I do so enjoy these opportunities to learn about the Clippers' opponents from the expert who live and breathe those opponents. I enjoy it even more when I don't have to do any work. For this episode of the Questionable Blogger, I ddin't even have to figure out any questions -- you guys did all that, and Eric in Madison answered them.
I did have to make some effort to answer their questions at Canis Hoopus though.
Citizen v3xin: Are there any specific reasons for Rubio's struggles? Is it his shooting form? Confidence? Shot selection? Does he struggle at the rim because he shys away from contact? Tries too be too fancy? I haven't seen many Wolves games, but I don't recall seeing Rubio and being horrified at his shooting (as opposed to seeing a guy like MKG shoot). I just thought he was having a bad game.
Citizen PV Mike: As an extension to this, I too thought Rubio/Love would be the next super duo. Is any of Rubio's lack of growth to the next level due to his injury? I was a real fan when he first came to the NBA but it seems like he has not lived up to his early promise.
Eric in Madison: Rubio is a good player. His passing and his defense add up to a net positive, but there is no question that his poor shooting is holding him back. It's disappointing, but not totally unexpected. His form is poor, he gets very little arc on his shot, which is all I can really say about his mechanics, not being an expert. He makes a decent perecentage of his stand still threes, but that's about it. And free throws.
What's really frustrating is his poor shooting at the rim. He drives, but cannot finish, unlike, say, Rondo, who does much better around the rim. He doesn't mind contact; he went to the line quite a bit his first couple of years, and still some this year, but he just doesn't seem to have that body control where he can either take a bump and still finish, or avoid contact and put up a shot with touch.
I think he's frustrated with it. During the summer at Eurobasket, he had some luck making a pull up midrange shot around the elbow, but got off to a terrible start with that shot here, and it hurt his confidence.
He definitely needs to be a better shooter from somewhere, preferably on layups, to make the next step. Don't know that he will.
Citizen Lob_Angeles_ClippersGOAT: With all the Timberwolves top 10 picks in recent years (I count 8 since 2006), why aren't the TWolves the best team in the association?! It seems to me that some real opportunities slipped through the organization's fingers, especially draft day trades of Brandon Roy, Mario Chalmers, Trey Burke, & Ty Lawson. Also, draft day busts (Wesley Johnson, Derrick Williams, Jonny Flynn, Corey Brewer, Shabazz Muhammad) seem to be the norm. Is there any hope a rare talent like KLove sticks around? Or does he go the KG route out of the land of 1000 lakes? Do you feel history is bound to repeat itself?
Eric in Madison: Ah, an opportunity to rant... thank you.
The Wolves are the worst drafting team of the millennium. Absolutely horrible. Two issues:
a) lottery picks. Just awful. 2009 Jonny Flynn (instead of Steph Curry) with the 6th pick, 2010 Wes Johnson with the 4th pick, and 2011 Derrick Williams with the 2nd pick. A terrible 3 year run. They wound up trading Flynn away for nothing, paying Phoenix a first rounder to get rid of Wes Johnson, and trading Williams for Luc Mbah a Moute. Three years of top half of lottery selections and they are left with nothing. Oh, and Shabazz Muhammad this year, but let's just move on.
b) non-lottery picks. This is where they have quietly suffered. I talk all the time about how the Wolves have to pay full freight for everything. One of the big reasons why is they are terrible at finding rotation guys outside the lottery. They got Pekovic with the first pick in the 2008 2nd round (McHale's last draft-pretty good trading down for Love and getting Pek), but that was a bit unusual in that everyone knew he was a lottery talent but wouldn't come over right away or for a late lottery salary, so he was always going to be the first pick of the 2nd round. Just happened that the Wolves had that pick.
Other than Pek, the last player the Wolves drafted outside the lottery who actually helped them on the court in any real way was probably Craig Smith. Wayne Ellington I guess if you really stretch the definition of helping. Before that, probably Rasho Nesterovic. The Rockets draft Chase Budinger in the 2nd round, get 3 cheap years from him, draft his replacement in the 2nd round (Parsons), trade us Budinger for a first round pick, and let us pay him. Full freight.
More on Kevin Love later.
But you are absolutely right; the Wolves have had a ton of opportunities in the draft, and have taken advantage of not enough of them.
Citizen Axxer: The Wolves have one of the better MOV in the west but their record is average. Why is that?
Pythagorean Wins: 16
Actual Wins: 13
Eric in Madison: They do have a pretty good points differential, that's mostly why. They have won their blowouts and lost their close games; we're hoping that evens out.
Or we were, until [Friday] night. [Friday] night was very disheartening.
Citizen Gmann: If Griffin and Love had switched teams at the start this season, then... Assuming no injuries, and everything else being status quo:
1: What do you think the win/loss records for each team would be today
2: How do you think each PF would affect their new teams' style of play, as compared to how they play now?
3: Was your net worked too?
Eric in Madison: That's a tremendous question. Yes, the problems were across all of SB Nation. It was quite frustrating.
I think the Clippers would be about the same, but the Wolves would be worse. Not because I think Griffin is a lot worse then Love (though in a vacuum I would take Love), but because it's very hard to win without the three pointer in today's NBA, and Love is one of only two 3 point shooters the Wolves have.
It would completely kill our spacing to make that exchange; Wolves already start two guys who struggle from the perimeter (Rubio, Brewer), and another guy who doesn't shoot from the perimeter (Pekovic).
Citizen Eddy Blue: Do Wolves fans think their is a real possibility... that Kevin Love will want to leave, and as a result be traded by the Wolves. Should this become a reality, do Wolves fans become less sour towards the prospect of receiving Mega-Flopper, All-He-Does-Is-Dunk Blake Griffin? Or are they loyal until the end, the end being the Trade of Love to the Lakers for Wesley Johnson, Steve Blake and a 1st....
Obviously this isnt completely serious, but Wolves fans, like pretty much every base despise Blake, as well as CP3, would they warm to the prospect of BG if the situation presented itself?
Eric in Madison: Certainly we are aware that Love may want to leave. If the Wolves don't make the playoffs this year and show something, they are going to have to make a decision this summer, whether to risk hanging on to him and hoping he will re-sign or moving him. Presumably they will know something about his intentions, but who knows? (Even if they make the playoffs, this is going to be an issue, I should add).
As for a Love-Griffin exchange, there are a couple of our readers who have suggested it, but frankly it's not something I would do, probably. Again, not because of Griffin as a player so much, but because I don't see how that helps the Wolves move forward. If we can't win with the current group and Love, why would it be better with Griffin?
I don't want to trade him, but if it comes down to it, I think they will look for a deal that gets them a youngish player and a good draft pick, as opposed to a star-for-star exchange.
Of course, our front office sucks, so they will probably screw it up no matter what they do.
Citizen mikelipert: What was the fan base's expectations for this year? And to date have those expectations changed and if so why?
Eric in Madison: Playoffs. The West is brutal, but the Wolves have had a killer schedule (most back to backs in league so far, no Utah or Sacramento games), and that's still the goal. Last night really hurt. But the schedule after Christmas through January lightens up considerably, and that's when they need to make their move.
There have been several frustrating losses so far that have hurt, but there have also been signs that there is a good team in there somewhere. We're hoping it comes out.
Thanks to Eric for answering all of our questions. The Clippers already have two wins over the Wolves -- by a whopping six points total. I have a feeling this one could be very tight also, despite the fact that the Clippers are playing well.