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Is AK47 more valuable than Kevin Love?

Is AK47 more valuable than Kevin Love? At first glance, how could this be possible? Kevin Love is an Olympic Gold Medalist, an All-NBA Second Team selection, an elite rebounder and an elite...


Western Conference Power Rankings: Preseason Edition

As the Eastern Conference continues its 15 year run in inferior less entertaining basketball, the Western Conference is primed for another season of dominance. While in the past several years,...

Scout: Rubio will be better than Steve Nash


"The difference between having Ricky Rubio [who is expected to miss the first two months of the season while recovering from knee surgery] and not having him is huge. Everybody likes Rubio and still I think he's underrated -- he's that good. I honestly think he'll be better than Steve Nash. Obviously, he needs to improve his shooting and some other things, but, man, he can dominate a game and get easy baskets in a way that very few people can. Just dribbling down the floor, if his man is sealed, he makes eye contact with his guy -- and if Rubio has any advantage, any angle, he's able to find the guy and it's two points. He makes his teammates so much better. You could see it last year, when they were on their way to making the playoffs before he got hurt. If Rubio becomes a good shooter like Nash did, you can forget about it. Defensively, he's better than Nash. Even though he gets a lot of steals, it isn't because he's gambling. It's because he's able to use his length and size and great feet while he's playing solid defense."

Time has come for Williams to step up for needy Wolves

From Steve Aschburner at NBA.com "Two things are going to happen for the Minnesota Timberwolves in the next six weeks, give or take a few days: 1. Kevin Love, the team's All-Star power forward, will return to the court from the two broken bones in his right hand. 2. Derrick Williams, the Timberwolves' other power forward, will have demonstrated why the organization made him the No. 2 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. Or why they never should have."

Nikola Pekovic Will Put Up All-Star Numbers, Become a Borderline Household Name

from "26 Bold Predictions for the NBA Season" by Zach Lowe at Grantland.com "He won't make the team, not with all the starry big men in the Western Conference, and he'll never be able to protect the rim at an All-Star level. He also won't shoot 56 percent with both Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio out with injuries. But Pekovic scored as efficiently, and as often, with Rubio on the bench last season as he did with Rubio on the court (the same was true of Love), and he figures to work long stretches as Minnesota's top offensive option to start the season. He averaged about 17 points and nine rebounds per game once he started getting heavy minutes last season, and he led the league in offensive rebounding rate. Pekovic looks to be in great shape, and he's going to put up huge numbers."

Hollinger: Timberwolves Forecast


This season the Wolves are replacing a lot of that performance with real basketball players: Kirilenko, Budinger, Shved, Cunningham and Stiemsma all should be improvements on the players they replaced. The new wing players provide particularly massive upgrades, while also allowing the Wolves to play a more traditional backcourt. (They started two point guards for most of last season because the wings were so bad.) ... A few negatives linger. Pekovic had the biggest one-year PER jump in the history of my database, and we can't just bank on him repeating that effort. Rubio will be out for the first two months or so and probably won't hit the ground running when he returns. Bigger picture, Adelman doesn't have a history of coaching elite defensive teams, so if this team is going to win big, it will do it offensively. Yet the outside shooting still looks like a bit of a weakness. Finally, this team's management has built up quite a file of head-scratching moves; despite a largely solid summer, Roy might be the latest for that manila folder. One can't just assume it will be the last. Nonetheless, Minnesota was a playoff team before Rubio got hurt, and it has made major upgrades at several positions that were negatives last season. Even with Rubio diminished, chances are the Timberwolves will bust through into the West's top eight.

The system, called SportVU and run by STATS, LLC, tracks every movement during an NBA game. It can...


The system, called SportVU and run by STATS, LLC, tracks every movement during an NBA game. It can generate an almost infinite amount of data, on everything from how fast a player runs to that player’s shooting percentage from 19 feet away on the left wing after three dribbles to his shooting percentage with a defender less than two feet away. The subscribing teams — New York, Toronto, Washington, Golden State, Houston, San Antonio, Boston, Milwaukee, Oklahoma City and Minnesota — can look through the raw data themselves and/or have STATS generate specific reports.

Zach Lowe at SI.com

The researchers found that uncertainty about a decision gets people to weigh evidence in strange...


