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Friday Cup of Canis: Home Opener

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The Wolves host the Cavs tonight, and other stuff.

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Minnesota Timberwolves Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The Cavaliers will visit Target Center tonight for the Wolves home opener. In past seasons, of course, this was a headline game for any home team with LeBron James coming to town, but now with James in Los Angeles, it loses much of its luster. Still, old friend Kevin Love remains a Cavalier, and while this squad is not going to challenge in the East, it’s not without talent.

We’ll have more on the game later, but most interesting will be the atmosphere inside Target Center. How restless will the home crowd be? How loud the boos for Jimmy Butler and Thibs? Will Glen Taylor be courtside, and how will he like a building full of unhappy fans?

Whatever else you might think about the ongoing situation, I’ll say this: It’s not good to have an angry and unhappy fan base at the very start of the season. It’s supposed to be time for hope, not frustration. We usually save that for December.

As of last night, the whole league has now gotten underway, so we can get things going in earnest and begin watching for early trends. Here’s one prediction: Zach LaVine is gonna score a ton of points, and the Bulls are gonna be awful.

Fun late game tonight: Warriors at Jazz. Hopefully I can stay awake.

Elsewhere, the NBA G-League is planning a big change next summer, by offering a small group of elite players who are 18 but not yet draft eligible one-year, $125,000 contracts. The context here is that the NBA is reviewing whether to rescind the age restriction they put in place a decade ago, and allowing players to enter the draft straight from high school again. This change, however, won’t take place until the 2022 draft at the earliest, and meanwhile there has been pressure on all parties to solve the “problems” of the “one-and-done” rule that forced many players to college for one season.

I think this is a good idea in the interim—players should be able to work as professionals if they are capable, and of course anything that limits the NCAA’s ability to exploit people is to be encouraged. These elite players would get access to professional level coaching and training, adjust to a professional environment, and get other services such as life-skills training a year earlier.

Still, as with anything new, there are likely to be unintended consequences. The players on these contracts will be eligible for the NBA draft after one season—will their draft stock potentially take a hit if they struggle against grown men in the G-League while others are dominating watered down NCAA competition? How much will coaching staffs emphasize development of these players during the course of a season?

That’s it for now. We’ll be back with a game preview later, and in the meantime, give a listen to the latest Wolvescast, just published here at Canis.