Roster Review: Greg Stiemsma

Zach Harper —  May 24, 2013 — 4 Comments

Stiem Engine

We’re kicking off our offseason coverage here at A Wolf Among Wolves with a comprehensive roster review of the team from this past season, looking at how each player’s 2012-13 went and what we see for them going forward. One player a day for the next couple weeks, starting with the bench and rolling up to the starters.

Embarrassment.

That’s what you are asking shot blockers to accept. They have to be able to accept being embarrassed. If they can’t accept it, they’ll be timid and unable to do their jobs. Their jobs are to protect the rim and risk becoming a YouTube sensation in a less than ideal manner. Get dunked on and you’re immortalized forever. Block the dunk and you’ll be pretty cool for probably a night. There isn’t much reward outside of being somebody who deters people from even driving into the lane. People don’t try to dunk on Dwight Howard anymore. In a couple years, people won’t try to dunk on Larry Sanders anymore.

The appeal of the attempt to dunk on the great shot blockers doesn’t outweigh the consistent threat of rejection. For role players who aren’t going to be earning eight-figure per season contracts because of their ability to put up a velvet rope at the rim and tell you that you’re not on the list, there isn’t much glory in their jobs. People rarely remember their blocks and often only remember the time they got dunked on. And that’s what we seem to have with Greg Stiemsma as the backup center for the Wolves. There isn’t any glory with what he does; there’s only looking past him as you scan the room to see if there is anybody else you should be talking to.

I like what Greg Stiemsma brings to the team, and I know that’s kind of boring. Well, that fits because I’m a pretty boring person. I like that Stiemer shows up to work, knowing he has a high probability of getting challenged at the rim, and is willing to accept this existence. I like that Stiemsma is the enforcer on this team and isn’t afraid to send a message if he feels it needs being sent. He’s not a dirty player; he’s just a good teammate. It’s why he celebrates 3-pointers (the few that went in) with the first down/3-pointer hand gesture/leg kick. And he got other guys on the team to do it because it’s a fun thing for teammates to do.

RickyStiemerCelebrate3

For some reason, perhaps out of desperation for something fun to root for in a season of injuries and disappointments, fans wanted Greg Stiemsma off the court and Chris Johnson on it. It was an assumption that big men can be interchangeable for each other, simply because positional values are often similar throughout the structure of a roster. Chris Johnson is a center; Greg Stiemsma is a center. But they’re completely different players.

Chris Johnson will swat your floater out of the air; Greg Stiemsma will take away your shot at the rim. CJ will throw it down on you in a spectacular fashion; Stiemer will space the floor and understand the alleyways he can traverse in the halfcourt a lot better. I think Stiemsma is a much better backup than Johnson because he is. But the potential of Johnson giving us a cool highlight to help apply aloe to the burn that was the injury-riddled season was something a lot of fans would have rather seen out there.

I can’t fault them for that; I just disagree. The Wolves had a legit enforcer available to them. Matt Barnes pretended he wanted to fight our guy. Jarrett Jack pretended he wanted to fight our guy. Each time, he took the confrontation, stood his ground, and showed the Wolves weren’t going to be pushed around while he was on the court. It didn’t ultimately matter, but I like the idea of someone putting his chin out there in a fight or at the rim and daring the foe to attack it.

Stiemsma isn’t someone I want playing more than 12 minutes per night, and I think in a “not so injured” season we’d see those kind of minutes from him. We wouldn’t see him with such a big role that he played very inconsistent in. But we’d see a guy that everybody on the team seems to love and a guy that gives the Wolves a necessary presence on the court when he’s asked to be out there.

Going into this past season, I wasn’t a Stiemsma fan at all and thought it might have been wasted money by the Timberwolves. After a month, I was willing to reconsider. After two months, I was glad I was willing to change my viewpoint on him and not be stubborn about it (Nate Robinson will get no such accordance from me in his career if that ever happens). I like Greg Stiemsma on this team a lot. And I don’t mind that he’s not afraid to get embarrassed out there.

 

Zach Harper

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4 responses to Roster Review: Greg Stiemsma

  1. Thanks, Zach. I was definitely one of those who preferred to see CJ’s potential highlights over what Stiemsma contributes. As long as he’s not taking so many of those ill-advised jump shots, you’re right that there is a place on the roster for a guy who can offer some solid defense and stand up for his teammates. I really hope he can work on becoming more of a threat to cut to the basket when he’s on the floor with Rubio or Shved so he can get some higher-percentage looks.

  2. Part of the problem is that Pek is a very injury prone player. He misses time every year. So there will be times when Stiemer has to play a bigger role because of the injuries. That’s why I would probably prefer a better backup C. I like Stiemer as a backup, but he can’t really be relied on when Pek goes down. I think we need a guy who can be a better fill in for when Pek goes down because given the history, he’s probably going to miss some time every year. Stiemer needs to be on a team where he stays at that 12 minutes a night limit because their C can stay healthy, which ours can’t.

    Also, the Stiemer/DC backup frontline isn’t very threatening offensively and it forces JJ and Shved to try to keep up on the scoreboard (which wasn’t very effective this year). Hopefully we retain Bud and that helps, but I think we need at least one backup big who can be relied on to get some points. Maybe that’s D Will, I don’t know. I think Stiemer could be a useful player if we get a full season out of Love and D Will is the primary backup to the 4 because Stiemer can be an effective rim protector, we just can’t have him out their without better scoring options in the front court than DC.

  3. Kyle, I think that’s a fair assessment of Stiemsma on the surface, but I’d also like to see how he looks next to a healthy Kevin Love when/if Pek goes down with a turned ankle or a thigh contusion. Having him playing extended minutes as the backup to an injured guy when the other options are Derrick Williams and Dante Cunningham aren’t ideal.

  4. Being a 10-20 game starter affects his utility for sure. One could argue the Wolves’ most important reserve is the backup 4/5; though RA prefers to play 10, Love and Pek will miss games, so having someone who can start 25+ at either spot could be significant. Oh no; I may have just talked myself into liking Cody Zeller at 9.

    I think his role in the offense is reliant on a more disciplined system and/or better scoring threats. Barea and Shved as a duo were more metacommentary on hero ball than spark plugs, and they affected the others on the floor (I felt bad for Budinger because he wanted to play the right way but wasn’t sure how to play off of them).

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