Loose Ends


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Over at Britt's place, Hoopus commenter Jianfu and Jason Zeaman break down the Love trade with some of the best takes I've seen yet.  First Jason:

3.3 assists and 3.5 turnovers a game in college does not equal an NBA point guard.

He may be a fine jump shooting 2 guard in the NBA, but he will never be a great point guard.

Nor is he a slashing, driving, explosive, athletic 2. He does not rock the rim. He doesn't break ankles. He's a shooter. He has a nice shot. He plays good D too. That's not bad, but hardly worth getting out on the ledge because your team traded him away.

And...

I'm a little surprised to read some of the comments from Wolves fans. Perhaps it's a sign of dogs being kicked too often, we assume the worst. That and the peculiarity of celebrity and the power of name repetition and the projection of possibility onto someone we don't know very well.

In other words: would you expect the average die-hard Wolves fan to be really upset if the Wolves traded away a young jump-shooting combo guard with little slashing ability and moderate athleticism but good defense who doesn't get to the line very often and has decent but not great point guard skills? Not if they weren't named OJ Mayo.

I think Mayo is a solid player who will be good, probably very good. And who has almost no chance of being great. He will not be a great point guard. He will not be a great scorer. He will probably be a very good combo guard who can do a little of everything, the kind that may make an all-star game here or there in their late 20s/early 30s. Billups with better D and slightly worse O as the best case.

Is that the kind of player we should be distraught over trading?

Here's Jianfu:

Yeah, maybe it's the paranoia particular to Midwesterners in me, but the signal-to-noise ratio on Mayo seemed to jump dramatically from the end of the season to the draft. Keep in mind, when the Wolves got pick #3 in a supposed "2 player draft," many talking heads figured they'd just be drawing straws. Now many of the same commentators are saying they gave away the third potential star/no-brainer of the draft. When did that happen? Maybe I missed some Trojans games?

I think those comments nicely address the most basic premise of the anti-trade sentiment: that Mayo has a chance to be a star/superstar. 

Meanwhile, Draft Express already has put up their 2009 Mock Draft.  Here is a list of 6'4"ish guards in the top 20:

  1. Ricky Rubio
  2. Demar Derozan
  3. Brendan Jennings
  4. Tyreke Evans
  5. James Harden
  6. Darren Collison
  7. Gerald Henderson
  8. Stephen Curry
  9. Nick Calathes

Again, those are the Mayo-esque players in the top 20.  Rubio has just as much buzz, Derozan has just as high of a perceived ceiling, Jennings is making waves with his talk about playing in Europe, Evans is headed off to Memphis as a top recruit, and Stephen Curry burned up the tourney last year. 

One of the things that I think gets overlooked in the whole "OJ could be a star" argument is that most people say something to the effect of "OJ could be a D-Wade type of player while Love, at his best, is a cross between Wes Unseld and Bill Walton."  Aside from the point that could be made about the relative value of 2 Hall of Famers to a guy who owes a large part of his game to getting favorable calls and is frequently injured, how many times is the opposite idea expressed?  Which is more rare: a slashing D-Wade-ish 2 guard or a Wes Unseld type front court player?  Skilled bigs are very hard to find while hot-shot 6'4"ish shooting guards make the rounds each and every single draft. 

The last thing I'll say about Mayo is this: he's a souped-up Randy Foye.  While it would be nice to upgrade to the Camry, I'm glad the team stuck with the Tercel while picking up an F-150. 

Draft Express has released their Draft report card.  Here's their take on the Wolves:

A

You have to take your hat off for Kevin McHale for once. Not only did he go out and get the player he coveted the most in this draft—Kevin Love—he also managed to pick up a terrific player to compliment him in Mike Miller, while also unloading two nasty contracts (with three years remaining) in Greg Bucker and Marko Jaric. That might even qualify as a home-run in our book. Don’t look now, but Minnesota has firmly entrenched themselves to be huge players on the much anticipated 2010 free agent market, if they have the patience to continue to maintain their flexibility.

