No Game Is an Island: Better Off Alone

Posted by Rob Mahoney on March 3, 2010 under Previews | 3 Comments to Read

The Minnesota Timberwolves are a very, very bad basketball team…albeit one that completely embarrassed the Mavs right before the All-Star break.

But despite how limited Minny’s roster is, things don’t have to be quite so bleak. Ryan Hollins (or in tonight’s case, Darko Milicic) doesn’t have to start at center, general manager David Kahn doesn’t have to do what David Kahn does, and perhaps most importantly, the team’s two best players shouldn’t be forced into a system that needlessly keeps them from producing and evolving. Kurt Rambis is a disciple of Phil Jackson and Tex Winter, and as such, is installing the famed triangle offense. The only problem is that the triangle buster — the player in the vein of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant that holds the liberty to work around the system — is Jonny Flynn, the best players on the team don’t fit with the triangle or its objectives, and the rest of the roster isn’t talented enough to make up for it. Gee whiz.

In theory, they should be one of the most fearsome pairs of bigs in the league. But they’re not. They’re nice and fluffy. They’re a cute distraction, but hardly a team. They don’t reinforce each other’s strengths, but counter them while magnifying each other’s weaknesses. They are Kevin Love and Al Jefferson, and despite the fact that they’re both immensely talented and incredibly productive, they will never, ever work as a pairing.

Okay, they might. In fact, they probably will at some point, provided they’re kept together. But at this point in their careers, it seems like they’re both forces that while unstoppable, are slowing and hindering one another, despite their best efforts not to.

It’s one of those cases that has oh so little to do with personality, and everything to do with style and system. Despite the particular strengths and versatility of Love and Jefferson’s games, the overlap is such that they haven’t quite figured out how to best play alongside one another. Or rather, Kurt Rambis hasn’t best figured out how his two best players can be effective on the court at the same time, which is not a good thing. The triangle is an effective system if given the right personnel with the right mindset. But when the squad has such strength in its low post game, is the triple post really necessary? Especially when you just drafted Jonny Flynn and Ricky Rubio? Is that the type of core that you construct the triangle offense around? Really? Really, Kahn?

You can read my full piece on the problems between the Wolves personnel and coaching/management at HP.

The Minnesota Timberwolves visit the Dallas Mavericks:
7:30 CST

  • Andrew

    Rob, do you have a comment on John Hollinger? Not too many teams DROP to 14th in a power rankings poll, behind the Heat and the Bucks, after winning their 9th game in a row–over teams that Mr. Hollinger has ranked 2, 3, 5, 9 in that span, incidentally.

  • Brayden

    Who painted the image above, out of curiosity? I like it.

    • Rob Mahoney

      @Andrew: Thought about commenting on it, decided not to touch it. Point differential is one of the greatest predictors of future success, and it’s even more important than win-loss record. So the fact that the Mavs are just barely beating opponents? It does matter. And considering how heavily reliant on differential Hollinger’s rankings are (as a progressive updating system based entirely on numbers), I’m honestly shocked that other people are shocked that he doesn’t favor them more. Then again, maybe that did need to be said.

      @Brayden: Edvard Munch. Entitled “Separation,” but not to be confused with his “Separation II” variant.