* The win-loss record that wins produced would have predicted based on players' WP48 so far (ignores previous seasons).
** future games only -- takes current record as given
There are a lot of articles going around about how Flip Saunders is essentially blowing shit up:
Today is a big NBA news day here at the Geek. Reportedly, the Minnesota Timberwolves have decided to replace David Kahn with Flip Saunders. This news is so big we've got TWO articles on it. Dre put up a piece earlier today, and I've got a few cents to add as well.
I don't often do game recaps, but since last night's Wolves-Rockets game was the first time in years that I had seen the team in the home arena (the team seems to always be on road trips when I visit home), I have a few comments on last night's game.
I don't really have a lot to write about this weekend, but the geeky elves and I are working hard at awesome new features on the site (which is also hampering the writing). In the meantime, I wish everyone happy holidays. Check out the holiday wish list of all NBA bloggers over at Hickory High. Mine was pretty simple:
Remember the days when @CanisHoopus used to call the Timberwolves the 'Zombies'? That nickname might become relevant again, albeit for different reasons. Here are the currently injured Timberwolves' 2011-12 season:
The Timberwolves, who are "without their two best players," are now 4-1. Indiana is the only playoff team they have faced, so there's that. And tonight they play the Bulls. Still, a lof of folks are...surprised. Like this guy at Yahoo (h/t CanisHoopus):
I got a call from a guy at Fox in Minnesota, asking me if he could feature my blog in a commercial because he likes my work. I suspect, though, what he really likes is the fact that I am pretty bullish on the Minnesota Timberwolves:
I ran out of time. Soon, I will be far too busy screaming at a blank screen that should be showing me a game on League Pass Broadband to do any more season previews (and they aren't previews anymore then, right?). But still, I haven't really covered all the surprises, so here are a few quick hits.
The other day I did the ten worst contracts of the season. It was a fairly big hit, and as usual, not everyone agreed with my picks. I expect more of the same today, as I pick the ten best.
So, I wrote an article saying the Wolves could win 57 wins next year and Twitter kind of errupted. I thought I'd make a few clarifications to some of the common responses I have seen.
So, here's a sentence I didn't think I'd ever write: I think David Kahn is an early candidate for executive of the year. I've been a heavy and frequent critic of Kahn, but in this offseason, the Timberwolves have made a brilliant roster turn around.
How does Ricky Rubio tearing his ACL suck? How do I count the ways? Sportscenter highlights are now about 10% less interesting. Attending Timberwolves games (which, admittedly, I almost always do for their away games) now have 50% fewer "Oooooooh!"s and 40% fewer "Aaaaaah"s and 100% fewer "Ole! Ole! Ole! Ole!"s. The Timberwolves get about 40% worse at point guard. But, surprisingly, the way it hurts the most is that the Timberwolves get a LOT worse at shooting guard and small forward.
Last season, he languished in obscurity. Most teams had no idea who he was, even if they had played against him. He hardly struck fear in to any hearts. Yet for the past few weeks he has been destroying unprepared defenses, and now the commenting crews on away games are full of alternating praise and fear.
If you are on Twitter, and follow any NBA people at all, you heard lots of opinions yesterday about Kevin Love's near-max contract extension, for 4 years, with the fourth year having a player option. So, let's be frank: barring injury or huge dropoffs in production, there is nearly zero chance that Love exercises that option (regardless of whether he wants to remain a Timberwolf, since he'd make more money by opting out and signing a new contract), so this was a three-year extension. It's truly hard to imagine how a management team could screw up while signing the team's best player, but somehow, Taylor and/or Kahn managed to do it.
It's easy to get more excited about the Timberwolves than a rational person would; they have what looks like an easy pick for rookie of the year in Rubio (actually Leonard is just about as good but I'll wager a lot of money that he's not going to even be in the top 5 in votes), and arguably the game's best power forward in Kevin Love (if he'd only stop whining).
I've talked about this before, but Kevin Love has been showing a disturbing trend of bitching at referees when he should be playing basketball. As Zach Harper (@talkhoops) pointed out on Twitter, at what point does Rick Adelman call him out for bitching instead of running back on defense, or hustling for a loose ball? He's clearly the only one on the team with the "moral authority" to do so (although soon, Ricky Rubio will be in that category).
In 2003, the Minnesota Timberwolves were coming off of 7 straight first-round playoff exits (an NBA record, I believe). Their biggest problem was arguably that they were playing in the West, in an era when all the superstars seemed to be on the West coast, and they would often end up with a record good enough for a top 3 seed in the East, but which landed them in 6th or 7th place. But then, in the 2003-04 season, the Wolves got lucky.
