Archives For NBA draft

GR3

With the 40th pick in the NBA Draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves selected Glenn Robinson III, a small forward from the University of Michigan.

Robinson averaged 13.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.2 assists on 49/31/76 shooting splits in 32.7 minutes per game for the Wolverines in 2013-14. He turns 21 in January, stands 6’7 with a 6’10 wingspan, a 42 inch max vertical and weights 211 pounds. He possesses good size and athleticism for an NBA small forward, but must answer questions about shot creation and focus on the defensive end in order to be contributor at the next level.

He got lost in the shuffle, somewhat, playing for such a loaded program during his two seasons in Ann Arbor. All in all, it seems like a pretty good value where the Wolves got him; DraftExpress, for instance, had him pegged somewhere in the late 20s.

Anyway, here’s a fun video of him dunking:

In other news, the Wolves sold the 44th pick to the Brooklyn Nets for a reported $1 million, and they in turn selected Oklahoma State guard Markel Brown. Then, Minnesota sent the 53rd pick to the Houston Rockets for undisclosed cash considerations. Daryl Morey took Italian shooting guard Alessandro Gentile from Milano.

In summary, the Wolves used their second round picks to draft a guy who’ll have a fighting chance to crack the roster (Glenn Robinson III) and profit marginally by selling them off (44, 53) rather than grabbing prospects to stash abroad. Ideally, I would’ve preferred one of the second-rounders to be kept in-house, but don’t feel strongly enough about any of the ones available to get worked up over it.

And with that, the Minnesota Timberwolves 2014 draft has concluded.

Reaction / analysis to come over the next few days.

nba-draft

The NBA Draft is exactly one week away, and as of now, Minnesota holds the 13th, 40th, 44th and 53rd overall selections. The Wolves’ standing in the first round could change if they pull the trigger on a Kevin Love trade, which seems more and more likely the closer we get to June 26th. Their second round selections could be used on players the team feels could fight for a roster spot, or they could be packaged to move up, or used on international stash prospects, or they could be sold, as often happens with later picks in the draft. The point is, there’s a ton of uncertainty. A lot could change between now and Draft night, but until the wheeling and dealing begins, all we can do is look long and hard at the prospects that may be available when the Timberwolves’ turn comes around. Continue Reading…

The Wolves also got the 21st pick in that Utah deal. With it, they drafted Louisville’s Gorgui Dieng. Here’s his vid:

Not to speculate, but my guess is that this means a) the 26th pick is getting moved and b) we’ve seen the last of Greg Stiemsma.

That didn’t take long. The Wolves have traded Burke to the Utah Jazz for the the 14th and 21st picks in this year’s draft. And with that 14th pick they chose…Shabazz Muhammad of UCLA. Here’s what Zach had to say about him earlier this week:

Here’s what I like about Shabazz: he can score (I think getting more scorers on this team can only be a good thing), he can shoot (not a deadeye but he’s not Wes Johnson either), he’s a good spot-up shooter (Rubio safety valve option?), he gets to the free throw line, a huge part of his game is getting out in transition (Wolves want to run), he rebounds well enough, and I think his wingspan turns him into a player with the potential to be a good defender. He only goes left, it seems but I still think he has the ability to become a well-rounded scorer. He also moves incredibly well without the ball and can post up a bit.

Here’s what worries me about Shabazz: he’s a bit of a tweener when it comes to playing shooting guard or playing small forward (which will plague him until he learns how to defend), he doesn’t pass at all (it’s both good and bad because he can’t be Derrick Williams out there but he also doesn’t turn it over much at all either), he’s not someone that generates a lot of turnovers (but that could develop), not a great athlete (length could make up for a lot there but he has to be quick, more than explosive), and he can’t shoot much off the dribble.

And here’s his DraftExpress video:

While most prognosticators (including our very own) still have the Wolves selecting ninth and drafting Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, there is still talk that the Wolves are trying to move up. (That name, by the way is so epic. Its like a Downton Abbey heiress married a Roman gladiator.) Here’s Marc Stein on Truehoop:

The teams working hardest to move up higher in the lottery are the Jazz, the Wolves and the Thunder[...]The Wolves are also trying to get up very high in an attempt to land Victor Oladipo or Ben McLemore. Their trade bait, as we’ve previously reported, is in the form of picks 9, 26 and Derrick Williams. 

We’ve discussed before that Oladipo is the Wolves’ dream pick in this draft and so its not surprising that they’re going fishing in the top five. A couple of things to think about here. The first is the problem of assessing the quality of the draft in general. We seem to know that the top of the draft is relatively weak: there are no LeBrons or Durants up here. But what does that mean about the middle of the draft, a place where many effective role players and even All-Stars have emerged in recent years. Are we really confident that there are no Kawhi Leonards or Ty Lawsons lingering in the middle of the first round? Is KCP more of a Paul George or a Wes Johnson? Oladipo seems to fit the Wolves’ needs perfectly, but should we be concerned about his age, his relative lack of size and the fact that he only shot well in one of his three college seasons? Cody Zeller, a player who could very well still be on the board when the Wolves draft at number nine, rates very well statistically. But he was a big man in college and will likely play a more outside-in game in the pros. Will these stats translate into a new role? Hard to know, right? But obviously important if you’re going to trade both of your first round picks and a young player to move up five places.

