Posted on: June 21, 2009 11:00 pm
MY Timberwolves BIG BOARD
1. Blake Griffin PF OKLAHOMA - Not happening, get it out of your mind.
2. Ricky Rubio PG EUROPE - As per my previous blog, I think this is more of a possibility than some think. Since I wrote about the potential trade up I haven't heard anything to contradict the claim Memphis wants out of the #2 pick. What has changed is that David Kahn has strongly implied that Kevin Love isn't going anywhere. Keep on reading to see why Rubio could still end up a Wolf despite that news.
3. Tyreke Evans SG MEMPHIS - He has moved ahead of Harden in my book. He's 6'5" with a 7 ft. wingspan and has the skills to play the 1-3. Even more, I'm loving his attitude. He has tried to work out against other shooting guards and they won't do it. James Harden won't work out against him. Neither will DeMar DeRozan. He asked the Wolves permission to take part in their mega-PG workout featuring Brandon Jennings, Jonny Flynn, Jrue Holliday, Ty Lawson and Jeff Teague just so he could show he can handle the position if needed. According to published reports, he was as good as anyone there.
4. James Harden SG ARIZONA STATE - The guy I've wanted on the Wolves roster all along is beginning to fall in my mind. He had what was described by a sports writer as "the worst workout I've ever seen" for the Grizzlies, while another writer for the Memphis Commercial (newspaper) said "He didn't make the strongest impression with orange cones as defenders." I also don't like that he refused to work out for any team below #4. Combine that with his questionable athleticism and piss poor NCAA tourney and the ammo for detractors is mounting quickly.
5. Stephen Curry PG/SG DAVIDSON What we know about Curry is that he can shoot the lights out. Pull up jumpers, spot ups, create his own or off a feed, his shot is elite. In a draft ripped for not having many star caliber players this is a guy with an elite and essential skill. He's done enough in workouts to overcome his small school question marks and has demonstrated the physical capabilities of playing point.
6. Brandon Jennings PG EUROPE - Griffin, Rubio, Jennings. Those are the three players in this draft that I believe have megastar potential. For that reason, I like Jennings this high despite his current flaws. In the afore mentioned Wolves workout he was apparently ho hum during individual drills but when they went to a 3 on 3 mini-game to close the workout, he came alive. He was faster than anyone on the court and a defensive terror. He made several passes that drew oohs and ahhhs from the assembled press.
7. Hasheem Thabeet C UCONN Same sort of deal as Curry. We know this guy has at least one elite ability: shot blocking. It's not only a semi-rare skill but it also happens to be of particular need to the Wolves. Athletically gifted 7'3" monsters come around once in a great while. His youth, relative inexperience and physical tools suggest he has room to grow into the other aspects of his game.
8. Ty Lawson PG NORTH CAROLINA Yeah, I know I'm ranking him too high but I see very few flaws in his game. His assist to turnover ratio is historically low. He's got world class speed to match with point guard instincts. He is admittedly undersized but still has a strong frame, which will keep him from getting run over. He's my pre-draft steal of the draft.
9. Earl Clark SF/PF LOUISVILLE Lamar Odom is his unshakable comparison. As a pro I think he'd make a great wing type player with an all around game, as well as a nice compensator for the undersized Kevin Love factor. It would require a trade up into the 10s range to land him.
10. Jonny Flynn PG SYRACUSE I'd really like this dude if paired with a great two guard. If any sort of notable offensive output is required of him I'd begin to worry. His extreme likability and great leadership is contagious and I'd be thrilled if he is somehow the Wolves 2nd pick on Thursday.
WHY "IT" WILL HAPPEN
Rumors are abound that David Kahn is absolutely intent on making a splash in this years draft. For one, to put his own stamp on this team. Secondly, because as he says, this team has failed to win more than 25 games for two years in a row. Changes are needed. Third, and perhaps most importantly, the fan base needs proof that the perceived half-assed incompetency of the past is gone before they will come back and support the team.
