LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 06: Tyson Chandler #4, Kevin Love #11 Kevin Durant #5 and Russell Westbrook #7 of United States warm up prior to playing against Argentina during the Men's Basketball Preliminary Round match on Day 10 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Basketball Arena on August 6, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Continuing our SB Nation league-wide theme posts, today we look at the best trade(s) the Timberwolves made in the history of the Timberwolves. Check out everyone else's roundups here!
So here's something you might have missed: FIBA is legitimately considering making 3-on-3 basketball an Olympic sport. Why? Well.....why not?
Actually there's a couple reasons why. Most of the other sports have a couple (or in some cases, several) events. Volleyball and beach volleyball. Swimming and synchronized swimming. Track and field and the gazillions of things that make up track and field.
And with that comes some disparity for the athletes. LeBron James has one chance to get a gold medal the entire summer. Michael Phelps can win 2 or 3 gold medals in 3 or 4 hours. Every day.
So with that in mind, this week's league-wide theme posts are into the hypothetical-that-could-become-reality: which three players should each NBA team choose?
Ricky Rubio, Andrei Kirilenko, Kevin Love
Let's start with the obvious: No, I did not pick Nikola Pekovic. Yes, some of you *cough*cynicaljason*cough* will not be happy about this. But no, I will not change my mind, and here's why.
This ain't NBA Jam.
For those of you who don't know (which, after 3 years, should be none of you) I am a big, BIG promoter of roster balance. It wins basketball games. The Timberwolves have historically been very bad at keeping a balanced roster, and so they lose basketball games. Having two exceptionally good post players doesn't mean much if you're sending Wes Johnson after Kevin Durant.
Halfcourt with real basketball players means you have to make a real team. You have to be balanced. You have to be able to set your defense. You can't just outrun the other team (halfcourt) and you can't put a guy like Shaq at point guard. Kevin Love would make a god-awful small forward, and an even worse shooting guard. The other teams, they're going to be picking guys like LeBron and Kobe and Iggy and Paul Pierce and....well, you get the idea.
Kirilenko, on the other hand, is a godsend for this type of tournament. He's a do-everything. Because he can literally do everything. Score from anywhere, rebound, distribute, and he can guard 1-4 and even 5 sometimes. On any given night, no matter what element you're lacking in, Kirilenko can fill that gap for you. He's the kind of jack-of-all-trades that give you a big edge when you have to work with a very limited roster.
So this way, you have three very smart players who form a pretty well balanced trio (close enough....I mean, the only perfectly balanced team would be LAL. Nash, Kobe, Dwight Howard. Eeeshh) They can all rebound, make the pass, and get to the free throw line. As an added bonus, Kevin Love can shoot the three ball like nobody's business, in a tournament where the other team won't always have the luxury of sending their own stretch 4 after him. It can help level the field on those nights you have to send him out there against a Howard or a Bynum.
But again, it's the Russian Rifle that makes this work. You can't have specialists in 3-on-3 (well, you can, but you'll leave yourself with huge gaps somewhere). Versatility rules the court. You want Scottie Pippens. You want Detlef Schremfs. The Heat have the ultimate ace card in LeBron James. Kirilenko gives you an advantage because he can, in a fairly realistic way, be more than one player at a time.