Chris: Are you ready to talk some Timberwolves basketball Clyde?
Clyde: To be sure, Christopher.
Chris: Well first of all, where did you come up with precocious neophyte?
Clyde: I could just call them promising players, but I like precocious neophyte because exercising my vocabulary is a delight!
Chris: For all of us, Clyde. It's a delight for all of us. Speaking of your legendary lexicon, what do you think of the nickname, "Baby Big Three?"
Clyde: Well, the first person I heard it from is my main man, John Meyer the high flier, so I don't intend to denigrate his designation. However, the "Big Three" nickname has been around since World War II, so I think its retirement is due. If they start winning, we can call them The Triumphant Triumvirate. Or, it's simple, and on the nose, but the T.C.3. also brings me glee.
Chris: The Twin Cities 3?
Clyde: Or the canine three (tee-hee).
Chris: You're so silly, Clyde.
Clyde: But actually, Chris, The Baby Big Three makes some sense, especially considering their erratic evolution. Vegas set their over/under for wins at 41.5, but that estimation was obviously jive. Their success will ensue, but it is not yet due, and since it has been delayed, optimistic bettors are left dismayed. But let's get back to the Baby Big Three nickname, Chris. Do you know what the NBA stands for?
Chris: The National Basketball Association?
Clyde: Obviously, but it also stands for No Babies Allowed, Chris, No Babies Allowed. It’s the National Bully Association, too, not the National Baby Association.
Chris: Damn Clyde, that's cold.
Clyde: It's cold, but it's true, and I've got some more veracity and authenticity for you, too. We have to patiently wait for their maturation before we can all share in their elation.
Chris: But isn't there anything they, or Thibs could be doing for them to have some more success right now?
Clyde: Repetition. Reps. And the hours they put in must be long, before they truly get strong.
Chris: So it's all about physical strength? I thought basketball was also a game of skill, artistry, and strategy?
Clyde: It is, Chris, it is. They must gain mental and emotional fortitude as well, before things start to go swell. That must happen through reps too, and it's going to be laborious before the wolves are consistently victorious.
Chris: Well, let's discuss each of those aspects of the game, starting with physical strength. How is their lack thereof affecting their success right now?
Clyde: All of the young Wolves have to get stronger for this team to be successful. Zach and Andrew are too thin to consistently win, but strength is especially important at the center position. We all want to see KAT thrive at the five, but he has to add muscle to stay alive, and that’s no jive.
Chris: To stay alive? That does sound a little like jive, Clyde.
Clyde: Okay, okay. I was being hyperbolic, but to reach his potential, KAT needs growth that’s anabolic. Just look at these bygone behemoths battling:
Chris: Yeah, those guys were definitely built, but there’s nobody like Shaq these days.
Clyde: And there may never be anyone like him again, but there are still plenty of forceful big men. Did you see Marcin manhandle Minnesota?
Clyde: And the very next game, fortitudinous Favors flustered KAT once again:
Clyde: And, the last game against the Clippers, DeAndre “The Giant” Jordan was defiantly boardin’, punishing the Wolves with hustle and muscle:
Clyde: Trying to stop Jordan’s astounding rebounding and stuffing had KAT huffing and puffing:
Chris: Yeah, but Clyde, Towns turned things around against DeAndre. He took what the Clippers gave him without overthinking things or forcing the action.
Clyde: Nice, Chris, nice . . . It sure seemed like a sign of progress. Instead of being stubborn or getting flustered, mentally and emotionally, KAT stayed focused and stable, turning the tables with his versatility:
Clyde: I’m not sure I like it when KAT looks like Quasimodo, but I’ll take the win, tho.
Chris: I guess that transitions well enough into a discussion of mental and emotional strength, Clyde: You said KAT remained strong in those areas in that game, but what are some examples where he, or the other Wolves have shown weaknesses?
Clyde: Well, often when the game gets rougher and the calls get tougher, the young Wolves get flustered, and KAT, in particular, musters too much bluster.
The refs don’t like crying, so please KAT, save the
whining wining for when you are dining. Like at my restaurant in NYC, Clyde Frazier’s Wine & Dine, where you can eat for free anytime.
Chris: Well, surely, all players complain and lose their tempers from time to time, don’t they? Didn’t you?
Clyde: Whereas Karl is a wildKAT, I was too cool & calm a cat for that, Chris. My manner was too respectable to ever be called for a technical. http://cgi1.usatoday.com/mchat/20020423003/tscript.htm
Chris: That’s simultaneously amazing, and not so surprising, considering your demeanor. But what about other stars? I see them complaining all the time.
Clyde: To be sure. Missed calls cause players to respond stressfully and with aggression, but to lobby successfully, a player should use discretion. Watch Michael Jordan calmly enthrall this official:
Chris: Certainly, one must build a reputation and treat people with respect in order to receive it in turn. Why do you think KAT gets so frustrated, Clyde?
Clyde: Well, he does suffer a lot of hacking and whacking from opponents, which is to be expected, but he also gets stressed when his teammates fail to contribute to the Wolves’ success. They certainly get frustrated and make mental mistakes as well:
Clyde: A great teammate and leader, however, must remain empathetic, even when his teammates’ play is pathetic.
Chris: You seem awfully focused on Karl, Clyde.
