Archives For Roster Review

Pekovic

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.

Tradition in a storm of revolution.

That’s what Nikola Pekovic is for the Minnesota Timberwolves. He’s tradition. He’s brute strength and post skill. He’s rebounding prowess and paint protection. He doesn’t block shots but he cuts off paths to the hoop for every player in the league that thinks they can bang with him. Amazingly, it happens more often than you’d assume it does. Nikola Pekovic is kind of a traditional center. He can run the pick-and-roll or put opponents in the meat grinder on the low block. He’s great at battling for the boards on both sides of the floor. And he doesn’t kill you from the free throw line.

The weird thing though is that you’re trying to fit this traditional center into the concept of today’s basketball. And I’d imagine that’s what gives people a lot of pause when trying to decide just how much Pek is worth to this team. As of July 1st, you don’t get to measure that value in terms of points or rebounds or win-loss record or PER or win shares or win shares per 48 minutes or skulls collected. When June 30, 2013 dies, so do all of the measurements of Pek’s skills too. At that moment, Pek becomes a monetary value to the Wolves’ organization and that’s the number we’ll judge him by.

Before we get to that point on July 1, I’d like to go over the value of Pek that exists/existed before he became a monetary value.  Continue Reading…

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.

I spent my 28th year in disarray. I turned 27 less than a month after my girlfriend—following weeks of tense negotiations and mixed messages—decided not to pick up the team option on my expiring 5-year contract. Instead of staying on the East Coast in the hopes of getting picked up by a new team, I moved to Minnesota and spent the next year honing my skillset, by which I mean drinking too much, staying out all night, living in a one room double in a dorm with a slovenly 19-year-old art school student, and playing out a string of 10-day contracts with different women while trying to believe they were going to pick me up for good. These were—as someone once called a time like this—the wonderful nights, the wonderful days.

You’d be hard pressed to call the 2012-13 season wonderful for Kevin Love. To be more blunt, Kevin Love fucked up a lot this season. Some of those things were out of his control, and some of them weren’t. I’m not here to tell you which were which. I’m here to say I look at Kevin Love and see a man in his 25th year who—at least at least outwardly—is in disarray. Continue Reading…

DDubLion

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.

There is a very old bit of Greek literature called Agamemnon by Aeschylus. You know the whole spiel about Helen of Troy and how she was “abducted” by Orlando Bloom? Well, Agamemnon was the guy that told the Greek army to get going on the Trojan War. If you don’t feel like reading literature from over 2,500 years ago (and really, who has the time for that?) then you can just watch the movie “Troy” to get the gist of what happened with that whole love story. Brian Cox plays Agamemnon in the movie.

The reason I bring this up is in Agamemnon there is a parable of a lion cub. The baby lion is taken in by a family. They nurture the cub. They feed it, protect it, and treat it as a child of their own. It was too weak to survive on its own, so they went the SPCA route of adopting it and giving it a chance to grow, be cared for and be healthy. However, caring for such a beast isn’t enough to subvert the instincts of the lion cub permanently. At some point, nature takes over within the heart and brain of the lion.

But waxing time and growth betrays
The blood-thirst of the lion-race,
And, for the house’s fostering care,
Unbidden all, it revels there,
And bloody recompense repays-
Rent flesh of kine, its talons tare:
A mighty beast, that slays, and slays,
And mars with blood the household fair,
A God-sent pest invincible,
A minister of fate and hell.

The lion kills the family that made it part of their home. He tears them apart, rips their flesh, and feasts on them, as if they had never met and just happened across each other’s paths in the wild. The parable is meant to be about Helen’s time in the city of Troy. But really, I can’t help but think about the tale of the lion cub and the family whenever I look back on the season Derrick Williams had with the Timberwolves.  Continue Reading…

82. That’s the number I want you to keep in mind.

Because it’s true that Luke Ridnour is not a starting-caliber point guard. Because he’s 31 and battling chronic back problems. Because his best season likely came three years ago for the Bucks when his PER crept up to 17.7. Because he’s never averaged more than 7.5 assists per game and did that all the way back in 2005–06. Because of his good-but-not-amazing career 43/35/87 shooting percentages.

