Uni Watch's Paul Lukas took an enormous assigment of ranking the uniforms of all teams in the NBA, MLB, NFL, and NHL for four-letter. That's 122 teams, folks. And he has the Wolves ranked 115th: "The Wolves' numbering and lettering have evolved over the years from illegible to semi-legible to childish, which only counts as progress if you think getting a D on your term paper is better than flunking out. Meanwhile, the uniform design has featured one useless gimmick after another (the "tree line" on the shorts, the odd collars, etc.). Instead of tweaking the same concept over and over, they need to go back to the drawing board and start from scratch, pronto." At least he ranks them above the Vikings!
"I think we used to call him kind of a poor man’s Larry Bird," Denver coach George Karl said. "I think you can take ‘poor man’s’ off that comparison now. His ability to rebound is incredible and his offensive tools and skills are growing."Karl on Kevin Love.
Kevin Pelton examines how Rubio's injury (and the Wolves current replacements who will now get his minutes) might affect the Wolves' bottom line in terms of win projection and playoff odds (which, pre-Rubio-injury, were above 50% for the first time since Sam-I-Am was driving this thing, according to Hollinger and bb-ref).
Wages of Wins chimes in on the top rookies thus far.
Timberwolves: The Minnesota Timberwolves are a two guard away from being very good. They know it. The league knows it and Timberwolves’ fans have known it all season. The Wolves have a number of cashable parts. The problem is there does not seem to be a lot of interest in Wes Johnson, Wayne Ellington or Luke Ridnour – especially not for a starting caliber two guard. Sources close to the situation say there are few teams that would do a deal for rookie Derrick Williams but at this point the Wolves seem unwilling to move him or entertain talks involving him. The parts the Wolves would cash don’t seem to be drawing much, so while the Wolves understand they need to upgrade, they are not eager to make a bad deal, but expect them to be active in the march up to the deadline. If a starter at the two spot shakes loose, they seem eager and willing to pull the trigger. Keep an eye on Houston’s Courtney Lee… Wolves’ coach Rick Adelman knows him and it seems he is available from the Rockets. If the price comes down, don’t be surprised to see a deal. Courtney is no Kevin Martin, but at this point the Wolves are buyers in a sellers’ market place.Hoopsworld.com, FWIW...
Discussions continue between the Blazers and Nicolas Batum's agent, Bouna Ndiaye, on an extension, but deal not close, sources say. 23 JanKen Berger Twitter I apologize if it's a little weird to post whispers about a non-Wolves player, but... Knock knock!
A piece from SI's Lee Jenkins on the Love/Rubio/Adelman foundation.
Lost amid all the Love contract talk...the Wolves exercise 2012-13 options on Wes and Wayne any day nowZgoda tweet
Get your latest annoying, unsourced Kevin Love trade rumors here!
This time: Pau Gasol and
fool's gold the Odom TE.
Hint: Zygi Wilf and the Vikings don't play it...
