Sometimes it feels as though our language for describing basketball players is sadly limited. "3&D", "high IQ", "selfish", good rebounder", etc. This is why I want to take a different approach for describing a few Wolves, or should I say Dire Wolves, players today, by comparing them to extinct megafauna. Also, it's a holiday weekend, so I'm more confident that I can get away with this. I am leaving a few key Wolves out of this piece, so be sure to add your own comparisons in the comments section.
Ricky Rubio: Elasmotherium
Everyone knows that Ricky is a unicorn. But from where did the stories of unicorns arise? One theory points to the Elasmotherium, a member of the once mighty rhinoceros family. Now reduced to a scattered few across the savannahs of Africa and the jungles of southern Asia, different varieties of rhinoceros could be found from Siberia to South Africa and from France to Kentucky. Like Ricky, Elasmotherium was native to Eurasia, and its long single horn is thought to have spawned the stories that eventually featured unicorns. While you may protest the comparison of the quick Rubio to the lumbering rhinoceros, Elasmotherium possessed much longer legs than modern day rhinos, allowing the creatures to gallop like horses and start fast breaks.
Nikola Pekovic: Arctodus Simius
If there are three things we know about Pek, it's that he's huge, super scary, and likes meat. The short-faced bear fulfills all of those criteria.The fossil record indicates that some of these bears were 12 feet tall, weighed about a ton, and never needed to jump. It was strong, quick, scary, probably the largest mammalian carnivore to ever exist in North America, and likely did not become extinct until after humans arrived in the hemisphere, which makes homo sapiens either the hamstrings or the ankles of the animal kingdom.
Shabazz Muhammad: Archaeoindris
Everyone knows that lemurs are small and apes are big. This, however, was not always the case. Archaeoindris was a lemur the size of a gorilla whose remains have been found in the natural place for lemur fossils, Madagascar. Much like Archaeoindris is a reminder of a time during which almost every variant of mammalia produced a large species, Bazz is a reminder of a time when 6'5 small forwards crashed the boards and occupied the low block with impunity. A secondary similarity is that we are not sure exactly how old either are. It is doubtful that a gorilla-sized lemur could thrive in the modern world, but I would argue that we are the poorer for its disappearance, and I feel more or less the same way about Shabazz Muhammad's idiosyncratic game.
Corey Brewer: Moa
These two are similar in that neither quite make sense. The moa is a bird that can't fly while Brewer is a defensive specialist who is not very good at defense. Both, however, make up for their glaring shortcomings through sheer entertainment value. This entertainment value has not always translated into survival or winning basketball, but it is a start. It is unknown if the bird was a ballhawk, but given its avian heritage, it is fair to assume as much, while it is almost certain that the moa, lacking hands, would replicate Brewer's propensity to fumble the ball out of bounds.
Gorgui Dieng: Aepycamelus
Aepycamelus went extinct earlier than the rest of the creatures on this list, which provides an excellent comparison for "the Old One", Gorgui Dieng. Like Dieng, this giraffe-like camel was tall and skinny, with the length to block shots and browse the leafy vegetation provided by treetops. It is easy to imagine this creature living at the rim, with a surprisingly good shooting touch. Unfortunately, the skinny legs and neck which added to the viability of its unique ecological niche also meant that Aepycamelus was vulnerable to being backed down in the post by the shorter but bulkier Thinobadistes.
Zach LaVine: Procoptodon Goliath
Bouncy, bouncy, bouncy!