The Tracks Of My Tears (Report Card for MN Versus Atlanta)

I must say I have thoroughly enjoyed seeing the different styles CHers have used to write the Wolves report cards. They inspired me to break my from my normal monotony and add some inflection to my posts by going metaphor crazy, for better or for worse.

As consistent readers of these report cards likely know by now I am a much tougher grader than my colleagues. And now I'm only going to get tougher. The days of me giving extra credit for effort are done. Effort alone, like moral victories, no longer means anything to me because even as effort can be beneficial, it can be detrimental (i.e.- Jonny Flynn or Wes Johnson). Sometimes I think it would be better if they remained stationary on the court. So that's it, no more points for running effort. Expectations are higher, and with that the grading curve becomes more stringent. Let's get to it.

Rick Adelman:

Grade: A

To date I have refrained from grading Rick Adelman because it would be like Paris Hilton telling Kim Kardashian or Salma Hayek how to wear a bra. In fact, the cleavage separating RA's basketball knowledge from mine is infinitely greater than the disparity in breast size between Paris and Kim or Salma. So the only way I will grade RA is if I give him an A which is precisely what I am doing here. I may have no idea why he insisted on starting Ridnour over Rubio prior to the New Orleans game, and why he continues to start Johnson and Milicic, but he is so great a coach I just assume I'm wrong if I have a difference in basketball opinion than him. Indeed, I can't wait to see what his rotations entail when he has a full complement of players. As far as the Atlanta game is concerned I felt he did the best he could with what was available to him, and his timeouts were timely. I will give him the benefit of the doubt on the last play of the game, and assume it was poorly executed rather than poorly conceived.

Luke Ridnour: 38:06 minutes, 3-8 FG, 0-3 3 pt, 1-1 FTs, +6 +/-, 3 reb, 2 ass, 4 pfs, 1 st, 2 to, 1 bs, 1 ba, 7 pts

Grade: D+

To me Luke is like eating ice cream when you're lactose intolerant. Iniitally, it tastes really good, but if you get too much of it (i.e.-eat it too quickly) you are rewarded with a brain freeze. When Luke is hitting his shots he is an offensive asset, but when he acts as though he is the point guard when Ricky is in the game he becomes a liability and I start saying, "ow, ow, ow, ow, ow". Moreover, even though you enjoy ice cream as you're eating it (his offensive game at times), you know you're going to have to pay for it on the other end (his defensive deficiencies) because you're lactose intolerant. I, unlike some of you, have never thought Luke played even average defense. I really think he's a walking turnstile and he single handedly destroys our team defense because everyone has to rotate off their man to compensate for Luke. In addition, when he plays the point I feel the offense stagnates and rarely generates a reasonable shot. However, his advanced statistics admittedly belie these statements. His ORtg is 114 (team is 101.8), DRtg is 104 (team is 100.8), WS/48 .142, Ast % 18.7, TS% 61, 3Pt% 38.5, and he is giving you 14.5 pts and 3.6 assists per 36 minutes. Yet, if you dig deeper you realize he has an adjusted +/- of -26.15 and that his advanced statistics are ameliorated by the fact he is on the floor with Ricky quite often. This speaks to the primary concern I have with advanced statistics in that they do not fully account for the way players influence, and are influenced, by their teammates. For example, I suspect Luke's DRtg would be even better if he played with Dwight Howard. Indeed, as Luke has the worst DRtg of all the Wolves starters, I would argue that he adversely impacts their DRtgs and his DRtg is lower than it should be. Ultimately, it is because of Luke's atrocious defense that I feel he is a net negative, particularly as a starter. Today George Teague made Luke look like he was walking in molasses as he repeatedly got to the rim because Luke couldn't stay in front of him even when he gave him a 2-3 step cushion. When you compound Luke's defensive deficiencies with his inability to hit his shots today (3-8 FG, 0-3 3 pt) and his untimely mistakes (i.e.-his errand pass to Love from the corner in the fourth quarter), you realize Luke really hurt the Wolves today, particularly as he was on the court for 38 minutes. The only positive for Luke today was that he deferred to Ricky more than he normally does when they were on the court together.

