Form vs. Function, Funk vs. Fusion… the aesthetic of the game vs. the utility of the win. This is what Ben Polk describes in his post here: “Charming ruins: David Kahn and Kurt Rambis in Springtime.” Ultimately you need to find that zen as a team where you are playing the game as it is meant to be played, to the greatest degree you can (whatever degree that is), and you are still able to accomplish your function- that is, winning enough.
For our team this year, enough would have been around 30 wins. We were an up and coming young team with some good pieces. Ultimately for me the aesthetic was decidedly off. Beasley’s early season scoring binge took the eye off the team as a whole before Love’s double-double streak permanently ended any semblance of a team mission.
There are a million satellites on the blogosphere where we can deconstruct the various sources of failure for the Team this year. The bottom line to me is that the concept of Team failed and that is that.
As far as a productive discussion moving forward goes, the better questions to ask are, “what needs to be done in order to strike the balance between trying to win, and playing the game right?” Or, more importantly, “what changes need to be made in order for us to start to play the game right?”
First changes that must be made are looking at depth and function. We have a PF that is our best player, but he only makes sense next to one of our other front line players (Darko, who is only good for 15-20 minutes on average over a season because of his injury-proneness). Beasley’s our next best player but he hardly fits next to Love because he has become accustomed to relying on his athleticism on D, which works when you’re a PF but not as a perimeter defender.
Luke can’t seem to strike the balance between jacking pull-up shots and feeding his teammates (here’s a hint, Luke: never ever shoot off the dribble. Sure there are some good looks in there, but as a rule it’s very rarely a good shot for you, since your teammates are often not in a position to rebound, and since players, especially young players, really need to touch the ball most possessions to feel like they are involved in the game).
We are one point guard and one perimeter player short and our strategy was to cram Michael Beasley into the extra perimeter position. We added Randolph but never played him alongside Love or Beasley.
There are more questions this off-season than answers, but I think the first moves need to start with an honest appraisal of our strengths, weaknesses, and roles and move from there. Moves need to be made with the team in mind and without a blind grasping for ethereal “talent” that has yet to be realized.
* * *
So… again, if I am the T-Wolves my entire offseason is about filling the SG position, bringing on one of 2 PGs (Rubio or Irving) and adding a certified C. My tradeable assets, in order of decreasing value, are: Love, Beasley, Rubio’s rights, 2011 top 4 pick, Randolph, Wes Johnson, Ridnour, Webster, Pekovic, Ellington, 2011 #20 pick, Dog Feces, Rambis’s Contract, Jonny Flynn. Ok, those last 2 are low blows. Kind of.
I want to retain the maximum value possible, so I am looking to keep Love and Beasley if possible, along with either Rubio’s rights or the top pick if we get #1 (Irving). The challenge has to be to add a SG who fits and can slide Wes to the 3 (his natural position) and to shore up the C position. By doing those 2 things we can keep Love and move Beasley to the 6th man slot where he could be a destroyer of worlds.
In my virtual GM world, I’m hiring Dwight Howard’s strength coach for Anthony Randolph and maybe signing David Robinson to work on his post defense (another huge lefty with great finesse who also was a great post defender). I think the Admiral would appreciate the opportunity to mentor another big lefty who seems like a decent kid in need of some direction.
I’m also looking for a guy like Evan Turner to fit the 2 guard spot, where I think he, Rubio, and Johnson would be a fun trio to watch for years. This is striking at the heart of the aesthetic of the game.
Finally I’m making the move to jettison Darko (I love his game, when he has it, I’m just not convinced he has enough balls to play night in and night out for a season, or to be nasty on the interior). Pekovic is perfect as the “guy who gives you 6 fouls and will surprise you by making a sweet move here and there.”
Other more expensive options include Tyson Chandler at C and Nick Young or Iguodala at SG. Iguodala would likely require trading multiple assets, and we’re not too terribly deep as a team in terms of our quality talent (“role players, role players everywhere, but not a guard to play”).
Webster and Tolliver would both be great guys who can step in for you when you need them but won’t be big minute-earners on my team. Not that I don’t like the guys, I just don’t see giving 15-20 minutes every night at the expense of a young and talented player.
Move Ridnour if I can, keep Telfair (never thought I’d say that). Permanently reassign Jonny to the Sioux Falls D-League team, those South Dakotan ladies will love that smile and your flashy ways.
Ellington can stay and he gets his 10-15 per game unless someone goes down.
Rubio or Irving
8-9 deep at most, never play 5 subs consecutively, Webster and Telfair as emergencies.
Done and done.
I’d also be okay with moving Beasley, Ridnour, and #20 for Turner and a mid-late pick next year in what is sure to be a deep draft.