Friday, January 30, 2009

Frozen Out In Minnesota

So the Timberwolves players and brass are complaining about two all-star weekend snubs from their recently-reincarnated-from-the-dead team. While we're usually loathe to give extra credence to partisan howling, there may be a little validity to their claims.

No Love
First up is the lack of Love in the Rookie-Sophomore challenge -- the snub of T-Wolves forward Kevin Love. Yes, the numbers do point to a productive player; high (or is it the highest?) per-minute averages in rebounding and...uhh, wait, it's just rebounding. Well, OK. His per-minute scoring isn't too bad either, but naturally, the Wolves are conveniently neglecting just how slowly Love's NBA career started. His play in 2009 has merely subdued what was, for a long time, resounding criticism of GM McHale's draft-day trade of OJ Mayo for Love.

Quibbling over numbers aside, there is definitely one curious element of the Rookie squad selections that works as an argument for Love. Of the 9 players on the team, exactly one is a forward. There are 5 guards, 3 centers, and one forward. Huh? Rudy Fernandez is listed as a combo guard, but if you've seen him play, you can see he's more guard than forward. And if the 12-member all-star teams don't have 3 legitimate centers, how do the rooks end up with 3 for only 9 slots? Their centers aren't even of the F/C combo, Chris Bosh, Tim Duncan-breed. Greg Oden, Brook Lopez, and Marc Gasol are traditional centers in every sense. And I have the overwhelming feeling that no one in Jersey, Tennessee, Spain, or anywhere else in the world would've batted an eye if Lopez or Gasol weren't selected.

But for all of McHale-and-company's pontificating about per-minute numbers, perhaps if they played him more minutes, more folks would notice him? Not really a point, just a thought.

In any case, for all the great guards (Rose, Mayo, Westbrook, Gordon) that the rooks are fielding, the sophomore forwards are gonna have a field day scoring over those smallish guards and around those not-exactly-fleet-footed centers. I get the feeling Kevin Durant is about to make all-star Friday his personal showcase.

Maybe this (poor team construction) is why the Rookies rarely win the challenge?

Another Year Without Al
Al Jefferson should've been an all-star reserve over David West. Really, I'm not sure what much more this guy has to do to get recognized as one of the 12 best in the conference. Fitting him on the team within the format is pretty easy. Your guards are Billups and Parker, Dirk and Pau are your forwards, and Shaq is the center, leaving Brandon Roy and Big Al as the wildcards. I don't think anybody saw the selection of David West coming. Did we mention that he's currently out with back spasms, yet the Hornets have won 4 of their 5 games without him? Including 2 blowout wins over Denver and Philly? Or that it was Big Al's T-Wolves that gave N'awlins that one loss?

The good Lord knows I don't wish injury on anyone, but let's say West's back doesn't loosen up in the next couple of weeks. Granted, I know that is quite a long time to be out with mere spasms, but in that unlikely scenario, I'm hoping the NBA's commissioner-emperor-chancellor-supreme will make the right pick.

Don't get me wrong, West is a good player, though I say all-star level with a bit of reservation. But c'mon. This is Big Al we're talking about. The winters are beyond cold in Minnesota. Have a heart. Give the guy at least one weekend in Arizona.

1 comment:

Greg Payne said...

You're absolutely right about Jefferson. It's a shame. He's been playing phenomenal. David West is a terrific complimentary player with the way Chris Paul runs the offense, but he is not an All-Star. You could probably make a case for Al over Shaq too, just becuase Shaq requires so many days off to be as productive as he's been.