The Warriors square off against the Minnesota Timberwolves tomorrow in Minny in what should be a good mid-December game. To get you up to speed with the latest on KG's former squad we decided to connect up with one of the best looking hoops blogs around TWolvesBlog. Minnesota may be colder than your refrigerator's freezer compartment right now, but this blog is hot!
Make the jump for the TWolvesBlog crew's thoughts on what makes Timberwolves games fun even with the losing, projections for Al Jefferson and Corey Brewer, and another what if scenario about KG to the Bay (like GSoM friend Tim Kawakami- I'm not going to let that one go!).
Update: Head on over to TWolvesBlog to check out what went down when they miced me up.
Golden State of Mind: The Timberwolves currently have the lowest win total in the entire association and most likely will miss the playoffs for the 4th straight year. As Warriors fans we definitely feel for you all and can empathize like no one else can with that 12 year drought still in our collective memory. What keeps the good fans in Minnesota interested in this ball club despite their dismal record? What makes TWolves games fun and exciting to watch right now for you all?
Derek (TWolvesBlog): Well, I'd be lying if I said that watching this team has always been more entertainment than chore, but the Wolves have had plenty of moments when they've genuinely been a fun team to watch. I've absolutely had a blast watching Al Jefferson--he won't make too many highlight reels, but any basketball junkie will love watching his fundamentally flawless, old-school post game. He's given Wolves fans a reason to tune in during this rough year--this squad has a future superstar in Al Jefferson, and I couldn't be happier to have him on-board. Big Al's definitely a guy to keep a close eye on, as he's quickly becoming one of the elite big men in the league. Don't leave him guarded one-on-one...that's all I'm gonna say.
Besides Jefferson, things get a little iffy, but there's still some reasons to keep watching this team. Corey Brewer's really come on strong as of late, and it's been enjoyable to see this kid make consistent progress throughout the season. Tentative to start the season, he's become increasingly aggressive, and has been rewarded with more and more playing time. People can fault him for his undeveloped offensive game, but they can't fault him for a lack of effort--he plays with an enormous amount of energy on a nightly basis, and that's made Brewer a fun player to watch.
The final guy I'll mention is Craig Smith--"the Rhino," as we call him, is truly a joy to watch. This guy has an absolutely amazing intuition on the offensive glass--keep an eye on Smith during this game, and you'll see plenty of instances where Craig is in exactly right place at exactly right time to grab an offensive board. He's one of the more underrated offensive rebounders in the league, in my opinion. Again, for the basketball junkies out there, he's a very entertaining guy to watch during games, due to the great basketball intuition he possesses.
So those are the main three guys who have been fun to watch lately...and the prospect of possibly seeing Marko Jaric's girlfriend, Adrianna Lima, keeps me tuning in, as well.
Golden State of Mind: The TWolves have some young and very intriguing players in Al Jefferson, Corey Brewer, and Mark Madsen (just seeing you're paying attention!). Jefferson's putting up some very impressive double-double point and rebound totals nightly and Brewer seems to be having a decent enough rookie campaign with some very nice rebounding efforts. Are these two players along with Randy Foye, Sebastian Telfair, Ryan Gomes, and Gerald Green going to be good enough to return this franchise back to the already uber-loaded Western Conference Playoff bracket in the next 2-3 years? How long do you think it'll take for the playoffs to come back to the Twin Cities?
Anthony (TWolvesBlog): The cornerstone of the Wolves' franchise is obviously Al Jefferson. Having watched him over the first quarter of the season, it's clear that he's an All-Star in the making. As you mentioned, Corey Brewer is coming along nicely as well. I don't envision him being a superstar in this league, but he definitely has the makings of a top-notch role player with his defense and rebounding ability. Randy Foye, while injured all of this year, showed flashes of brilliance and a knack for being a cold-blooded 4th quarter scorer last year. I think those three are going to be a big part of the T-Wolves core as they rebuild this team. I'm not sure how much of a role, if any, that Gomes or Green will play down the line, but Sebastian Telfair has been a huge surprise and I'd love to see McHale do what it takes to keep him around. If his development continues, he'll be a solid backup PG at worst, and possibly even good enough to start on a playoff team.
