Last week, I attended a Washington Wizards promotional event for potential season ticket holders. While I am a die-hard Timberwolves fan, I live in the DC area and well, gotta get my basketball jones on. After checking out the stadium and deciding on the location of our season tickets (upper deck, but still season tickets for John Wall’s rookie season!!!), we got a private tour of the Wizards locker room. I was stoked to see the scene of the crime, the NBA O.K. Corral location of the gold-plated desert eagle imbroglio between Arenas and Crittenton which led to their mutual suspensions, and Stern orchestrating the wayward son, from sinner to saint, narrative for the Wizards franchise (Arenas back from injury! Arenas suspended for guns! Abe dies! Franchise in turmoil…No 1 pick, John Wall ascending! The angels sing).
As we walked through the tunnel from court to locker room, I pantomimed slapping the hands of fans and pretending to yell at the lazy European big man who just didn’t give it his all in the first half. Imagine my surprise when there in the Wizards locker room was Stewie! For the life of me, I couldn’t remember his name and I almost blurted out, “STEWIE!!!” Thankfully I didn’t, because while he plays soft, Pecherov is a big dude and could probably thump me with that enormous noggin of his. Instead I said, “Hey, Minnesota Timberwolves!” To which he provided a quizzical half-smile (the one MN fan in DC had found him!). He had just finished a workout and I still wonder if he understands English (I imagine his response to any question would be “I shoot three”).
Anyway, on to our Wolves.
First point – does anyone really think Kahn acts autonomously? Rambis and Ronzone just sit back and go OH NO’S? Kahn is the frontman, but no way in hell is he making decisions in a vacuum. There is a brain trust here, folks. Of course, it’s much easier to attack Kahn than it is to attack Rambis and Ronzone, established dudes from winning traditions.
Second point – Kahn and Co. (see above) serve two masters – cut costs and win more games. That’s a hard act to juggle. However, every single recent transaction can be seen through those lenses (except for drafting Wes over DMC).
Third point – Any argument predicated on recent draft picks is specious. Gotta give players three years before you really know their value. Also, I think this site in general was far too harsh in its criticism of Flynn. Let me upset you:
D-Wade rookie season 34.9 mpg, 46% FG, 4 rpg, 4.5 apg, 3.21 to, 16.2 ppg
Flynn rookie season 28.9 mpg 41% fg, 2.4 rpg, 4.4 apg, 2.9 to, 13.5 ppg
Am I saying Flynn will be as good as D-Wade someday? No, I do not smoke crack. What I’m saying is D-Wade was not D-Wade in his rookie year and Flynn probably wasn’t Flynn in his rookie year. The real question is what type of players Flynn, Curry, Wes, and DMC are in three years (although I fear DMC will be a monster in three years, one that eats wolves).
Fourth point – 09-10 starting line-up: Brewer, Flynn, Gomes, Jefferson, Wilkins with a bench, excepting Love and Ellington, that coulda been better filled by fans.
10-11 projected starting line-up: Brewer, Ridnour, Beasley, Milicic, Love. That’s an improvement at every single position (yes, 10-11 Brewer will be better than 09-10 Brewer). Bench: Wes Johnson, Webster, Hayward, Bjelica, Pekovic, Flynn (dl), and tbd (my favorite player). And we maintained the rights to Rubio, cut costs, and gained more first round picks. That’s…not bad.
Fifth point – We couldn’t land any big free agents, so what’s the superstar plan? Pray one emerges. What players have All-Star potential on this team? Love, Beasley, Johnson, Flynn, Milicic (yes, Milicic. I watched nearly every game he played with the Wolves last season. I saw why they gave him that contract. Really, people who complain about the Milicic contract simply did not watch him play…and you know what? Webber is a schmuck. If he don’t like it, he can call timeout). Which players have the potential or are solid role players in this league? The previously mentioned who do not turn out to be All-Stars (so most of them) along with Brewer, Ridnour, Webster, Ellington, Pekovic, and maybe Bjelica and Hayward. So if you want to cry about losing Sessions, Gomes, Hollins, Wilkins, et al., go right ahead. Face facts – those guys sucked with the Wolves! They weren’t even decent role players, even Gomes. By the way, a bunch of young, talented players with great potential as a starting lineup – who tried this recently? The Thunder. Obviously, that’s our model. Do we have a Durant? No, like the highlander, there can be only one.
Sixth point – Losing Big Al was the best move this franchise made over the offseason. My prediction – he won’t last more than three seasons with Utah. My favorite low post scorer in the league. It’s incredible to watch his footwork and array of moves…after he re-posts and holds the ball in one hand for ten seconds. The guy kills offensive motion. He facilitates Big Al scoring and nothing else. He will always have nice stats on teams that don’t go far. He is a rich man’s Elton Brand.
In closing, we still suck. But we suck less than last year and Kahn should not be credited solely for our sucking or lack thereof.