Well, on the fourth game of this road trip, I'm managing to keep up with the pace and have yet another exciting edition of "Blog-Counterblog". The Clippers and Timberwolves played a mere six days ago and we did questions and answers then as well, so you might think it would be tough to come up with more things to ask. As it happens, Tim Allen, with whom we chatted last week, was out of town this week, so this exchange took place with a co-author on SBNation's Wolves blog Canis Hoopus, Stop-n-Pop. I asked him some follow up questions based on our recent experience with the Wolves, and he asked me ... well, he asked me all kinds of crazy stuff. He also solicited some questions from the CH readership for me, which I thought was a cool idea, and will probably steal in the near future. Keep an eye out on Canis Hoopus for my answers -- I believe they're going to be up around 11 AM Pacific. Thanks to Stop-n-Pop for a fun exchange.
Stop-n-Pop: It is randomness. There is nothing to explain away with a two game sample size. Poor shooting is just as likely of a culprit as Beer Flu or a pretty girl sitting in the front row distracting a bunch of 20 something jocks. Over the course of 10 or so games against these two squads, the Clippers would probably have a 65-70% chance of winning each game at home and just under 50% chance of winning on the road vs. the Wolves. Barring Blake Griffin getting run over by an Optima (my obligatory Kia joke), or the Wolves finding a wing player who can actually play professional basketball, the Clippers should start winning against the Wolves at Staples Center at a fairly high clip in the near future.
Steve Perrin: Derrick Williams was an unholy monster against the Clippers last week -- 9 for 10, four three pointers, some with guys in his face. He'll probably never have a game like that again as long as he lives, but he's awfully good. Which raises an interesting question -- it seems that Williams' NBA position is going to be power forward, and the Wolves already have one of those. Is this a problem?
Stop-n-Pop: Yes. This is a problem. Sadly, it was an obvious problem in real time during the draft:
"Do you want the Wolves to spend the #2 pick on a guy who may not even be Mike Beasley-Lite with a better head and a weaker all-around game? If this sounds like a plan, then Derrick Williams is the man for you. I think there is a legitimate argument that the Wolves absolutely cannot draft this guy, as he could not be any more similar to B-Easy and I honestly have no idea where you'd play him, especially (and mainly) because of Kevin Love."
Derrick Williams is going to be, at the very least, an average producing starting PF. At his best, he could be a dominant offensive player at the 4. What he is not going to be is a guy who can get 30-35 mpg at the 4 with Kevin Love on the roster. Everything that makes Williams a tantalizing prospect exists at the 4. He's not a 3. He's a ginormous loper who is the size of Kevin Love.
On the bright side of things, this is a good problem to have (lots of good players at a single position). On the darker side, the talented #2 pick in the 2011 draft will have a hard time getting lots of minutes at his natural position. I think they'll end up having to move him and that it's just a matter of when, not if. He's their best asset and they already have a stud 4.
Steve Perrin: Wesley Johnson had a very disappointing rookie season considering that he was the fourth pick in the draft -- and his numbers are down across the board in his second season. So what's the deal? Is he just not cut out for the NBA? Is it a confidence thing?
Stop-n-Pop: The thing is that Wesley Johnson is really bad at professional basketball. The Brick Mamba (buy the Brick Mamba System!) rode two insanely good months at Syracuse into the lotto and has, ever since, regressed to the player we all loved at Iowa State University.
One of the commenters over at Hoopus created a metric that measures offensive performance called PA100 (points added/100 possessions). The long and short of the statistic is that it measures how many points a player adds or subtracts over 100 possessions. This season, Wes Johnson has a PA100 score of -7.5. Kevin Love has a PA100 score of 6.96. We tend to focus a lot on sins of commission over omission and we don't think about the idea that there could be "Superstars of Suck" who subtract from their team's bottom line every bit as much as good players add to it. Wes is a Suck Superstar because he is incapable of doing anything above average at his position. Also, he just doesn't do much, and when he does, he does it below average. It's really amazing. WP48, p48, reb48, ast48, every shooting metric you can think of...they're all below average for a SF (if he plays the 2, he's a shooting guard who can't shoot: the league's first Missing Guard). Wes Johnson is a walking anchor effect. The Wolves are a playoff team with average production from a single wing position. Rick Adelman has done a lot of really great things for the Wolves, but continuing to hand out minutes to Wes Johnson is not one of them.
Steve Perrin: Michael Beasley: love him or hate him?
Stop-n-Pop: Love him. He's not that good of a player (he's getting better--especially at staying within the boundaries of the offense) but the reports about him being a knucklehead are pretty unfair. He's a goofball, that's it. He's a 23 year old likable goofball. He's likely never going to be the A1 option we saw at K-State, but he can have a nice long career if he can wrap his mind around being a 6th man who can crash the boards, defend, and not ball-stop. This year has been a nice step in that direction.