Youth, Team Chemistry, and Patience

Another great article by TWolves Blog Forum member “Wolfenstein”.  I couldn’t agree more in how this applies to our current Wolves squad.  Take it away Wolfenstein:


“I’d rather have a lot of talent and a little experience than a lot of experience and a little talent.”
-John Wooden

The wisdom of Mr. Wooden’s words lies in their simplicity; Wooden was a brilliant reductionist of strategy and tenacious when it came to clinging to his principles. In his autobiography “My Personal Best”, Wooden reinforces that his measure of success never had to do with Wins and Losses, but rather relied on playing hard, and, ultimately, on personal improvement both on the court and off.

Wooden believed that complex strategies slow down players, and believed that if his teams could simply run faster, jump higher, and play harder for the entire game, they would win more than they lost regardless of X’s and O’s.

Where this affects us as Timberwolves fans is in our patience, or, more specifically, our lack thereof.

Our collective lack of patience is somewhat justified, or at least is the result of years of conditioning: our first several attempts at rebuilding under McHale were doomed from the start; nowhere in the previous 12 years of management had McHale shown a talent, desire, or disposition towards building a young team. Instead, we saw talent languish, fail to develop, and in some cases develop only after moving onward and out of the T-Wolves organization (*cough* Chauncey Billups *cough*).

When David Kahn took over in 2009, many were tentatively optimistic, and that optimism was buoyed after Kahn orchestrated a very solid trade to pick up the #5 pick, which he used for Ricky Rubio. However, the optimism was shredded when Kahn reached with our #6 pick by taking Johnny Flynn, who was largely evaluated as a mid-first round talent.

[A sidebar here; I like Johnny Flynn, and see him developing as a more explosive Avery Johnson type- a vocal leader who commands the respect of his teammate and will, eventually, be a very positive lockerroom and on the court influence. That said, there was better talent available at that spot, and talent that would have facilitated the Rubio signing quicker. Steph Curry was one of my favorite college players after watching him shred the Zags (my alma mater) in 2008 and then dominate college basketball with skill and craftiness in 2009. It was devastating to see us pass on Curry.]

Since the 2009 draft, however, we’ve shed the likes of Brian Cardinal, Ryan Gomes, Mark Madsen, Mike Miller, and Craig Smith. The new players include Darko, Beasley, Wes Johnson, Martell Webster, Anthony Tolliver, and Nikola Pekovic. What started with some questionable moves has become a cohesive youth movement that will pay off in the long run. Each position runs two deep with guys who have the talent to be legitimate NBA starters with some time and development. (We also have a coach who stresses player development and has managed to establish a culture where players don’t act like numbskulls.)

The key for the next few years is talent vs. experience. There is a difference between a 25 win season and a 25 win ceiling. We’ve shed experienced bench players who ended up playing big minutes for us in favor of younger guys who can get up and down the court and play the game.

The Timberwolves find themselves entering 2011 in the rare position of being loaded with young talent at nearly all positions. We have young guys that need touches and the offense that Rambis is implementing requires patience from his players; as fans we ought to follow suit and see who pans out before hitting the “Reset” button. We don’t need to panic and bring on someone just because they’ve had moderate success in the league (Mayo, Iguodala), but rather need to build this team together and sign our young talent to reasonable contracts so that we can have them together when their talent starts to peak.

And maybe draft Scottie Hopson’s High Top Fade this year, he would be a hit.


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