FanPost

Random pre-lockout musings.

 

A bunch of ideas you've probably already thought about after the jump.

I can't figure out who I want the Wolves to add to the roster. Ideally the starting 2 guard next to Rubio would be a great shooter who doesn't need the ball in their hands to be effective and who can play great defense. None of the available trade options can do all three of those things, but at least on paper both Wes Johnson and Martell Webster ought to be able to be that player. The problem is that neither Wes nor Webster are particularly good basketball players...although I have hope for Wes. If we're going to add a shooting guard this offseason I think I'd want it to be Aaron Afflalo via FA, but we'd have to overpay to get him to come here. The best case scenario in my opinion is that Wesley Johnson develops into the player I described above - he compliments Ricky Rubio wonderfully, and Ricky's game might mask Wes's ball-handling deficiencies as well. In this scenario, a scoring guard off the bench would be a necessary addition. Someone like Jamal Crawford would make sense, or maybe the 76ers could be talked into a Martell Webster for Lou Williams deal.

Center is pretty messy as well. It's obvious that we aren't going to get "a legit starting center" (as people like to say) for a package centered around Michael Beasley...power forward is the most stacked position in the NBA, while center is the least. Here's an interesting thought though - if you had put Darko Milicic on the Suns and Marcin Gortat on the Wolves last season, who would've had better numbers? Probably Gortat, but I think it would've been pretty close. That is to say, Gortat's efficiency was boosted by being in a good situation with a great point guard, while Darko's was hurt by being on a bad team with a crappy coach. Darko's never going to be the powerhouse center that we crave next to Love, but if he's used in the right way it might be hard to find a better available option. Turn him into a low-usage center and his efficiency numbers will almost certainly improve. Isn't a low-usage, high-efficiency, 7-foot rim protector the kind of guy we've all been hoping for?

 

Adding veterans for the sake of "veteran leadership" is dumb. Just build a cohesive team for chrissakes. You can't chose a leader: the most successful guys on your team are naturally going to be your leaders. You would have laughed at me if I told you Nick Collison was the Thunder's "veteran leader" during the regular season. He only stepped into that role when he started making real contributions during the postseason. As a fan, I like Michael Beasley well enough, but as long as he's our leading scorer he's going to be one of our team's leaders...for better or for worse. If David Kahn really wants to improve the team's leadership, the players he removes from the roster are just as critical as the players he adds.

 

If we're going to start Anthony Randolph and Kevin Love together next season, I'd rather see Love at center for defensive purposes. Please put Love on the opposing team's best low post scorer. Love isn't a bad post defender, and we all know he's going to be positioning himself under the hoop for a rebound anyway. I don't remember where I saw the stats, but Randolph is epically bad defensively as a center - I'd rather give him the freedom to collect steals and weakside blocks than keep him glued to guys who outweigh him by 50 pounds and park themselves under the rim.

 

Be prepared for Michael Beasley to be traded sometime in the next 6 months for way less than what we think he's worth. Beasley was a no-risk, high-reward type gamble; the type you like to see your GM make. That said, he hasn't raised his value much, if at all, since coming over from Miami. His offensive inefficiency isn't what bothers me (how many losing teams had leading scorers who were efficient anyway?) but his continued disinterest in playing defense is the real problem. If he continues to play lackadaisically on the defensive end, it will be hard to justify giving him serious minutes next year, and his value around the league is likely to continue to depreciate as well. I highly doubt a Beasley trade will bring us back any sort of quality starting player - the best I'm hoping for from a trade is a useful role player on a reasonable contract.

 

If/when Beasley is traded, Derrick Williams will become our starting SF. At least initially, he will disappoint you. That's not really his fault though - the guy played center in college and he just turned 20 a little over a month ago. I'm not going to try to find definitive proof that Derrick Williams can make the transition to starting-calibre NBA SF, I'm just going to make two points:

 - For those of you who say Williams is too heavy to play SF, he bulked up at Arizona to play center. Don't believe me? Here's his rivals.com scouting report from 2009. I doubt he's ever going to weigh 210 pounds again, but given a year or two with a nutritionist and NBA conditioning he could easily trim himself back down into the 230s.

 - I've been bothered by people saying that the two areas Derrick Williams really excelled at in college (scoring efficiency and free throw rate) do not "translate" well in the NBA. What is true is that there is a low r^2 value on comparative regressions for those stats. What is untrue is that we should expect his scoring efficiency or free throw rate to decrease in the NBA - if that was true we would see a high r^2 value with a negative regression coefficient. A low r^2 value merely means that we are unsure how his statistical output in the NBA will compare to his college stats in these areas. For all we know, DWs efficiency in these areas could actually increase in the NBA. (This is a difficult concept for anyone who doesn't have a background in statistics, so to illustrate: here's a graph showing a high r^2 value and here's one showing a low r^2 value.)

That said, I'm expecting his shooting efficiency to decrease at least somewhat in his first few years in the NBA just because so many of his buckets at Arizona were dunks. He probably won't blow you away with offensive efficiency in the NBA...but I still think he'll be a pretty good player.

 

For this all to work, Ricky Rubio needs to be really, really good. Maybe not with consistency in his first season, but he better show flashes of it. This whole outfit pretty much depends on it: we need the ball to spend the majority of its time in the hands of someone great. As currently assembled, the Wolves will need to replicate the 2011 Mavericks or 2004 Pistons blueprint in order to be successful - a team full of good but not great players that know their role on offense and play great team defense. We don't have a great iso scorer, but hopefully with Rubio we won't need one.

 

The Rambis situation is probably less disastrous than we think it is. The impression I'm getting is that Kahn is treating Rambis as if he’s one of the candidates to fill the vacant HC position. Kahn wants to keep all his option open…he doesn’t want to commit to Rambis in case he can find a candidate he likes more and he doesn’t want to fire him in case he can’t find someone he likes more than Rambis. This is actually a pretty smart thing to do in my opinion, but as usual virtually every opinion on the internet is deriding Kahn's behavior, usually calling it some variation on "disgraceful". Do I wish this sort of misfortune upon Rambis? No, not at all, but as everyone knows, the NBA is a business! If this little stunt was seriously injuring Kurt Rambis he would quit - but a person will put up with a lot of crap for $2M a year. Kahn's public image is already so sullied that he really doesn't stand to lose anything by dangling Rambis like this this, whereas making a decision as soon as the season ended would've backed us into a corner and could've potentially threatened the long-term integrity of the roster.

 

Ok but...who the hell is going to coach this team? Speaking to the last point...let's look at Kurt Rambis as a candidate for the head coaching position.

Pros:

 - 2 years of experience with the Wolves organization

 - Does not have a bad relationship with anyone on the current roster (impressive on a team with players like Darko, Beasley, and Randolph)

 - Already under contract; 2 years for $4M is a relatively small commitment, he can get started right away, it'll make the owner happy, etc.

 - Kevin Love has come into his own during Rambis's tenure (whether he deserves any credit at all for this is debatable though)

Kahns:

 - Completely wrecked Johnny Flynn; this organization needs Ricky Rubio to blossom

 - Weird lineups, bad substitutions, screwy schemes...wait why is this guy a basketball coach again?

 - Motivational skills appear to be practically zero

 - Has been remarkably consistent with his misuse of just about every player on the Wolves roster at some point or another

 

F*ck lockouts...seriously.

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