Some fans are taken a back by his brashness. It's too much change, too quickly for them. Some are so jaded by the McHale era and its many failed dealings that they assume any trade we are apart of is a bad trade. "How are we getting fleeced?" or "How are we gonna get laughed at for this one?" or in the rare event of something positive "Wait, is this actually...a good thing for us?".
It is inevitable that short of a Pau Gasol-like fleecing fans are going to be divided on any given trade. Sadly, snake bitten T-Wolves fans will immediately turn to a "Here we go again..." end of all times sort of attitude. The fact is, McHale is gone. Kahn is here. Kahn has no recent track record and to react to any transaction he makes as though it were an extension of the past is plainly unfair. If Kahn makes a move I happen to dislike, I can dislike it but I cannot hate him for it. At least not until he establishes a pattern of bad moves. If the move is a risky one but at the same time makes sense and is well conceived, I can't be mad if it doesn't go our way. What can't be tolerated is a lack of preparation that allows the Timberwolves to look foolish down the road. Basically, what I'm saying is give the guy a chance.
WHAT COULD HAPPEN
I've read from about five different reputable sources that the Timberwolves are very much trying to trade up to not only land another lottery pick, but specifically a top 5 pick. There are two schools of thought on their alleged motive for doing so. Then there's a third thing I just added on for giggles.
1. They want to draft the two best guards available and completely overhaul their starting back court. For this option Washington is the best option. The Bullets have been very open in their willingness to unload the pick. They want vets and cap relief, not a high paid rookie. The Wolves have several solid options in Mike Miller (expiring), Randy Foye (expiring), Craig Smith (expiring) and Brian Cardinal (expiring). Furthermore, they have picks #18, #28, #45 and #48 to sweeten the deal. The Knicks might spoil this deal by offering up #8 and Wilson Chandler in order to jump up and grab Stephen Curry. IDEAL OUTCOME: Tyreke Evans/James Harden and Brandon Jennings/Hasheem Thabeet
2. They want to jump up to #2 and take Ricky Rubio. My earlier post involved Kevin Love but that looks increasingly unlikely. A second avenue to this deal would be to acquire Washington's pick, as discussed in #1, and package it with their 6th pick. Word is Memphis would almost certainly take this deal. Of course, in that event the asking price would be a steep one. Potentially, #6, Foye and Miller for Ricky Rubio. But, if they really believe Rubio is going to be a star then it's worth it. This gets back to taking a calculated risk. Is it worth it? I think so. If you do this trade (after and only after getting 100% confirmation Rubio is willing and wanting to play in Minnesota) you have three cogs around which to build. Rubio-Love-Jefferson. Slot some shooters and a shot blocker in there and they might have something. IDEAL OUTCOME: Um...Ricky Rubio.
3. If neither #1 or #2 happens I expect there is a good possibility they will move up from #18 into the 10-14 range. Charlotte at #12 is a strong possibility. IDEAL OUTCOME: Tyreke Evans/James Harden and Ty Lawson/Jonny Flynn
Posted on: June 16, 2009 8:37 pm
1. A lot of people, myself included, were underwhelmed by the hiring off David Kahn as GM of the Wolves, the details of which can be found in one of my earlier posts titled "Kahn Air". Get it, like as in "Con Air". What if I told you insane was working fifty hours a week in some office for fifty years at the end of which they tell you to piss off; ending up in some retirement village hoping to die before suffering the indignity of trying to make it to the toilet on time? Wouldn't you consider that to be insane? Anywho, to his credit Kahn has basically said everything right since then. He sounds to be the the polar opposite of McHale. Sort of like the movie Face Off when John Travolta and Nicolas Cage are morally opposite but then find themselves quite literally transported into eachother's shoes. If I were to send you flowers where would I... no, let me rephrase that. If I were to let you suck my tongue, would you be grateful?
1A. The problem of course is that he has yet to turn any of his big talk into action, for which I am not at all upset about. The draft, however, will be his first chance to deliver. If he does something big and for once makes this organization look intelligent on draft night he will quickly endear himself to many jaded fans.