The researchers found that uncertainty about a decision gets people to weigh evidence in strange ways. "By thinking more about the high-potential target, participants focused even more on that person’s strengths and weaknesses," says a Business Wire story about the report. "So when the evidence is compelling, statements about high potential can outperform claims about high achievement. When the evidence is not compelling, this effect goes away. The upshot, in the case of compelling reasons to support claims of high potential, is that people can reach an illogical conclusion; after all, there’s no good reason to favor someone with uncertain abilities over someone with proven abilities."

Research Suggests Decision makers value Potential more than Achievement

As competitive as the West is, our early projections not only peg the Timberwolves as a solid...


As competitive as the West is, our early projections not only peg the Timberwolves as a solid playoff team, but also as a contender to land home-court advantage in a potential first-round series. I've got them at 51.2 wins, right behind the Thunder, Spurs and Lakers in the West. That's according to NBAPET, my tracking and projection model. We haven't released the SCHOENE projections that go into our Basketball Prospectus preseason annual yet, but I can report that colleague Kevin Pelton's system is perhaps even a little more optimistic than NBAPET about Kahn's work in the upper Midwest. Remember that the key pieces in Minnesota are on the upswing, so as the veteran Lakers and Spurs fall off in the seasons ahead, the Timberwolves are perfectly positioned to move ahead of them as the primary challengers to Oklahoma City's perch atop the conference.

Bradford Doolittle (Basketball Prospectus) writing at ESPN.com (Insider)

Love might not deserve the starting role over Chandler quite yet since the reigning defensive...


Love might not deserve the starting role over Chandler quite yet since the reigning defensive player of the year fits better with the scoring-heavy starting lineup. But Love should be getting more national recognition than the status quo. If anything, his strong play should mark the end of coach Mike Krzyzewski's super-small lineups that lack a legitimate big man underneath (a list that is two names long). With Love's shot efficiency and stellar production, there's no real reason why we should see the super-small lineup -- which has practically given away free points to opponents all summer -- on the floor for the rest of the tournament. This is all to say that there should be no question that Love belongs -- on Team USA and in the NBA's elite circle.

Kevin Love deserves some ... love - Tom Haberstroh ESPN.com (Insider)

West race already looks like a doozy


"Minnesota Timberwolves: This technically puts the Wolves in the eighth spot, and you can consider this a splitting-the-difference ranking. If point guard Ricky Rubio is healthy from his ACL tear on a relatively early timetable, Minnesota — which on Friday completed the Andrei Kirilenko signing and Wesley Johnson salary dump, the latter part of a three-team trade with Phoenix and New Orleans — projects as a clear playoff team. Remember: This team was neck-and-neck for the No. 8 seed in 2011-12 before a heap of late-season injuries, including the capper to Kevin Love, and it contended despite an empty wing rotation, the presence of Michael Beasley and the semi-late discovery that center Nikola Pekovic is way, way better than Darko Milicic. Look, $10 million annually on a two-year contract is a bit high for Kirilenko, who will have to play significant minutes at small forward with Love and Pekovic entrenched as the starters down low. It’s also unclear if Minnesota had any NBA bidding rival for Kirilenko, though we have to assume that the player’s longtime agent, Marc Fleisher, told the Wolves what they’d have to pay to get the 31-year-old forward out of Russia. Kirilenko mostly played small forward in Utah, and with his long arms and rangy perimeter skills, he should be able to fill that role in Minnesota for heavy minutes. But in 2010-11, it was clear that age had robbed him of some quickness, and he couldn’t help and recover as cleanly on the perimeter as he could in his prime. He was still a well-above-average player, however, and he was probably the best player in Europe last season during his lockout respite from the NBA. Kirilenko should fall into 10 points a game by cutting in coach Rick Adelman’s system and taking intuitive passes from Rubio. His outside shooting and off-the-bounce game come and go, but Kirilenko is a good passer (a key for an Adelman big man) who earns an above-average number of free throws, and he’s a monumental step up from every wing player Minnesota featured last season. His ability to play power forward will allow the Wolves to use more small lineups, though it presents a playing-time roadblock for last year’s No. 2 pick, Derrick Williams, another combo forward. The Wolves sacrificed Johnson, the No. 4 pick in the 2010 draft, and a first-round pick to clear the cap space to sign Kirilenko, whose deal, while short, stands in the way of max-level cap room next summer. More to the point: This is a team that has already whiffed with first-round picks on Jonny Flynn, Ty Lawson (who was traded to Denver for a pick that became Luke Babbit, and then Martell Webster), Randy Foye, Wayne Ellington, one big cascading 2011 first-rounder and now perhaps Williams. The Wolves also dealt the 18th pick in last month’s draft to Houston for small forward Chase Budinger. The signings of Kirilenko and Russian combo guard Aleksey Shved will be big, with Shved providing some insurance for a strange gamble on Brandon Roy’s health. But without any high first-round picks on the horizon and no record of attracting star free agents, what’s the long-term prognosis for growth here as Love’s new contract — which includes a player opt-out after the third year — starts ticking? What if Rubio settles in as a good-but-not-great point guard?" from Zach Lowe at SI.com

