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Posts Tagged ‘Minnesota Timberwolves

Andrew Wiggins: No guaranteed star

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Andrew Wiggins is the crown jewel of the Minnesota Timberwolves. His rookie of the year campaign backed up the heralded prospect status making him the #1 pick. To some all that’s left is a surefire path to stardom.

What has scouts salivating is his athleticism. Wiggins has the speed and springiness of a track star. His rare natural athleticism has drawn comparisons to Tracy McGrady and Michael Jordan.

But athleticism is one part of the game. For example Steve Nash has two MVPs and the more athletic Gerald Green couldn’t stick in the NBA his whole prime. And every GM would take Marc Gasol over Javale McGee. Gasol’s strength, skill, basketball IQ and motor overwhelm the advantage McGee has in athleticism.

Athleticism can never be a superstar’s only strength. For example Russell Westbrook and Blake Griffin are two widely regarded top 10 players who are driven by athleticism. Both however are also elite ball handlers for PG or PF, have stronger builds than their peers, are talented passers and have special motors.

What Wiggins career depends on is his secondary abilities outside of athleticism. Right now he is not known as a ball handler or shooter. His motor sometimes was criticized at Kansas. No one has a problem with his basketball IQ but also doesn’t hang his reputation’s hat on it yet. His length can be an asset. It is above average for a SF and strongly above average for a SG. Is this enough?

One may ask “If he had these flaws how come he won rookie of the year going away?” Wiggins did have a fine rookie season finishing 37th in the NBA in points per game at 16.9 per game. By other statistical measures he wasn’t as impressive. A PER of 13.9 is below league average of 15.0. A WS/48 of .034 is below league average of .100. His RPM is -1.66. He used possessions inefficiently at .517 TS% and 103 ORTG. At 4.5 rebounds, 2.1 steals, 1.0 steals and 0.6 blocks per 36 minutes he didn’t stand out in areas besides points. An encouraging peripheral is 5.7 free throw attempts per 36 minutes.

Despite these stats Wiggins rookie season could be the first step towards stardom. But it’s not a rookie season unanimously good enough to make him a cinch. The scoring is nice, but rookies such as Tyreke Evans, O.J. Mayo or Michael Carter-Williams have done even better in the category and it didn’t guarantee them anything. Wiggins needs more than 16.9 points per game as a rookie to prove he’s a superstar in the making.

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Written by jr.

September 8, 2015 at 9:04 pm

Free agency advice column: Ask Dr. Offseason

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Dear Dr.

We just got back together with Lebron James and are SO EXCITED. But what should we do next? Should we make the leap for Love? Minnesota keeps asking us for Andrew Wiggins. We love the idea of Wiggins being our defensive, Scottie Pippen-like compliment to Kyrie Irving and Lebron James. We think this could be like when the Lakers added a young James Worthy to a team with Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on it. It may take a few years, but is it worth giving that up for Kevin Love?

– Dan, Cleveland, OH

Dear Dan, I understand why you would be scared to pull the trigger, but you have to make this deal for Love.
First, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Andrew Wiggins is not a guarantee to be a star like Kevin Love. Consider the dichotomy between these two players. Love in college was labelled as having a ceiling beneath star, because despite all the skill, strength, feel for the game and motor in the world, his average athleticism was supposed to limit him. Wiggins is getting called a guaranteed star because he has all the athleticism in the world, despite skill, strength, feel for the game and motor being concerns. Do you see where I’m going with this? If it goes wrong, Wiggins may not be a star for the inverse reason of why Love is one.

Secondly Dan, it’s just about age. To be honest your team with Lebron, Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Ray Allen, Mike Miller, Tristan Thompson, Anthony Bennett, Anderson Varejao and Chris Anderson, isn’t good enough. The supporting cast members are either too young or too old Dan. Rosters like the Spurs and Thunder are more talented and deeper.

The problem is the cost of waiting 2 or 3 years for Wiggins and Bennett to develop. Lebron will have his 12th season next year. Here’s some 12th seasons of recent superstars:

Shaquille O’Neal: 2003-2004
Kevin Garnett: 2006-2007
Kobe Bryant: 2007-2008
Tim Duncan: 2008-2009
Dirk Nowitzki: 2009-2010

All had a relatively short window by this point, to win a title at their apex. Like them Lebron will remain an elite player after he slightly declines, but the Cavs should want to strike when the iron is hottest, while Lebron is still at a greatest of all time level.

Kevin Love is perfect for the Cavaliers, Dan. He’s old enough to immediately contend now and young enough to be a star until Lebron is in his late 30s. With Lebron, Irving, Love and shooters like Allen and Miller, the Heat become the most unstoppable offense in the league. To me this is a no brainer. Love is the way to go.

Dear Dr.