Because Ridnour should by rights be one of the better backup point guards in the league right now but instead started every one of the Timberwolves 82 games, many of them at shooting guard. Continue Reading…

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.

Glue guy.

That’s a term we use in sports, right? As I understand it, it’s the guy that is willing to do whatever is needed for his team as a way to keep things together. When things are going poorly, he’s diving on the floor, flying in for rebounds, getting deflections, darting toward the basket, picking his teammates up, and showing all of the intangibles in tangible form. The adhesive of their impact on the game is supposed to keep a team from spiraling out of control.

That doesn’t always work out though.  Continue Reading…

Yes, he's wearing a Mavs uniform, but come on: the thumbs up.

Yes, he’s wearing a Mavs uniform, but come on: the thumbs up.

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.

When J.J. Barea gets that steely glint in his eye, the possession is only ending one of two ways, and neither are not shooting. You saw that glint most often this past season somewhere around the mid-third quarter, at the point where the Wolves had let the lead slip enough that it was in jeopardy, or else had fought back enough that it was within striking distance. As Barea received the ball on the inbounds pass, someone on our row of the media section would likely mutter, “It’s going up.” Or maybe as Barea brought the ball across the half-court and held one hand up in a fist, someone would joke, “That’s the number of passes that are going to happen on this play.” Continue Reading…

Mickael Gelabale defending the pick-and-ro–I mean sitting on a couch.

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.

One of the more puzzling strands of the Wolves’ season was Rick Adelman’s routine postgame praising of Mickael Gelabale. ‘Geli’ (or ‘Jelly‘?) often received kind words for his defensive energy or his corner three shooting or even, it seemed, his mere presence. I say ‘puzzling’ because to the naked eye Gelabale seemed to be only a moderately interested bystander on the court. With the exception of the Great Ten Day Contract Miracle of January 19th, in which he and Chris Johnson combined to score 23 of the victorious Wolves’ 29 fourth-quarter points, he never had much of an impact on the game’s outcome. He has a sleepy, uninflected face and a loping stride, both of which express less “playoff intensity” than “mildly hungover Sunday afternoon softball game.” Rather than providing “good energy” or whatever, he seemed instead to be a kind of null presence, just a blurry outline of a not-quite replacement level NBA player.

Continue Reading…

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. Continue Reading…

Wile_E__Coyote3

There are a lot of rookie clichés that can be deployed about Alexey Shved: the rookie wall, a tale of two halves, he needs to add strength, needs to get comfortable, has to look for his shot, etc. If you talk to him—which almost no one ever got to as the season wore on because he would duck out immediately following games—you would hear a lot of clichés as well, but maybe that was down to Shved trying to get a grip on a language that’s still elusive.

The same thing happens with Rubio. I lamented to Zach one night that it’s too bad we can’t have a crack Spanish translator there so we could ask very specific questions that could garner specific, hopefully insightful answers from the Catalonian wunderkind. (And yes I know that’s mixing Spain and Germany—multiculturalism!) But instead all we get are bromides about competing, playing hard, playing as a team, and then crazy people in the skyway yelling at Zach that they don’t need a translator. (True story.) Continue Reading…

RoyLove

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.

The Brandon Roy experiment.

It failed, right? Of course, it failed. He played five out of the 82 games and in those five games he struggled mightily. The only part of his game that was still there was his passing game. In fact, he showed the best passing rates of his career with 6.8 assists per 36 minutes and an assist percentage of 28.8% in the short amount of time he spent on the court.

I’ve tried to look at his time with the Wolves and glean as many positives as I can from it. It’s an overused cliché but he was a warrior of sorts out there. It doesn’t make him the same as a gladiator from long ago or any soldier that has ever fought in a battle or war. We’re using warrior in a much different sense here. Brandon Roy was a warrior because he fought. He fought against his body. He fought against what was expected of him, which was next to nothing. He fought against what modern science was trying to whisper into his psyche.  Continue Reading…