John Hollinger on Batum Offer Sheet


"Minnesota seems set to offer Nicolas Batum a four-year, $44 million offer sheet, and it's one I have mixed feelings about. On the one hand, signing a young, tall wing who can shoot is almost always worth it, and in restricted free agency you pretty much have to overbid to pry a player loose -- especially when your average temperature is 12 Kelvin. On the other hand, I like Minnesota a lot better with a true shooting guard rather than all those 6-8 to 6-10 players they're asking to play the guard positions. Either Batum or Chase Budinger would have to play the 2 given their present lineup, at least if they want a real NBA player there, so unless the Wolves have another trade cooking that we don't know about, this is a weird fit. Additionally, Batum's on-court off-court data suggests he may be wildly overrated. While lauded for his defensive potential, there is little-to-no evidence that he's been an impactful defender in the actual games; in fact, there's mounting evidence that he may be lousy at defense. It's possible he becomes an $11 million player, but he certainly hasn't been one up 'til now. ... I would lean toward matching if I were Portland, but this is not a clear call. If they don't want to, their best move might be to involve Minnesota in sign-and-trade talks between now and the 11th -- say, for Luke Ridnour, given the Blazers' point guard needs -- which would also allow them to time the deal when it suits them given their other cap plans."

Tony Easley will go to Vegas with the Minnesota Timberwolves after a solid season in Italy.


Tony Easley will go to Vegas with the Minnesota Timberwolves after a solid season in Italy.

Scott Schroeder (Ridiculous Upside)

Ridiculousness of Upside: Analyzing improvement by the 2008 NBA Draftees

Upside is defined in Merriam Webster as an “upward trend” or the “promise and potential” associated with a young star. When I search “upside” on the Canishoopus search engine, I receive 52...

Teams are scared -- to death -- of taking Perry Jones III and Andre Drummond and they're frightened...


Teams are scared -- to death -- of taking Perry Jones III and Andre Drummond and they're frightened to pass on either player. Jones and Drummond have so many tools to be great NBA players, but early in their careers they still don't know how to put those tools together. "They get you fired either way," one GM said. "Don't take them and they blow up, everyone asks you what you were thinking. Do take them and they underachieve and everyone says you shouldn't have taken the risk. It's a no-win situation so ... you just take them. It's better to swing for the fences and miss than to bunt and miss the chance to hit a home run."

Chad Ford - ESPN (Insider) Draft Blog

SSC: Timberwolves centric review of "Big 2’s and Big 3’s: Analyzing How a Team’s Best Players Complement Each Other" by Robert Ayer

Articles are beginning to trickle in from the Sloan Sports conference taking place this weekend in Boston at MIT. One of the more interesting articles I’ve read so far is "Big 2’s and Big 3’s:...

Beasley's talent is undeniable, as shown in Tuesday's 27-point outburst against the Clippers. But...


Beasley's talent is undeniable, as shown in Tuesday's 27-point outburst against the Clippers. But the Timberwolves are unwilling to invest in him long-term because of his "issues'', as well as their logjam at the forward spot. They are now trying to get whatever they can for Beasley before letting him walk as a free agent this summer. The Lakers are interested, but conflicted. Minnesota offered the Lakers Beasley for the Lakers' best first-round pick, but the Lakers' unwillingness to pay the extra luxury tax money they would incur from Beasley's contract, have thus far turned down the deal. Beasley makes $6.2 million this season, but with the Lakers being a taxpayer, that equates to $12. million. While it's clear Beasley will make the Lakers better, will he make them good enough to justify that type of money. That's the question the Lakers are asking themselves. The Lakers own their own first-round pick as well as Dallas' first-round pick, though the Dallas pick is Top 20 protected.

Chris Broussard at ESPN (Insider)

Inflatable Mascot All-Star Madness!