We have a chance for Love, but when they kept asking for Klay Thompson, we backed out of it. We love how Klay and Steph fit together in the long run and don’t feel the difference between David Lee and Kevin Love is worth an all-star caliber starting SG. Are we making the right decision Dr.? Or are we thinking with our hearts instead of our heads?

– Joe, Oakland, CA

Joe, this is crazy. Think about what you’re doing because it’s crazy. I can’t see where you’re coming from here at all.

Look Klay Thompson is an exciting shooting guard and David Lee’s production is underrated, but this is a superstar you can trade for. As complex and wonderful as the NBA is, succeeding is as simple as getting multiple, mid 20s superstars at the same time. When you team up a pair like Steph and Love everything falls into place around them. Not to mention having defensive talent like Andre Iguodala, Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut is perfect for those two. If the Warriors make this move they’re as big a title contender as anyone, instead of looking at a 5th or 6th seed season.

I can understand the argument that Klay Thompson and David Lee combined may be as productive as Kevin Love next year, even if I’d disagree. Where this really becomes a no brainer is the long term. Neither player’s current value is constant. David Lee is 31 and will be an unrestricted free agent in 2 years. Klay Thompson is on his rookie scale, but judging by Gordon Hayward and Chandler Parsons deal, will be on a maximum salary as soon as he can get it. In other words, eventually instead of Lee and Klay, Lee expires and Klay’s salary means that you can’t replace Lee’s production on the free agent market. The Warriors just end up with Klay Thompson instead of the superior Kevin Love. In the long run a superstar is the way to go. Superstars are the biggest financial bargains available, with how the CBA restricts their real value. Kevin Love will give you more bang for your buck than Klay making the same salary.

I have to be honest Joe, I haven’t liked the Warriors moves much since you came aboard, with a short-sighted Andre Iguodala deal leading the way. But Kevin Love is all but fallen into your lap. If you get him contending will be easy. The history of the NBA says target the superstars, always target the superstars. The Warriors are far more likely to regret turning down Love than jumping for him.

Dear Dr.

Kevin Love wants out of here. I know we haven’t been able to give him everything he wants, but he was our hope to get back to the playoffs. Without him, now what? We go back to the lottery? We end up in the middle of the league, picking 13th or 14th in the lottery but not making the playoffs? This doesn’t sound good to me. We’re still damaged from David Kahn, what if we had Stephen Curry and Kevin Love right now? I don’t know what to do

– Flip, Minneapolis, MN

Flip, you just have to pick up the pieces and make the best decision you can. Here’s my advice: Don’t worry about fit. Just get the most valuable assets and make it work later.

I wouldn’t be so bent on the Klay Thompson and David Lee package if I were you. Klay is going to get a max salary soon and will lose a lot of his value to a franchise. Lee becomes less valuable when he expires. Those players still leave your roster with a lot of work to do.

As for a potential Cleveland offer of Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett, I’m mixed. Although I’m lower on Wiggins talent than most, I’m higher on Bennett’s and feel he could be an all-star PF for you. On the whole it’s a decent move to trade Love for those two, giving you young talent around Ricky Rubio and Nik Pekovic long term.

You could also trade Love to the Chicago Bulls for a package like Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler and Nikola Mirotic. The problem is this is a lot of good but not great. Taj Gibson is 29 so he’s not the most youngest of pieces to rebuild with. Still it gives the Wolves potentially 3 starting caliber players and if you want to win, it’s an option.

Of your options I say holding out for the Cleveland kids is the best way to go. Yeah you may not win the most games next year, but in the long run you could have starters at SF and PF, along with cap flexibility to rebuild the team with. You wouldn’t be starting from ground zero.

Dear Dr.

WOW, this is a disaster. We thought we were getting Chris Bosh for sure if Lebron James left Miami, but then he resigns in Miami? We traded away Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik just to make this happen, so now what should we do? How do we rebound?

– Daryl, Houston, TX

Daryl, this is a tough spot for you. Chris Bosh was the perfect player for your team and what’s more, holding out so long to sign Bosh or Carmelo only to get neither, along with Chandler Parsons offer sheet putting you on the clock, severly limits your options. Sure, you could go after Luol Deng or Trevor Ariza, but do they fit a team with Parsons? You could wait for Goran Dragic or Rajon Rondo next summer, but do they fit with James Harden?

I’d have loved to see Isaiah Thomas on the Rockets but then BAM, Phoenix signs him, off the market.

So I don’t have a solution for you Daryl. Maybe you should try the less sexy but safe option. Call up Danny Ainge and see if he wants to trade you Jeff Green for your capspace. Yeah he’s not Chris Bosh, but he spaces the floor, is competent defensively and can be a glue guy. You have an awesome team Daryl with Harden, Dwight Howard, Parsons and Patrick Beverly. Jeff Green may be a rebound guy but maybe he’ll turn into Mr. Right.

