Blog Entry

Apologies to Jonny Flynn

Posted on: April 15, 2010 4:10 pm
Jonny Flynn had a productive rookie season. It was a good season. Yet listen to most Wolves fans describe it and you would probably walk away thinking it was a disaster. A flop. A total bust. Out of frustration of enduring the worst season in Wolves basketball, I, at times, have been guilty of this too. But alas, some perspective.
Below are the full season stat lines for various starting point guards in the league. To be more accurate, they are the stat lines from the player’s first season in which they averaged at least 28 minutes per game. I chose that number because it suggests it was the first season in which the player was given a starter’s type role.
See if you can predict who did what.
a) 7.9 points, 5.5 assists, 2.9 rebounds, 0.9 steals, 36 FG% in 31 minutes per game
b) 10.8 points, 4.5 assists, 2.4 rebounds, 0.8 steals, 42 FG% in 29 minutes per game
c) 10.6 points, 5.1 assists, 4.2 rebounds, 1.7 steals, 49 FG% in 29 minutes per game
d) 11.3 points, 3.3 assists, 2.7 rebounds, 1.0 steals 35 FG% in 32 minutes per game
e) 9.2 points, 4.3 assists, 2.6 rebounds, 1.2 steals, 42 FG% in 30 minutes per game
f) 13.5 points, 4.4 assists, 2.4 rebounds, 1.1 steals, 42 FG% in 29 minutes per game

a) Steve Nash - 3rd Season
b) Deron Williams - 1st Season
c) Rajon Rondo - 2nd Season
d) Chauncey Billups - 1st Season
e) Tony Parker - 1st Season
f) Jonny Flynn - 1st Season
So as you can see, Flynn’s rookie year compares favorably, if not flat out better, than many of the top point guards in the league. The three glaring exceptions are Jason Kidd, Derrick Rose and Chris Paul, who all had superior rookie seasons, but in the end that’s what those players are, exceptions. Otherwise, every other great point guard in the NBA clearly failed to experience a statistical breakthrough in their first, second or even third prominent season. The other thing to remember is that with Flynn’s outstanding quickness and athleticism, as well as the fact that’s he’s a mere 21 years old, he still has plenty of room to develop.
The next question that bears asking is why then is Flynn the subject of such harsh criticism? I can narrow it down to four primary causes.
1. The Systematic Maladaption of Timberwolves Fans
Very simply, the vast majority of Wolves fans believe they are cursed. They believe that no matter who they draft, who they acquire in trade or free agency, who they decide on as coach or GM or who they send to represent them at the draft lottery, they are so thoroughly cursed that it will positively end up a disaster. And so when a player, in this case Flynn, is taken the demoralized ranks of Wolves fans essentially start the countdown to when they can officially call the pick a failure without appearing completely irrational. Some skip the countdown all together and jump straight off the cliff. Note, I’m not saying some of the skittishness isn’t warranted. On the contrary, proof of an actual curse certainly would answer a lot of questions. But fans and critics alike need to calm down, step back and take a few deep breaths. Case in point: Brandon Roy. Yes, the Wolves traded Brandon Roy for Randy Foye. An epic debacle of a trade. In that same draft, the Raptors took Andreas Bargnani over Roy. The Bobcats opted for Adam Morrison. The Bulls took Tyrus Thomas and the Hawks thought Shelden Williams would be better. The truth is that several teams swung and missed big on Roy, but bitter, jaded, sky-is-perpetually-falling Wolves fans don’t see that. They just see the cliff.
2. That Darned Ricky Rubio
People, a lot of them, live an orderly life. They like things the way they do. Everything has to fit neatly in its place. In my highly unprofessional opinion, it is this characteristic that lies at root of the inability of Wolves fans and the draft clowns at ESPN to comprehend the logic behind the Flynn pick. The Wolves took a PG in Rubio and so the nice and neat, orderly folks of the world thought that naturally they would fill another position of need. Most, at the time, said they should have taken DeMar DeRozan because his draft card said “Shooting Guard”. That made orderly sense. Instead with Flynn, the Wolves took who they thought was the best player available (before you shout “Stephen Curry” at the computer screen please go reread the thing above about point guards in their first season). They drafted the best player available because at this stage in their progression overall talent is what matters, not filling out a roster sheet. The drafting of Rubio was the drafting of an asset more than it was a contributing player. They were drafting an incredible future possibility when they took Rubio, whereas with Flynn, they were drafting their starting point guard. Plus, there would have been an actual honest to goodness riot at Target Center if the Wolves had passed on Rubio with two consecutive picks. Things played out as they did and now, unfortunately, there is this mystical floating Rubio head that looms over Flynn every time he misses a shot or commits a silly turnover. The floating Rubio heads says things like “Flynn is garbage, luckily you have me waiting in the wings” and “Don’t get used to the smiley guy with the headband, when I get tired of Spain I’ll be over to claim my job”. Rubio, in a way, has prevented people from ever really supporting Flynn in the same way a fan base never really gets behind an interim head coach or in the way a kid never really embraces a mom’s boyfriend. They know the next one is right around the corner so why get attached?
3. A Bad Situation
Nothing about his rookie year was really ideal for Jonny Flynn. He was also cast onto a team that by design was supposed to fail…miserably. Known for his ability to fast break, he was surrounded with tree trunks the likes of Damien Wilkins, Sasha Pavlovic and Ryan Gomes. A master of the pick and roll at Syracuse, he was told to forget about the pick and roll and basically adopt a new philosophy and style of play in Minnesota, where on the flipside fellow rookie PGs, Brandon Jennings and Steph Curry, were placed in systems that perfectly suited their respective games. These contradictions were done in the name of making Flynn a better overall player. Flynn could have been allowed to play differently, more to his strengths, but in doing so he would have been sacrificing long-term potential and growth in favor of short-term results. Allowing Flynn to do what he does best on nightly basis, with little check or balance, would have resulted in better box scores and simultaneously put him on to the fast track to becoming the next Bobby Jackson, a serviceable and effective scoring backup point guard. Not a bad thing necessarily. However, by forcing him to harness his established talents and instead pain stakingly improve on his weaknesses the belief is that he will eventually develop into a legitimate upper tier starting point guard. This is the vision (and gamble) of David Kahn and Kurt Rambis. It sounds terrific in theory and if it works they will both look like geniuses some day. If it doesn’t pan out, see #1.
4. He Played Like A Rookie
I'm going to keep this one short because it's the most apparent and requires the least analysis. Possession killing shots in the first five or so seconds of the shot clock, completely avoidable turnovers at costly times in the game and occassional defense void of any awareness or teamwork were the main culprits. In other words, he played like a rookie. The problem is that the three points above combined with the state of the average Wolves fan being sick and tired of being sick and tired and it all led to the fact that there just wasn't the patience or tolerance of rookie-like play, even though there probably should have been. Flynn didn't play like a rookie of the year or even like he deserved top 5 consideration, but he also wasn't as bad as he was too often portrayed.

The point of this isn’t to make excuses for Jonny Flynn. I’m the first to admit he deserves a fair amount of criticism for some of his play this year. Really, I’m just trying to balance the overwhelming amount of criticism he has received with the credit he also deserves. A commonly held belief is that point guard is by far the toughest position to transition from college to the pros. Based on that and the past development of other guards in the league I tend to believe that maybe, given his respectable stat outputs, obvious intangibles and consistent leadership skills that just maybe, Flynn could make a lot of people eats their words and end up as the Wolves future floor general. Unless, of course, they land John Wall. In that event, ignore everything I just said.

Since: Jan 14, 2008
Posted on: April 17, 2010 12:50 pm

Apologies to Jonny Flynn

Wow, never been called a jack ass and pussy for agreeing with a blog before.  I was not ripping on your blog, I actually thought it was real good.  I was just ripping Rubio, and the T'wolves as a team.  I do not believe Rubio will do well in the NBA.  I think he is starter material, but will probably not be a superstar like T'wolve's fans expect.  On the other hand I believe Flynn is going to be an all-star in the near future.  Personally, I think the Wolves should have gotten Flynn and Curry instead of Rubio.  That would have been a deadly backcourt combination.

Since: Aug 1, 2008
Posted on: April 16, 2010 11:59 pm

Apologies to Jonny Flynn

      1st off I think that Kahn has done a great job. The only thing that I feel was a mistake and I said this at the time of the draft was not selecting Curry and drafting Flynn instead. To say that that Flynn was the absolute best prospect available at 6 is a bit exaggerated. You could argue that all of these players were better as a prsopect: Curry, DeRozan or Jennings. I personally think that Flynn will be a good player but I would rather have Rubio a player that makes everyone around him better(Flynn will never be that type of point guard) or John Wall. Didnt you write of Trading Flynn if we win the lottery and select Wall at #1?

     Again Selecting Flynn was more of an insurance policy decision as much as it was drafting the best player available. Everyone talked about how shocked they were of that selection and again everyone who gets paid to talk about the draft was assuming that we would select Curry at 6. I have heard that Rubio wanted to come to the NBA, wouldnt mind playing for the Wolves too but at the end of the day he chose not to come. So how sincere was he really with those comments? I also heard the decision to draft Flynn and possibly split time with if he came over played a big deal in his decision. Maybe drafting Curry and playing him as a 2 at the same time Rubio would be on the court would have been easier for him to come here and play?

     I agree with you about trading for AI-which can be had for Al Jefferson straight up. Trade Jefferson for either AI or Danny Granger. Sign Rudy Gay if we dont land Granger. This team needs to make a splash in Free Agency and needs to get lucky  1 time in the draft. Trading Jefferson and getting an All Star type of player who can either play the 2 or 3 is the key to the overhaul of this team.

Since: Apr 10, 2008
Posted on: April 16, 2010 8:26 pm

Apologies to Jonny Flynn

Everyone pretty much knew Rubio wasn't coming over to the NBA for at least one year and possibly two. This is the reason he fell to #5.

So when they drafted him they did so knowing he wasn't as much a player as he was an asset. Again, they took Jonny Flynn because they believed he was the best prospect available, not as a back up option. When you are as bad as the Wolves you take talent, regardless of position. Simply trying to fill out a roster is what led to picks like McCants and Foye.

The one thing people tend to forget about when they threaten that Rubio doesn't want to play in Minnesota is that Minnesota owns his rights. He'll play here, he'll play where the Wolves trade him or he'll stay in Europe. Those are his choices. Also, there's the oft ignored fact that Rubio has openly said on multiple occassions that he has no problem whatsoever playing for the Wolves. But you know, who cares what the player in question actually says?
Finally, I wish some people would recognize that the Wolves are operating under a different GM now. Those past blunders, which were preceeded by a number of winning seasons, were all made by Kevin McHalem not David Kahn. Sure, a lot of hindsighters will point to Curry but we're talking about one season. To say Curry should have absolutely been the pick is to say that you somehow know how the careers of Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn will play out or what either player will yield in a trade for the Wolves. What else are you criticizing? The fact that they won so few games? Newsflash, that was intentional.  They were going for a top 3 pick this year incase you couldn't tell. Are you angry about the trades? Not even this Jonezy jack ass could complain about Mike Miller and Randy Foye for Ricky Rubio. What else? Brian Cardinal for Darko? Yeah, a real debacle there. Trading Ty Lawson? Talk to me after they take a superior player with pick #16 (what they got for Lawson) this year.

Options from here include tucking your tail between your legs and crying curse until you have some actual ground to stand on, or sacking up and realizing it is a new day and that the Wolves probably won't suck for the rest of our lives. Jonezy made his choice...pussy.

Since: Jan 14, 2008
Posted on: April 16, 2010 6:29 pm

Apologies to Jonny Flynn

The only appologies to Jonny Flynn should be from the Timberwolves organization for drafting him. Sorry T'wolves fans, but Minnesota will NEVER win a championship with the stupid draft picks that the organization makes.  Ricky Rubio is going to suck, and most likely will never play in Minnesota because he wants to play for a big market team.  Kind of like Yi Jianlian.  Exactly, WHO???  The T'wolves should trade Flynn to a team that isnt going to suck for the rest of their lives so he can live up to his full potential.

Just an example of some crappy first round draft picks from minnesota
-Cory Brewer - pick 7
-Brandon Roy - pick 6 (awsome pick but traded away for Randy Foye STUPID)
-Rashad McCants - pick 16
-Ndudi Ebi - pick 26
-Also, befor Ebi there were 5 yrs of no first rounders because they tried to sign Joe Smith who they ended up getting rid of, and in my opinion was not worth 5 first rounders.

It is not Flynns fault that the organization wasted a pick on rubio like they have done every year since they drafted KG.  Once T'wolves fans run flynn out of town and realize that Rubio doesnt want to be there, they will have nothing to look forward to but yet another crappy draft.

Since: Aug 1, 2008
Posted on: April 16, 2010 3:21 pm

Apologies to Jonny Flynn

   I guess I am not sure what draft you were watching last year, when Rubio slid to 5 the Wolves in most peoples' opinion had to draft him. In the opinion of most he was a top 2 talent and slid to a team that desperately needed their franchise point guard. I was ecstatic with getting Rubio and also ecstatic of thinking we were getting Curry as well.  The big mistake was selecting Flynn with the 6 pick(not that Flynn is a bad player but clearly not the right choice after drafting Rubio)The consesus selection that should have been made next was selecting Stephen Curry. The drafting of Flynn was an insurance policy in case the Wolves coudlnt work out a buyout for Rubio's contract. Part of Rubio's decision to not come to the Wolves this year had to do with the splitting time with Flynn. Having Rubio and Curry on the court at the same time would have been possible despite Curry being undersized as a 2. Being a combo guard who could play both the 1 and 2 and an absolute lights out shooter would have been the perfect selection not only looking back at it now but also at the time of the pick as well.

Since: Apr 10, 2008
Posted on: April 16, 2010 11:26 am

Apologies to Jonny Flynn

That's not a popular argument. You pretty much just made it up. Not everyone can luck into their franchise player like the Bulls did.

Since: Aug 20, 2006
Posted on: April 16, 2010 12:55 am

Apologies to Jonny Flynn

Flynn's most worrisome trait is his turnovers, which were much higher than most of those guys on that list. If he can up his assists by two or more without increasing his turnovers, he'll have a good statistical progression. But it's true that his value compared to Curry, Evans, Jennings, et. al is skewed by the virtue of such a depressing team. 
Query: if the Wolves don't get one of the first two picks, is it time to move to franchise to Seattle? I would disagree with that very popular argument.

Since: Sep 16, 2008
Posted on: April 15, 2010 10:02 pm

Apologies to Jonny Flynn

He said Rondos 2nd season. Which was 07-08. Not that you'd know that since you probably didn't watch a game until the finals.

Since: Jan 30, 2010
Posted on: April 15, 2010 9:21 pm

Apologies to Jonny Flynn

Out of that group, Rajon Rondo is the best. Those were stats when he had Pierce as the only person to pass to.

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