I've been hoping to write this for a long time, and here we are. What might the teams who significantly increased or decreased their win %s after the last lockout indicate about what to expect from the Wolves? More after the jump.
As some of us might remember, the '99 season had some interesting storylines that culminated in the first 8 seed making the Finals and the Spurs getting rewarded for tanking the '96-'97 season (% it says so many great things about the NBA that tanking teams get rewarded for it %). But looking at the other teams who jumped up from their previous record, do they indicate anything about the current Wolves squad?
To narrow it down, I'm only going to focus on the teams who improved their win % by at least .15 percentage points in '99. The main reason I narrowed it this way is because I'm assuming many would consider a 20-win season (a .10 improvement) as not significant. (It's also because there were 11 teams who improved by at least .10 and 5 teams who improved by at least .15, so it'll be easier for me to go into depth about 5 than 11.) Doing the math, a .15 improvement for the Wolves would be a 23-43 record, a .20 improvement would be 26-40, and a .25 improvement would be 29-37.
Here are the teams:
Raptors (16-66 to 23-27)
Changes to Organization: (pre-lockout) gave interim coach Butch Carter the full-time job; traded Roy Rogers and the #16 and #18 picks in the '98 draft to the Rockets for Kevin Willis; drafted Antawn Jamison and traded him for Vince Carter and cash; drafted Tyson Wheeler; traded Marcus Camby for Sean Marks and Charles Oakley; (post-lockout) made a 3-team trade where they gave up Chauncey Billups and Tyson Wheeler and received 1st-rounders in '99 and '00, Zeljko Rebraca and Micheal Williams; lost Walt Williams in FA
What can the Wolves learn from this? Make moves before the lockout; take advantage of other teams post-lockout; don't be afraid of trading mid-round picks for proven rotation players; draft well; add veteran players who can still contribute; and don't be afraid to trade young players
Kings (27-55 to 27-23)
Changes to Organization: (pre-lockout) fired Eddie Jordan and hired Rick Adelman; traded Mitch Richmond and Otis Thorpe for Chris Webber; drafted Jason Williams and Jerome James; added their '96 1st-round pick who was previously in Europe (Peja Stojakovic); (post-lockout) signed Jon Barry, Vernon Maxwell, Scot Pollard, and Vlade Divac; lost Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, Billy Owens, and Olden Polynice in FA
Wolves? hire a proven coach (or more specifically, hire Rick Adelman); don't be afraid to trade a star player if another one is a better fit; draft players who fit what the coach wants to do; add veteran players who can still play and will fit what the coach wants to do; take chances on young players who didn't make it with other teams; draft European players who can be imported later; don't re-sign guys who don't fit what the coach wants to do
Warriors (19-63 to 21-29)
Changes to Organization: (pre-lockout) drafted Vince Carter and traded him and cash for Antawn Jamison; (post-lockout) traded Latrell Sprewell for Terry Cummings, Chris Mills, and John Starks; lost B.J. Armstrong, Jim Jackson, and Clarence Weatherspoon in FA
Wolves? draft talented players; add veteran players who can still play; (disclaimer: the previous season included Sprewell's year-long suspension for choking P.J. Carlesimo)
Sixers (31-51 to 28-22)
Changes to Organization: (pre-lockout) drafted Larry Hughes and Casey Shaw; traded a '99 1st to Jazz for Nazr Mohammed; (post-lockout) signed Matt Geiger, George Lynch, and Harvey Grant; traded a '03 first to Rockets for Mirsad Turkcan; (in-season) traded Tim Thomas and Scott Williams to Bucks for Tyrone Hill and Jerald Honeycutt; traded Turkcan to Knicks for '00 1st; signed Doug Overton; lost Derrick Coleman in FA
Wolves? draft talented players; add veteran players who can still play; don't be afraid to trade young talent for vets who are proven rotation players; don't be afraid to let productive players go if they don't fit on the roster
Magic (41-41 to 33-17)
Changes to Organization: (pre-lockout) drafted Michael Doleac, Keon Clark, Matt Harpring, and Miles Simon; waived Mark Price; (post-lockout) released Kevin Edwards; signed Isaac Austin and Dominique Wilkins; traded Clark and Johnny Taylor to Nuggets for '00 1st; lost Derek Harper in FA; (in-season) signed B.J. Armstrong
Wolves? Use later 1st rounders to draft guys who fit what the coach wants to do; add vets who can still play
While some of these teams had short-term gains (Magic and Warriors), others used it as a springboard to further success (Kings, Sixers, Raptors). To me, the obvious way that the Wolves can learn from history is by adding vets who are proven rotation players, even if that means trading young guys, as long as those guys aren't franchise cornerstones. Their stated approach concerns me because one of the best ways to increase the production and enhance the value of young players is to include more vets into the mix. As Charles Barkley says, "Young don't win in the NBA," and lacking any transcendent athletic talent, the Wolves should keep that in mind.