Kevin Love: 40:03 minutes, 12-26 FGs, 0-4 3 pt, 6-6 FTs, +/- -3, 13 reb, 2 ast, 1 pf, 2 st, 2 to, 1 bs, 2 ba, 30 pts

Grade A-

KL is like Susan Boyle or Jackie Evancho. You look at them and you think.. eh.. but then they begin to sing and you're blown away. Better yet he's like a parasitic infection. You don't really feel what the parasite is doing to you and you don't even know it's there, but a few weeks later you wake up and your 20 pounds lighter and you have no energy because you're not absorbing your food properly because the parasite has hold of your GI tract. During the game KL certainly doesn't look like he's having a 20+ pt/12+ rebound game, but then you look at the box score and you realize… he's a basketball tapeworm. On the year his WS/48 is .250, DRtg 98, ORtg 115, TS% 57, 3Pt% 40, TO% 12.9 with a usage rate of 27.7%, and he is giving you 22.4 pts, 13.4 rebounds and 1.6 assists per 36 minutes. If I was playing NBA 2K12 against you and you had a player posting similar numbers, I would think you discovered a cheat and call shenanigans on you. I don't care what anyone says, nobody projected KL to be this kind of player. Against Atlanta Kevin had a torrid third quarter where he behaved more like an overwhelming bacterial sepsis than a parasitic infection. He displayed an array of post-up moves demonstrative of his rapidly increasing offensive repertoire. Unfortunately, perhaps due to fatigue, he faded in the fourth quarter. He took ill advised shots and had trouble passing out of double teams. Kevin is going to have to learn how to take advantage of double teams as teams appear to be doubling down on him more frequently of late. Moreover, his post defense still leaves a lot to be desired as he had difficulty with Ivan Johnson at times, and there have been several times in this game and against New Orleans where Kevin didn't get his hand up to contest an opposing player's mid-range shot. Lastly, Kevin still barks at the Refs WAY too much, and it is detrimental to the team as we often pay for his bitching on the defensive end because he doesn't get back in time. Regardless, Kevin is an amazing player and was impressive today. He receives a A-from me because my expectations for him are sky high.

Darko Milicic: 14:30 minutes, 0-2 FGs, 0-0 3Pts, 0-0 FTs, +/- +11, 2 reb, 1 ast, 4 pfs, 1 st, 0 to, 0 bs, 0 ba, 0 pts,

Grade: F

DM is like a lottery ticket. When you buy it you know you're going to lose, but you keep hoping one day you will hit the jackpot. Actually, he's worse than that… he's a slot machine because you win just enough with him (his 1st quarter against Cleveland) you keep coming back for more even though you know most people that go to the casino end up losing money. Most of the CH community, including SnP, Ocenary, etc., are smart enough that they stopped playing the slots a long time ago, but I guess I have a problem.. wait.. no I don't.. For the first six games of this season DM paid us a couple of dollars on our nickel investment as his WS/48 was .1 or higher, his ORtg hovered around a 100, and his DRtg was around 98. However, he has reverted to form as manifest in his current .016 WS/48, 85 ORtg, 100 DRtg, 18.0 TOV% with a 17.8 usage%, 45 TS%, on 10.7 points and 8.7 rebounds/36 minutes. Today whatever money we may have won playing the MIlicic slot machine, we lost and then some. He was awful defensively as he looked lost and couldn't stay with Josh Smith, particularly in the first quarter. He continues to try to block shots with his hands at his waist, and he remains inexplicably reticent to raising his hands above his shoulders. On offense he has clearly received the message that he should play within himself, but he has gone to the extreme in this regard. His trepidation on offense led to poor decisions and halfhearted shots that had no way of being converted. In addition, he appears to be scared of the ball and of doing the dirty work on the offensive boards. Couple this with the fact he was rarely in position today to alter shots, take charges, etc., and I can't find any reason to spare Darko from an F today.

Ricky Rubio: 35:15 minutes, 7-15 FGs, 2-3 3 Pts, 2-2 FTs, +/- +4, 4 reb, 12 ast, 3 pfs, 5 st, 4 to, 0 bs, 1 ba, 18 pts.

Grade A-

RR is like a bird of paradise performing its mating ritual. Before it begins, the bird of paradise looks great (his shot is decent, he plays reasonable defense, etc.), but it's just another bird. Then it starts its mating (passing) ritual and you're like.. holy shit… and all of the female birds of paradise (CHers) drop their beaks. In fact, as Peter Christensen wrote recently on CH, it's possible we're seeing a point guard mating ritual we've never seen before. To date RR's WS/48 is .153, ORtg 107, DRtg 99 (compare to Ridnour's 104), TS% 5,6 and he's giving you 12.3 pts, 9.5 assists and 4.9 rebounds per game. His only knock is that his TOV% is 25.5 which is way too high and his FT% is 74. Today Ricky continued to impress with his mating ritual as he made numerous superlative passes. He easily could have had approximately 20 assists today if his teammates could make open shots. His defense was excellent as evident in his 5 steals, and his ability to stay with Teague was outstanding relative to Ridnour. Unfortunately, Ricky made some untimely errors which contributed to Atlanta getting back in the game. In addition, I felt he passed on shots he simply needs to take to keep the defense honest, because he is as good a shooter as we have right now, and because it is often the best look the Wolves will get on a given possession. Regardless, Ricky's decisions were generally excellent today, and he deserves an A- in my opinion. The kid is an outright winner and he refuses to lose. And if you really want to see how he impacts his teammates and the games, consider the fact that the +/- of all the bench players was routinely positive in all the games Ricky did not start, whereas the starters often had negative +/-s. However, the last 2 games this pattern has completely reversed itself solely because RR is starting.

