To say he saved the season might be a tad dramatic, but the "Randy to the rescue" theme is one they shouldn't mind in Minnesota.
|Randy Foye's performance vs. Chicago could be the start of something big. (Getty Images)|
Thanks to Foye, we'll never know. And how he did it is the kicker.
Dwane Casey called for Foye to win the game, leaving Kevin Garnett to be the decoy. Didn't look weird at all, either. Garnett calmly handed the ball off at the top of the key and let Foye do his thing. The team trusted its new offensive jewel to take the final shot.
It's about time.
If you're going to put the future of your franchise on this kid's shoulders -- which, by not trading for Allen Iverson, is exactly what Minnesota did -- it's about time you expedite his learning curve. He has the juice, but he needs to be put in situations where he can thrive. If he falls on his face sometimes, so be it. At least he's gaining experience that will be invaluable in the future.
Foye needs more than the 18 minutes he's averaging this month, because he has to become more aware of ways to overcome his limitations. It has to be trial and error.
There are holes in his potentially magical game. The former Villanova star is a suspect defender, and Casey is a defense-minded coach. Foye is often erratic with the basketball, prone to turn it over while having not yet mastered the art of the assist on this level.
But Dwyane Wade needed an adjustment period, too -- and Foye is the closest thing to a Wade-like talent from the '06 draft. There's no doubt about it. Andrea Bargnani, LaMarcus Aldridge and Brandon Roy all look like difference-makers in their own right, but the special scorer/playmaker brand is Foye's.
Against Chicago, it finally came to fruition. Hopefully for Casey, under fire as Minnesota slumps for the second season under his direction, Tuesday night offered proof that his prized rookie is ready for increased responsibility.
The Timberwolves have been mired in mediocrity since the all-too-brief pinnacle of their existence, that Western Conference finals appearance in 2004. They appear to be no better than average this season. For the future's sake, Foye should get the minutes needed to work the kinks out and learn what it takes. He should get the same opportunity to contribute -- starting and playing nearly 30 minutes -- as Roy, the player he was traded for, is getting in Portland.
By not trading for Iverson, the 'Wolves resisted the urge to win now. If Foye doesn't get more face time, the key to winning down the road is also being compromised. There's no harm in rushing him. Players of his caliber, guys you call upon to win games, usually rise to the challenge.
That's what you gambled on, Minnesota. Isn't it?
Is there an I in Iverson?
Allen Iverson will average more than eight assists per game for the first time in his 11-year career this season. That's practically a given.
In fact, it wouldn't be shocking if he continues to post a double-digit average with his new team. He's off to a good start, having dished out 23 in just two games. Think he's just showing off to get in everyone's good graces? Think again.
|Impressed? Just wait until Allen Iverson is playing with a full complement of Nuggets. (Getty Images)|
Earl Boykins is Denver's other top scoring option, and Nene has been the main threat down low. Iverson has yet to play a single minute with Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith or Marcus Camby. Just think about how much easier it will be to involve a higher caliber of offensive player into a run-and-gun attack led by one of the most creative guards in the game's history. Just think how much easier things will be when A.I. has more than two games under his belt.
One other thing you can gather from Iverson's early stint in Denver is that the ball will remain primarily in his hands, even when Anthony returns from his 15-game suspension. For Iverson to walk into a short-handed situation and do the things he has done has made a believer out of his new coach, George Karl. Iverson's eagerness to try to involve teammates, even when told to look to shoot first, shows he has great desire to win and make the most of this fresh start.
For his next trick, he's going to keep everyone in Denver happy with a single basketball.
Move Artest? Crazy talk
|A Ron Artest trade would be a good move ... for the Clips, that is. (Getty Images)|
Even Phoenix now realizes it must be more focused defensively to bring home the big one, and the Suns field one of the greatest offensive attacks the league has seen in years. The Kings, long tormented by a finesse label, can finally build around a player who places defense first, leads the league in steals and gets mad at teammates for surrendering easy baskets. And they're going to consider trading him? Sounds productive.
If this is a war of wills between Artest and Mike Bibby, then it's the point guard who has to go. He hasn't been able to deliver despite receiving control of the team when Chris Webber left, so why does he get to remain when Artest is only expressing frustration?
Nothing against Maggette, a marvelous offensive talent who does need a change of scenery, but he fell out of Mike Dunleavy's plans because he couldn't commit to defense.
If Sacramento reverses course and deals Artest for Maggette, they will be getting the right player for their system. Unfortunately, their system has never yielded a single championship.
There's a good reason.
If they didn't have bad luck ...
What did the Hornets ever do to become so cursed? There are a lot of great people in that organization, and there are two communities interested in their fortunes, but this organization can't catch a break under Byron Scott.
"When Chris went down, that limits me to six guys, and that makes it tough," Scott said after his team's loss in Seattle. "We can't have any excuses. Everybody has to get healthy sooner or later, and these guys just have to continue to play hard."
Scott will never let his team get down on itself, but you have to wonder whether it's even physically possible to win a game in the squad's current condition.
The people you feel worse for are the fans in Oklahoma City, who will almost certainly lose the team at the end of the season and were looking forward to fielding a playoff squad when training camp began.
Those prospects look bleak unless Paul and West can back quicker than expected. Fortunately, Paul's ankle doesn't appear too serious, but considering it's the first time he's injured it in his entire career, the Hornets are being cautious.