Every offseason brings change. Sometimes it’s massive, sometimes it’s more subtle. Sadly, it looks like the Wolves are more or less standing pat this offseason and looking to … hang on, my producer’s telling me something … Well, I guess we’ll talk more about THAT later but now is the time to introduce a new member of the A Wolf Among Wolves family, Tim Faklis, who joins us fresh off a lot of terrific work over at Canis Hoopus. I got to know Tim a bit personally over this last year as we waited uncomfortably for Kevin Love or Ricky Rubio or (that one time) Corey Brewer to finally emerge from the back of the locker room, plus I’ve been a big fan of his work with CH, a site that continues to do a bang up job supporting the whole Wolves fan community both with quality writing and active and engaged discussion.
We asked Tim to join us because stalwart AWAW writer and professional hair model Zach Harper has taken his talents to South Beach, where he’ll be getting to cover LeBron James up close for the whole … hang on, producer again … Anyways, we hear it’s real nice there most of the time. He’ll continue to cover the Wolves, mostly for away games, but we thought it would be a good idea to stick to a solid three-man rotation at home games, most likely meaning that Bill Bohl gets to move up a slot and not stack all the unwanted box scores next to his computer. Good luck with that, Tim.
I’ve asked Tim to say a few words by way of introduction, so listen up:
When I was 13, my favorite Timberwolf was Trenton Hassell. The team was a threat to win the championship, Kevin Garnett and Sam Cassell were having career years, the Target Center was setting attendance records, yet I couldn’t take my focus off the team’s defensive stopper. I even whined until my parents bought me a jersey of his. The only option was size XL, because who shops for Trenton Hassell jerseys? I wanted it anyway.
Hassell came up big in the 04 playoffs (see: Carmelo Anthony and Peja Stojakovic game logs in those first two rounds), but after the hand check rule was incorporated the following summer, Hassell lost a lot of what made him starter material.
This made it easier for guys like Carmelo (round 1) to break off his man, get into the paint and score. It also made it easier for guys like Peja (round 2) to break off screens and get an easier look at a 3-pointer.
He certainly wasn’t the only one, but the change was tough on my favorite player. I had to write about it.
The phenomenon of one rule change making such a big difference in a player’s options fascinated me. It fascinated me enough to make a blog as a 15-year-old freshman in high school. The article and the blog are both long gone, but the itch to write about things like Trenton Hassell and hand check rules never really left me. Since then, I’ve written a lot, at times obsessively, about equally ridiculous Wolves-related happenings.
Thankfully (for all parties involved, including myself), my love of basketball goes way past one fairly obscure role player. I remember going to Timberwolves games at a young enough age where knowing “#3 is the best player on the other team” was the extent of my scouting report. That player was Shareef Abdur-Rahim during his stint with the Vancouver Grizzlies, in case you were wondering.
I grew up watching the Timberwolves routinely make the playoffs. They were a playoff team the year I saw Shareef face off against Kevin Garnett, they were a playoff team when Trenton Hassell was my favorite player.
Since the hand check rule was implemented, the Wolves have gone 0 for 10 in hunts for the playoffs. Hassell was dealt within the first couple years of the stretch, and lots of attempts to rebrand the team have transpired. As a whole, it hasn’t gone particularly well.
Still, when a team struggles, the natural inclination is to figure out how to fix it. It gets people thinking. Maybe, in a way, the Wolves’ struggles have brought out more interesting takes from the local blogesphere. Heck, Hassell’s struggles are what got me started writing in the first place.
Whatever it is, Minnesota has produced some of my favorite basketball writers over the past 10 years, and now I’m lucky enough to work with 3 of them on this blog. As a group, we’ll get the fun task of examining yet another attempt at a Timberwolves rebrand, and another group of youngsters.
Last year was my first year covering the Wolves as a member of the media, and I had the time of my life. I can’t wait to do it again.