First off, mad props to vj for the Rubio write-up. That's some national caliber writing and analysis. Seriously. We are very fortunate to have such high level fan contributions on this site. I think it's perhaps time, especially during the impending lockout, to perhaps have SnP, Oceanary, TA, and others go through some of the archives and nominate 5 FanPosts for voting on the first annual CH FanPost of the Year Award, aka Excellence in Basketball Writing and Analysis Making Up For The Crap Normally Passing As 'Analysis' In Local and National Media (or EBWAMUFTCNPAALNM for short).
Moving forward, I had another thought about this team. A lot has been written and discussed about the moves at the top - Love, Rubio, Derrick Williams or Biyombo, what is Beasley's future/role with this team, will the real Wes Johnson please stand up, Rambis, etc etc. What I started thinking about, though, was the periphery of this team - the bench players. The guys who's purpose is to fill the niches and needs of the team that the main guys leave open. As we have seen throughout the playoffs this year you don't get anywhere without your big guns, but the quality of your standard rank and file can also be the difference between winning and losing.
The question I'm asking pretty open endedly is: what are the expectations for these guys, and what accountabilities do we
First off, the above info is from BBall-Ref.
To be honest, I don't really have that much to say about these guys other than I think, somehow, it's an important part of the conversation about this team moving forward. So, in the name of sparking conversation, I'm going to stake out an arbitrary viewpoint and see where it leaves things.
Argument: The Wolves are a horribly coached and utilized team due to the woeful production and development of their bench guys.
Rambis’ offense has introduced a significant layer of opacity to what Jonny Flynn actually can and cannot do. He managed to take a PG who was a pretty productive player at Syracuse (PER of 19.3 and 20.4 his last two years) and made him into a career 11.3 PER player in the NBA. Rambis took a player who averaged 1.10 and 1.07 points per possession his final two years at Syracuse and turned him into a .86 and .67 points per possession player in the NBA.
Jonny Flynn is not Derek Fisher. He does not excel in bringing the ball up getting out of the way. He has demonstrated at a high level college program that he is capable of being productive and relatively efficient when you let him run the offense, dribble drive and dish, and simply make plays. Being a #6 or #26 pick is irrelevant at this point with Jonny - he's everything Rubio is not, and in this league we would be well served by having a PG on the roster who is fast, a capable scorer and driver, has legit 3 point range, and could (potentially) be useful in guarding the fast PGs for 10-15 minutes a night...IF RAMBIS IS NO LONGER COACH.
More fuel for the fire...Anthony Tolliver. Simply put, Tolliver was one of the three best players on the team last year, if not second best after Love. This guy needs to play more, or at least no less. He needs to be captain of the B-teamers, the standard by which everyone's energy and hustle is judged against. That he is clearly not a starter (because he's not) isn't what irks me, it's that he was the 2nd or 3rd best player on the entire team last year.
Wayne Ellington and Martell Webster...SGs of the past...and future? I like Wayne a lot as a three point specialist. I like that he's aggressive, can shoot nearly .400 from distance, and that he's playing next to Rubio. I wish he played better defense. On the whole, though, he's the exact kind of guy you want as a bit player on a competitive team. I honestly don't get why people discount him when talking about the draft that 'only' netted us Rubio. I think Wayne will have a long career in the NBA because everybody can use a .400 3pt shooter.
Martell? Talk about star-crossed. Last pre-season I was lovin' what he was bringing to the floor. Drives, finishes, defensive veteran savvy, attitude. Injuries suck, though, and he is now the most under the radar TWolf currently under contract. Who knows what we have in Martell. On the one hand he has a career PER of 11.7 (compared to Flynn's 11.3), and on the other he's always been a peripheral player who either has been typecast ala Wes Johnson as a 3 pt only shooter or has been injured and a shell of himself. I really, really want to be positive on Martell, but I'm just not sure about him. A shooter like him needs more shots than 7.1 FGA per game. I don't know...he could be good, could be bad...
Which leaves arguably the two biggest X-factors - Pek and AR. These guys have so much potential, both to blossom into terrific offensive forces as well as huge busts. Free throws? Check. Offensive rebounding? Check. Ability to foul the other team a lot? Check. (sigh) On the one hand either of these guys could start - the talent is there - and on the other hand I just don't trust Rambis to put them in a position to be successful over the long haul. Take Pekovic - how is he not going to simply end up as another Melvin Ely? Dude could be so much more, like Big Al more, but...
And AR? I have no idea what to expect from this guy, but I think it's reasonable that we should expect what we got last year from him, not what the Knicks got from him. Should he be moved into the starting lineup? Gotta admit that his per36 numbers look pretty awesome, and outside of the Knicks he's been productive (PER of over 16.9. Here's the list of players last year with PERs of 16.9 and over). He's one of those guys who makes me again question the point of having Beasley on this team, and to even larger extent why want Rambis to stay as coach?
What makes Randolph unique is his ability to create his own shot from the perimeter at his size, or operate as a super fluid one-man fast break. He possesses a devastating first step and excellent ball-handling skills, to go along with great coordination and extremely advanced footwork. It’s not rare to see him tap-dancing his way to the basket with the greatest of ease, often throwing in lightning quick spin-moves along the way, only to stop on a dime and then pivot in the opposite direction for an effortless finish.
Why aren't why we trying him out at SF? Play Wes and Martell at SG for 3 point shooting. Play Rubio at point. Play Jonny at point. Hell, just get any coach who's actually willing to play to the strengths represented by the players on this roster!
In the end, I think that is the ultimate point of this otherwise rather directionless post: Kahn's vision of an athletic, running, transition oriented team is alive and well. The only thing lacking is the willingness of the coaches to make it happen. Think about it - what are the basic ingredients for a high octane, entertaining offense?
Passing - the Wolves have three PGs who pass very well (Rubio, Jonny, and Luke with over 27.6 assist%), bigs and wings who pass well (Love, Beasley, Wes, and AR over 10 assist%)
Athletes - Beasley, AR, Wes, Jonny, Martell, and Biyombo (he he) all fit the bill there
Shooters - five guys who shot .397 from range or better last year (minimum 115 3PAs); six guys with an efg% of .498 or better (hopefully Rubio will improve that number for the team)
Rebounders/shot blockers/possession getters - Love, AR, Pek, and Tolliver are all solid to great rebounders (especially offensively). Rubio, Wes, and others are strong rebounders for their position. Steals will also be improved by Rubio, complimenting Luke and AR. Blocks, assuming you add Biyombo, will be plentiful (Darko averaged 3.0 per 36, Pek and AR are pretty solid as well).
It's not perfect, but for running and gunning, starting the transition (via steals, rebounds and outlets) and finishing the transition (dunks, guys who can run), this team has it. Need a three? We've got lots of options. Need an assist? We've actually got guys who can pass the ball. Need some iso scoring? Beasley and AR actually have some skills. I can see why Kahn argues that this roster only needs some fine tuning and not a massive overhaul.