Kevin Love talks about his development

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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. 

One more look back: Top 10 clutch shots of season to this point

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The opening weeks of the season have seen some dramatic finishes — and for a Saturday night, why not watch a compilation of them? What else were you going to do? You’ve got 3:30 to sit through these.

Who got the top spot? Marc Gasol? Damian Lillard? Al Horford? John Henson? If we told you it would just destroy the surprise.

Like crossovers? Check out Top 10 handles of NBA season so far

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It’s not really fair if you ask Nemanja Bjelica to cover Stephen Curry in space, but it does make for a good highlight.

On a nice slow Saturday afternoon around the NBA, let’s take a look at the top 10 handles moves of the season so far, courtesy NBA.com. Of course, there is some wickedness from James Harden, Derrick Rose, and Chris Paul, too. But I’m good with Jordan Clarkson in the top spot.

Watch Giannis Antetokounmpo find Jabari Parker for the slam

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I want the Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker combo to work better than it does. The Buck get outscored by 2.3 points per 100 possessions when those two are on the court together, with neither end of the court working terribly well.

And yet, there are flashes — like the play above — where you think this could start to work. It just may need more time (and getting Khris Middleton back in the mix would help).

Antetokounmpo is having a phenomenal season, and is making plays.

Draymond Green fires back at league: “It’s funny how you can tell me… how my body is supposed to react”

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It’s not hard to find out how Draymond Green felt after picking up a flagrant foul Thursday night when his leg flew up after a foul and caught James Harden in the face. Just go to his Twitter feed.

Saturday at Warriors’ practice, Green expanded on the subject, here’s the video via Anthony Slater of the San Jose Mercury News.

If you prefer to read are Green’s comments transcribed:

“I just laugh at it. It’s funny how you can tell me how I get hit and how my body is supposed to react. I didn’t know the league office was that smart when it came to body movements. I’m not sure if they took kinesiology for their positions to tell you how your body is going to react when you get hit in a certain position. Or you go up and you have guys who jump to the ceiling. A lot of these guys that make the rules can’t touch the rim, yet they tell you how you’re way up there in the air which way you’re body (is supposed to go). I don’t understand that. That’s like me going in there and saying, ‘Hey, you did something on your paperwork wrong.’ I don’t know what your paperwork looks like. But it is what it is. They made the rule. Make your rule. I don’t care. But if you’re going to say it’s an unnatural thing, an unnatural act, no offense to James Harden, but I’ve never seen nobody up until James started doing it that shoots a layup like this under your arm (sweeps arms in a demonstration). That’s really not a natural act either. That’s not a natural basketball play either. But, hey, if you’re going to make a rule, make a rule. But if you’re going to take unnatural acts out the game, then let’s lock in on all these unnatural acts and take them out the game. I don’t know. Let them keep telling people how their body react I guess. They need to go take a few more kinesiology classes though. Maybe they can take a taping class or functional movement classes. Let me know how the body works because clearly mine don’t work the right way.”

Two things.

First, Green should know that the ultimate hammer on NBA fines is Kiki Vandeweghe — former NBA player, two-time All-Star, who also coached in the league. You want a guy with a players’ perspective making the call? You already have it. And Vandeweghe played in a far more physical era than this one.

Second, the flagrant was not issued because of intent but because of the action — if you kick a guy in the face, it’s a flagrant foul. There’s no gray area here, and officials shouldn’t have to guess a player’s intent. When Green went up he was fouled by Harden, and to maintain his balance Green flailed his legs out, something he has done plenty and other players going back decades have done too. That doesn’t mean it’s not reckless. That doesn’t mean a player is still not responsible for his body. Ask soccer officials about this same issue — get your leg above the waist with other players around and it can be called a “dangerous play.” In the NBA, if your leg flies up and hits a guy in the face, it’s a flagrant foul. Whether or not you meant to do it.

Green knows the league is cracking down on this. He knows he’s a target. It’s on him to change. One would think the Finals would have taught him that lesson.