It’s not a great time to be a Minnesota Timberwolves fan. The team went 15-67 last season. #6 overall pick Jonny Flynn didn’t look like he deserved to be picked ahead of Stephen Curry, Brandon Jennings, Ty Lawson, or Darren Collison. Al Jefferson is a member of the Jazz, and the Timberwolves didn’t get much back for him. Ricky Rubio is still in Spain. The role of “Manna from Heaven” is currently being played by Darko Milicic. David Kahn may or may not be a worse executive than an avocado
One of the few pieces of Timberwolves-related good news last season was the emergence of sophomore power forward Kevin Love. Love averaged a double-double, made huge strides on the offensive end, and has established himself as one of the best rebounders in the NBA.
Sports Illustrated’s Paul Forrester sat down with Love
, who had some interesting things to say about the Timberwolves’ plan for improvement (he’s not exactly sure what it is), how Al Jefferson’s departure is both disappointing and an opportunity for him to step up, and how he plans to improve next season:
SI.com: Speaking of your development, what have you been working on this summer?
Love: Coach Rambis and I talked about trying to get more consistent from distance, especially on three-point shots. He wants me to be able to shoot 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from the three-point line and 85 percent from the free-throw line. That’s a realistic goal after last year. And on the defensive end, he wants me to take a lot more charges and be a lot more team-defense-oriented.
SI.com: Offense can improve with shooting drills. How do you improve defensively, especially in a team-oriented way?
Love: It’s all a mind-set. You also can play three-on-three, two-on-two, one-on-one — those type of situations always make you better. And being with Team USA has really helped me on the defensive end as well.
Love also had some interesting thoughts the upcoming CBA negociations:
SI.com: You may not have much time if the players’ association and the league don’t agree on a new CBA. What is the outlook on that as you understand it now?
Love: I’ve heard that the owners are going to try to negotiate the contracts down of the guys who signed this year, which I don’t see happening. But they’ll probably try to get into fewer years with contracts, and obviously the cap will go down a little bit. But I don’t think it will be as dramatic as people think. At least, I hope not. The owners want to make their money, the players want to make their money, but in the end, this is a players’ game, and we bring the fans out.
The [players’ union] has been trying to tell us to save our money. Every e-mail ends with a reminder that “If you haven’t started saving your money, start saving now.” People are being smart, and if they’re not smart, they’re going to find out real quick. If [a work stoppage] comes, whether it’s half a year or a year, hopefully it won’t be too tough on any of us, especially the players.
I encourage you to click through and read the rest of the interview, because there’s a lot of good stuff in there. Hopefully Kevin Love can continue improving next year, because his team is counting on him in a major way.
Paul George‘s first experience starting as a power forward was going up against Anthony Davis — not just one of the best power forwards in the game, one of the handful of best players in the game period. That didn’t go well for George, and he wasn’t happy about it.
His second experience was in another preseason game Tuesday, going up against the Pistons and their four, Ersan İlyasova. He’s not quite as intimidating.
George scored 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting, 4-of-5 on threes — and that was just the first quarter (you can see it all in the video above).
As we have said before, George at the four is not a bad call by the Pacers, but some of that depends on the matchup. On the nights the Pacers face Davis or Blake Griffin or LaMarcus Aldridge or Zach Randolph (or a handful of others) the Pacers’ coaching staff is going to have to adjust. But there are a lot of nights where George at the four is going to force the other team to adjust, and that will play into the Pacers’ hands.
Last season, DeMarcus Cousins received zero MVP votes (the same as every year of his career). Even though he averaged 24.1 points, and 12.7 rebounds a game, which was enough to get him his first All-Star berth, MVP is another thing entirely. Only players on winning teams tend to draw the attention of MVP voters.
This season, can Cousins — arguably the best center in the game — get in the conversation?
He thinks it’s more than just that, he told Kevin Ding at Bleacher Report.
The topic is the 2015-16 NBA MVP award and whether it could be reachable for DeMarcus Cousins.
“Reachable, man?” Cousins told Bleacher Report, his voice rising high. “It’s mine to grab.”
As noted above, the only way Cousins gets into the conversation — fair or not — is if the Kings are in the playoffs (at the very least). He understands that.
“It’s going to take a full team effort,” Cousins said. “I’ll try to play at a high level and bring my team along with me.”
Vlade Divac built a Kings’ team designed to start winning now — as you would expect from a team a year away from moving into a new arena they need to fill. Owner Vivek Ranadive is not about selling hope anymore, he wants to sell wins.
I think Cousins can help provide that.
I’m less sold on the cast around him being able to help.