Redemption, thy name is Sullivan One name that is sticking out like a sore thumb at the top of the rankings in a "what are you doing there?" kind of way is John Sullivan (+7.5) of the Minnesota Vikings. In two seasons since taking over from Matt Birk in Minnesota Sullivan has ranked 28th (in 2009) and 26th (in 2010). His poor play as a run blocker, along with most of the rest of the offensive line has been a thorn in the side of the Vikings. The poor play of Sullivan and his fellow linemen has limited the impact Adrian Peterson has been able to have the last two seasons, which makes what he has achieved all the more impressive. This season however, Sullivan has very quietly raised his game and at the midway point of 2011, Sullivan is our third-ranked run blocking center. In years past, Sullivan has struggled even against the worst defensive tackles in the league but this Sunday he showed the extent of his progress, claiming a season high +2.5 run-blocking grade against the Panthers’ subpar interior defensive line. The Vikings averaged 5.3 yards per carry on runs off his left hip and on 35 rushes off of his right hip this season the Vikings are averaging 7.9 yards per carry. Those sorts of numbers would have been unheard of around Sullivan in years past, and backup the notion that to this point Sullivan is a leading candidate for the most improved player in the league.ProFootballFocus
Hate to rain on everyone's "Suck for Luck" parade, but there is an under-the-radar storyline regarding the heralded Stanford quarterback that will soon be out there. Think all your team has to do is finish 1-15 to get Andrew Luck? It might not be that easy. The presence of Luck's father, Oliver, is something league executives will be watching closely as we get closer to April. This well could be Eli Manning in 2004, or John Elway in 1983, if the Stanford quarterback's camp doesn't like the situation the highest picking team presents. "Absolutely. I've heard that for the last two years," said one college scout, who's on the road and paid to ferret this stuff out. "There's no question that it could be a Manning thing all over again." The Manning comparison, of course, arises because Archie Manning drove the bus on youngest son Eli forcing a trade from San Diego to New York. And don't get this twisted -- this isn't a criticism of Luck or his father, who is also the athletics director at West Virginia. They have the leverage, the next 10-15 years of Luck's life could be in the balance, and so it makes sense to use that power to find the right spot. It's just that, based on the way Oliver and Andrew Luck have carefully orchestrated their decisions in the past, teams are expecting this circumstance to arise if the wrong team is sitting at No. 1. "We talked about this before (Luck's sophomore) season started," said the scout. "Some people know the dad well, and the hands-on approach he has. In Andrew's defense, he seems pretty in control of everything. So I could see it being a mutual decision. And if he can control it, why play behind a (crappy) offensive line, or in a bad situation? He's gonna have that control. If he doesn't like the team there, all he has to do is voice that, and there'll be teams looking to trade up. "The Luck camp has a ton of firepower here. More than anyone I can remember."NFL.com's Albert Breer
If you enjoy great analysis on interesting football trends, I recommend visiting Chris Brown's smartfootball.com. He tends to focus more on the college game because there's more diversity of style and often more innovation on Saturdays, but I like his NFL stuff, as well. Anyway, here's a piece he wrote for Grantland breaking down Darrren Sproles and how the Saints really have their finger on the pulse about how to best utilize players like him. "Space" players. It's a great read. But if you read it and wonder if Percy Harvin could have even more potential, or frustrated that the Vikings seem lagging behind the curve on a number of fronts, you're not alone.
The franchise's signature signal caller speaks... "Players know. Who's going to be our future? Who can we build with? Maybe it's Christian Ponder. We won't know until he plays in games how he reacts. We desperately need that for the immediate future of our franchise."
Obviously, the Vikings passing attack ain't exactly a symphony right now. They're currently 27th in net passing yards per attempt. But we don't need numbers to tell us that they not reminding us of...
Overall, looking at the entire database of teams from 2002-2010, there is no correlation between second-half decline in Weeks 1-3 and second-half decline in Weeks 4-17. (If you want to get technical, the correlation coefficient is .05 on offense, -.07 on defense, and .02 overall.) If we look only at the 40 most extreme teams, the correlation is slightly higher (.13). Still, most of this evidence suggests that the Vikings aren't going to have these kinds of second-half collapses all season. If they continue to play at the level they are playing at overall, they should be a .500 team the rest of the way. Unfortunately, they're starting in an 0-3 hole, but they're not going to end up in the Suck for Luck sweepstakes.Football Outsiders
An early review by Shutdown Corner of the NFL Network documentary on Belichick. Anyone watch? I thought it was outstanding, but I always find Belichick interesting.
No one can predict the future, but we love to try. With news coming down that the Titans and Chris Johnson have agreed to a $54-$56 million deal ($30 million in guarantees), it's natural to wonder...
Might get a bit technical, but here's an interesting study by Brian Burke on QB aging. (It also suggests, perhaps, that too many people are reading too much into Donovan McNabb's poor 2010 season.)
We'll never know what coulda/shoulda/woulda happened if we could hit a RESET button somewhere and re-do the Santana trade offseason, but here's review, WAR-style, of the mess Billy Smith's made on a few fronts.
