A year ago it would have been blasphemous to even joke that someone other than Kevin Garnett was the greatest TWolve of all-time. Heck, a year ago, it would have even been possible to make a legitimate argument for Wally Sczerbiak as the second best TWolve of all time. Former Wolves players such as Sam Cassell, Tom Gugliotta, Stephon Marbury and Latrell Sprewell, might have had more accomplished careers than Sczerbiak, but Sczerbiak was a stable presence in the starting lineup for almost a decade. In any case, the battle was always going to for second because Kevin Garnett was number one by a mile.
However, a year later, it appears that with each fawning article the foundation is being laid for someone to make the case that Kevin Love is the greatest TWolve of all-time. Last year the praise was for Love’s rebounding prowess. This year Love has been garnering praise for his new svelte figure, improved scoring and the team’s first playoff push since the, you guessed it, Kevin Garnett era.
Love has the better individual stats over the first four years of their respective careers.
Until the arrival of Ricky Rubio, Love did not have a teammate comparable to either Marbury or Gugliotta.
What now remains to be seen is how Love manages the expectations of leading a playoff team next year when Rubio returns and the Wolves are a strong contender for a 6th-8th seed in the west. Garnett was a warrior, but he was never able to get the Wolves past the conference finals, a fact that arguably tarnished his legacy.
If Love manages to get the Wolves into the finals in the next six years he might find himself being anointed the greatest Timberwolve of all time just as Garnett is being inducted into the NBA hall of fame.
Kurt Rambis’ impending firing raises an interesting question, should teams use the triangle offense if they don’t have superstars?
Phil Jackson won 11 championships, but he didn’t win any when his team didn’t have at least three all-star caliber players.Â The Jordan era Bulls had Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant, all three of whom were among the best at their positions.Â In his first go-round with the Lakers Jackson’s teams were armed with Shaq, Kobe, and a younger Derek Fisher.Â His most recent Lakers teams had the Kobe, Gasol and Odom trio.Â None of the other teams headed by Jackson proteges that have employed the triangle had a level of talent that even comes close to matching Jackson’s championship squads.Â The closest might’ve been Jim Cleamons’ Mavericks team of the mid-90s that had Jason Kidd, Jimmy Jackson and Jamal Mashburn, but not only were those players too young, the triangle offense didn’t play to their strengths.
Minnesota’s attempt at running the triangle was doomed to fail because if Kevin Love or Darko Milicic hunkered down in the post then it forced Michael Beasley out to the perimeter where he is less effective.Â The TWolves also lacked dependable outside shooting, thus if Beasley was hot in the post, then a team wouldn’t get burned if they doubled him.Â Similarly, if he was cold, there was no one on the perimeter who could consistently nail down shots from outside to open it up so Beasley or Love can work on the inside.
What makes the triangle effective is that it turns a 5on5 game into a 3on3 contest and as anyone who’s ever played pickup at the park can attest, it’s much easier to win at 3on3 with talented players than it is 5on5.Â Simply put, since there are fewer people it’s easier to share shots.Â Therefore in order for the triangle to be effective in the NBA the three best players must not only be good, but they have to be dominant.Â They have to be strong enough to set themselves aside from the other players on their team, and the coach has to be skillful enough to convince the other players that they’ll get the leftovers of whatever the big three don’t eat.Â Since Minnesota was so dependent on riding the hot hand to succeed the team had no chance of instituting the kind of pecking order that is needed for the triangle to work.Â Thus, while Rambis didn’t have the best talent to work with in Minnesota, he should’ve also realized that the social dynamics on his team were not conducive to running the triangle.
Interestingly enough, the one team best suited to run the triangle is the team that’s least likely to ever run it.Â If Miami ever decides to adopt the system, there’s a good chance that like LeBron, the Larry O’Brien trophy will be making its home in South Beach for the foreseeable future.
The short answer to this question is No. But it also doesn’t seem as if Minnesota has any other options.
Minnesota already has three players, four if you count Anthony Tolliver, who are similar to Williams.Â Martell Webster, Michael Beasley, Wesley Johnson and the aforementioned Tolliver are all 6’8″ forwards with varying degrees of talent and flaws.Â Excluding Tolliver, they were all lottery picks and each are gifted on the offensive end.Â And again, save for Tolliver, I’d be hard pressed to make an argument that Williams is an infinitely better basketball player than any of the other three.Â Does he have the potential to be, sure, but he could also pan out to be worst than them as well.Â And Minnesota fans surely can’t feel at ease by the similarities between Williams and Beasley, which stretch down to the fact that both were drafted behind all-american point guards.
Unfortunately for Minnesota, no one in this year’s lottery makes much sense for them.Â They can’t draft a point guard like Brandon Knight because they already have half a dozen including their recently arrived franchise guard Ricky Rubio.Â A power forward like Enes Kanter is also out of the question because of the presence of Kevin Love.Â And as of now, they can’t seem to find a killer trade option for the pick.
Seriously, has there ever been a team so hamstrung by a lottery pick in the draft’s history?Â Even the Nets had a legitimate need for a power forward when they drafted him in the otherwise underwhelming 2000 draft.
The best case scenario for Minnesota is that they take Williams and he morphs into some variation of Paul Pierce or David West.Â In the idea world, Williams will come in and will be the iso complement to the Rubio/Love pick and pop duo, similar to how Pierce functions in Boston.Â And in late game situations, he’ll go down on the block a la West, and give Minnesota baskets and stability in the low post as they try closing out games, something they were atrocious at this past season.
Now that the Detroit Pistons have a new owner they can take another step in making this team a winner again.Â A surefire way to revamping this once proud franchise that has become a shell of its former self of late is by hiring former Pistons stalwart Bill Laimbeer as their head coach.
Laimbeer is the right person for this job not only because he’d provide another link to the Piston’s late 80s glory years, but also because he’s proven himself worthy of an opportunity.Â Laimbeer won two WNBA titles as head coach of the Detroit Shock and most recently served as an assistant coach for that D-League super-team known as the Minnesota Timberwolves.Â Minnesota’s all-star forward Kevin Love has gone on record about the positive impact that Laimbeer’s presence has had on his development.Â Laimbeer’s presence could presumably yield similar dividends for Greg Monroe, Detroit’s promising young big man.
Another reason that Detroit should hire Laimbeer is that he’s a bastard, a low down dirty bum, and a pain in the ass.Â Detroit’s current roster is loaded with finesse players and freestyle artists like Rodney Stuckey and Charlie Villanueva who’d undoubtedly grow as players if they adopted some of the antagonistic traits that made Laimbeer an effective member of the Pistons.Â Unlike recent Pistons coaches such as Flip Saunders, John Kuester or Michael Curry, Laimbeer will not be passive, and therefore he has the right makeup to unify Detroit’s fractured locker room.Â As it stands now, the Pistons are three separate teams.Â Team A is comprised of championship holdovers Rip Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and Ben Wallace.Â Team B is made up of the younger/more athletic players who were expected to supplant Team A, e.g., Stuckey, Jason Maxiell and Austin Daye.Â And finally Team C, recent additions such as Monroe, Ben Gordon and Villanueva.Â Laimbeer should be able to rally these disparate groups together, and he has the clout to stand up to management to lobby GM Joe Dumars to put an end to the musical chairs atmosphere that has hovered over the franchise the past five years.
The Pistons will have no shortage of options as they review candidates, but if they want to make the right choice, then Laimbeer is their man.
Pro Basketball Talk’s Kurt Helin is reporting that Minnesota forward Kevin Love has been named the NBA’s Most Improved Player.Â This award caps a great year for Love who also led the league in rebounding and was selected for his first all-star team.