Derrick Williams: 7:57 minutes, 1-4 FGs, 0-1 3 Pt, +/- +1, 1 reb, 1 ass, 0 pfs, 1 st, 0 to, 0 bs, 0 ba, 2 pts

Grade: D

DW is the shiny new toy you've wanted forever that you finally get for Christmas. But then you look at the instruction booklet and it looks like more work to figure it out than it's worth. So you put it aside until you have enough time and motivation to figure it out, and just play with your other toys. Finally, you break down and you sit down to figure it out, and suddenly all of your fantasies are realized. DW certainly has the tools and the look of a star, but RA is still trying to figure out how to use him, and like the toy, DW has been placed on the bench at times while RA plays with his other toys until he finds the time to really figure out how to use him, or one of his other toys breaks. To this end, RA has been playing with his DW quite frequently of late in part because of injuries, and even professed his need to use his DW more often several days ago. Unfortunately, this DW toy has looked defective the last several games with today being no exception. DW looked lost on both ends of the court today and there is a reason he only received 8 minutes of playing time. I am somewhat confounded by DW because his two biggest assets, his ability to shoot and to create an open shot, have not been consistently evident to date. Here's to hoping this is just an aberration.

Anthony Tolliver: 18:31 minutes, 2-4 FGs, 1-3 3 Pts, 0-0 FTs, +/- -17, 4 reb, 0 ass, 1 pf, 0 st, 0 to, 0 bs, 0 ba, 5 pts

Grade: C+

AT is the girl you've known for a long time who has such a great personality she starts looking hot. The girl you never thought you would date because you weren't initially attracted her. Then you wake up one day and you see her differently because she's super cool, has always been there for you, is funny, etc. Like her, AT may not have the look of a starter, but spend enough time watching him and you can't help but want him on your team. Unfortunately, AT didn't have a great game today, particularly on the defensive end where he was given the difficult assignment of guarding Joe Johnson at times. As usual AT played with great energy, but as you can see from his +/- of -17 he was a net negative for the Wolves today.

Wes Johnson: 23:08 minutes, 2-8 FGs, 0-3 3 Pts, 0-0 FTs, +/- +14, 3 reb, 0 ass, 2 pfs, 1 st, 2 to, 0 bs, 2 ba, 4 pts

Grade: D-

WJ is the really overweight girl with the gorgeous face who is a great person. The one you think would be reasonably attractive if she would lose like 200 pounds (play defense, shoot well when open, rebound, protect the ball, etc.), but you know it will never happen. Actually, maybe he's Frodo from the Lord of The Rings series. Frodo couldn't fight, run, jump, etc., but everyone was forced to put themselves in danger to protect him because he was the only guy who could apparently carry the fucking ring where it needed to go. So even though Wes appears to be useless, we have no alternative because there is nobody else at this time to play the SG position with JJB being hurt, WE having his own issues, ML being injured, MW being injured and LR having to play the point to spell RR at times. He is posting a WS/48 of -.049, ORtg 75, DRtg 103, TOV% 19, and a TS% 39.6. As such, if I were playing NBA2K12 against you and I had a player posting Wes' numbers on my team I would think you discovered a cheat and call shenanigans. Unlike the NO game where Wes had 8 rebounds and had one of his better games, he substantially hurt the Wolves and Rubio's assist totals today. He missed several open jumpers including two wide open 3s early in the first quarter. His defense was bad and he didn't contribute in other areas to compensate for his otherwise awful play. He really should get an F today, but I refrained from giving him one only because I thought Darko was drastically worse than he was today.

Anthony Randolph: 14:50 minutes, 2-5 FGs, 0-0 3 Pts, 1-2 FTs, +/- -21, 3 reb, 0 ass, 2 pfs, 0 st, 1 to,1 bs, 0 ba, 5 pts

Grade: C-

AR is like putting a quarter in the gumball machine. When you do it you have a particular color in mind (red perhaps), and you'll even settle for several others (i.e.-green, blue, etc.). However, you absolutely do not want the pink or the white one. Unfortunately, you have no idea which one you're going to get. It's the same way with AR. You put your quarter in the slot and you hope he gives you anything but a pink or white game. Today AR was more like a pink gumball than a red one. His defense was largely awful and he didn't do enough offensively to offset it. His +/- of -21 is no fluke as he hurt the Wolves significantly today as he lacks the size required to play adequate defense, and his post-up game is not as effective as it could be because he is so frail. Fortunately, his decision making has improved relative to last year, and one can hope he has red gumball games in his future.

