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Warriors 130, Wolves 108: Special Connection

Wolves lose, but they’re still connected to the Warriors both on and off the court.

As soon I saw the Golden State Warriors on the schedule in January, I eagerly signed up for the game recap. Not so that I could write about Maple Jordan ascending to the latter part of his nickname, but because I knew a guest I could invite to share this recap with. He’s currently the producer and host for the Warriors flagship station 95.7 The Game in San Francisco, a college buddy and colleague, and someone who I have a special connection with: Kyle Madson.

I invited Kyle to share his thoughts on tonight’s game in addition to a few other Wolves-Warriors topics from the prospective of an educated and respected Warriors voice. We might’ve also dove into some other basketball topics you may or may not have any interest in, but hey you can just skip that part. Enjoy!

Monday night’s game

Kyle M.: The Timberwolves are fun! That was closer than it needed to be for most of the night, and Minnesota probably wins if not for Steph Curry doing Steph Curry things. We also saw how well Andrew Wiggins fits on both ends of the floor. He was efficient offensively and turned the faucet off on Malik Beasley late. It was a wrap from there. Monday was also a good example of why Golden State isn’t a real threat in the West. Their ceiling is really high, but they spend way too much time flirting with their floor which is why a banged up Minnesota squad was able to stick around for 43 or so minutes.

YoLeo: The Warriors just hurt their own 2021 draft stock by winning this game. In your face! Or did they help their draft stock? Tomato, tomatoe. Yeah, Andrew Wiggins had himself a game (more in the game notes) and it was just a matter of time before talent took over. I was happy with the Wolves overall performance and hopefully their effort today is a sign of things to come. We’re going nowhere fast, but hopefully it’ll be less fast. Or less nowhere.

Andrew Wiggins

Kyle M.: Wiggins has been fascinating this season on a relatively mediocre Warriors team. While he still has those stretches that were so frustrating for Timberwolves fans where he floats and fails to impact games, they’re becoming fewer and fewer. He’s simply not going to be the player he was projected to be when he went first overall. Golden State isn’t asking him to be. Sometimes they’ll put him in situations where he’s facilitating, but his primary role on offense is that of a secondary scorer. His 22.7% usage rate is his lowest since his rookie season, and he’s posting the highest eFG% and TS% of his career. Combining efficient scoring with good, and at times great defense on the perimeter, has turned Wiggins into a player who can absolutely contribute for a contender. Expecting more is unrealistic in Year 7. Perhaps he falls back into the old habits that pushed Minnesota to ship him to the West Coast, but for now he’s occupying a role the Warriors desperately needed filled on the wing.

YoLeo: I’ll put it out there; I love Andrew Wiggins as a person. I’ve met him a couple times and he was always really humble and easy-going. Unfortunately, as we all know, it was infuriating to watch him drop 82 points and a game-winning dunk from half court against the Oklahoma City Thunder, then play 38 minutes with a 15/1/1 line on inefficient shooting against the Charlotte Hornets. I can safely say that I’m sitting here with my arms crossed, chuckling at how Warrior fans will be disappointed by Wigs in the near future. However I would also be lying if I said I didn’t wish success for him as he becomes a solid 2B for the Warriors in their quest to destroy the Minneapolis Los Angeles Lakers. I mean shoot, this wouldn’t be the first time the Wolves proved that they were inept at player development.

2020 rookies Anthony Edwards & James Wiseman

Kyle M.: Interestingly, James Wiseman was sent to the bench for Monday night’s game against Anthony Edwards and the Timberwolves. He’d started the first 16 games. I think both players have been relatively disappointing overall, but the flashes of what made them the top two picks in the draft are there. Edwards’ ability to get a step on an NBA defender and then elevate in a phone booth is absolutely bananas, and starting him on the bench is probably the right move. He’s going to be incredible once the game slows down for him some. Wiseman’s in a similar boat. He’ll make three or four plays on either end each game that make him look like prime Kevin Garnett. Then he’ll make six or eight plays a game that make you wonder whether he’ll even be on an NBA roster next year. Judging either of these guys this early is hard, but they’re both showing enough as rookies to make the next three or four years for each very exciting to think about.

YoLeo: In my 2K21 MyLeague file, James Wiseman helped Zion Williamson lead Taiwan Beer to 6 straight NBA championships, so yeah I’d say I have a soft spot for him (He later got too greedy in contract negotiations). I’ve watched a fair share of IRL James Wiseman and what really resonated with me is the type of environment and *cringe* culture he has around him. Sure, I might despise Draymond Green’s (leg) demeanor on the court, but there’s no denying his basketball IQ and it’s clear he’s having a big impact on Wiseman’s development. Meanwhile with Edwards and the Timberwolves, I can breath a sigh of relief knowing that we also have a (EuroCup) MVP in our locker room by the name of Ricky Rubio who will be shaping the future of young Ant Man. Both these rookies don’t have a ton of pressure playing on their team (for opposite reasons) so I’m still buying any stock from people who are selling.

