Let's start tonight's game wrap with an idea from last year's post Big Al injury madness: The problem with losing Big Al wasn't that his minutes were replaced by Kevin Love, rather that Kevin Love's minutes were replaced by the motley crew of Mark Madsen, Craig Smith, Shelden Williams, and Brian Cardinal. This year we have bellyached a bit about Kurt Rambis' annoying tendency to pull both the Big Piranha and Big Al from the game at the same time. As you can imagine, these stints are, more often than not, completely disastrous.
What should also set off some warning signals are the overall lack of minutes that the two bigs play relative to other squads. Big Al averages just over 33 mpg coming off of a serious knee injury. The Big Piranha is averaging 31.5 mpg. If you look at Denver's front line, their starting bigs (Nene Hilario, Kenyon Martin) both average over 34 mpg. They are back filled with a competent backup (Chris Andersen) who averages 22 mpg. Portland gives LMA over 35 mpg with a split between competent backups at...well, before they were all injured, they had a nice split at the 5. Utah gives a big chunk of minutes to Carlos Boozer with the remaining minutes being filled heavily by competent players like Paul Milsap and Mehmet Okur. The Wolves give modest minutes to their two best players and back fill them with D- League talent.
The Wolves have run out a surprising number of power forward/center combos this season. The one with the most minutes is, obviously, Love and Big Al, logging just over 455 minutes with a net +/- of -7 and a net OE/DE rating of -1.6 points/100 possessions. The 2nd biggest combo is Jefferson and Ryan Hollins. This duo is straight up horrifying, -138 and with a -26.4 OE/DE differential in 226 minutes.
Long story short, the Wolves are a level of hell at the 4/5 when both Love and Jefferson are not on the court together. They are merely a freak show when only one of them is out there with Hollins, Ryan Gomes, Brian Cardinal, Stewie, or Nate Jawai.
We spent a lot of time yesterday talking about how the Love/Jefferson pairing is probably not long for this world, but it should be noted that this duo is far and away the best this team has to offer. It should also also be noted that they still are in the red when it comes to point differential and efficiency numbers.
Anywho, getting around to the dead horse angle, one of the big things that will have to happen in order for the Wolves to maximize the talent of their two best players is for Jonny Flynn to pass them the ball. It's really fairly simple. Good things happen when Big Al and the Big Piranha touch the ball. Good things sometimes happen when Corey Brewer touches the ball. Ditto for Ryan Gomes and less so for everyone else. I don't know if this team is in need of a Randy Ratio but they are in need of a reminder for their rookie point to get the ball to their two best players. Even in a motion-based offense, you have to make sure one of these guys touches it every time down the court. There should be no excuse in a 1/2 court setting for anything less. The next time Ramon Sessions gets in the game, count how many times he gets the ball to Jefferson or Love compared to what happens with Flynn. The dude knows where his bread is buttered. OK, this is going to be the last time I beat this dead horse for a while. I know Flynn is a rookie and with full understanding that we can get a bit repetitive with stuff like this, I'll move on to something else.
If I had to create a Stop-n-Pop Fab 5 for the NBA, here are my starters"
That being said, and as much as I like Melo, he is one offensive fouling S.O.B. Seriously. He's the Larry Fitzgerald of the NBA. He will literally mug people in order to get to the hoop. I love his diversified game and I think he'll get a title before LeBron but holy crap does he foul people going to the hoop. Last night's game featured an arm bar to Corey Brewer's solar plexus, a couple of shoulder dips to Damien Wilkins, and too many uni-grabs to count. He is one of my very favorite players and I would love to see him on the Wolves, but holy. frickin'. crap. Blow a whistle on the guy.
Speaking of fouls, Jonny Flynn was thrown to the floor on at least 3 occasions tonight. He was felonized on two of them. I may not think Flynn will pan out as a point guard but he is a scorer. He is eventually going to need those calls and he deserves them....because, you know, he was frickin' fouled.
As I am writing this paragraph, the Wolves' bench is 0-10 from the field. Here's hoping that Kurt Rambis follows through on his desire to switch up the rotation. Here's what I would roll with:
Well folks, I wish I had more for you tonight but the Stop-n-Pop family is expecting child number 3 and the Honey Do list is a mile long before Saturday the 16th, when the pregnant Mrs. n-Pop goes in to get induced. In other words, yours truly needs to turn off the game and go finish re-tiling the bathroom before the baby comes. I may be away from the site for a while so we might have to lean on the FanPosts for a bit. Keep those FanPosts coming. We love them.
Wrapping this little ditty up, here are the baby names we have narrowed the list down to:
- Phalen (girl; short being "Faye")
- Lincoln (because Hamilton is too pretentious for this lover of American history and we already have a Madison).
- Jonny (and no, not for Flynn; Grandpa Jonny is an Oklahoma dairy farmer without anyone named after him.)
- Holland (girl;short being "Holly")
- Nate Jr.
- Emile (we're French)
- Jean Pierre (again, we're French)
- Shawnee (my wife's side of the family has Shawnee roots all the way back to the 16th Century)
That about does it. If the Wolves made a miracle come back, I apologize for missing it while grouting some tile. The 4th quarter is all yours.