Clyde: Well, Chris, a team can only go as far as it is led by its star.
Chris: Hmmm, things seem so very true when you rhyme like you do, Clyde.
Clyde: (nods solemnly) But you are right Chris, basketball is a team sport, and there are many times this whole damn team just makes me want to scream! Mental breakdowns abound during their consistent 3rd quarter quandaries.
Glare, if you dare, at this Quintessential Canine Collapse, and you will see:
* Outrageous overzealousness
* A torrent of turnovers
* Suspect shot selection
* Missed opportunities
* Foolish fouls
The only upside to things getting so hectic was seeing Thibs get apoplectic:
Chris: Man, that was tough to watch, Clyde, but you are right in calling it a quintessential canine collapse. When veteran teams turn of the heat in the third quarter, the Wolves get rattled, and start to make mistake after mistake.
Dave Benz put it simply but truly, “The Golden Rule in all of sports is, ‘Don’t beat yourself, give yourself a chance,’ and the Timberwolves have beaten themselves here in this third quarter,” to which Jim Petersen replied, “No question.”
Clyde: Dave and Jim got it right, and I could see it in their eyes that the Wolves were losing the will to fight that night.
Chris: I also noticed Jim Petersen echoing your sentiments about the National Bully Assosiation. He said, “It does amaze me, though, at 21 years of age, how Karl uses his body . . . These big guys inside that just pound him, they don’t want him to get to the middle of the floor. He’s trying to get there, and he’s still able to get there. In another year or two, no one’s going to be able to stop Towns on the low block. There’s no one going to be able to guard him.”
But let’s move on from Karl-Anthony Towns for now, and talk about the other two members of The BB3. In what ways must Andrew Wiggins strengthen himself as a basketball player, Clyde?
Clyde: Well, we all know about his uncanny & unblockable fadeaway and his ability to thrive on the drive, frequently by using his spin to win, but the fact remains, he is rail-thin. Canis members lament his rebounding, but I think as he gets stronger, his improvement will be astounding.
Chris: How does he need to get stronger in other areas, though, Clyde?
Clyde: Well, Jim Petersen mentioned his free throw percentage drops precipitously when games are at their paramount. He needs to remain calm in the clutch. And that’s something I actually appreciate about “Drew’s demeanor: he never seems to get too high, or too low - he’s always on an even flow. I think some people mistake his lack of demonstrativeness for listlessness, but I appreciate his mildness as a balance to KAT’s wildness.
Chris: How about Zach?
Clyde: Well, he works very hard as far as I know, and the results show. His jump shot is a thing of beauty, so becoming good at everything else must become his duty.
Chris: To be fair Clyde, his ball-handling and finishing at the rim are much improved since his rookie year.
Clyde: Well, hopefully he can apply that same effort toward improving his basketball smarts, because he often has crucial brain farts:
Chris: In last night’s game, Jim Petersen’s frustrations with Zach and the other young Wolves boiled over a bit. He has gone from describing Zach’s perplexing plays as “not smart,” all the way to calling them “dumb.” During the Suns game, Petersen advocated for accountability, adding that youth could no longer be an excuse for the young pups’ mistakes. What are your thoughts on this, Clyde?
Clyde: Well it seems a bit hypocritical, as Jim Petersen often talks about the hypothetical. He has often preached patience, saying that success was one or two years off, but last night he openly began to scoff. It was an interesting and entertaining side of Jim Pete to see, but it calls into question what these young players could be. And he seemed to be singling out Zach as being particularly whack.
If their bevy of blunders is simply a matter of youth and inexperience, the future still looks bright, but if their mistakes are due to general stupidity or a lack of basketball intelligence, then the Wolves and their fans have a serious plight.
Chris: You’re darn right! We entered this season as a team on the rise, with seemingly more promise than any other young team. Have The Baby Big Three really been surpassed by the Bucks and Sixers when it comes to potential?
Clyde: Only time will tell, Chris. But, when it comes to balancing optimism with realism, though, there’s only one way for a die-hard Timberwolves fan to go!
This team is on the verge of a dynasty fo’ sho!
Chris: Fo’ sho!
- This article has been in the making for a while, and my concerns have continuously been confirmed. It was a damn shame when Tyson Chandler bullied the Wolves en route to a season-high 22 points and 17 rebounds last game.
- Another note from the Suns game: it sure seemed like one of my favorite aspects of Andrew Wiggins’ game helped boost his fame. His cool, calm demeanor, winner!
(It’s late, okay - ol’ Clyde’s gotta hit the sack.)
- In the videos above, you will notice that opposing big men are able to block Karl when he shoots with his right hand in certain circumstances because, even though he could avoid swats by using his left, he doesn’t feel confident using it. It is shocking how many current Wolves are bereft of a left! In Shabazz’s case, he’s unable to use his right while in flight.
Our collection of players with serious off-hand issues is shocking this season - even Ricky’s dad made him learn to shoot with the wrong hand for no good reason!
- Last, but not least, we have to thank the illustrator for this piece. Her name is Katelyn Anderson, and she is a student of Chris’ at the Northfield ALC. They came up with the concept together, and Katelyn spent hours to create this art for your amusement. Katelyn’s great uncle is comedian Louie Anderson. It’s obvious that creativity runs in the Anderson family.