The 2021 draft

Kyle M.: The obsession already with this draft class is really incredible, especially considering all the good rookies from this year’s “down” class. It’s going to wind up being a turning point for the Warriors since there’s a real chance they get the No. 4 or 5 pick from Minnesota and have their own pick in the top 10, which could really allow them to do some damage either in the trade market or by adding high-end talent to help usher in the post-Curry era. Unfortunately all eyes in Golden State haven’t turned to next year’s draft yet because they’re still in the thick of the playoff hunt this season. Either way though, the lottery and where Minnesota picks is going to be a franchise-altering thing for the Golden State franchise. It started with Curry, and now we find ourselves 12 years later in a position where the Timberwolves’ draft pick could be the catalyst to another long run of success for the Dubs. Jalen Suggs is that dude, btw.

YoLeo: Sorry man, but that #4 pick you’re trying to use for Jalen Dubbs? You seem to have forgotten that the Timberwolves are 100% in moving up in the draft since 2020. That’s why I’m pumped with one of Cade Cunningham, Evan Mobley, and Jalen Suggs donning a Wolves jersey next year. The Wolves desperately need players who can hold it down defensively and I think all 3 of these freshmen can do so. In the 0.00001% the pick conveys to you and you pick between 4-7, then I guess it would be totally Timberwolves to usher in the new era for the Warriors. Not all heroes wear capes. You’re welcome Warriors fans. You know what, I bet in an parallel universe, I decided to be a Warriors fan considering I lived 55 miles from The Arena in Oakland and by 2021, you and I are headlining a podcast at The Ringer dedicated to punking crap franchises like the Timberwolves!

The 2009 NBA draft class

Kyle M.: There are a lot of important things that happened during Golden State’s run to five consecutive NBA Finals, but this draft was the catalyst for all of it. I remember wanting Arizona’s Jordan Hill because the Warriors didn’t need Steph because they already had Monta Ellis. That’s super funny in hindsight, but it made sense at the time. I was also in love with Jonny Flynn. Had he wound up in Golden State I would’ve been so fired up. My exact thoughts on Curry at the time are foggy because I remember not being super hyped about the selection, but some social media posts have indicated I was at least in on him a little bit. Anyway, the Timberwolves helped spark the most successful run in Warriors history because of the 2009 draft, and they should get a banner at Chase Center for that.

YoLeo: I knew we were going to end up here so let’s just get this over with. We BOTH wanted Jonny Flynn and let’s be honest, if it wasn’t for that kiss of death hip injury, I still believe he would’ve been MVP Isaiah Thomas back then. I too have enough evidence that I was playing all sides heading into this as well.

Rob Kurz and Sonny Weems

Kyle M.: While the Michael Jordan vs. LeBron James GOAT debate rages among small-minded NBA fans, the real hoop-heads know Kurzy is the only right answer. It’s worth noting his 39.5% shooting clip from beyond the arc in his lone season in 2009 is higher than Curry’s the last two seasons. Shoutout to Rob Kurz. If you’re unfamiliar with Sonny Weems — that’s a you problem. Weems was a slam dunk champion in college and threw passes to JR Smith in a dunk contest when he was Smith’s teammate with the Nuggets during his rookie season in 2008-09. His superb athleticism was not utilized well enough and if he was 15 years younger he would’ve been a nightmare in the pace-and-space era. Weems was not a victim of a lack of talent. He was a victim of the era in which he played. You may not know who Sonny Weems is, but just know we were robbed of a really fun player.

YoLeo: To be honest dude, I don’t even remember how these two guys entered into our minds. I just know they both became running jokes around the residence halls when people would be having GOAT arguments. “ROB KURZ!” Probably because he was just some run-of-the-mill white guy who was a rookie for the Warriors that season. However I do recall when Sonny Weems randomly popped up in the NBA dunk contest, but in 2010 when he was assisting DeMar Derozan. Like I said, not all heroes wear capes and dunk from outside a phone booth.