Inflatable Mascot All-Star Madness!

Derrick Williams, Pau Gasol And The Eternal Question: Now Or Never?


"Williams showed why he was the legit No. 2 pick, and showed why no one laughs at the rumors suggesting that the forward could be the centerpiece of a multi-team trade that results in Minnesota landing a player like Pau Gasol. At the same time, Williams showed Minnesota a glimpse of the promise that could make the Wolves a Thunderian juggernaut in a few years. If Ricky Rubio develops as a legit threat as a scorer and Kevin Love remains Kevin Love, the addition of a Williams that resemble in any way the version we saw on Tuesday could make this team a real challenger at the top levels of the league. Therein lies the eternal question for rebuilding clubs: when is it time to say "enough" and add veterans?" From Tom Ziller at SBNation

Wolves should trade other draft pick


"It's slightly counterintuitive, particularly since the Timberwolves are a young, rebuilding team and have already dealt their 2012 first-rounder. The pick they have now is the lottery-protected pick acquired from the Utah Jazz. With no shot at a top pick, Minnesota knows it isn't about to acquire a franchise cornerstone. The question then becomes, how much solid young talent is too much solid young talent? ... Rookies represent great potential and great value to franchises, but only if they have the time to learn. Game time, mistakes and failure all provide great learning and development opportunities for a young player. When a rookie does not play much that first season, the chances that he'll become a good player diminish significantly. Minnesota is poised to become a relevant playoff team soon and doesn't have available minutes to properly develop all its young players. Instead of adding another, it should get good value for the pick by trading it and addressing a need. Certainly the roster might change a great deal by June, and if it does, perhaps a draft pick makes more sense. If not, it would not be surprising to see Minnesota target a player on another team's roster rather than one in the draft." David Thorpe ESPN (Insider)

Rookie-Sophomore Game Altered to include mixed squads with a live draft


NBA All-Star 2012 will play host to the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge, which will introduce an exciting new format to a game that has historically featured NBA rookies facing off against sophomores. For the first time, rookies and sophomores will be mixed together on teams. ... TNT Analysts Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal will serve as the general managers of two opposing teams, each with nine man rosters, consisting of NBA rookies and sophomores drafted from a pool that was previously selected by the NBA’s assistant coaches. ... The pool of players will be announced on Feb. 8, followed by the live BBVA Rising Stars Challenge Draft on Thursday evening, Feb. 16. Fellow TNT Analysts Mike Fratello and Steve Kerr will be part of the coaching staffs for the teams, with Fratello joining TEAM CHUCK and Kerr joining TEAM SHAQ. The Head Coaches for both teams will be the lead assistant coaches from the 2012 NBA All-Star Game coaching staffs.

Is Kevin Love the New Great White American Star?


Warning: Skip Bayless is prominent in the video

Rubio more than just a passing fancy


"According to Hoopdata.com, his Weighted Assists average of 11.4 per game, which takes into account the added value of an assist that leads to a three-point field goal, leads the NBA. Though Rubio’s offensive flair has dominated the headlines, he’s also been a key part of the Timberwolves’ defensive improvement this season. Minnesota has jumped from 27th in the defensive efficiency rankings in 2010-11 to 14th this year thanks partly to the defensive prowess of the Spanish guard. The Timberwolves are allowing 14 fewer points with Rubio on the court than when he’s off the court, the second-best defensive rating on the team among players with at least 100 minutes played, according to basketballvalue.com. Rubio’s overall impact both on offense and defense while he’s on the court is highlighted by his team-leading plus-minus of +52. Luke Ridnour, the current starting point guard, has the second-worst plus-minus on the team (-48). Rubio has also had a huge impact on rookie Derrick Williams’ performance. Williams is averaging more than twice as many points per 36 minutes with Rubio on the court (15.9) than with Ridnour (6.8), and is making over half of his field goals when paired with Rubio, compared to just one-third with Ridnour."

