Happy Friday, team. This was a ... interesting week in Timberwolves basketball and around the league, to say the least.
Friday is not a day to get dragged down by a tough Timberwolves loss, though. Instead, let’s take a look at a few of the interesting storylines in the NBA right now.
Who is going to trade for Andre Drummond?
In case you didn’t now, Andre Drummond is on an expiring (bloated) deal, is a good basketball player, and is on a team that does not figure to re-sign him after the Cleveland Cavaliers acquired Jarrett Allen in the James Harden mega-trade. All of that makes him a super, super likely trade candidate, but I have no clue who makes sense for him.
Ironically, Brooklyn sort of makes sense given that DeAndre Jordan is now the only center on their roster, but they just traded basically every draft pick under the sun to get Harden. I’m not sure they’re a realistic option.
Who else makes ... any sense? The Clippers, maybe? I don’t know how they put that together. Maybe Toronto if they look for a quick fix to the catastrophe that has been Aron Baynes so far? There isn’t an obvious trade partner, but given what Cleveland parted with to acquire Drummond (Brandon Knight, John Henson, 2nd-round pick) they really just need to get ... anything to get a positive ROI.
Who is the third best team in the West?
In my humble opinion. the two L.A. teams have separated themselves from the pack out West. It feels like the Lakers need no introduction at this point, and while I’ve made a million jokes about the Clippers, and their lack of a true point guard could sink them in the playoffs, but they look damn good again. A lot of that has to do with Paul George, who is playing a pseudo-point guard role in Ty Lue’s offense, to the tune of a 25/6/6 line on 50/52/91 shooting to start the season. That, my friends, is scorching hot.
After that, though, who is the next-best team?
The standings may not entirely reflect this, but from what I’ve seen thus far, I believe it’ll be either Phoenix or Dallas, and I lean Dallas. I don’t think Portland’s good start record-wise is sustainable given their defensive issues, unless C.J. McCollum really has taken a mid-career leap to being a borderline superstar. Golden State has been very impressive, though I am worried about what happens when the early-season Andrew Wiggins surge cools off.
Maybe I’m not giving Utah enough credit, either. They can really score and have an elite rim-protector who covers for their perimeter woes defensively.
Can anyone in the East guard Brooklyn?
A lot of the post-Harden trade discussion has been about how bad Brooklyn’s defense might be, and for good reason. It looks like it could be really, really bad and put a lot of unnecessary strain on Kevin Durant.
What seems to be missing from the discussion, for whatever reason, is that guarding Brooklyn is going to be impossible.
IF any team is going to have the horses defensively to slow them down, though, it’s going to be Milwaukee, which would make for an awesome playoff series. In my head, I’m imagining Jrue Holiday on Harden, Donte DiVincenzo on Kyrie Irving, and Giannis on KD. That’s a pretty solid start, but basketball is a team game and it’s more complicated than that, even if those individual matchups are okay for Milwaukee.
What I’m interested to see, should these teams meet, is what happens to Brook Lopez, because if Milwaukee keeps him on the floor, it may not matter who is guarding Brooklyn’s three stars. Brook is an awesome rim protector, but he’s basically limited to drop coverage at this stage of his career. Newsflash, you absolutely, positively cannot play drop coverage against Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, who will hit pull-up free-throw line jumpers in their sleep.
That raises the interesting question, for me, who does Milwaukee turn to if Lopez can’t close? I don’t think that extra guy you’re comfortable with at the end of a game is on the roster currently, and they don’t have any picks to use to get that guy.
To be clear, this isn’t the worst problem to have. Milwaukee is awesome, and they actually have really good options to defend Brooklyn’s high-powered offense one-on-one. I just wonder if they are still a guy short, as pretty much everyone will be while trying to defend the Nets.