2. My absolute favorite NBA rumor and draft site is DraftExpress.com. They are my favorite because they have insightful articles, rumors that tend to come to life and historically have had accurate mock drafts. Today Jon Givony (very solid writer/source) wrote the following...
"No GM in the NBA is apparently more active right now than Minnesota’s David Kahn, as he’s apparently set on “making a big splash in his first draft” according to one NBA executive, and is “talking to everyone” at the moment. One rumor that is making the rounds has Minnesota sending Memphis Kevin Love in exchange for the #2 pick (and filler). Minnesota would then draft Ricky Rubio , which could help them significantly with their ticket sales, and still have the #6 pick at their disposal, which they could use to take someone like Jordan Hill ."
I love Kevin Love. I'd miss him. I'd help him pack if he needed it.
This one got me excited because on a few other occassions I've seen rumors that are totally reinforced by this one. Here is the alternate take I have heard and the one I'd like to see go down on draft night.
Minnesota trades Kevin Love and #6 to Memphis for Rudy Gay and #2 (the closest we'll probably get to Gay Love, right Knap?)
That exact scenario is posted on the Grizzlies forum on ESPN.com and has about 65-70% approval based on user comments.
Why Memphis does it: Ricky Rubio does not want to play for them. He has made that known. Furthermore, they don't really want him. They are commited to Michael Conley, which was made evident by the tradings of Jarvaris Crittenton and fan favorite, Kyle Lowery. What they need is a post presence. Kevin Love, if he were in this draft, would be the consensus #2 pick and perhaps even the #1. He's perfect for them. They lose Gay, who is made redundant next to shot happy OJ Mayo, but pick up the #6 pick for him. They promptly use that to draft Tyreke Evans, who is very much a hometown favorite for his Memphis Tigers connection.
Why Minnesota does it: They add a star potential player in Rubio. He is a position and personality of dire need. Is he a sure thing? No. Could he technically turn out to be the 3rd or 4th or even 5th best PG in this draft? Yes. Is he the sort of aggressive acquisition that could give both the organization and fanbase the massive boost it needs? Fuck yes. As a fan, this, like any other trade could backfire but no sound individual could really be mad at them for taking a shot on a move that appears to have all the upside in the world. They also add Rudy Gay. Some would rather have the #6 pick instead of Gay and I see where they are coming from. Concerns about Gay's on court IQ and hustle are legit. But in this case I'd take the player over the pick, especially when this player is still very young at 23 years old, fits a need at the wing and is capable of scoring 20 points a game. Plus, he's the kind of leaper that could thrive with a passer like Rubio. Kevin Love is a beast and a heck of a person but he's also the only piece they can give up to make this sort of move happen. To get, they must give.
* If it took an exchange of contracts such as the Wolves sending them Brian Cardinal's expiring and in return taking back Marko Jaric's bloated joke, I would still do it. If it took an expiring toss in like Craig Smith, I would still do it.
Minnesota turns around and makes another move to acquire some size. Sam Dalembert and Tyson Chandler are known to be available for expiring contracts. Maybe throw in #18, #28 or either of their 2nd rounders to make it happen.
PG - Ricky Rubio
SG - Mike Miller
SF - Rudy Gay
PF - Al Jefferson
C - Samuel Dalembert
Key Reserves - Randy Foye, Ryan Gomes, Corey Brewer
Without considering other possible trades or free agent moves I think you are looking at a playoff team before long. Jefferson and Gay are the one-two offensive punch. Foye comes in as an all-purpose guard 6th man and is able to play pressure free against second units. Miller melds back into the role of shooter. Dalembert protects the rim. And Ricky Rubio orchestrates the whole thing.
Memphis, by the way, walks away with a Mayo-Love-Evans-Conley-Gasol core. Not too shabby.
The Grizzlies win. The Wolves win. Small markets everywhere win. The fans win. Make it happen.
