Archives For Zach Harper

Miller moves on

Benjamin Polk —  April 30, 2012 — 2 Comments

I hope that the Wolves horrendous, disheartened season-closing efforts didn’t swear you off the team forever. Moreover, I hope that you checked out the team’s final game in which the woodsman, Brad Miller, dissolved into tears as he checked out of his final NBA game. And if you missed it (even if you didn’t) I hope you took a look at Zach’s moving and eloquent tribute to the man himself on Truehoop. Some choice words:

Miller is a beautiful passer. Watching him operate out of the post and the high-post throughout his 14 years has been a pleasure. He often seemed to know there was an opening to deliver the ball before his teammates even knew they were open. He could throw bounce passes, chest passes, behind-the-back passes, or whatever was necessary to get his teammates a score. The passes were on point, allowing the least amount of movement and execution to get a good shot off. When he integrated himself into Adelman’s system, he was thrown into a world that allowed his game to flourish.

Dude was a baller. I’m sad to see him go.

In the future, the Wolves will make the playoffs and we will all live in places like this.

The regular season is just a tick over halfway done. Almost miraculously, your Timberwolves have won as many times in 33 games as they did all of last year. They have players that do incredible things, players that people enjoy watching. It seems possible that they may actually be competing for a playoff spot as the season winds down. The days of dreary, callow basketball, of loss after disheartening loss, seem to be over.

But the riddle is far from solved. The Wolves remain incomplete, full of gaps and shortcomings. And they face a punishing schedule, sure to deplete whatever reserves of energy they may have stowed away during their long weekend. So Zach, Myles and I will here attempt to tackle some of the big questions facing the Wolves as the season’s second half gets underway.

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Friends, the longest night of the year has come and gone. The lockout is now, miraculously, a bitter memory. Ricky Rubio, Rick Adelman, Derrick Williams, the svelte, newly athletic Kevin Love and all of the rest of your Wolves will soon take the floor for an actual, certified NBA game. So how’s this gonna go? This year’s Wolves are a strange amalgamation of moving parts and oddly shaped puzzle pieces.  Although we’re hopeful that something new and great is about to begin, there are still scads of unanswered questions hanging in the air. Zach, Myles and I have no better idea than the rest of you how this will all play out, but here’s our best shot untangling some of the riddles that will inform the Wolves’ season. All that’s left to do is play basketball. Read on…

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Timberwolves get shiny

Benjamin Polk —  December 20, 2011 — 8 Comments

Right now I live in the desert and so I wasn’t able to see the Wolves take out the Bucks on Saturday. But Zach was there and this is what he had to say about it on Hoopspeak:

Sitting through four years of soul-crushing and questionable rebuilding practices are quickly vanishing with each Love double-double, Rubio behind the back pass, and Derrick Williams baptism at the rim. We finally have Rick Adelman, A REAL COACH, guiding the process. There is no more waiting for Kevin Love to get minutes. There is no waiting for Ricky Rubio to want to play here. There is no more waiting, period. We want our franchise turning the corner and we want it NOW. After attempting to be patient for so long, it looks like our golden goose is finally shipping.

Preach on brother.

Harper on Rambis

Benjamin Polk —  July 13, 2011 — 5 Comments

Over at Truehoop, Zach has the definitive account of the Rambis era:

Rambis was not a very good coach over the past two years. His teams were inefficient offensively and abhorrent defensively. Last season, it seemed that he was one of the worst fourth-quarter coaches in the entire league because of how the Wolves seemed to kick away leads. (Yes, they actually had fourth-quarter leads.)…However, the way he’s been treated by Kahn and the Wolves organization in the past two months might be the most embarrassing part of this entire era. Rambis should have been fired right after the regular season ended. There was no real reason to drag this out. It’s just another case of the Wolves mismanaging a personnel decision within the organization. The Wolves already should have a head coach and be ready to make roster decisions once the lockout ends. Instead, they’ve once again been making moves without a head coach in place for the upcoming season.

All true. Here’s what I would add, though. Zach points out that, partially because Rambis was hired after the roster was set in 2009, this team was never temperamentally or compositionally cut out to run the triangle.  But its widely known that Tex Winter’s offense requires an exceptionally steep learning curve for young players. My impression was that, by hiring Rambis and giving him a four year deal, the Wolves were taking the long view, acknowledging that this would take some time and patience, that no team as young as the Wolves could ever have learned the system in two short years. Given that Kahn and Taylor appear to have run out of patience after just two seasons, one wonders why Rambis was hired and given such a vote of confidence to begin with.

