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NBA Off-Season Preview: Minnesota Timberwolves

The 2009-10 Minnesota Timberwolves were a bad team. They went 15-67, which was the second-worst record in the league. New coach Kurt Rambis installed the triangle offense, a bad fit for his team, who struggled to defend, rebound, or shoot from the outside. GM David Kahn turned over half the roster after the season, dumping his best player, Al Jefferson, finding some athletic wings to play the triangle, and taking a flyer on the much-maligned Michael Beasley and Darko Milicic. He also signed a European center, dumped both of last summer’s free agents, and sent Ricky Rubio approximately three hundred text messages saying “I MISS U.”

The results? The small forwards look better. Martell Webster, Wesley Johnson, and occasionally Michael Beasley will take minutes that were going to Sasha Pavlovic and Damien Wilkins last year. Luke Ridnour replaces Ramon Sessions, who was a bad fit for the triangle (unfortunately, so is Jonny Flynn). The new bigs should get rebounds, if nothing else. Kevin Love is still the team’s best outside shooter, and there’s still no one in the rotation who especially plays defense. The team should be significantly more watchable than last year’s abomination, and they’ve got three first-round picks next year. Unfortunately, David Kahn will still be making those picks.

Minnesota is a much more acceptable basketball team, but have they really built a foundation for a future playoff team? They’re waiting for Ricky Rubio to come over from Spain, but besides Rubio, who on this roster projects to be a star? Love could make an All-Star game down the road. They got rid of Jefferson to clear space for Love, then traded for Beasley, a top pick who plays Love’s position. Regarding Jonny Flynn’s rookie season, John Hollinger said, “As disappointing as he was offensively, he was worse on defense.” Wesley Johnson was a lottery pick, but he’s 23 years old.

Are You Older Than A Wesley Johnson?

Wesley Johnson was born on July 11, 1987, making him almost 23 at the time of the draft, fairly old for such a high pick. He’s eight months younger than teammate Martell Webster. He’s 14 months older than Kevin Love, and 18 months older than Michael Beasley. He’s three months older than Wayne Ellington. Darko Milicic is a seven-year veteran, and he’s only two years older than Johnson. Mike Conley, Jr. was the #4 pick in the 2007 draft. Conley is already considered a bust, and he’s three months younger than Johnson.

My friend and I like to play a game where we name a basketball player or celebrity, and have to guess if that person is still younger than Wesley Johnson. John Wall is more than three years younger. So is DeMarcus Cousins. So is Ricky Rubio. Xavier Henry, picked eight slots behind Johnson, is nearly four years younger. Haley Joel Osment is eight months younger than Johnson. Hilary Duff is three months younger. The Olsen twins are only a year older than Johnson. Rihanna is seven months younger.

All this doesn’t mean that Wesley Johnson can’t be a good player. But it does mean that what you see from Johnson this year is pretty close to what you’re ever going to get from him.

What Did the T-Wolves Get For Kevin Garnett?

Originally, Minnesota sent Kevin Garnett to the Celtics for Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, Al Jefferson, Theo Ratliff, Sebastian Telfair, a 2009 first round draft pick and a return of their own 2009 first round draft pick.

  • Jefferson turned into Kosta Koufos and two lottery-protected 2011 first-rounders (from Utah and Memphis). They better get value out of their three 2011 picks, because the 2012 pick will be going to the Clippers. Minnesota also has no future second-rounders until 2014.
  • Gomes was traded (with Luke Babbitt, obtained for the Ty Lawson pick) for Martell Webster.
  • Theo Ratliff was waived for salary relief.
  • Sebatian Telfair and two others were swapped to the Clippers for Quentin Richardson, who was flipped for Mark Blount, who never joined the team.
  • The Wolves’ own pick became Jonny Flynn.

Effectively, the Wolves got three years of Al Jefferson, plus Jonny Flynn, Kousta Koufos, and two draft picks for Garnett. Also of note: the Wolves are manning the center position with Koufos, Darko, and Nikola Peckovic, which represents the biggest whitewash since Tom Sawyer’s days doing chores. It seems like the plan is to blind opposing big men with the glare coming off of their skin.

Fun fact!

Kosta Koufos was born in America!

David Kahn Loves Point Guards

Even though David Kahn has only been on the job for a year and a half, he has acquired seven different point guards in that time. The list:

  • Ricky Rubio
  • Jonny Flynn
  • Ramon Sessions
  • Ty Lawson (immediately traded)
  • Sebastian Telfair
  • Luke Ridnour
  • Delonte West (waived)

David Kahn: point guards :: Billy Knight: swingmen :: Imelda Marcos: shoes

Prediction

The Wolves would have a better chance in a less-competitive division, but they wouldn’t make the playoffs no matter where they were. I predict that Minnesota returns to the high lottery, where David Kahn will select another point guard.

(Sean Keane)

In Case You Missed It…

Minnesota Timberwolves GM David Kahn VS Chris Webber

Chris Webber rules.

Hat Tip to BDL

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