All of these issues are in play both in the Wolves’ decision to make a deal and in the likelihood that any team in the top five will take it. Another thing for those teams to consider: just how good is Derrick Williams? I’ve seen almost every game he’s played over the last two seasons and I basically have no idea–and neither, as far as I can tell, does anyone else. Should be an interesting night.

I would have included this in my links yesterday but it hadn’t been written yet. Not my fault. But today at Truehoop, Tom Haberstroh opens eyes by revealing that while “draft efficiency alone explains 34 percent of the variability in a team’s record over the past decade” payroll size explains just seven percent. So much for economic inequality explaining competitive imbalance, I guess. (Effing hysterical, by the way, that some of the country’s most bloated plutocrats are whinging about economic inequality. As Dave Berri recently put it in this radio interview, “Americans love socialism in their sports.”)

Of perhaps more interest to us Wolves’ followers: Haberstroh includes a chart detailing the league’s best-drafting and worst-drafting teams over the past decade. Guess what is not surprising: the Wolves came in second-worst. This, more than any other reason–more even than market size or chilly winters–is why they are bad.

Miles of Smiles

Benjamin Polk —  June 26, 2010 — 11 Comments

Photo by harold.lloyd

Here are a few clarifying, explanatory, provocative notes from Friday’s media sessions with the Wolves new draftees, Wes Johnson, Lazar Haywood and Namanja Bjelcia, plus David Kahn and Kurt Rambis.

  • Its become clear that the Timberwolves have made re-signing Darko Milicic (and, to a lesser extent, Nikola Pecovic) a condition of trading Al Jefferson. “It’s the right time finally for us to explore this,” Kahn said. “I’ve met with Al and discussed this. If Darko comes back, there could be a need to create some playing time. We really need to get our front line settled.” This is slightly unsettling because it  suggests that Kahn and Rambis have calibrated their concept of “team need” around Darko’s presence. One wonders: did this factor into their decision to pass on Demarcus Cousins? I am now squirming in my chair.
  • Kahn predicted that sign-and-trades, rather than straight free-agent signings would dominate the landscape this summer. But, as Myles rightly points out, now that Rudy Gay seems to be off the table it’s not clear which free agents the Wolves might be pursuing. They could certainly attempt use Al to work a Chris Bosh sign-and-trade although I would think that Bosh’s first desire would be to just go wherever Lebron goes. After that, what’s left? Joe Johnson? Carlos Boozer? Amar’e Stoudemire? David Lee? Tyrus Thomas? Amir Johnson? Does any of this make sense?
  • Or might the Wolves simply save their cap room for next summer, when the Miamis, Chicagos and New Jerseys of the world have already chased their dreams and Carmelo, Joakim Noah, Kendrick Perkins, Al Horford and Nene can all become free agents? The mind boggles.
  • Kahn adamantly rejected the premise that the Wolves needed to make dramatic changes in order to attract Ricky Rubio. “He’d like us to improve, but we all would,” Kahn said. “I think that what’s important to him is that he feels that he’s ready to play. And he feels that in a year he’ll be more ready to play. Anything else is just fluff.” Ok, then.
  • This from Kurt Rambis (a sentiment later endorsed by Kahn): “Last year was just what we had to do, business-wise. Now we’re starting to build a team. I’ve always considered this our first year. Last year was just a business year.” I guess we all kind of knew that already. Not sure how much business got done but it sure wasn’t much fun.
  • Also from Rambis: “Smart players don’t have a problem picking up any offense.” That’s a bold statement. But I feel like it explains a lot of what the Wolves are doing here. They clearly have put a premium on athletic players, like Johnson and Martell Webster, who also happen to be pretty sharp fellas. They may not be the ultimate in terms of pure individual skill but, I’m guessing this thinking goes, they’ll be able to find roles within the offense. They’ll be willing  and able to move the ball and move without the ball, to be in position to make plays and then to actually make them.
  • But still, commenter Mac makes a great point. Last season, the Wolves suffered from a desperate lack of shooting, athleticism and creativity on the wing. Johnson and and Webster take care of the first two but not the third. The team still badly needs a perimeter player who can (intelligently) create his own shot.
  • I was totally charmed by Johnson’s and Haywood’s giddiness and earnest enthusiasm. They seem like good dudes. I really hope they’re good basketball players.
  • Bjelica does not speak English well at all. We can only imagine how arduous an entire day spent in the company of strangers, in a country you’ve never before visited, answering questions in a language you barely speak must have been–particularly if those foreign strangers are your future employers. The kid looked sad-eyed and shell-shocked.