As I watched in disbelief as Darko Milicic hit his fourth bucket in the first quarter I thought to myself, "Self, Darko looks better this year. I don't want to stab myself in the eye every time he touches the ball." And since I am a very firm believer that one should almost never believe ones' self in these situations without checking the numbers, I did just that. Caveat: Sample sizes Yadda Yadda Yadda.
Last night, the Minnesota Timberwolves rolled over the San Antonio Spurs 106-96, in a game that wasn't really even that close. According to the Spurs' announcing team, It was their first victory over the Spurs since the Garnett era, and certainly not a potential victory that I would have pencilled in on the Schedule.
The ridiculous lack of respect that Kevin Love gets is amazing. And, you know, it's one thing to say "player X is better than Love" if you have reasons that make even a lick of sense. For example, I once said that LeBron James is better than Love because one of the reasons Love is so good is his 3-point shooting, and if you know anything about variance in basketball, you know that shooting percentages is one of the areas with the most volatility; take away Love's 3-point shooting and he goes from fantastic to good. But the things that LBJ does to get extremely high-percentage buckets (mainly being bigger, stronger, and faster than his defenders) aren't going away anytime soon and are not very subject to variance, barring injury. I realize few people are going to disagree with saying LBJ is better than Love. The point is that even though both have similar WP48s, I don't just blindly follow "the numbers" (my critics love to tell me to "open my eyes" and that I should "get my head out of the stats and watch some games". Turns out, that's pretty much exactly what I do). But if you are going to convince me to ignore "the numbers", you should offer up some compelling reasons that the numbers "are lying".
Ok, I'm really hard at work adding a ton of new features to the site and trying to improve the player comparison engine (which I really need to brand somehow). But in the meantime I'd like to join in the general ridiculous media frenzy of drawing insane conclusions from miniature sample sizes. Yes, I'm talking about that trend that's causing Celtic bloggers to examine lottery picks after starting 0-2, and has the Knicks media inquiring about players' ring sizes after their home opener win. So I'll look at the Timberwolves and draw some ridiculous conclusions.
The NBA Season is ready to start on Christmas Day, the last couple of preseason games are being played as I write this up, and it's time for me to cater to every serious NBA fans love of season previews! The 2011 Geektastic Preview is going to be way too large for one article, so I'm dividing it up into divisions (and even so, it's going to be long, so get a cup of coffee!). I start things off today with the Northwest Division, from worst to first.
The NBA Season is ready to start on Christmas Day, the last couple of preseason games are being played as I write this up, and it's time for me to cater to every serious NBA fans love of season previews! The 2011 Geektastic Preview is going to be way too large for one article, so I'm dividing it up into divisions (and even so, it's going to be long, so get a cup of coffee!). In this article I'm going to tackle my hometown team, the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Over on the Wages of Wins today, Andres Alvarez claims that the Orlando Magic had the worst management in the NBA last year. And I agree, the Magic were bad. But...
As with part 1 (which you can read here), I'm calling them guesses, not predictions, because this way if I'm completely wrong, I won't look as stupid. Will I do something as crazy as amnestying Kobe freaking Bryant again today?
The one time of the year when everyone seems to enjoy giving out grades is after the NBA Draft. More than any other sport, fans seem to place faith (or, in the case of some GMs, at least hope) that the draft can change their team's fortunes. I suppose this is because is because basketball is played with 5 players, so any player influences (approximately) 20% of your team's production at any given time on the court, while baseball fields 9 (10 if you count the DH) and football 11. And of course, football and baseball rosters are much bigger, and they draft more players, so a far smaller percentage of drafted players actually make the roster. In the NBA, in contrast, the 1st round picks have guaranteed contracts, and as the book Stumbling on Wins points out, playing time is highly correlated to draft position and salary. In other words, once owners and managers shell out a lot of money for a prospect, they are reluctant to give up on that prospect.
So I've been meaning to start an NBA blog for a while now, and I've been a big fan of the Wages of Wins Network for quite some time. Here, for your amusement (or ridicule, or amazement), I present the NBA Geek. In the articles section I plan to post daily or semi-daily with keen, nay, brilliant, insights into the NBA. In the players section you'll find the statistics from the latest NBA season (multi-season functionality is in a future release, I promise) and the FAQ and About sections offer a little more info about what I'm trying to accomplish here. What better day to launch an NBA blog than on draft day? After all, we're all going to be terribly excited about the NBA for a few days, right before we forget it about it completely for the next 3-4 months. And that's if there's no lockout.