Nikola Pekovic: 17 minutes, 3-4 FGs, 0-0 3 Pts, 1-1 FTs, +/- +7, 3 reb, 1 ass, 3 pfs, 0 st, 3 tos, 0 bs, 0 ba, 7 pts

Grade D

NP really is a bull in a china shop except a bull could probably learn to count to 3 and not move when he sets screens faster than NP evidently can. With that said NP had some nice offensive moves as he successfully uses his size to establish deep position on the low block, and is quite effective when he gets the ball there. However, he remains a defensive liability and does some egregiously insipid things. He probably deserves a C, but I'm giving him a D due to his terribly stupid illegal screens and 3 second violations.

Wayne Ellington: 30:39 minutes, 6-9 FGs, 1-4 3 Pts, 0-0 FTs, +/- -12, 4 reb, 2 ass, 1 pf, 1 st, 0 to, 1 bs, 1 ba, 13 pts

Grade B

WE is that work of art in the famous museum that makes you think, "that looks like shit, what is it doing in this museum?" Until very recently his WS/48 was negative, and it is now .02 (likely to improve with this recent game). His ORtg is 88 and his DRtg is 103. In the first three quarters of this game Wayne didn't look like an NBA worthy player as his defense wasn't great and he wasn't hitting his shots. However, in the fourth quarter Wayne looked like he belonged on the walls of the NBA as he had the type of quarter that won him his final four MVP when he was at UNC and catapulted him into the first round. Accordingly, he receives a B from me. Honestly, I would love for him to be able to replicate his fourth quarter performance, but I will not hold my breath.

Michael Beasley: dnp

MB is like the crazy hot girl. Initially, before she opens her mouth and during her times of lucidity, you love the fact you're with her. You're having an absolute blast and thinking that she could potentially be your long-term girl. But then she opens her mouth, or you find her going through your phone every time you use the restroom, or she's asking to move in with you after you've been dating for a week, or she's randomly showing up at your work to see if the nurses are flirting with you, or… you get the point. Michael's got the kind of talent where you're enamored (there's a reason he was picked ahead of Westbrook, Love, Mayo, etc.), but then he starts playing and you start to see why he was available in the first place (there's a reason he was traded for 2 second round picks). He keeps jumping around on the crazy,hot scale with his erratic play. To date, MBs WS/48 is -.03, ORtg 81, DRtg 100, usage% 25, TS% 42, 3Pt% 40, FT% 44, and he is giving you 12.9 pts and 7.0 rebounds per game. In keeping with the metaphor Michael has been a lot more crazy than hot this year. But is it possible he's just not as hot as we thought he was? EIM, SnP, etc., have recently postulated that Michael may simply be incapable of scoring the way we thought he could, and his issue may not just be one of shot selection, but may be related to an inability to routinely create his own shot. Regardless, just like guys are with crazy, super hot girls, I remain reluctant to part with MB and still hope he wakes up miraculously sane.

JJ Barea: dnp

NBA league pass: F

Once again managed to baffle me with their ineptitude. There have been numerous games this year where my league pass feed has inexplicably cut out. Every time I tell customer support how unacceptable it is for us to pay an exorbitant amount of money to watch these games and encounter so many mistakes, they essentially blow me off. It is truly sad the illegal feeds are more reliable than the feed.

Atlanta announcers: A-/B+

I enjoyed listening to Dominique who gave props to a number of Wolves players. It was clear the Atlanta broadcasters researched the Wolves prior to the game, and they were extremely fair in their commentary. This is in stark contrast to the NO broadcast team which should be fired immediately.

Alright guys.. that does it for this report card. Today's game was extremely painful for me as I really wanted to beat Atlanta today especially since they were minus Horford, and we were winning by 18 points in the third quarter. Please sign up to do future report cards as it is enjoyable to see the Wolves through other peoples' eyes, I am tired of seeing myself write, and my schedule prohibits me from writing these consistently. All of you are more qualified than me to write these so please don't be shy to do so. The signup schedule is below. Please choose any of the games listed.

1/16: Sacramento -

1/18: Detroit -

1/20: LA Clippers - Michael Boosalis

1/21: Utah -

1/23: Houston -

1/25: Dallas -

1/27: San Antonio -

1/29: LAL - triple B

1/30: Houston -

Top Dogs/Alpha Males: None (Nobody gets this award from me if the team loses)

Goat: Darko