Well, after a full month of NBA purgatory, we’ve finally made it to training camp, and there is some actual basketball news to cover. But before we get to the wolves....
Lynx Win Big at Home, Take a 2-0 Series Lead Over Phoenix
The Lynx played Game 2 of their second round series against the Phoenix Mercury at home last night, and walked away with a 96-86 win. The game was played at Excel Energy Center, and had a “sellout” attendance of almost 12,000. Once again, Maya Moore led the way with 26 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, and shooting 10-10 at the line. Tony Porter wrote a great comprehensive recap of the game, which you can read here. I didn’t get a chance to watch the game, but it looks like it might have been an ugly one, with a cumulative 54 fouls and 68 free throws in the contest. Either way, a big win for the Lynx. They will have a chance to close out the best-of-five series in Phoenix on Sunday (4PM CST, ESPN).
Last night’s game came on the heels of announcements of Lynx accolades, specifically Cheryl Reeve being named WNBA Coach of the Year and Sylvia Fowles being named Defensive Player of the Year. These are big time awards, and really affirm how lucky we are to have a true dynasty team in Minnesota right now. Go Lynx!
First Week of Wolves Training Camp
The Wolves held their Media Day on Monday. I don’t even need to go there because John and Tony did an awesome job covering everything, which you can go back and read here.
The biggest news headlines on the Wolves front this week definitely have to be the announcements of Kevin Garnett’s retirement and Nikola Pekovic’s injury status sidelining him for the entirety of the upcoming season. Although nobody really expected a lot of playing time from either of the two big men, the wake of their confirmed absence leaves a couple of interesting questions - who will secure Garnett’s empty roster spot and what can we expect out of our front court rotations?
The obvious choice for the final roster spot is 37 year old swingman Rasual Butler, who was recently brought in on a camp contract. Wing depth is still a glaring hole on the roster, and the other two roster hopefuls (John Lucas and Toure’ Murry) are both mainly point guards that wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense to bring in. Unless the front office has something up their sleeve to make a bigger roster acquisition, I suppose Butler will be the 15th man.
The lineups question is a little bit trickier. Right now I expect our starting frontcourt to be the “twin towers” set of Towns and Dieng, but I’m really curious to see how much of that we see as the season progresses. John is driving, riding shotgun, and out front as the pajama flamethrower guitar Mad Max guy on the Bjelica hype train, and I have to say that I hope Belly can really gain some steam and earn the starting PF spot. It just makes too much sense to pair Towns with a PF that can distribute, space the floor, and maintain pace. It also remains to be seen how the bench rotations will work up front, and if we can expect to see some non-traditional units going hyper-small with something like Bazz at PF in a 4-out set with one big (Aldrich?). I’m not sure, but I think it’s going to take some time to figure out how to allocate the minutes around a roster when Bjelica is the only guy that I would consider to be true power forward. On paper, it seems like it’s going to be problematic to consistently have two of Towns, Dieng, Aldrich, and Hill on the floor up front against lineups that are more often trending towards smaller rotations. How does everyone think the frontcourt is going to shake out as the season rolls along?
Ben Simmons Injured
Sixers fans can't have nice things https://t.co/peq5tRBZ1H— SB Nation NBA (@SBNationNBA) September 30, 2016
Welp, it was announced yesterday that the Sixers’ #1 overall pick and presumptive front runner to win Rookie of the Year suffered a fracture of the fifth metatarsal bone in his right foot on Friday. It’s not yet known if the fracture is merely an avulsion fracture (typically about a 2 month recovery before return to playing time) or the much more severe Jones fracture, which could sideline the rookie for much longer and potentially the entire season. This is pretty tragic for the Sixers, who were finally hoping to start seeing some upwards trajectory with the additions of Simmons, Dario Saric, and the previously injured 2014 draftee Joel Embiid. I was kinda hoping that the Sixers would turn out to be a League Pass treat, but losing Simmons takes away a lot of the appeal of watching them. Speaking of League Pass...
Zach Lowe League Pass Rankings
Zach Lowe hinted on Twitter that he’ll be releasing his annual League Pass Rankings soon, which are always a fun list to debate. His rankings are based on a grading rubric of team relevance, individual player appeal, live game coverage, style, and game hilarity. Last year, Lowe had the Wolves ranked at #14, citing the style appeal of Rubio, the fun-ness of Wiggins and Lavine, the hype of Towns’ rookie season, and the excellent in-game commentary by Jim Peterson and Dave Benz. I have to assume the Wolves will be ranked in a significantly higher spot this year given the team improvements and hopeful playoff relevance. Several teams that were ranked higher than Minnesota last year have also trended downwards in watchability in my opinion, namely Dallas (#13), Memphis (#9), Chicago (#8), and Sacramento (#5). From the national watchability standpoint, I would think that you have to rank the Warriors, Cavs, Spurs, Celtics, Raptors, Thunder, and Clippers ahead of the Wolves. But after that, I can’t really think of any other teams that really “have” to be ranked ahead of us, and the last few on that short list are pretty debatable. My prediction is the Wolves are ranked somewhere between 5 and 7. Where do you think the Wolves should be on the League Pass Rankings?
NBA Preseason Gets Started
Oh hey, some NBA basketball. I don’t generally get too excited about the preseason, because it’s...the preseason. Still, it’s fun to have some NBA action back on the telly and know that we’re less than one month away from the season tipoff. There are a few games this weekend, starting with Golden State @ Toronto (4:30 CST today on NBA TV) and Dallas @ New Orleans (5:00), and then Houston vs. Shanghai tomorrow night (also on NBA TV). The Wolves will not get their preseason underway until next Saturday against the Miami Heat (in Kansas City for some reason).
Autumn is officially here, which means that it’s decorative gourd season and time to make some fall time treats. Fall is my absolute favorite time of the year. Between the colorful foliage, cooler weather, pumpkin stuff, scary movie marathons, and basketball, October is my jam. I’m going to get things moving this weekend by making a couple of apple pies and then starting my October tradition of watching a horror movie every night for the whole month. Also gonna rage hard like I do and make some pumpkin floral arrangements
Shabby chic pumpkin & flowers. pic.twitter.com/T3gmAfO5Zc— SeasonalHome&Style (@ThingsiLoveXO) September 10, 2016
If anyone has dope fall recipes or other ideas to share, this is a food blog.
Without a doubt, the absolute the best rap song of 2002.
Til next time y’all. Happy weekend. This is an open thread.