***None of this goes down without absolute confirmation that Rubio is cool with playing in Minnesota. I shudder the thought of the nuclear event, which shall not be detailed here.
Posted on: June 16, 2009 12:03 am
Here's my take on a wild card scenario that may be developing amongst the top few picks. Note that I don't believe it will go down this way, only that according to some reputable draft heads there may be more truth to these possibilities than meets the eye. Also, I only did the top 10 picks because my remaining 20 haven't changed enough since my last mock. So, let's say the damn thing goes crazy...
1. Clippers - Blake Griffin PF OKLAHOMA This is the pick, they can't screw it up...right?
2. Grizzlies - Hasheem Thabeet C UCONN The riot starts here. They reportedly love Thabeet and are put off by Rubio (more on that later). They could try to trade down a couple of spots, which at this point their fanbase appears to favor doing, but they won't risk the Thunder grabbing him with #3.
3. Thunder - Stephen Curry PG/SG DAVIDSON What's in your head, in your head, zombie zombie zombie, hey hey hey oh oh oh. With the Westbrook pick last year the Thundonics proved they will stir it up and take the guy they want regardless of popular opinion. They worked Curry out at length and are just arrogant enough to think a Westbrook/Curry backcourt will work. I personally hate the idea of that duo but I think Curry is legit and I won't wince at all if a certain Wolves team takes him at #6. Rib on.
4. Kings - Johnny Flynn PG SYRACUS He had an amazingly good workout in Sac on Monday and I think they are intent on taking a PG. His off the court interviews were apparently as good as his on court performance, in both of which he clearly came off as better than Holliday and Jennings.
5. Wizards - James Harden SG ARIZONA STATE No brainer at this point. Arenas, Butler, Harden and Jamison should be good for 100+ points a night and a reentry to the top half of the Eastern Conference playoff seeds.
6. Timberwolves - Ricky Rubio PG EUROPE At this point you're all shaking your head, I know. But remember, this isn't exactly how I think it will happen but it's also maybe not as unlikely as you might think. First and foremost, he isn't working out in the US. Out of sight, out of mind. Plain and simple, his stock is falling. Scouts are really starting to question if he can guard other PGs or consistently hit a jumpe shot. The Clips won't take him. Rubio's agent has flat out said he's not interested in playing or working out for Memphis or Washington, citing playing opportunites as the reason, while emphasizing it has nothing to do with market size in Memphis' case. The logic being that his appeal will be on an international level so whatever US city he happens to play in doesn't really matter. His agent also says he is very willing to workout and play for Oklahoma City and Sacramento. The problem: they may not want him. I've heard repeatedly that the Thunder view Westbrook as thier PG of the future and are very much enamored with Curry and Harden. Kings GM, Geoff Petri, has flat out said them taking Rubio is by no means a lock. Their recent raves about Flynn and Tyreke Evans may lend merit to this. Neither OKC or Sac is thrilled that Rubio isn't over here working out and I've heard it strongly suggested there is a chance he will fall here. So if the claim that Rubio doesn't care about the market size and really just wants to be the sure thing starter then Minnesota is a good spot for him. He could also pull some bullshit and try to force his hand to Golden State or New York, in which case the Wolves would be left in a Yi Jianlin situation. Would they call his bluff? Who knows. If I were Kahn I'd be on the phone with his agent seeing if Minnesota is a place he'd be will to set up. If so, I'd be pushing strongly for a trade. I read a rumor in a Memphis paper of Kevin Love, #6 and Brian Cardinal (expiring) for Rudy Gay, #2 and Marko Jaric (not expiring).
7. Warriors - Brandon Jennings PG EUROPE Like Flynn, he smoked his workout in Golden State. The Kings and Wolves could be possible destinations but I'd almost bet my left nut at this point that Jennings ends up here.
8. Knicks - DeMar DeRozan SG USC Knicks get scorned on their top three choices (Curry, Flynn, Jennings). They go for the next biggest shot at a star. New York should offer up this pick and David Lee to Memphis to move up and get Rubio.
