In advance of their broadcast of the Wolves at Nuggets game tonight, ESPN gave me the opportunity to speak with former player and current analyst Bruce Bowen. Most of the following is paraphrased, since the conversation took place on the phone, and I am not a speed typist.
EiM: You played against Rick Adelman coached teams. What do you remember about those teams and what were the main points for your preparation.
BB: Rick Adelman is exceptional. His system is a way for players to enjoy basketball, winning basketball. His system is tough because it encourages player movement, cuts, and he has counters for everything. That's what makes it great, is that based on a simple offense, there are counters. Also, when players are moving, it makes it much harder to play help defense.
EiM: Yeah, we've finally seen the whole package this year and it's really working. They are running a lot of stuff where Love catches at the elbow, and there are a series of back screens and cuts, and Pek can duck into the post.
BB: And it gives Love more of a chance to go one on one, because it's harder for help to come when guys are moving.
The other thing is Adelman has really developed players. Guys like Peja Stojakovic, Hedo Turkoglu, Kevin Martin. He really does a good job of teaching guys how to play, giving talent options. Peja doesn't become Peja without Adelman.
EiM: Corey Brewer is returning to Denver. Does that enter players' minds? Going back to the place where you used to play?
BB: Absolutely. Especially when you had good relationships, like Corey did. It's like going back to Aunt Betty's for Thanksgiving after you've moved away. You want to show everyone that you are doing well. And especially if you had good relationships, a chance for the fans to see you again. Corey was liked in Denver, I'm sure he'll get a good reception. I used to love going back to Miami, it's where I got my start.
And I think Denver really helped Corey get back to Minnesota (as a better player).
EiM: He's been fantastic so far. Really a great fit, just getting out in transition and not being asked to create for himself.
BB: That's what he was winning championships in college. Sometimes it takes time to figure out who you are as a player.
EiM: Will Kevin Love be in the MVP conversation at the end of the year?
BB: Can he keep it up all year? You have to lead your team to the playoffs to be in that conversation. Right now he and Paul George are probably the two names that are at the top of that list, but you can't have a mediocre few weeks. Has to be playoffs, and helping others be better.
EiM: That's what's been great so far: He's really using his passing skills this year, both with the outlets that are amazing, and also in the half-court finding guys.
BB: He's always been a rebounder, and he showed everyone he can score. If he can now help find easy shots for other guys, that's what you want.
EiM: For a guy like Shabazz Muhammad, who clearly isn't ready to play, is it better for him to stay and practice but not play, or would he be better off in the D-League?
BB: The D-League...they might send him there just to get some game atmosphere, but it can be a real education to practice in the NBA. That's how it used to be, guys would learn in practice. You get to see how fast the game is, how you have to play at this level. When you aren't ready, should you just go out there with your bad habits? That's what happens to some guys who play too soon. That's like what happened to Michael Beasley. He was great in college, but he never got better because he never adjusted his game in the NBA.
EiM: Finally, I have to ask you about a play you probably remember, because my readers would kill me if I didn't. The video gets posted on our site every couple of months at least.
BB: (Laughing) When Wally Szczerbiak ran into my foot with his face? I'm surprised it took this long to come up.
EiM: Well, I was saving it for the end, after my serious questions.
BB: He pump faked! Why did he pump fake? It was absolutely not intentional. We considered Wally a hot shooter from 3, which meant run him off the line at any cost. I was rotating over and bam, he ran his face right into my foot.
I had no problem with Wally. It wasn't intentional. The league did a whole big investigation, asked Wally if there was a problem between us, and he said no. Asked me if there was a problem, and I said no. It was just one of those things. Do you think I marred that model quality face?
EiM: Wally was a pretty good looking guy. I think he survived it with his face intact.
Thanks to Bruce Bowen for taking the time to chat with me about the Wolves.
Timberwolves at Nuggets
7:00 pm Central
ESPN and Watch ESPN
(Mike Breen and Jon Barry on the call, I've been told)