So, I wrote an article saying the Wolves could win 57 wins next year and Twitter kind of errupted. I thought I'd make a few clarifications to some of the common responses I have seen.
The Kahn Supremacy sounds racist.
Whoops. This honestly never crossed my mind. I chose the article because I had just recently written an article called The Kahn Redemption, and there's this movie coming out called the Bourne Redemption, and there's this other movie called the Bourne Supremacy, so I thought it was a clever play on words. You know, I did my best to ignore the swell of "oh my god they're the whitest team ever" jokes on Twitter, and whenever I see one, I'm tempted to reach for the 'Unfollow' button, not because I am offended, but because, you know, they aren't funny anymore*. They're like making Linsansity puns. The first few were funny, then it gets boring really fast.
The Timberwolves haven't won a game in April in forever.
Here's where we drag out my favorite blurb from every investing site in the history of the internet: Past performance is not indicative of future results. In other words, causality matters; shit doesn't just happen because that's what happened last time. In this case we might say: the past performance of those losers that are no longer on the team are irrelevant to the team's future performance. If I replaced Gasol, Bynum, and Bryant with Milicic, Johnson, and Beasley, would you predict the Lakers to be a top 4 seed, because after all, the Lakers go deep in the playoffs every year? Yeah, didn't think so. I know more than a few teams next year are going to be saying "We just lost to the Timberwolves?" in their best Allen-Iverson-talkin'-bout-practice voice, but Wes Johnson, Darko Milicic, and Michael Beasley are not walking through that door. Get over it.
Brandon Roy is not coming back. You're living in the past.
You missed the part where I wrote that the real superstar acquisition is not Roy; it's Andrei Kirilenko. My prediction involves Roy playing worse than Martell Webster did last year. If Roy's knees are not healthy, they'll play Shved at the 2. All they need is almost-average.
Rubio's only got one knee.
Rubio is also not central to this team's success, other than providing some average-level play. I only assigned Rubio limited minutes and I gave him a lower WP48 than last year. Ridnour is a pretty average point guard and if Rubio isn't really healthy than Adelman will likely play him more. Average is all they need at point guard. Anything Rubio does well is a bonus.
No one on that team can score efficiently.
They can't spread the floor.
This one baffles me because it seems that the people making this argument don't understand that you can look up how many shots each player took last season, and see how many points they scored, and see if it took them lots of shots to score. There are a ton of efficient scorers on this team. I guess some guys seem to think scoring "efficiently" means "creating shots" or some bullshit. I actually had a guy ask me why Love is a more efficient scorer than Ricky Davis. I'm like...well, whenever Love shot the ball, more points went on the scoreboard? Another guy said that "All Pek can do is get fouled in the paint, he can't score". Aside from the fact that this isn't...factual....wait, you guys know free throws count, right? They're not just practice shots, you actually get points for them? OK, just checking.
The bit about spreading the floor is weird too. You do not HAVE to have 5 sharpshooters. Having a bunch of 3 point scorers is not the only way to spread the floor or achieve spacing. You can spread the floor by having a deadly high post player and a deadly low post player, for instance. The Golden State Warriors, Orlando Magic, and Atlanta Hawks are all examples of teams that ranked very high in three-point shooting last year, but were nowhere near the top in offensive efficiency. 3-piont shooting is good but it isn't a panacea and it isn't the only way to spread the floor. It's yet another reason that I think the addition of Ray Allen to the Heat isn't anywhere near as big a factor as most.
In other words, Ridnour and Love both shoot the three well, and even on bad knees Roy will probably still hit about 35%, and you've got Budinger off the bench, and that's probably enough. It's also true that even if the guy catching the ball isn't Ray Allen or Kyle Korver, defenders will still close out on guys who catch the ball wide open behind the three-point line. They'll spread the floor just fine.
Love's not going to get many free throws next year. This happened to Dwayne Wade, LeBron, and Kobe when they got good teammates.
Last I checked Shaq was a "good teammate" in 2006, but Dwayne still got to the line a lot. Another possible explanation for the drop off for is that they just got older. Beating the defender on the perimeter becomes harder, changing direction to avoid charging help defenders gets harder, etc. If Love stops getting any calls, he won't be as efficient. It's true. He also won't be as efficient if his three-point shooting falls off. Or if he stops getting offensive rebounds.
It's also true that if there are monsters under my bed, I'm likely to get eaten tonight in my sleep. But I'm not going to worry about it until I find evidence that the monsters exist.
Then there's this last one:
It's not Kahn, it's Adelman.
You know what, I believe you. Kahn has been a terrible general manager for years. There are a few possiblities:
- Kahn suddenly got a lot smarter at evaluating basketball talent
- Kahn suddenly realized that he's terrible at evaluating basketball talent and delegated this to somebody else
- Adelman or someone close to him essentially usurped Kahn's decision making within the organization
- Kahn has always had a decision-by-committee style and Adelman's camp currently has the respect of the committee
- etc etc
Y'all should know by now that I am a huge proponent of using Occam's Razor, which would essentially eliminate the first bullet point. So, I suspect that some combination of the other bullet points is much more likely. But unless we're given access to the inside, we'll never know. And since the Captain goes down with the ship, we are also forced to give the Captain the praise when things go very well, even if it's really Spock and Scotty who are doing all the work. And, as Arturo pointed out, even if all he did was step back and bring in competent personnel executives and listened to them, this is something that many GMs never achieve, because they allow their egos to run rampant, and Kahn deserves praise for this.
Basically, we have to hold ourselves accountable. We can't bitch and moan about everything Kahn ever did wrong, then ignore a bunch of great moves as if they didn't happen. The same thing happened to McHale. He made a lot of very poor decisions, but he made some good ones. He drafted Garnett, Pekovic, and, essentially, Kevin Love. Remember all of you bitching about the OJ Mayo trade? It's probably the greatest trade in Timberwolves history, and certainly one of the most lopsided trades of all time. He absolutely nailed Memphis' balls to the wall with that trade. How many of you have come out and said "Ok, he sure got that one right."?
If we don't praise David Kahn for these moves, then we essentially lose all credibility when we criticisize his decisions. And in the end, it doesn't matter if he's gotten smarter or if he is just smart enough to listen to other people who know what they are doing. That's also part of being a leader.