This is the first time in about four years that we signed up for cable. The main driver of that is the NBA season and Timberwolves. I grew up playing basketball in my driveway and idolizing players like Kevin Garnett on my home town team. I didn’t really get to see that many games because they were on cable and we could not afford it, however every now and then a few games would be shown on the local station. I’d also watch games at my neighbor’s occasionally and keep up with the team by reading newspapers and going online at school.
This season is kind of a big deal for me because there is so much going on from a franchise standpoint. The biggest and scariest thing is the health of Flip Saunders. Flip was our only truly successful coach in team history. He brought us to the playoffs for years with KG and although we never won a championship, we had a lot of very good years that gave us credibility. He is now fighting lymphoma and it is not going to be easy for the team in that regard.
KG came back last year. He is the most important person in the history of our team. Our only MVP, our only leader capable of bringing us to the playoffs. A first ballot hall of famer. Now a twenty year veteran, he will be a low minutes, high impact guy on the team. He’s always been known as a vocal player who can help teams as much defensively with communication as his other more tangible skills. The Twolves are a very young team and he’ll have his work cut out for him trying to teach the kids the ropes.
2016 marks a pivotal year for our best player, Ricky Rubio. Most people do not understand how good our point guard is. He is in the top of the class defensively and an elite playmaker. His weaknesses are offensive capability; creating and making his own shots, hitting open jumpers. He is a liability to his team in that regard, if he can turn it around and become average in those areas his value would sky rocket. He is a Jason Kidd level ceiling, but his trajectory never met those expectations due to his offensive incapabilities. Whereas Kidd figured it out, Ricky has not. He is now 24 years old, this year is truly make or break. Most basketball players peak from 27-30; he’ll have to set some building blocks in place if he is to become great.
By the end of this year, Andrew Wiggins will likely take the crown of “best wolf” away. He is an absolute beast. His athleticism is truly elite, even in the NBA. His defensive capabilities as a rookie showcased that he could be a star. His offensive game is impressive as well; he has an array of post moves with the strength and size to body up most players at the 2 and 3, while explosive enough to make any 4 in the league a mismatch. His shooting was also very good as a rookie toward the beginning of the season. It dipped further along in the season but that is a normal thing to happen. Wiggy is the reigning Rookie of the Year, for good reason. His ceiling is a Kobe Bryant level. His biggest weakness is his handle, he dribbles too high. He also doesn’t have the gifts of passing that some players such as KG or Lebron have, but he is adequate. Aggression has also been questioned, but I think he did well overall last year without pressing the issue. The challenge for him this year taking the reigns of the team and becoming a vocal leader. When you are the best player, you need to be vocal. KG will help teach him that.
Zach Lavine has no issues being aggressive. You can see in his style of play that he wants to score. He is a great fit on this team at the two guard, someone who can dribble drive and hit threes. He’s also likely the most athletic player on our team, which is absolutely insane to say when you have Wiggins on the roster. Zach is a good player who could be very good. His ceiling is likely the all star level, but it’s still a little early to know for sure. He was drafted out of UCLA one year in, just like Wiggins, and has the physical gifts. He’s too light and needs to build more muscle, but he will. What’s yet to be seen is his basketball IQ high enough. It wasn’t last year, which is why a guy like Wiggins can win ROY; he understands the game and how to use his physical tools. This will hopefully be the year that Zach does so and turns into and NBA level starter.
Karl Anthony Towns. The Timberwolves actually won the number one pick. And they didn’t mess it up by taking Jahlil Okafor. Okafor is going to be a good player in the NBA. He’s better than Towns today, his footwork and offensive capabilities will make him an 18ppg player this year, which is a big deal. He will vie for ROY. Towns is going to be a slower starter, but his ceiling is Tim Duncan. (As an aside, I do NOT make these comparisons lightly though it may seem so as names like Kobe and Duncan get tossed around. These are some of the absolute best players in the history of basketball, but our squad genuinely has that level of talent in terms of ceilings.) KAT can shoot threes. KAT can do the East Bay Funk Dunk. KAT can pass incredibly well for a C. KAT can shoot the 12-15 footer. KAT can post up and already has a great hook shot. He can roll over either shoulder, though he’s better turning his left. Defensively he has a great motor, his fundamentals need a bit of work but the motor will turn him into an all star within four years alone. There just aren’t that many guys with the size and motor he has shown and on the defensive end that wins games. I am extremely excited to watch this kid play and learn.
The rest of the squad is interesting too. We have vets in Kevin Martin, Tayshaun Prince and Andre Miller. We have depth and youth in Shabazz Mohammed, Gorgui Dieng and Nemanja Bjelica – the recent Euroleague MVP. We have all the pieces and a ton of talent. We just don’t have the time together yet. And that’s what the season will be all about. Learning to play together and gelling as a team. This is going to be an AMAZING year and I can’t wait for it all to get started. ARRROOOOO!