Entering what is already the fourth Sunday of the playoffs we are left with eight teams still alive, six of which play today. Overall the second-round has been boring. The 12 second-round games have had an average score of 116-100, and the winner of every game has won by 10 or more points.
Here’s to hoping today is different but in case the games are again blowouts, here is one thing from each game to think about while watching the games through a Wolves lens.
Serge Ibaka Stretching the Floor Alongside Karl-Anthony Towns
Cavs at Raptors: CLE leads 3-0
2:30pm CDT on ABC
The Raptors acquired Serge Ibaka at the trade deadline to fill their massive void at the power forward position, a void Ibaka has filled well. But it hasn’t worked. Toronto is one game away from being swept clearly needs more to compete with the Cavs. Ibaka is an unrestricted free agent at season’s end and while the Raptors will likely try and bring him back there is potential they move in a completely different direction.
The 27-year-old would fit pretty close to perfectly with Karl-Anthony Towns in the Wolves front court. At Tom Thibodeau’s end of season press conference, there were three things the Wolves President of Basketball Operations highlighted; shooting, defense, and toughness.
Ibaka checks all of those boxes.
For the season, Ibaka shot a scalding 39.1 percent from three on a sizeable four attempts per game. He is also a great midrange shooter, from 16 feet to the three-point line Ibaka is a career 45.4 percent shooter from this range (52.4 percent with the Raptors this season). For context, Gorgui Dieng, who is also a knockdown midrange shooter, converted 43.4 percent of those same range jumpers this season.
In theory, Ibaka is also still a great defender. His final season with the Thunder—which is somehow only one year ago—saw Ibaka erase shots at Rudy Gobert levels. This season, opponents shot 43.4 percent at the rim when Gobert was guarding them. In 2016, Ibaka’s opponents shot 42.4 percent at the rim.
Toughness is harder to define and quantify, but Ibaka’s “thumbs down” block-celebrations are pretty hardcore.
Ibaka will receive lots of attention in free agency and as an unrestricted free agent the decision will ultimately be his. A strike against the Wolves is the desire of playing for a contender. In Orlando, this season, Ibaka’s engagement waned. It seems unlikely he chooses a team that is still building. But hey, it’s fun to think about.
The Celtics Play with Only One Traditional Big
Celtics at Wizards: BOS leads 2-1
5:30pm CDT on TNT
Our collective Wolves-fan conscience seems very into the idea of bringing in a new power forward (hand raised high) to start alongside Towns, shifting Dieng into a bench role. But what about only playing with one big?
As you watch, you’ll see the Celtics offense play with four players on the perimeter surrounding Al Horford. Of course Isaiah Thomas is the most important part of their offense, but Boston has a commitment to creating space for him. Amir Johnson and Kelly Olynyk do play alongside Horford, but those two do a much better job of staying out of the way than Dieng does. Wouldn’t it be nice if Towns and Wiggins didn’t crash into Dieng’s man every other time they drove?
Dieng and Towns played together a ton. 81.4 percent of the minutes Dieng played were shared with Towns. Maybe instead of adding a power forward, the Wolves could benefit by deleting one?
Patty Mills, Dewayne Dedmon, and Jonathan Simmons are Free Agents
8:00pm CDT on TNT
Patty Mills along with Kyle Korver and J.J. Redick headline a group of elite shooters who are free agents this summer. While Mills is more of a point guard he theoretically, could play alongside a bigger point guard like Ricky Rubio or Kris Dunn. Mills is only 28 years old and if he leaves San Antonio it will likely be to cash in on a massive deal.
Mills contract estimate: 4 years, $65 million
Dewayne Dedmon started 37 games for the Spurs this season and will be 28 years old by the start of next season. He would bring much more to the backup center position than Cole Aldrich. Dedmon is a rim defender, like Aldrich, but has much more ability outside of the paint on defense. He can also fill the “dunker” spot on offense in a very poor man’s Deandre Jordan sort of way. The backup center should be addressed by the Wolves as they should probably show the Minnesota native the door.
Dedmon contract estimate: 4 years, $30 million
Jonathan Simmons will also be 28 next season, but his contract situation is different. Simmons is restricted. The athletic wing will be able to explore offer sheets around the league but the Spurs have the right to match any contract offered. Talent poor teams like the Brooklyn Nets will be throwing tons of money at a player like Simmons who they can offer a much bigger role too. If the price tag doesn’t get too ridiculous, Simmons would be an interesting bench piece for the Wolves.
Simmons contract estimate: 4 years, $40 million
Chat about the games and the Wolves free agency here.