As for the Wolves return to the playoffs, it could be as soon as next year. Don't laugh - hear me out. Right now we're looking at a Top 4 pick in the draft at worst. Hopefully it will be better. We've also got Theo's monster expiring contract as a trading chip and picks from Boston and Miami to use as well. If McHale swings the right trade deadline deal for a good player, and we add a Derrick Rose, or Michael Beasely to this roster via the draft, the Wolves could be a playoff-caliber team. The T-Wolves would likely also need a coaching change, as that's the #1 reason why we're struggling so much in my book. You also have to keep in mind that our 3-18 start has come without Randy Foye, our second-best player. His return is going to be a big help.
In all likelihood it's going to take a little more player movement, some draft picks, and a coaching change for this team to right the ship. I think a return to the post-season in 2010 or 2011 is a reasonable goal, but the Wolves do have the trading pieces to speed up that process if the right situation presents itself, and some luck with the ping pong balls may help us out as well.
Golden State of Mind: Bringing KG to the Bay topped the wish lists of many Warrior fans this past off season, but despite the predictions of our comic books and our professions of 1 Dub 1 Luv for the man that loved India that didn't go down as planned. Not that it makes any difference whatsoever now, but which Kevin Garnett trade would TWolves fans be more happy with: 1) Kevin Garnett to the Golden State Warriors for Al Harrington, Andris Biedrins, Monta Ellis, and Marco Belinelli (#18 pick), or what actually went down, 2) Kevin Garnett to the Boston Celtics for Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, Al Jefferson, Theo Ratliff, Sebastian Telfair, a 2009 first round draft pick (top three protected) and getting back the TWolves conditional first round draft pick from the previous Ricky Davis-Wally Szczerbiak trade between the Wolves and Celts?
Jeremy (TWolvesBlog): Currently, I'm going to have to go with the Boston trade given Harrington's early-season murder of my fantasy basketball team. Seriously, I preferred the Boston trade because of Al Jefferson and getting our first-round pick back. This doesn't mean I think the Boston trade heavily outweighed the Golden State trade, as I like Monta Ellis' game a lot and the other players were better on paper than the non-Jefferson Boston players, but in hindsight the Harrington/Jefferson gap is bigger than I thought. I didn't see much of Al Jefferson while he was in Boston, but I knew he was growing into his position. Seeing him now makes me more satisfied in the Boston trade than in the potential deal with Golden State because I didn't realize his offensive post moves were as mature as they are. Harrington definitely has a higher ceiling than Jefferson, mostly because he's more athletic. So, unlike Jefferson, Harrington has a long way to go to reach his ceiling. However, I would rather have a player like Jefferson reach his ceiling at age 22 than never reach one at all (which is possible with Harrington). Jefferson can still get better with the 15-footer, something he has been working on, and some better passing skills, but even if he was done improving he could put 18-22 ppg and 9-13 rpg up in this league for a long, long time given that his style of play doesn't seem conducive to injury. That being said, I still don't think Jefferson is an alpha dog and he will need a more pronounced star to play alongside him for any type of playoff success, which brings us back to the pick we got back that we never should have traded away. That's going to be important to rebuilding the Wolves. Let's put it this way: in the next few seasons, the Wolves are going to see more balls bouncing than Lohan, Hilton, Spears, and the cast of The Hills combined. The more chances we can get to hit a home run, the better. On top of that, the Wolves will get an '09 first round pick. Red Auerbach never liked trading picks away, and he ran a nice squad for a long time.
Special thanks to the TWolvesBlog crew for putting together some really insightful responses. I can only hope that they don't have to endure over a decade of losing while they rebuild with Dave Twardzik- ooops, I mean Kevin McHale at the helm.