9. Raptors - Tyreke Evans SG MEMPHIS They want DeRozan but Evans is a good consolation prize. Truthfully, he's probably better.
10. Bucks - Jeff Teague PG WAKE FOREST I have it on good word they are in love with Teague, which Teague better hope is true or he could fall into the 20s.
Posted on: June 9, 2009 4:19 pm
Edited on: June 9, 2009 4:21 pm
This time of year is always great for NBA draft junkies like myself. This year, however, is even better than most because of the mass uncertainty extending all throughout the 1st round. Last year, Russ Westbrook was a curveball and no one saw Jerryd Bayless falling as far as he did, but for the most part dudes went where they were supposed to, especially in the lottery. This year will be nothing like that. Everything after the 1st overall pick (and even that isn’t a given) is up for grabs and it is exhilarating. Here is a sampling of the rumors that are abound about various prospects, collected from columns, articles, fan forums, nerps, message boards, etc…
DeJuan Blair PF PITTSBURGH - An undersized banger PF in the mold of Craig Smith but with a better overall game. Would be perfect for Detroit at #15 or Chicago at #16, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he went higher to maybe New Jersey at #11.
Chase Budinger SF ARIZONA, Sam Young SF PITTSBURGH & Austin Daye SF GONZAGA - All wing players with uniquely different games but will probably be sought after by teams looking for similar things. I’ve seen Budinger rated the highest with Phoenix at #14 being a possibility. Sam Young could sneak into the mid teens but will more likely go somewhere in the 20s. Austin Daye is a boom or bust, freak athlete/raw talent type player all the way. He could easily slip to the early 2nd round ala DeAndre Jordan or go as high as #15 to Detroit, who has worked him out a couple of times.
Posted on: June 1, 2009 2:53 pm
Keep in mind, this is a mock draft, not player rankings. My rankings would actually be quite different. The following, rather, is based on what I think will happen and the various reliable-sounding rumors I have heard. There's quite a few changes between this and my last mock. A big trend I went with was teams taking players who went to college in that state when push came to shove. I'll put the initials HS (home state) at the end of each commentary to denote that every time that happens.
Posted on: May 26, 2009 1:06 am
Edited on: May 26, 2009 8:18 am
Now that we know the team order, here's my take. For now I didn't predict trades, only where I think the player will end up. You'll see.
1. Clippers - Ricky Rubio PG EUROPE I just somehow think he ends up here, whether by draft choice or trade.
2. Grizzlies - Blake Griffin PF OKLAHOMA Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah! I think the Grizz would take Thabeet over Rubio if it comes to that.
3. ZombieSonics - Hasheem Thabeet C UCONN A perfect fit.
4. Kings - Brandon Jennings PG EUROPE I actually think the Wolves will trade up to this spot to nab Harden in front of the Wiz and the Kings will drop down to #6 and snag the guy they want without having to reach as much.
5. Wizards - Jordan Hill PF ARIZONA 50/50 chance they trade this pick. A post presence like Hill makes sense though.
6. Timberwolves - James Harden SG ARIZONA STATE OJ Mayo atoned for.
7. Warriors - Ty Lawson PG UNC Why not? He's exactly the position they need and the kind of player they love.
8. Knicks - Stephen Curry SG DAVIDSON This pick seems destined, although I would take DeRozan ahead of him.
9. Raptors - DeMar DeRozan SG USC Shades of Vincanity.
10. Bucks - Johnny Flynn PG SYRACUSE They'll let Sessions walk, Flynn embodies the new face and direction of the team.
11. Nets - Earl Clark SF LOUISVILLE Great fit with Harris and Lopez, Clark could prove to be a top 5 talent in this class.
12. Bobcats - Gerald Henderson SG DUKE Another in-state draft pick.
13. Pacers - Tyreke Evans SG MEMPHIS This team is a mess so they go best player available.
14. Suns - James Johnson SF WAKE FOREST The days of unloading picks for cap relief have to end sometime. Johnson, like Earl Clark, can play both forward spots.