Sierra Basketball Association (SBA)

Kyle M.: I was going to do a bit here about how this was the forgotten league in the annals of hoops history etc., but honestly thinking back on playing basketball outside the residence halls at Sacramento State until all hours of the morning made me extremely nostalgic. College was an incredible time for me personally, but my first couple years were super difficult. Getting to play basketball for hours on end with Leo and the ever-changing group of people who showed up to hoop helped me get through a lot of stuff I may not have gotten past otherwise. Haha that almost got super uncomfortable, but I’m happy with the outcome. Shoutout to the SBA. The biggest tragedy is that Periscope, Twitch and the like weren’t around to have those epic matchups streamed. Also shoutout to the random dude who hopped the fence one and started asking everyone on the court if they’d play him one-on-one for $5.

YoLeo: Dude, I totally forgot about that guy. I don’t think any of us were ready to play him because we didn’t have our booster shots up to date. Man, these were the classic college memories that I’ll remember forever. I recall writing paragraphs of fantasy scouting reports about all the guys we used to hoop with behind the cafeteria. There were some vintage battles back there. Think noon time ball, but less topless guys and more laughing.

(After spending some 10 minutes figuring out how to find this on Facebook... feast your guys below!)

Kyle is an extremely busy guy who is doing some awesome things so the fact that he could spare some time to entertain me with his thoughts is something I’m very grateful for. I strongly recommend you check out his great work by giving him a follow on Twitter @KyleAMadson. Love ya, Eagle.

Game notes:

  • It looked like the “D’Lo Saves” crowd were going to get their moment tonight, as the Wolves struggled mightily to begin the game. However the bench mob would find a way to whittle down an early 1st quarter 17-point deficit to just 6 to kick off the 2nd quarter. That would be short-lived though as the Warriors would score 7 straight to reclaim a double-digit lead which they would never relinquish. I had originally written a scathing review of the Wolves effort, but they fought honorably till the final buzzer. They got as close as 8 with 6:45 left before forcing the Warriors to sub their starting lineup back again. Enter: Steph Curry. The former 2x MVP was just too much to handle, scoring 12 straight and making the score look as one-sided as it does. Can’t be upset about that.
  • It looked like we were in for a classic Andrew Wiggins try-hard game tonight. He scored 8 points on 4/5 shooting in less than 4 minutes while playing defense with a noticeable chip on his ever-growing muscular shoulders. He then opened 2nd half scoring 8 of the Warriors first 10 points as well. Most importantly, like Kyle mentioned above, he was able to silence Beasley’s hot shooting and any chance we’d have of stealing one. He’d finish the game with 23 points, 6 rebounds (all OREB), 3 steals, 3 blocks, and a very Wigs-esque 0 assists. I am looking forward to the future ass-whoopings that he will provide the Timberwolves for years to come. He also had a fun post-game excerpt as well:
  • #1 pick Anthony Edwards rose above #2 pick James Wiseman for his most impressive dunk of the season by far. I currently have an injured back and I definitely reaggravated it by jumping out of my seat as this unfolded. Thanks, Ant. Aside from that moment, he had a very uneventful 1st half as he often settled for jumpers. He would change his face in the second half by aggressively attacking the rim to open up the rest of his game. Edwards would score 13 of his 15 points in the final two periods.
  • The JMacs had a great showing tonight. Little J displayed his impressive catalog of paint finishes and helped the Wolves lead a 3rd quarter charge. Meanwhile Big J was active on the boards and was a disruptor on defense, using every inch of his 6’11” wingspan to bother every player from James Wiseman to Steph Curry. By the way, have we sorted out this double JMac mess yet? G-League Jordan? Silky Gumby? What are we rolling with?
  • If there were any qualms that Malik Beasley is a starting level shooting guard in the NBA, let it be known that I have officially tossed that notion out. As one of the only true offensive threats for the Wolves on the court, he was still able to wiggle his way away from the Warriors defense to drop 30 points on just 18 FGA. He’ll go on his occasional cold streak, but the energy he plays with is contagious.
  • Yeah, I guess we lost Jarrett Culver who weirdly was a team high +5 in 15 minutes. Damn it.
  • Speaking of contagious energy, I have to give props to VandOkogie. When either of them were on the floor, there would be limbs flying everywhere at 100 mph for better or worse. The latter part of that cronenberg played limited minutes (Seemingly due to punishment after fouling Steph on a 3 early in the game), but as soon as he was inserted in the 4th quarter, he would highlight the second most impressive sequence of the game.
  • Ricky Rubio struggled tonight. As much as I don’t want to say it, I’ll call it how it is and do my best not to cater to certain players. He was tied for a team-worst -24 tonight on 1/8 shooting and a team-high 4 turnovers. He has to bring more value on the court, no matter what value he’s bringing off the court.
  • However inefficient it was, Naz Reid turned in a 11/10 (Shoutout my bday) double-double! Play the damn music!

Game highlights: