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Oct 25th

Wolf pack redesigned for upcoming season

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basketballersWatch out now. The Timberwolves seem to have a new groove. Whether you agree with that possibility or not, the Wolves have several new players, and that’s a fact. Pre-season observation of this adjusted pack of Wolves seems to show a team with some improved lift on the court – or maybe it could be that Wolves’ GM David Kahn, who rarely seems to smile himself, is lining up a set of the most genuine smiles that the NBA has to offer. I smell a “Minnesota Nice” promotional campaign coming. Considering the price of tickets to Wolves games these days, it just might work.

A nice fact about the new look Wolves that may actually matter on the court is that their roster now represents seven players who were lottery picks in the NBA Draft this decade. In a recent article I said that talent would win out in the case of Michael Vick versus Kevin Kolb for the Philadelphia Eagles starting quarterback position. Here is how the talent for the Wolves shakes out:

Martell Webster was the #6 pick in the 2005 draft. Webster came straight from high school to the NBA in the last year that it was allowed to come straight from high school. But in Portland, Webster got lost on a Trailblazers team that has been saturated with players of Webster’s size and style for a long time. Having a team full of forwards is a recipe for the Los Angeles Clippers, which has been the NBA caboose for more than a long time. It’s easy to understand how Webster could have been lost on that team, and seeing as he is originally from the northwest U.S. region, probably provides all the more reason that his shipping date out of Portland took so long. But thus far his presence in the Wolves preseason has been pretty strong for a team in need of proper athleticism and shooting to compliment the steady talents of pillars like Kevin Love. Webster is a real wildcard in the mix, which is why I list him first. If Webster can form a clear identity, he would seem to be the ideal compliment for the Wolves’ biggest addition, Michael Beasley.

Beasley is Minnesota’s gift from the Miami Heat, since LeBron James decided to “take his talents to South Beach,” and in doing so limited Miami’s ability to afford keeping Beasley, their #1draft pick (#2 overall) from the 2008 Draft. Beasley was viewed by most as the best player coming out of college in 2008, though most of the leading awards went to a mix of other players; this was mostly due to the prestige of those player’s schools. But Beasley’s presence in the college basketball scene easily drew the common quote “a man amongst boys”.

Beasley seemed to be a young man caught in the funk of massive expectations during his first years in Miami with Dwayne Wade, who had recently come off of winning a championship in 2006. Beasley and Shaquille O’Neal, were supposed to be the additions that brought championship glory back to South Beach. That didn’t work. But what is working is the big smile and energy that Beasley has brought to the Wolves. Who knew? But we all know Minnesota can be a good relaxation from big city hustle, bustle, and competition. So in addition to his “big man on campus” talent, Beasley is blessing the Target Center crowds, and his teammates, with a smile and energy that may make folks care less that the Wolves will be fortunate to finish the season with a .500 record.

In addition to Beasley’s big youthful smile are the smiles of second year point guard Jonny Flynn, and the fresh rookie Wesley Johnson. Both young fellas have those types of smiles that make folks think that they couldn’t hurt a fly, but their court game is so steady that the smiles can become dangerous illusions to teams taking their trip to the Target Center for granted.

Toss in the sneaky smile of slim defensive forward Corey Brewer, and the smile you can hope to get from Darko Milicic – who was only second to LeBron James in the 2003 NBA Draft, and ahead of Carmelo Anthony – and the Wolves certainly have the talent to surprise a weakening Western Conference.

But all the youth, talent, and smiles begin and end with Love. Kevin Love that is. “That boy good,” as the kids would say. And hopefully you can fade out on reading this article with Stephanie Mills’ “I’ve Learned to Respect the Power of Love” like I am right now. If they bump that song at the Target Center before every game everybody wins.
 

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