15. Pistons - DeJuan Blair PF PITT Pistons have the cap room to make a run at Boozer, this pick may change in that event.
16. Bulls - Terrance Williams SG LOUISVILLE No idea what the Bulls will do, if they don't re-sign Gordon this would be a great pick.
17. 76ers - Eric Maynor PG VCU Dre Miller is gone so this position is the obvious fill.
18. Timberwolves - Jeff Teague PG WAKE FOREST Maynor is another possibility if he falls but Teague is intriguing. Or should I say inteaguing?
19. Hawks - Jrue Holliday PG UCLA With no obvious need they take the high upside Bibby replacement.
20. Jazz - Chase Budinger SF ARIZONA White + scrappy = Utah.
21. Hornets - BJ Mullens C OHIO STATE Someone is gonna take him, why not the Hornets? Chandler replacement is the logic.
22. Mavericks - Taylor Hansbrough PF UNC Oh no they didn't!
23. Kings - Sam Young SF PITT Versatile wing is best player on the board at this point.
24. Trail Blazers - Taj Gibson PF USC I doubt Portland will use this pick but a physical post presence is their main need.
25. Zombies - Gani Lawal PF GEORGIA Drafting for need. I won't be surprised if this dude ends up falling out of the first round.
26. Bulls - Omri Casspi SF ISRAEL Stash the Israeli for a few years instead of drafting some body to warm the end of the bench.
27. Grizzlies - Patrick Mills PG ST. MARYS Insurance incase Conley finally tanks out.
28. Timberwolves - Austin Daye SF GONZAGA 6'10" forward is major project but also has major upside.
29. Lakers - Darren Collison PG UCLA - hometown kid eventually takes over for Grandpa Fisher.
30. Cavaliers - Marcus Thornton SG LSU You might not know him, but he's good.
Players who could easily move into 1st Round: Wayne Ellington SG UNC, Derrick Brown SF XAVIER, DeJuan Summers SF GEORGETOWN, Dionte Christmas SG TEMPLE, Toney Douglas SG FLORIDA STATE
Posted on: May 22, 2009 11:41 pm
Edited on: May 26, 2009 8:11 am
One thing is certain about the David Kahn hire as President of Basketball Operations of the Timberwolves: he will not be given a fair shake by the majority of fans. In the minds of many of the faithful, he’s already blown four or five drafts, traded away a couple of stars in the making and signed Ryan Gomes to an under-the-table max contract.
The outpouring of negativity over this hire on various internet, radio and television outlets has been astounding. I understand feeling underwhelmed and even disappointed. Those things are valid. I understand not trusting the hire because of Glen Taylor’s recent pattern of ineptitude. Also valid. But to rip Kahn so thoroughly, as though we just lured Isaiah Thomas away from Florida International is a complete overreaction and frankly, beyond the bounds of fandom.
What we do know about Kahn…
That’s it. That’s all we know. We know his Pacer teams were competitive and had a lot of talent pass through the organization during his tenure but we still don’t know how much of that can be attributed to him. By his own admission, Kahn has typically worked in “under the radar” positions but people within NBA circles vouch strongly for his talent (ie. Walsh, Stern, Larry Bird). He’s no Jerry West. And he’s no Kevin McHale. Not yet, anyways.
I’ll be the first to admit, he’s not an exciting choice or even one to warrant as many words as I am typing (Yet I continue to type. Why?). Since I’m essentially imploring fans to give the guy a chance, I will start by admitting that he was fairly impressive in his introductory press conference this Friday. He came off infinitely more basketball savy than Glen Taylor. He also outlined a philosophy for success that gave me more insight into the future plans of this team than Taylor/McHale has done in five seasons. He seems intelligent. He seems committed to aggressively pursuing winning talent. He seems a little cocky. He seems a lot better than I thought he would.
What he can do to quickly endear himself to fans and in the process, sell a lot of tickets…
Good luck, pal.
Posted on: May 22, 2009 11:31 pm
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