Dear Dr.

Dr, I don’t know what to do. Lance is one of the most exciting players we’ve had, we’re a team that needs this talent and dynamic ability. But he can also be an egotistical jerk and rubs our players the wrong way. Last year his rise to prominence led our team chemistry to fall apart. Sometimes we watch Lance’s antics and are like wow, is this really us, didn’t we swear this off after Ron? But if we let him go, we don’t feel we’re a sexy enough option for other free agents and may just end up with a drip. We tried bringing in Evan Turner as a replacement and BOY, that did not turn out. I’m not letting Sam Hinkie trade me a player again, the 76ers give it up so easy, no wonder they only have losers to trade. Dr, what should I do?

– Larry, Indianapolis, IN

This is one of the toughest decisions of the summer, Larry. I agree Lance has a negative influence on your team. I have to be honest Larry, before Lance became a star, the Pacers were like a Christian rock band. Yeah they weren’t the coolest band around, but they had good chemistry, played hard and didn’t mess around with distractions. But Lance becoming a star is like if the band hired a non-Christian guitarist who was a sex addict and brought drugs with him on tour. He made their band sound better, but soon enough his negative influence led the others to slip and to fight with each other. Maybe it’s time to go back to your Christian rock band roots.

But on the other hand, this league is about talent Larry. You can’t just walk up against teams like the Spurs and Lebron’s Cavaliers and expect to win on hard work and chemistry. You need dynamic players and game changers. That’s why giving up on Lance is so hard. He has the star upside to take you over the top.
Here’s what I recommend: I say resign Lance. But here’s what you do. Play out next season and see if the Pacers can get it together and become elite again. If the team self-destructs in chemistry, then just trade Lance after next year. His talent and youth will make him have trade value and you’ll get assets for him. By resigning Lance, you can try the “no Lance” option at a later date. But if you let Lance go, you’ll never have the chance to go back and try it with him again.

Minnesota should consider Oklahoma City as a Kevin Love trading partner

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Despite a strong point differential, by sitting 6 Gs behind the 8th seed Warriors and in 10th place, Minnesota’s season is all but over. With Kevin Love a season and a half until free agency, they have to start considering trading him now or this summer, to get full value for him instead of dealing from a position of weakness.

If Kevin Love for Blake Griffin is not a possibility with the latter’s surge in play recently, the team I love for Minnesota as a trade partner is Oklahoma City. Say the Thunder are willing to offer a package such as:

Serge Ibaka
One of Reggie Jackson or Jeremy Lamb
2014 Dallas 1st (protection: top 20 2014, top 20 2015, top 20 2016, top 20 2017, unprotected 2018)
2014 Oklahoma City 1st

While Kevin Love is better than Serge Ibaka, the drop-off may not hurt the Timberwolves as much as it seems because of Ibaka fits such a need. Ibaka’s shotblocking and floor spacing is a pitch-perfect fit beside Nik Pekovic, who’s defense has improved himself. Between the two of them the Timberwolves frontcourt would still be set as a two way force for the future.

In addition the Timberwolves get what they’ve lacked for years, a young blue chip 2 guard in either Jackson or Lamb. Jackson is the currently more productive player, but Lamb’s shooting and floor spacing is a better compliment to Ricky Rubio. Both appear to have a high upside.

The draft picks are also of course important. In addition to their likely lottery pick this year, if Dallas makes the playoffs the Wolves would get two other 1sts around the 21st or 22nd pick and 29th or 30th picks to fortify their team. If Dallas misses the playoffs the pick becomes an even more interesting asset, as their odds of finishing in the top 10 teams in the league by 2017 will go down once Dirk shows his age. If retired by 2018, there is no floor for how poor the Mavericks could be, or how high a pick the Timberwolves could get from them. By adding young players to a core including Rubio, Lamb/Jackson, Martin, Budinger, Ibaka, Pekovic, Shabazz, Dieng, the Timberwolves would have a talented team post Kevin Love. The model would be the Denver Nuggets, who after trading Carmelo Anthony for a group of players including a blue chip Danillo Gallinari and others like Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler, Timofey Mozgov and draft picks, continued to win and even set a franchise record a few years later. The Timberwolves would provide a fast brand of athleticism and skill that could not only compete for a playoff spot but be marketable to fans. It is hard for me to envision them doing better than the above.

