With so much angst surrounding the Twolves draft and the start of free agency, I thought I would offer my opinion on the 5 things that must happen for the Twolves to be better in 2013-14. Call it my Summer 2013 To Do list.
In reverse order:
#5 – Resign Pek to a reasonable contract. This is probably not nearly as high on my list as I know it is on other Canis Hoopus posters. Part of it, quite frankly, is based on my belief that as the NBA is currently structured, a big, defensive minded center/post players seem to be more critical to the success of teams than a more offensive minded center. I see Pek as a more offensive talent, than a defensive one.
Now, in fairness, Pek has made a world of improvement defensively. I frankly never expected him to be on the floor for more than 20 minutes a game due to foul problems. But his defensive footwork has improved tremendously and he is getting far better position. Together, that is dramatically reducing his fouls. I like it a lot. But at the same time, he is not the athletic shot blocking post that I would prefer to have paired with Love. His tenaciousness on the offensive glass is impressive, but so is Love’s. I have to wonder if they played serious minutes together, if they don’t cannibalize some of each other’s offensive rebounding effectiveness.
I hope they resign Pek. But I also hope it takes less than $12M per season.
#4 – Need to develop Derrick Williams abilities to an offensive threat. There are 3 basic reasons we need this to happen. First is that it would provide some 2nd unit scoring which we desperately need for the coming season. Second, it would provide us with some back up should Love decide to opt out. But third, and in my opinion most importantly, it would rebuild Williams trade value into something worthwhile. We could debate forever why, but the fact remains that Williams has not shown enough development to warrant any real value coming back in a trade. This is a huge problem when a recent #2 pick, playing the same position as your one, true All Star, can’t fetch a meaningful asset in a trade. Reminds me of McCants a few years back. We were lucky to get more that a bag of balls for him. We simply can’t let that scenario happen again.
Williams has talent and ability. But like most college stars, he needs to adjust his game now that he is playing against bigger, stronger competition. He has not figured out how to do it. But it is not without hope. All it takes is a strong summer training program with good coaching and a willing player. It really needs to happen this summer. Because we will most likely need to trade him and we absolutely need something in return.
#3 – We need to find a legit sized shooting guard. This has been talked about a lot here on Canis Hoopus, so I’ll be very brief. I think Flip needs to make sure Budinger signs quickly. I know, signing Bud quickly has negative ramifications on our cap situation in seeking other free agents. But I believe Bud wants to stay here and I think he would sign a reasonable contract if he knows he is a priority. If we slow play him, which is the best money maximizing play, I get concerned that Bud just might not feel the love and choose to sign elsewhere. I really do not want that to happen.
I am not so sure about spending the money on Mayo, Redick, or Dunleavy. I honestly think a healthy Budinger and a summer worth of development for Shved, would easily match their production level – at a lot lower cost.
Martin would be wonderful – but I’m just not seeing it. Martin is on the wrong side of 30 and I am guessing is looking for a longer term deal with a contending team. That probably does not make us a fit – though I am glad Flip is at least trying.
#2 – Make sure Adelman returns to coach the team by offering any/all support he feels necessary to make sure his wife’s situation is cared for. All indications, this has been offered. Adelman is still a little unsure – but he is far more comfortable that he was in April about returning.
It’s no so much that I worry about Flip coaching again, or that we could not get a good coach if Adelman resigned. But rather, I don’t want to see another “system” being dropped on to the shoulders of our young players. Love and Rubio (as a Twolve and as a Spanish league player) have played for so many different coaches / different systems over the last 5 years that there is no consistency in the message.
If you are in the NBA, you simply can’t ever “think” about what to do. If you do, the speed is so great, that you’ll be left in the dust while you are thinking. Instead, you need to be able to anticipate and react. Anticipation develops over time by doing the same things over and over again. By applying the same defensive rules over and over to various situations. The same offensive sets. All that comes, in no small part, by having stabilized coaching and reasonably stabilized rosters. We need Adelman and his coaching stability to help us take the next developmental step now. Not take a step back adapting to a new coach/system.
#1 – Change Rubio’s release point on his jump shot to get more arc and be quicker on his release. Rubio’s release point is too low resulting in a relatively flat trajectory. He drops his hands briefly as he gathers for the shot that impacts the release point (and slows the release down). Unfortunately, this issue has been with Ricky for the last 4 or 5 years. He developed the habit in Spain and, due to lock out / injury, we have not had an off-season to really correct it.
We desperately need to see this fixed. This, in my opinion, is the single most important thing the team has to accomplish this summer. And it does not involve trades, FA signings, or anything else. All we need is a very knowledgeable shooting coach and a very willing Rubio. I think both those conditions have been met.
We can’t let Rubio become Rondo or Wade where the defender waits for him at the free throw line. We need Rubio’s defender to have to guard him above the 3 point line to provide the floor spacing we need – for pick and roll, for penetration and kick outs, for spacing for others to cut.
We need Rubio to develop a consistent shot – this summer – for next season.
So, there is my Twolves to do list. The best thing about it is that all of it is pretty doable – provided that the Twolves make the commitment.
One final comment. There have been lots of posts about getting players on a cheap “1 year deal.” That is not going to happen this year – at least for any worthy players. Take a look at the FA class of 2014.
It’s seems like it’s half the league (I know, it is not, but think of how many competitive full squad teams you could form from the list). Look especially at all the “All Star” players available. If you are a free agent this year, you absolutely want to get a multi year this summer. You don’t want to be in next year’s FA pool. Because there is a very good chance that all the money will end up going to a handful of players (LeBron, etc) leaving you with vet minimum type pay. That’s exactly why AK opted out. And why no one will sign 1 year cheap deals this year – unless they don’t have any other choice.