You’re My Density

Benjamin Polk —  May 28, 2010 — 1 Comment

Photo by Quinn.anya

Check out Bethlehem Shoals at Fanhouse, with another critique of the NBA draft (the 2010 version, at least). This time, its in comparison with this year’s mythic free agent class. If you read the whole thing, you can catch Shoals calling Demarcus Cousins a “stenchful fraud.” Yowza:

“Instead, it’s been overshadowed by something at once more realistic and more fantastic. If the draft plays with the fantasy of franchise renewal, then Free Agency 2010 throws aside the dolls and chew toys and says LET’S DO THIS. This is not a drill; LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh are not decoys. By comparison, the draft is an afterthought — at least as any kind of exercise in idealism.”

Shoals is right to point out that the imaginative potential of this free agent class–the ability to envision some team making that one transformational move–dwarfs that of the draft. But, setting aside the fact that very few teams actually have a shot at these luminaries, that note of realism marks a key difference. Lebron and Wade and Bosh (and Dirk and Amare and more) are surely epochal players, but we’ve also seen them at their limits. Neither Lebron nor Wade could singlehandedly solve the Celtics defensive pressure. Despite Dirk’s most manful efforts, he couldn’t force his team to play grittier D or more coherent O against San Antonio. And even Bosh couldn’t save Toronto from devolving into a depressing spectacle. This free agent class is filled with sure things, but team-building remains a complex, esoteric business. And the draft is still the site of our most unabashed optimism.

Here’s a neat little supplement to Zach’s terrific profile of Cousins, by Jason King of Yahoo Sports (thanks to Sweetpants of the Modern Radio Messageboard). In the piece, (as in those interview vids) Cousins comes across as pretty much what one would expect from a magnificently talented, deep south celebrity teenager: a little naive; a little moody and paranoid; pretty boyish and charming. In other words–surprise, surprise–a complicated person, one we’re probably not going to get to the bottom of just by watching Youtube or reading online scouting reports. Definitely worth a read if you’re interested.

For some reason, Zach’s post made me think of this:

Selective Service

Benjamin Polk —  May 23, 2010 — 10 Comments

Photo by HooverStreetStudios

From where I sit there are lots of reasons to prefer the NBA over college hoops. Systems designed to enhance–rather than suppress–creativity; the ability to make jump shots; I could go on. The NBA is, of course, often accused (especially by fans of the NCAA) of a certain mercenary character; the money, they say, sucks the passion and loyalty right out of the game. We can debate the merits of this criticism another time (I tend to think that its mostly unfair and kind of misses the point, but, like I said…), but it does point to one of my most important reasons for preferring the pros. Both the NCAA and NBA rely on systems of exploitation. But in the NBA the exchange is explicit. The players are expected to churn through their bodies providing us entertainment and producing revenue for owners but, unlike their collegiate counterparts who are put to similar uses by their universities, they are compensated openly and handsomely for it.

Still, this is not an ideal arrangement. By agreeing to it (and who wouldn’t, right?), players are essentially consenting to become commodities. They are referred to as “assets” and “pieces,” and are bought, sold and traded as such. The movements and labors of their bodies are known as “the product,” and their inner lives deemed valuable only in the extent that they can a) foster their teams’ production or b) be packaged into digestible, televisable bits. And if the life of ease and comfort that all that money promises turns out to be a little more elusive than originally imagined (spying Mo Williams’s  acrostic “NBA: Never Broke Again” tattoo, one can only cross one’s fingers), it’s partially because the league’s investment ends when the player is finally physically unable to perform (it could be worse, though–just check out the NFL).

In many ways, the draft is a young fella’s initiation into this rather unpalatable system of exchange. Bodies are examined, categorized and bisected. Actions are dissolved into statistics and compartmentalized into video montages. Psychologies are expertly analyzed based on a precise algorithm of hearsay and casual TV watching. And in what has to be among the most uniquely un-free labor practices imaginable in a free-market democracy, these 19 and 20-year-olds are literally conscripted into service by their future franchises. When it comes to the NBA draft, the dictates of employer need, inter-league parity and the chance movements of ping-pong balls trump freedom of employment every time.

Hope I’m not sounding too fussy here. I certainly don’t mean to exempt myself from this judgment. Notice that, in below tying Elton Brand’s “value” to his excessive salary and diminishing on-court production, I took part in this very phenomenon. And in the coming days and weeks, we here at A Wolf Among Wolves will offer you quite a bit of that aforementioned analysis, video dissection and physical appraisal. We desperately want the Wolves to get better; the draft is their most important tool to that end.

As fans, its almost impossible to resist the allure of this peculiar institution. We get to imagine these young guys as fully flowered stars. We get to indulge in the hope that the teams we love will,  someday (or, better yet, in one decisive move) become something great. We allow them to become consumer items in order to feed our dreams of a better tomorrow.  I don’t mean to scold; this imaginative optimism is maybe the central fact of fandom and is an essential element of sports’ deep healing power. If it ends up getting sold to us in the form of a human commodity, well that’s just another discomfiting compromise in a world filled with them.