...just so happens FO's free peek to their annual this year is the Vikings chapter. Curiously, they're predicting a decent year of 8 or 9 wins, thanks to a last-place schedule and some regression (in a good way) in third-down and red zone performances. It doesn't hurt that they also consider McNabb a good QB still. On the negative side, they hit on all the concerns most fans know well (age, secondary, o-line, depth...), and they're not particularly enthusiastic about the future.
Chilly speaks to NFL.com.
Wednesday: Donovan McNabb Average: 3,305 ± 130 passing yards, 20 ± 1 TDs, 14 ± 1 INTs Best-case scenario: 4,400 passing yards, 27 TDs, 6 INTs Worst-case scenario: 2,400 passing yards, 11 TDs, 23 INTs McNabb was a quarterback we featured in last year's Wisdom of Crowds, and he ended up exceeding yardage expectations while underperforming in both touchdowns and interceptions. This season, the prognosticator's dilemma revolves around whether or not McNabb can parlay a better running game into better passing stats despite having a wide receiver corps of equal talent. After all, Percy Harvin may be Santana Moss's doppelganger, but Ryan Torain is no Adrian Peterson. One clue that might help solve the mystery is that the Vikings replaced offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell with Bill Musgrave. In his last stint in the position, Musgrave coached a Jaguars offense that averaged 3,368 passing yards, 17 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions. With Mike Shanahan last season, McNabb had prorated stats of 4,156 passing yards, 17 touchdowns, and 18 interceptions. Put that together, and you have 3,762 passing yards, 17 touchdowns, and 16 interceptions. That's pretty darn close to what our readers have to say.Football Outsiders' "Wisdom of the Crowds" Predictions
Earlier today, when talking about the trade for Jeff Keppinger, GM Brian Sabean referred to "something bigger" that he was working to complete. I can’t be sure he was referring to Twins outfielder Michael Cuddyer, but I’m told that the Giants recently expressed interest in him with an eye toward playing him at second base. Cuddyer has played 13 games at second base this season and Giants scouts felt he was serviceable at the position. But the Twins had a steep asking price and so Sabean revisited the Astros because Bruce Bochy needed immediate help and he knew he could close the Keppinger deal with a phone call. With Sabean still determined to upgrade the offense and "lengthen the lineup," I wouldn’t rule out the Giants revisiting Cuddyer in the next 10 days. Whether the Twins adjust the price is another matter.An observation/opinion from Giants' beat writer Andrew Baggarly
We've been kicking around how the Wolves coaching situation is likely being influenced by Taylor's desire to see how the lockout unfolds, most recently in Andy G's tongue-in-cheek, Olive-Stone-like...
Wages of Wins declares Kevin Love the most underpaid player in the league last year. Not a huge surprise given that metric considers him the best player in the league last year, and he's on his rookie deal. I don't think win score is the best stat out there, and I don't think Love's the best player in the league. But value-wise, no doubt the Wolves are robbing him blind right now. I suspect he'd be up there no matter what measure you want to use. Anyway, 18 of the top 30 underpaid players, according to WoW, are on rookie deals. The rest are largely super-duper stars who are underpaid thanks to contract caps, or they're non-scoring, WoW-style studs (e.g., Kidd, Rondo, Chuck Hayes). At any rate, this could be evidence vindicating Stop-n-Pop's theory of (paraphrasing) "Superstars, good young players on rookie deals, or bust."
I brought this up elsewhere, but with the addition of Derrick Williams last night, many are suggesting the Wolves' best (or maybe, most interesting) lineup next year should eventually be: RubioWesB...
Interesting article about the mixed impressions of Monta's D. Wolves still need a 2, and he's available, probably in a buy-low situation...not my preferred target, though.
Anxiety about Jonas V rising...
He has Brooks #1, Thompson #2, and Burks #3. He says Brooks checks out great in almost everything he looks for, and the only reason he can't predict all star games is because he didn't emerge until late in his career. But he notes that might be an opportunity thing, as Brooks has looked like a prospect on a per minute basis for a while now. Interesting in that I believe Hollinger didn't like Brooks so much. Nerd fight!
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