However, the deal isn’t a no-brainer for the Thunder. At least not this trade deadline, where the team is rolling along and may not want to disrupt their chemistry. Still, especially if they once again fall short in the playoffs, it’s hard to turn down teaming Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love. Championships have been typically won in the NBA by having a stacked top 3 players and then the pieces fitting in around them. The Thunder have typically been one of the best perimeter defensive teams in the league in the Durant era, helping them play great D despite Kevin Love’s average play on that end. It also bears mentioning that Love may improve as a defender if needing to spend less energy on offense, just as Chris Bosh has been unrecognizably superior as a defender in Miami than he was in Toronto. On offense his floor spacing is a perfect fit to Westbrook and Durant’s driving, as is his offensive rebounding. The Thunder would likely be the most devastating offensive team in the team and impossible to match up with. While they would be giving up a lot in the above deal, it may be worth it to recapture the “3 star” model they gave up when losing James Harden. Despite paying a high price for Love, they wouldn’t empty out their young store of assets. They’d keep one of Jackson or Lamb, in addition to Steven Adams and Perry Jones III. It’s enough to continue Sam Presti’s history of young, cheap infrastructure around his stars.

Overall, this seems like the best fit for a Kevin Love deal because of how complimentary  to the Timberwolves lineup a return package like Serge Ibaka and Jeremy Lamb would be to help the team keep chugging along, Nuggets style. The Thunder truly go for a multiple title era.

Written by jr.

February 14, 2014 at 2:41 pm

On why the Knicks should trade Carmelo Anthony & the Derrick Williams pick

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On http://www.morningpickup.com I wrote a few articles

The case for trading Carmelo Anthony

http://www.morningpickup.com/case-new-york-trading-carmelo-anthony/

Can Derrick Williams find his niche in Sacramento?

http://www.morningpickup.com/can-derrick-williams-find-niche/

Video Blog Wednesday – #9: Why I believe the Minnesota Timberwolves will underperform in 2012-2013

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My lukewarm take on the Timberwolves’ upcoming season. Just as a note, this is blog #9 in name, I originally recorded a #8 a few months ago but forgot to upload it – Thus this is the 9th video blog I’ve recorded by 8th I’ve released.

Twitter: @ASFW_jrodger

Email: julienrodger@gmail (If you send me a question, I’ll get around to a weekly/monthly mailbag if I get enough)

Written by jr.

September 26, 2012 at 2:07 pm

Wrath of Kahn: How the Minnesota Timberwolves are proving asset value theories right

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The current Minnesota Timberwolves logo (2008-...

Image via Wikipedia

About a year ago, I wrote an article entitled “Developing an NBA GMing strategy: Entrepreneur/Net Worth Theory”. The premise in short being that the best way to judge a team, is to look at their total trade value. Trade value encompasses who has the stars, favorable age, salaries, injury history, team leaders, etc. The value of “what you have” is best determined by how much the rest of the league demands what you have. If you have what everyone else wants instead of their own rosters – in all likelihood that means stars and impact young players – chances are you’re in a good position. The rest of that article goes into more details for the reasoning for this asset strategy.

If true, it could create a specific “plan” as a General Manager to follow. Build one’s trade value and accumulate valuable assets, and you rise against the rest of the league.

Now I know I’m not the only one to bring up an idea like this. In fact, I’m almost certain that at least a few NBA GMs take this asset-based position. Daryl Morey’s history in Houston is certainly consistent with it. But the much malgined David Kahn is perhaps an even more interesting example. Both GMs of course have histories of university graduates, rather than being former players – Morey graduating in computer science, Kahn in English before moving to sportswriting and eventually the NBA. As a result I believe both came into their jobs with plans rooting in business strategy – and specifically, the idea of “having a plan” – and riding out the short waves of volatility.

I believe David Kahn’s plan from the start has been based on asset accumulation first, roster construction later. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by jr.

January 27, 2012 at 5:56 pm

NBA Mock Draft Version 2.5 – With pre draft grades and comparisons

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Kyrie Irving

Kyrie Irving looks like the 1st overall pick (Image by Chamber of Fear via Flickr)

This will be my final mock draft unless a game changing trade occurs. The picks are based on what I have heard through the usual suspects on the internet – Chad Ford (ESPN.com), Jonathan Givony (Draftexpress.com), Ryan Feldman (thehoopsreport.com), Ken Berger (CBS.com), Adrian Wojnarowski (Yahoo.com) with a big scoop of my own instincts. Truthfully they did most of the leg work for the actual order. I added grades for each pick and comparisons. Consider that my contribution. Here is the Mock Draft 2.0:

EDIT – Why  not. Here’s the Mock Draft 2.5, edited the morning before the draft with all the latest information. For optimal accuracy.

1. Cleveland Cavaliers – PG Kyrie Irving

There’s been talk lately of Cleveland switching to Derrick Williams #1 to pair him with Brandon Knight, perhaps a better pair together than Irving and a non PG at 4. The problem I see with that is the chance Knight doesn’t make it to #4 with Utah’s interest in him at #3. I say they take Irving.

My Grade: A. The correct choice, Irving is not only one of the best bets for all-star production in the draft, but gives the Cavaliers a badly needed leader for the post Lebron era. No need to overthink it, take Irving.

NBA Comparison: Mark Price

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