As today is Presidents Day, on which I am never sure where to stick the apostrophe, I thought it would be a fun exercise to compare the contributions of several Timberwolves with American Presidents. These analogies are exceedingly imperfect and meant to be taken in good fun.
Ricky Rubio is James Monroe
Monroe's Presidency has been known as "The Era of Good Feelings" and let's face it, nothing inspires more good feelings among Wolves fans than watching Rubio play ball. Like many historical appellations, this one is not entirely accurate as Monroe's popularity and lack of opposing party masked deepening internal divides that would eventually render the United States ungovernable. To me, this only makes the comparison more apt as Ricky's play is the thing which can successfully paper over the litany of dysfunctional decision making that defines the franchise. The underlying poor process of the Wolves cannot be hid forever, as the division between North and South could not, but while Ricky is taking over games in the 4th quarter, we can all feel good about it. For a time.
Nikola Pekovic is William Howard Taft
Let's get the obvious similarity out of the way. Both men were huge. Beyond that, each has been criticized, perhaps unjustly, for failings in the most critical area of their job. Pek has taken heat for insufficient rebounding and rim protection, despite the Wolves performing better on defense with him manning the paint. Nearly 100 years before, Taft was criticized for being insufficiently progressive despite "busting" more trusts in 4 years than either the high minded Teddy Roosevelt or Woodrow Wilson managed in 8 years. Both have clear faults but in the end have probably been more effective than the majority of their peers. In addition, I have been informed by unreliable sources that Pekovic has a "clear inside track" to become a future U.S. Supreme Court justice.
Kevin Martin is Martin van Buren
Van Buren was a brilliant political operative. He was as prolific building coalitions and winning elections as Martin is at scoring the basketball. "The Little Magician" was nearly as adept at managing the moods of Andrew Jackson as Martin is at managing the reactions and biases of NBA referees. Despite their talents, neither has found lasting success. Van Buren's Presidency was undone by a financial crisis created in part by the man he worked so hard to make President. Martin's offensive contributions have been countered by his defensive limitations, which have worked to prevent his teams from reaching the playoffs in almost every season of his career. Both men have seen their individual gifts gain them prominence, but have left them shy of ultimate success.
Thaddeus Young is Jimmy Carter
There are three striking similarities linking Thad Young and Jimmy Carter. First of all, both men began their careers in the state of Georgia, Young at Georgia Tech and Carter as Governor, before stepping in front of a national audience. Secondly, each was competent, if unspectacular with a knack for getting thrown in hopeless situations; Thad in 2014 Philly & 2015 Minnesota and Carter as President at the beginning of the de-industrialization of America. Finally, they both seem like good people. Thad has fostered that reputation through his interviews and interactions with his son, CH favorite TJ. It seems (to this writer) that Carter is the most likely of any modern American President to be a genuinely good person, as evidenced by his post-Presidential work on behalf of peace and poverty relief.
Andrew Wiggins is John F Kennedy or Franklin Roosevelt
Wiggins is halfway into his first NBA season. I don't know which American President he resembles, so here are two possible timelines. If Wiggins lives up to the hype provided by his high school mix tapes, his #1 draft selection, and his performances against the Cleveland Cavaliers he could have a career analogous to FDR, the President most responsible (insofar as any individual could be given credit) for turning the United States into the most powerful country on earth. Or Wiggins career could be an analog to JFK. Both were highly regarded wunderkinder but Kennedy's career shows the downside of such high expectations. He nearly blew up the planet, sent military advisers to Vietnam, and dragged his feet on civil rights. While I am not accusing Wiggins of having the potential to create an international incident, he needs to add a lot to his game to live up to the hype and JFK is an example of what happens when someone doesn't get the right opportunities to begin to fulfill the hype.
Shabazz Muhammad is Teddy Roosevelt
Bazz is going to attack the left block. He will crash the offensive glass fearlessly. And he will take the concept of "tunnel vision" to a new height while doing those things. He knows what he does and he does it with enthusiasm, reckless abandon, and a surprising amount of success. Teddy Roosevelt was also known for his bullheadedness and brazen manner. The man once described as "that damned cowboy" would be exactly the kind of person to get himself kicked out of the NBA's rookie orientation. And Roosevelt shot animals, fought in Cuba, and ran campaigns with exactly the kind of enthusiasm that Bazz shows on the block and the boards. Roosevelt also showed a certain recklessness and cluelessness on matters of national defense that match with Bazz's contributions on the defensive end of the basketball court.
Robbie Hummel is Chester Arthur
Hummel was never supposed to be a key part of the Wolves season and Arthur was never supposed to be President. Hummel did not have his option picked up this summer and was only re-signed at the last minute. He only received playing time due to the Wolves rash of early season injuries. Arthur was the compromise choice for Vice President on an already compromised ticket (party heavyweights James Blaine, Ulysses Grant, John Sherman, and Roscoe Conkling turned the nominating convention into a war of attrition, leaving the relatively obscure James Garfield as the compromise candidate). Arthur, the Collector of the Port of New York the year before, became President once Garfield was assassinated, but became a reasonably successful stopgap, pushing civil service reform through Congress. "Reasonably successful stopgap" is a good way to describe the play of Robbie Hummel, who played much better than the other options filling the end of the Wolves bench.
Glenn Robinson III is Benjamin Harrison
The scion of a great political family, and grandson of former President William Henry Harrison, Benjamin Harrison served one term as President, the details of which are only recalled by professional historians. A similar veil of anonymity also shrouds Robinson's career with the Wolves so far as the son of former NBA player Glenn Robinson has yet to do anything of note on a NBA court.
Corey Brewer is Grover Cleveland
Non-consecutive terms in office for Cleveland, non-consecutive stints on the Wolves for Brewer. Cleveland did not have a pet goat as far as I know, but he did get married and have a child while in office, perhaps allowing the two men to share the experience of guardianship over a lesser being.
Miroslav Raduljica is William Henry Harrison
Miroslav, we hardly knew you.
Any alternative analogies? Leave them in the comments below, along with thoughts about Presidents, contenders, pretenders, or assorted hangers-on you most admire (John Quincy Adams for me) or despise.