Welcome Vikings Fans!

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Now that the Vikings have finally bestowed their annual disappointment on the state of Minnesota, it's time for Minnesota sports fans who follow multiple sports, but concentrate on one at a time (as opposed to obsessing over one constantly) to turn to something new.

While our beloved Timberwolves sport a record of 8-25 (i.e. bad), it is with a tip of the hat to Indy Cornrows and Sixty Feet, Six Inches that I pose to you, dear Vikings fans, the reasons that Al Jefferson and the gang deserve your attention and the things you need to know about them to catch up:

  1. The Wolves are 4-2 since Christmas. It's a small portion of the 82-game season, but we just got as many wins in the last 11 days as we did in the previous 2 months. When you have as much roster turnover and youth as this team, moral victories are just as important for us fans as they are for them players. Moreover, we're playing Memphis, Oklahoma City, Milwaukee and Miami in the next week and it's no stretch to believe we should split that run and push the win column to double digits.

  2. That guy we traded OJ Mayo for is pretty good. While Kevin Love's not putting up the scoring numbers that Mayo is, he's the best rebounder on the team and I'd go as far as to say he's top 15 rebounder in the league as far as skill. He gets 7.9 per in 23 minutes (tied for 27th), 3.3 on offense (tied for 6th) and 16.7 per 48 minutes (7th). He's getting better at finishing around the hole, although his below-the-rim game means he gets blocked more often than we'd like. While his defense is still not very good, Love is the kind of player that, even to the untrained eye, looks like he's making the right play far more than he's making the wrong one. That's because he usually is. And yes, watching him toss outlet passes is highly entertaining.

  3. The other guys we got for OJ Mayo are contributing. At least, for the moment, Brian Cardinal is. While it's not a great sign that a guy of Cardinal's talent level is getting so many minutes, with a young team like ours it's nice to have someone who knows how to play the pro game at full tilt for every second they're on the court. Mike Miller's been having a rough year, even before missing a handful of games due to an ankle injury. But if we hold on to Miller, the law of averages says he'll rebound and he's a great citizen to boot. If we try to move Miller, he still holds significant value around the league, value that will only go up as the trade deadline approaches.

  4. That guy we traded Kevin Garnett for is really good. Let's get this out of the way: Al's defense is bad and he has a tendency to regress into unproductive intensity. On the flip side, he's a top 5 post scorer in the NBA and his jumper has gotten to the point where no one gasps when he puts one up from 15 feet. Al's averaging 22.8 points (11th) and 10.4 rebounds (8th) on a hair under 50% from the field. What's more is that while he still needs to improve his passing out of double teams, Al only averages 2 turnovers per game; that's notable given the number of touches he gets.

  5. Randy Foye is looking better all the time. Should Kevin McHale have held on to Brandon Roy? Yes. But, he didn't and Foye now dons a Minnesota jersey. After coming off knee surgery last year (missed 43 games last year) and struggled to find consistency, Randy is clearly growing despite being yanked between guard positions by GMs and coaches. If he's going to be a point guard in this league Foye will have to be his own brand and run an offense that makes him an initiator and not the primary playmaker. And if he's not a point guard, that's ok as long our coach recognizes it.

  6. Speaking of Kevin McHale... Yes, you have a right to be disappointed that he's still with this franchise. But there are a couple of good reasons why that's the case. First, when it became clear that Randy Wittman couldn't guide this team to marked improvement, Glen Taylor didn't want to simultaneously pay a third coach (he still owes Dwane Casey some money). McHale agreed to take the reins of the roster he constructed to either prove that they can play or that he needs to go. Luckily, reason #2 is that, given this mini-surge (our first win streak!) McHale may be proving that he was on to something with the 15 guys he gave to Wittman. While the roster's far from set, there's a strong core of youth developing; which brings us to the third reason why McHale's still with the team: if Taylor agrees with the Hoopus community, his franchise needs new leadership in the basketball department, and that starts with a new General Manager. Bringing a new GM into a situation where the guy he's replacing is still sitting on the bench is not a good way to start a new regime. However, with a fistful of 1st round picks and a stable of young players, a new GM will have plenty of tools with which to build a contender.

  7. Injury report: Beyond Miller's 4 game absence, 2007 lottery pick Corey Brewer is out for the year with a torn ACL and Kevin Ollie just went down for 3 weeks with a dislocated elbow.

  8. Rashad McCants is dating Khloe Kardashian. That's the best thing I can say about his game right now.

  9. While the Wolves franchise may be going through a rough spell, at least they aren't building around a D-IA 2nd round draft pick. I kid, I kid.

  10. For the last point, a little boasting. I'm very proud of the fan community that Hoopus has become. It started as a rinky-dink platform for me to pontificate on rebuilding after trading KG. But after joining forces with Stop-n-Pop and Peter W (who you should check out on his new/old blog), Canis Hoopus turned into the community of thoughtful, respectful and playful basketball fans you see before you. As a personal point of pride, we've got the best Timberwolves salary and draft pick info around (if you're into that kind of thing). But mostly, I'm grateful for and proud of our readers who contribute just as much to this site as us writers, and I hope you'll find that the time you spend here is worthwhile.

So welcome ye Norsemen (and women) of Minnesota. Our home for watching the best athletes in the world put an orange sphere into an orange circle, is your home.

But next time, I might not be so optimistic. Otherwise it wouldn't be Minnesota sports, right?

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