Hollinger: Top Rookie of the Year candidates


"2. Ricky Rubio, Minnesota The only question about Rubio was his shooting, but this one uncertainty loomed over everything. Statistically, his shooting percentages in Europe and international play were so impossibly bad that it seemed inconceivable he would convert at an acceptable rate in the NBA. Apparently, he got better. Either that, or these first 10 games have been a fluke of biblical proportions. Rubio has made 8 of his 17 3-point attempts and nearly half his 2s; as a result, a player who projected to shoot in the low 30s instead has one of the best TS% marks at his position. Rubio doesn't need to shoot like John Stockton to have value; he's so good in other areas that he just needs to be a non-awful shooter to make a major impact on the game. So far he's doing it, and in every other respect he's something of a Spanish Jason Kidd -- Rubio averages 10.9 assists and 5.4 boards per 40 minutes, plays exemplary defense, and has the size and moxie to defend most 2s. Yes, the Wolves are only 3-7, but it's a vastly more competitive 3-7 than the misery of last season, and for the first time in eons this franchise seems headed in the right direction. Ricky is a major reason. Because of the hype surrounding his entry and the spectacle of his passing skill, Rubio will have a major advantage in the Rookie of the Year voting. However, ultimately production is likely to win out. It's reasonable to expect Rubio's shooting numbers to regress a bit, even if they don't fall all the way back to the horrors of his past two seasons in Spain, and one player in particular should have the edge in both playing time and productivity." John Hollinger at ESPN.com (Insider)

Wilbon: Wrong about Rubio


"Magic Johnson, the man who probably knows more about the passing game than anybody in the history of basketball, saw Rubio go 0-for-5 shooting with three assists in an exhibition victory over the Lakers nearly two years ago, and still he came away certain Rubio would be at the very least a good NBA point guard. I told Magic the Timberwolves were nuts for wasting the No. 5 overall pick in 2009 on this kid who kept putting up zeros in international competition. Magic said, and I quote, "You're going to be wrong. Listen to me on this kid. He'll be better in the NBA than he is in Europe because our guys are more athletic and they run to the rim. In Europe, guys don't really run the break; they fan out around the 3-point line, they pump-fake, they look to score in other ways. Our guys are going to see a dude who can pass it like Rubio and run like hell to the rim. Trust me." I didn't. I was a fool." Michael Wilbon at ESPN.com

Is Kevin Love worth a max deal?


"Sometimes, it's important to focus on what a player can do, not what he can't. The full range of skills that Love offers is unique and, yes, it's a championship-level package. He may not be quite at the level of a James or Rose, but he's on the tier a half-step below it. Like Garnett, perhaps the best part of Love's game is his remarkable consistency. As evidenced by last season's streak of 53 straight double-doubles, Love puts up numbers night after night after night. There is no question he is deserving of a max contract, and probably little question that the Timberwolves will make such an offer. The only thing we don't know is whether Love will sign it." Bradley Doolittle - Basketball Prospectus (ESPN Insider)

iPitch: Apple Prepares Bid For EPL TV Rights


Using its platform of Apple TV, a small box costing less than $100 that allows users to stream internet content on their television screens, the company already showcases properties from Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League and the National Basketball Association. But this is different. By going for full English television rights to the EPL, one of the most lucrative sports products in the world, Apple could be signaling the start of an assault on cable's turf. ... Consumers and the technology sector has responded to the Apple news with heavy interest, and there is a sense that this move, if successful, could forever change the way that live sports is consumed. Any successful rights deal involving [live sports] would be likely to allow for subscribers to watch live games on not only Apple TV, but iPads and iPhones. ... "If such a product were to come out it could change the whole playing field," Hesseldahl says. "No one knows for sure what they are planning, but if you had an actual television set with the ability to web-stream embedded in it, and users were still able to access their traditional cable or satellite functions, it could be huge. "That is why Apple has to be taken seriously in any market. They have the money and the technological smarts to have a vision of how we will view things in the future. In many ways, they hold all the cards." That doesn't bode well for ESPN, which charges cable subscribers whether they watch the network or not. Any reliable way to bypass cable is a potential threat to ESPN's bottom line, if not its incredible reach.

Source confirms Memphis, Philly and NO agreed in principle to send Marreese Speights to Griz,...


Source confirms Memphis, Philly and NO agreed in principle to send Marreese Speights to Griz, Xavier Henry to NO & 2 future 2nds to 76ers

Sam Amick via Twitter

Rubio big again in Spain


"In the States, he doesn’t feel the pressure he felt in Spain. He feels free and he’s playing well. He seems to have regained lost confidence. He is in his natural habitat, as a showtime player. In just a week, his image has recovered. Ricky is Ricky again, and the buzz is being felt as much in Spain as it is in Minnesota and elsewhere around the NBA." Noelia Roman Lamas at Sheridan Hoops

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