I’m sorry I’m not any higher on everyone’s sleeper-pick, League Pass darlings. I know there are few, if any, teams that have a brighter future four or five years from now, and I know that there are gonna be 15 or 20 games this year where these guys look like the future of fun, dumb-athletic, dunking all over the world basketball. But the rest of the time? These guys are gonna be ugggg-layyyy.
Let’s start with the future, fun, dumb-athletic, dunking all over the world part. This is a team that leveraged Kevin Love’s bitter crying into his beard attitude into two overall first round picks (okay, really one first overall pick) AND THEN doubled down by picking first in this year’s draft and taking the clear #1 prospect and possible generational superstar in Karl Anthony-Towns. They also added two additional first-rounders in the 2014 and 2015 draft with the built-in-a-lab air-czar Zach Lavine (I already shared the dunking competition video about a million times on this site, go check it out. Go Toons!) and NCAA champion point guard Tyus Jones. Lavine might get the spotlight here, and especially if he can get his 3 point shooting clicking and fill it up like he did against the Warriors, but don’t sleep on Jones either. He may have fell in the draft because he’s a little small and was only the 3rd best player on a non-Kentucky team, but a lot of very smart people have lauded his NBA projections and he has been destroying the world from 3 over the summer league and preseason.
Well, noooo, because when you think that KG is on your team you love the toughness and the mentoring and you don’t really mind the $10 mill/year, but you really don’t want him starting and taking minutes away from people like Shabazz Muhammad and newly signed Euro player of the year Nemanja Bjelica (message me for pronunciation advice!) And, while Rubio is pretty much a wizard passing the ball, his 36% shooting from 3 is going to slam the spacing and really hurt the development of the other young people on this team (especially for Wiggins who shot only 31% and only hoisted up one 3 a game after he realized he could post up smaller guards and get his points that way). The team may need to start Kevin Martin at the 2 and bump Wiggins down a peg, although why they wouldn’t just bench KG and let Towns play stretch 4 is beyond me. Plus, veteran presence aside, this team’s other two free agency signings in Andre Miller and Tayshaun Prince are yet another example in “What the Hell?” Are these going to play? Are either of them going to be able to shoot from beyond the arc.
Maybe I’m listening to too much Nate Duncan and spacing and three point shooting really aren’t that important in today’s NBA. And maybe the coaching staff will totally commit to another development season; keeping these old fogies off the court and being prepared to lose while turning out with Lavine and Jones and Muhammad (who actually had a great scoring season as a power forward who could slide to the 5 in smaller lineups). But that’s not even to go deep into the coaching staff, who will be missing head coach and President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders as he recovers from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. And, by the way really should have led off with this, but get better Flip. You may have been a traditional, conservative coach but you are one of the best people in the league at nurturing young talent and getting your team to buy in and play hard. The replacement, Sam Mitchell coached through the 2009 season in Toronto, but is really a huge question mark at this point.
Look, again the T’Wolves have some great young pieces and an incredibly bright future (even if Towns doesn’t become some kind of crazy shot-blocker 3 shooter Ibaka type they have a ton of young pieces who may hit “very competent NBA level”) and will look really great every now and then. I just don’t know if this team’s spacing, or even their defense (unless Rubio kills it at a really high level, he is usually a great defender) will be good enough to scratch like 25 wins. Which means, that when these guys are not crushing the world, they are going to be getting slammed out of games and, especially in the West, being treated like something of a doormat for the teams en rout to make the playoffs. So, for the leaguepass, I will be definitely tuning in to these guys when Wiggins is shitting all over James Harden. For the rest of the time, I’ll wait for maybe like 2 or 3 years before I’m all in on these guys.