby). There's the Wastes of Space (Booth, Cardinal, Jason Collins). And there's Mike Miller. Yes, there is some talent, but there's definitely not a specific group of players who can be counted on to produce consistently. Furthermore, it's a little hard to even tell who should stick around for the rebuilding. Outside of Jefferson, Love, and Foye, this roster is expendable. (Miller is, but only due to his age.)

However, at the very least, this team could be enjoyable. Kevin Love's outlet passes are magnificent. Al Jefferson is really, really good. Mike Miller is criminally underrated. Randy Foye is good. Ideally, this team would play a slightly up-tempo style, but still allow Jefferson and Love to post-up. Not only would this be fun, but it also makes the most sense. Miller's game will become so much more potent if the Wolves' inside duo garners the respect they deserve. Conversely, the addition of Miller means more space for those two.

So there you have it Wolves fans: your team will be bad this year, but if you're lucky, they might be fun. It's not a promising outlook, but it's better than another year of watching your franchise's heart and soul win a title with another team. Unless, of course, your franchise's heart and soul wins another title. At least you've got those new uniforms.

VISION By Trey Kerby



What's odd is in a lot of ways this team reminds me of the Indians from Major League. A bunch of players that have been cast off and that no one believes in. A general manager that seems to make decisions that are actually bad for the team. The scary part? Mark Madsen is Tom Berenger in this scenario. Mike Miller is Corben Bernsen. And Rashad McCants as Willie Mays Hays!


Okay, then just imagine Kevin Love with "Wild Thing" shaved into his head and glasses. Go ahead. Do it. You'll be a better person for it.

This is all without the Harbinger. Oh, Al Jefferson. Where once you were the failed Boston savior, we now see you as the next step in Big Man Evolution. Jefferson's fascinating in that he can be dormant for large parts of games, slumbering. And then he awakens, and it's like the Kraken opening its eyes and flexing its tentacles. From there, doom is not far behind.

The moment I really started to take notice and believe in this team was that last second loss to the Celtics. You know, the one where they took them down to the wire, a lottery-slump against the best team in the league. And somehow, they took them to the wire, only to fall and have Garnett rep his jersey in their faces. There's something in this team, though. Something uppity. Something rambunctious. And something that could turn into something special given time and the right combination.


Kevin "my uncle is a GD Beach Boy" Love. Alright, let's be honest. Kevin Love is a mascot parading in a power forward's body. Not only will be prove to be absolutely incapable of playing next to Al Jefferson (and if not on offense all the time, the positively on defense), he will end up being this year's Jeff Green. Yeah, that's right - the #1 recent argument about drafting for a team vs. drafting the best available player. I mean, damn, if Presti can't get it right, why should McFail?

But really, let's think about Love for a second. I refuse to even consider him the Great White Hope. They say this about every overly ball skilled, sufficiently under-athleticized white guy to come into the league. If they ain't European, it ain't happening. Must be something in the outrageously expensive food over there. But I digress. I understand WHY people love Love the way they do, why he is a great face of a franchise, why he is mesmerizing. But I am here to tell you - Shut the F-K Up. If Kevin Love were playing back up to KG on a great Boston squad, like Leon Powe or Glen Davis, he would be messianic. Instead, he will be outright despondent. Minny will be cold, both in weather and fan ferocity, ill managed and accepting of their failures. And Love, with all his ferocity (get it, Timber-wolvian), skills, outlet passing prowess and offensive repertoire will still be a giant vat of suck for most of the year.

And, in the effort of justifying my suck-titude, I give you this scenario. Jefferson at the 5, Love at the 4. I mean, really. If you understand anything about basketball, please send me an email and justify how this will possibly work. No, I don't mean for 2-3 minute stretches, but to actually help the Wolves win games. In fact, save your time - cause it won't. If all you need is love, then let me bring the hate. Cause this kid, even though he may try hard, scrap, wear a chin strap and make full court outlet passes, but that doesn't mean he is the next McHale - even if that moron traded for him.

(FWIW - I love Love and hope he is awesome. And, I wouldn't mind it if he ate Bassy Telfair. The world would be a more just place. So, if ball doesn't work out for Love, maybe you can become a judge. I can totally see that happening. Also, Corey Brewer has sex with chickens.)


Okay, the time has come for me to explain how I became a Kevin Love Outlet Pass Apostle.

Trust me. I started out like you. I got to Summer League and asked someone who'd been there about Love. "Oh, man, you gotta see his outlet pass." Whatever. I'd heard the same thing before. Who gives a crap about an outlet pass? How often is he going to get to use it? Is he even going to get a chance in the NBA? If that's all the kid has, he's ruined.

I settled into my seat to watch Love for the first time and yawned intentionally as he took the floor.

"Okay, here we go. Oh, okay, so he's got some nice touch around the basket. Allright, so he's got excellent body size and knowledge of where he's at on the floor. Wow, okay, so he's a little tougher than I thought he was. Looks pretty good. Looks very good."

And then he snatched a rebound on the left block, swiveled, and did it. It's not that I've never seen a better pass. I've seen tons of better passes. But it was just the unique nature of this pass. It rocketed so fast and so far I was certain he'd overthrew him. So did his point guard, who accelerated to catch up with it. Except something weird happened on its trajectory. All of a sudden, right where the guard was running, the thing dropped. Plummeted like it had hit an invisible barrier and plunked right down into the guard's hands. He had to pull up a bit to catch it. If he hadn't speeded up, it would have landed right in his hand in motion.

It was one of those weird moments where everyone stands and stares. The crowd cheered the dunk, but really, it was the pass.

Love just shifted back to his man and started defending again.

Love's outlet pass isn't going to revolutionize the game, or make him an All-Star. He's going to slump early, as he's doing now in preseason, trying to learn the speed of the game. Maybe he'll turn it around, maybe he won't. But if he gets to use that pass, it'll become an NBA quirk. Like a weird halftime show or the drumline at Mavs games. That's how good it is.

Weird, I know.

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