Timberwolves' future is wild
Photo by David Terrazas
The NBA playoffs have now begun and you have probably noticed that our Timberwolves are not taking part. This is because they were a terrible basketball team. And unlike, say, the Oklahoma City Thunder, who have amassed a tidy stockpile of young, athletic ballers and seem to be on the march, the Wolves are facing some deep uncertainty.
First, they don't, at the moment have a coach or a general manager. Does that seem important? It is. Kevin McHale has yet to decide whether he will coach the team next season; the question has me a bit conflicted. In the macho, businesslike world of pro-sports, McHale is a refreshingly open guy. He's given to displays of humor, and genuine sympathy for his players, a sympathy which the players seem eager to return. Asked, after the team's final loss, how he manages to generate such rapport with his players, McHale said, "I tell them all the time, if they forgive me my mistakes, I promise them that I'll forgive them their mistakes." Best believe, that kind of thing is not common among professional coaches.
Still, if McHale does stay on, whoever comes in to actually run the team will be saddled, not only with the strange, misshapen roster that McHale has constructed, but also with much of the decision making apparatus that constructed it. This, in a crucial summer, in which the Wolves have a treasure trove of draft picks, does not strike me as a great idea.
About that draft. In one sense, the Wolves have so many needs to fill that their options are pretty open. They need shooters; they need long athletic wing players; they need a big man to defend the rim; they need a point guard. That sounds like pretty much all of the positions on the floor. The Wolves' have already drafted a big big guy named Nikola Pekovic, who is currently doing is thing in the Greek league. But he won't come to the U.S. for another year and, also, nobody seems to know how good he is.
For many, then, the jewel of the draft is Hasheem Thabeet, a 7'3" baby giraffe from Tanzania by way of the University of Connecticut. Thabeet was a hellacious shot blocker in the college game, its true, but my big memories of watching him play are him missing layups, forgetting to jump and falling down. Giraffes are tall, but not usually all that great at basketball.
Enough of the uncertainty. Allow me to inject a note of hope into the equation. Hope in the form of a skinny, 18-year-old Spanish kid with floppy hair. You may notice that he, too, doesn't do a whole lot of jumping--but then notice the preternatural poise, the easy handle, and the ridiculous court vision. Consider that, at 17, he held his own against the US. in the Olympic gold medal game. Consider that he was born in 1990 (1990!) and that he, evidently, will cross you over while on a beach gazing into the sunset:
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