Throughout the draft process, we got the feeling like Minnesota’s staff was not enamored with Mayo as the third best talent in this draft, like he had been unanimously anointed by the mass media. Love was McHale’s guy, as we reported very early on back in May, and it was very shrewd of him to be able to get both him and everything else they acquired in this trade. Now we’ll have to wait and see what kind of player he turns out to be alongside Al Jefferson. The fact that Minnesota has not given up yet on Randy Foye is fairly significant too.

In the second round, the Timberwolves picked up a first-round caliber talent in Nikola Pekovic. It’s still up in the air whether or not he’ll ever play in the NBA, but if he does, he could immediately (literally) push for minutes off the bench.

Minnesota must not have felt like they had the roster spots to tack on another rookie with their other second round pick (#34), so they converted this into two future second rounders and a cool million and a half dollars. If Chalmers develops into a quality NBA backup, this might not look like such a smart move in time, especially considering how shallow Minnesota’s backcourt currently is.

They hit all the right points. 

Finally, the Memphis Commercial Appeal put up a time line of the deal.  You can read it here. I know there is a lot of talk about how Hoiberg and Taylor got a bit ahead of themselves with some of their comments about Mayo v. Love.  However, I think a case could be made that the comments were made in an effort to gain leverage against Memphis in order to get Miller as a part of the deal.  I could have probably done without Taylor's comments, but this deal broke late and the Wovles won the game of chicken.  I know, it's a bit of a stretch, but the time line combined with comments about wanting Miller really make me believe that they weren't going to budge until Memphis did and their comments about Mayo were to let the Grizz know that they were fine with the guy they had.

Until later.

UPDATE:  In the credit where credit is due department, Jim Souhan writes a column that hits almost all the right notes:

This time around, McHale got it right. He accomplished his primary goal of improving the roster by adding Miller, a great shooter and a good rebounder, and he took a reasonable roll of the dice that Love will be about as good an NBA player as Mayo, and might fit the Wolves' roster better.

The only way this deal backfires is if Mayo does become Kobe and Love becomes Paul Grant. I can't see either happening.

McHale also continued to clean up his own mess. This is an unpopular notion, but the Garnett deal was necessary, and he picked up Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Sebastian Telfair and a first-round pick. He dealt Mark Blount and Ricky Davis, two of his biggest mistakes (and that's saying something), to the Heat. And now he has ditched Jaric (one of the worst acquisitions of all time), Antoine Walker and Greg Buckner for Jason Collins and Brian Cardinal. Collins and Cardinal could remind you of Ndudi Ebi and that still would be a good trade.

Ripping McHale in this town has become a cottage industry in which I sometimes gleefully participate, but this deal is a good one, especially since he brought two important players who might actually want to stay in Minnesota.

Here, here. If Donnie Walsh came to Minny and made a trade that completely cleaned up the mess (within a year of the big KG trade) we'd all be singing his praises.  Folks, I can't say it enough: this team went from KG, crappy contracts, lost draft picks, and a roster filled with malcontents to a roster with young talent on 5 year slotted rookie contracts, 2 supremely talented frontcourt players, draft picks, a talented stashed Euro, and a ton of cash available in what will likely be the biggest free agent season in NBA history, and they did so within the span of a single year.  My only post-KG quibble will be with the decision not to move Theo Ratliff's deal, as they could have had a player like Miller (or Miller himself) at midseason while still making a draft day deal that would have brought them additional assets.  Ratliff's deal was far too big of an asset to simply let expire.

The Wolves could have 2-3 1st rounders next year (as well as valuable 2nd rounders for Euro players) in a draft that could bring them a guard like Ricky Rubio, Tyreke Evans, Demar Derozan, Stephen Curry, or Nick Calathes.  The off-season after that they could max out a guy like Deron Williams or Tyson Chandler while bringing over Pekovic for the big push in 2010.  This is the best way forward and this FO has played their cards about as well as they possibly could have since the KG trade.

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