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hope and concern.

d-wade gives us a bit too much credit, but saying by now "you should know your game, should know your rotations" is spot on.  after the loss wednesday, rambis' postgame wasn't his usual, feigning positivity b.s. ("i'm proud of the guys/their effort was there, it's just the execution/making shots") he seemed a genuinely sympathetic figure -- saying he feels for the players and that "they don't think of themselves as losers."  this is markedly different than defending them outright by stating that they are not losers, but it still was a refreshingly human, even empathetic postgame q & a.

now that baseball season is upon us, the debacle that is the wolves season will definitely start to fade (keep fading?) into the local landscape, but the drama that is managing management will enter hyper-speculation as the draft and lockout approach.  i don't know whether to guess if rambis will last the summer or next season as kahn searches for his lifeboat, but rambis' style is still a mystery to me -- he is definitely not an x's and o's guy (one search at nbaplaybook will tell you he's been the most critiqued/flawed coach -- so he's not tom thibodeau or scott brooks) and he's not the high-fiving, super-engaging, up and cheering player's coach (so he's not monty williams), but because rambis' best player plays off the ball and every one of those coaches have ridiculously strong playmakers and/or top-5 point guards this line of questioning his style or comparing him to other young coaches is a little -- just a little -- iffy or unfair to rambis, but it doesn't make his "zen apprentice" or "cool california" disposition less grating an imitation of the "master motivator".

the claims of player development and teaching the downtrodden youth of the nba would be the only other angle i could think of and it's mainly because kahn was pushing that as the wolves' trademark and sales pitch before this season.  though you could easily point out the regression in anybody not named love's game this season, i'd argue it's as vague a goal as there could be and long-term enough a vision as to be called a dream.  you gotta believe papa glen will have the same thing to say at the end of the season, if only because questioning ownership would be the next step as a fan.  that prospect is such a downer (s'n'p territory) i really don't have the stomach for it until the season is over.

the positives to draw on being such a young team as the wolves (or royals, pirates, indians) are that opportunities to develop and shine will still be there for anyone to step up and make their own (as love has shown this year).  so if beasley develops anything resembling a mid-range game, ability to get to the line or a general improved efficiency; if wesley can get some confidence in his handles over the summer or guard most 2 guards with the same intensity he does kobe, it would be immediately noticeable because both would have plenty of room to showcase those  improvements.  ditto for pek/randolph, though i'd expect a draft pick or free agent to be added and rise to the top in that mix next season.  so my hope is someone seizes the opportunity.  my concern is that nobody on the current roster is capable of doing so.

how much a pass-first point like rubio, would help the oft-stagnant and predictable offense and porous perimeter defense is debatable.  ridnour has proven himself an unspectacularly capable early and often shooter who can be over-matched on defense.  when ridnour decides to shoot -- though often a decent enough option -- it usually comes at the detriment of love or johnson's touches and accentuates the imbalance of the offense when beasley stops the ball movement to forever size up the defense or darko has one of his adventures posting up.  this criticism of ridnour is couched in the reality that wes and love can't create their own shot in most situations, and thus getting a shot up should be considered a victory at times for this offense.  but i specifically want to know how rubio's penetration and stewardship of ball movement would benefit johnson and love's offense; as well as how far would it go to answering the questionable ability (questionability?) of beasley and johnson co-existing as flourishing scoring options from the wings.  my hope is rubio can foster better ball movement and perimeter defense by the will of his personality.  my concern is that his quickness will not be enough to consistently penetrate to create shots for teammates more suited to spot up for shots.  i am more confident in this issue being successfully resolved than most others the wolves face.

the troubles and ineffectiveness flynn has had without a pick-and-roll offense as a crutch could be problematic for rubio as well, for different reasons (scoring v. playmaking).  assuming he makes it here, the rubio results should at the very least be entertaining -- which, i might add, was the biggest improvement from last year's squad to this year.  no small feat, in that the number of blowouts to competitive games was improved dramatically -- causes of that competitiveness could be argued (+.500 team's lack of interest), but without a doubt the loses were much more encouraging than in recent years past.  my hope is rambis can adjust his offense to his personnel.  my concern is that there isn't much evidence to hope for it.

the fact remains a lot of these players got their first taste of extended minutes this year, as well as the responsibility to the team that those minutes entail.  some players should/have to respond well.  the hope i have is for the responsibility part of the equation to be hammered home and cuts to minutes and roster spots to follow suit.  whether or not that extends to management would be my concern.

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