It’s not every day that an opportunity arises to write about the Timberwolves on the main Truehoop page. But today, by virtue of the Wolves’ glancing involvement with Carmelo Anthony, is one of those days. As such, our boy Zach got his pretty face in the lights. Suffice it to say, he was underwhelmed with the Brewer-for-Randolph deal:

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Photo by Tucia

The Wolves’ 98-86 loss to the Pacers on Wednesday night was seen by almost nobody. Nonetheless, we know that the Wolves seemed to play solid defense but shot only 32% from the floor. Kurt Rambis wrote it off to “fatigue.” That’s gonna happen, I guess. All I know is I’m glad I didn’t have to see Kevin Love brick a dunk. Here’s some other stuff:

  • I’m surprised that this one was committed to video by anyone anywhere, but highlights do exist. They’re right here.
  • And a recap of the whole affair is here. After getting lit up for 30 points by Danny Granger, Michael Beasley gave us a taste of his defensive philosophy (via the Strib):

I love the challenge, I don’t like the matchup. I mean, a perfect world for me is to play all offense and no defense, but that’s every player. I love the head-to-head matchup. I’m a competitor, that’s what I do.

Really Mike? “Every player”?

Ultimately, this policy is a good thing for the time being, but not because players shouldn’t be able to question the officiating. It’s a good thing because it forces us (and yes, this includes the NBA and David Stern as well) to discuss the state of officiating. Even if the players have to be mum on the subject, the subject is still out there to be debated.  Just debate it in a calm and mature manner. Otherwise, you’ll probably be ejected.

I’d say I agree with Zach’s essential point that the policy is useful if it forces us to actually face up to the state of officiating, and the dark essential question: even if the NBA is really poorly officiated, is that simply because the pro game is just too fast and complex to actually officiate well? On the other hand, while there are quite a few NBA players who really seem to relish a really good toddler-esque tantrum, this policy does seem to smack of David Stern’s vaunted paternalism. This league seems to really like telling grown men how to dress, when and how to talk, just what variety of facial contortion is the appropriate kind.

War and Rumors of War

Benjamin Polk —  June 22, 2010 — 2 Comments

Photo by Washuugenius

We here at A Wolf Among Wolves are not terribly into the rumors and the speculation. After all, by Friday morning we’ll all know who the Wolves drafted, who they traded and just maybe what it all means. At that point all of the pre-draft innuendo won’t much matter. Nonetheless, its obvious that the big red phone at Target Center has seen a lot of action lately. Our own Zach Harper recently spoke with Rahat Huq of Red 94, about Detroit’s and Houston’s interest in the fourth pick, Indiana’s inquiries about Jonny Flynn, and what it might all mean for the Pups. You really should read the whole thing. Here’s some fine insight:

“My first thought for every move the Wolves are rumored to be considering or proposing to other teams is always trying to figure out how this impacts getting Ricky Rubio to the Twin Cities. With the idea of trading Jonny Flynn for anything, you have to think it’s motivation for clearing depth at a position Rubio plays. To get him over here and in a Wolves uniform, you have to convince him that the job is his and it’s a lucrative and likely-to-succeed situation for him”

On that note, Charley Walters of the Pioneer Press reports that Wolves’ GM David Kahn had this to say about the possibility of moving the fourth pick: “Highly, highly, highly, highly unlikely.” That does not sound likely to me.

Walters continues:

“As for the possibility of trading rights to Spanish guard Ricky Rubio, who was the Wolves’ top draft pick (No. 5 overall) a year ago, Kahn reiterated, ‘I don’t anticipate trading him. I feel very strongly that Ricky Rubio should start his career with us here in a Minnesota Timberwolves uniform, and I look forward to that day a year from now.'”

Oh but here’s a fly in the ointment. This from Jonathan Givony of Draft Express, writing at SI.com (via our friend SG at Canis Hoopus, so many links!):

“Rubio will not be inclined to terminate his contract with Barcelona next summer if there’s no new collective bargaining agreement by then. Also, if Rubio waits until 2012 — three years removed from his draft year — he’ll no longer be bound by the rules of the NBA rookie scale, which, under the current CBA, would pay him an average of about $3.6 million his first two years, a sum that will likely be below market value. Freed from the rookie scale, Rubio could negotiate like a free agent with the team that holds his rights, receiving anything from the mid-level exception ($5.85 million this season) to a maximum contract if a team has the requisite room under the salary cap.”

Those are two really excellent points and also total bummers. So much is going to happen. Let’s be paying attention.

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: