Well done Timberwolves. You tanked the last few weeks of the season and were somehow able to end the season with a worse record than a team that went on a historic losing streak. You must be proud.
Now for your reward you get the best chance at the top pick in this NBA draft. And while this may be a down draft, there’s some good guys at the top of the board in point guard Kyrie Irving and forward Derrick Williams.
Except, you don’t really need them.
Tom Ziller summed it up well in his latest NBA mock draft at SB Nation.
The Wolves are, predictably, in a tough spot. They don’t have a good point guard on the roster — Jonny Flynn’s story has been written, but he’s been unproductive in two seasons. Luke Ridnour is aging and struggled with injury last season. But if David Kahn really thinks Ricky Rubio is coming stateside, can you pick another lottery point guard? Irving’s the best prospect on the board, but taking him would complicate the Ricky relationship, at least at the onset.
But I’m not sure Minnesota could take Derrick Williams No. 1, given the presence of Kevin Love and Michael Beasley.
If the Wolves get the top pick, their only real choices revolve around drafting Irving and making a trade. Irving is the game changer in this draft, Williams is going to be good but he is second. Irving is the man. If the Wolves fully believe in Ricky Rubio, they can trade the top pick away. Or, they can draft Irving then immediately trade him.
But the smart move might be to draft and keep Irving, then see what the market will offer for Rubio. Not a ton, not for a guy who has never played in the NBA and has a very questionable jumper. But they can get some value. Minnesota continues to insist that Rubio will be playing for them next season, but that still makes no sense for Rubio (you’re going to come over into a lockout?). If Rubio stays the Wolves could play Irving for a year then have to make a decision on Rubio and Irving.
But that’s only if they get the top pick in the draft. Which they have a 25 percent chance of getting. So worse odds than Jonny Flynn hitting a three pointer. Yes, that bad.
“They beat us from the three-point line the last two games, we beat them from everywhere else,” Kevin Durant said after Game 7.
He’s right. For most of seven games the Oklahoma City Thunder owned play inside the arc — their length and athleticism gave the Warriors tremendous trouble. But the Warriors had the three ball as the equalizer — or, it turns out, slightly more than the equalizer. Golden State shot their way to a series win by knocking down threes the last two games. Often contested, well-defended threes.
Above check out the 17 threes the Warriors nailed in Game 7 (on 37 attempts, or 45.9 percent shooting). There’s a lot of Stephen Curry (7) and Klay Thompson (6) in those highlights.
The Cleveland Cavaliers vs. the Golden State Warriors. A rematch of the highest-rated NBA Finals since the Jordan era, which you know makes the suits at ABC/ESPN/Disney happy. But it’s also good for fans, these are the best teams from each conference, and it should be an interesting matchup.
The NBA has moved away from the Sunday/Tuesday/Thursday pattern of games the NBA Finals has followed for years. Below is the schedule for this year’s Finals, all times are Eastern, and all the games will be broadcast on ABC.
Game 1 – June 2 (Thursday) at Golden State 9:00PM
Game 2 – June 5 (Sunday) at Golden State 8:00PM
Game 3 – June 8 (Wednesday) at Cleveland 9:00 PM
Game 4 –Fri June 10 (Friday) at Cleveland 9:00PM
Game 5 * — Mon June 13 (Monday) at Golden State 9:00PM
Game 6 * — Thu June 16 (Thursday) at Cleveland 9:00 PM
Game 7 * — June 19 (Sunday) at Golden State 8:00 PM
* means if necessary
Joel Embiid has a great sense of humor.
I’m sure if Kevin Durant were going to consider going to Philadephia — instead his hometown Wizards, or the Knicks, Lakers, Heat, Warriors, or (the most likely option) staying put with the Thunder — he’d want to get the advice of a guy who has yet to play one NBA game.
Not long after the Warriors eliminated the Thunder from the playoffs — making Durant a free agent — Embiid tweeted this.
Needless to say, KD is not going to go to the Sixers. GM Bryan Colangelo says the team is in the market for veterans, but this may be aiming a little too high.
Durant said after Game 7 he hasn’t thought about free agency yet.
The smart money remains on Durant signing a two-year deal with an opt-out after one year with the Thunder, keeping that roster together for a year so they can make one more run at a ring (you can’t get much closer than the Thunder did this season). Then in the summer of 2017 Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, Steven Adams and Dion Waiters will all be free agents.
Maybe one of them goes to the Sixers then. But I wouldn’t bet on it.
David Blatt said he was going to be a head coach somewhere next season.
That turned out not to be in the NBA, where he interviewed and was in the running for the head coaching jobs with the Nets, Knicks, and Rockets but didn’t land any of them. So rather than be a lead assistant, or just wait the market out, he is headed back to Europe, Turkey in particular, reports David Pick, a well-connected basketball reporter.
Darussafaka Dogus is based out of Istanbul and was in the EuroLeague for the first time last season (that’s the highest level of European basketball, featuring the best teams from leagues around the continent, similar to the Champions League in soccer). Darussafaka is trying to climb the ladder and compete with the traditional powers of Turkish basketball, Fenerbahçe and Turkey Anadolu Efes. The Darussafaka roster includes Sixers’ Summer League standout Scottie Wilbekin, Luke Harangody, Jamon Gordon, and Reggie Redding from the United States.
Hiring Blatt, who had tremendous success in Europe before coming to the NBA, would be a coup for the club. One they certainly are paying handsomely for.
Blatt won 67.5 percent of his games over a season-and-a-half with the Cavaliers and guided the team to the NBA Finals, but he never fully meshed with LeBron James and the Cavs veterans. Part of that was on Blatt — he demanded respect for his time spent and success in Europe, and that plus his need to be the smartest guy in the room rubbed players the wrong way. Blatt wasn’t humbly trying to earn respect, and the players went to current Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue when frustrated with Blatt. Eventually, Cavaliers management turned to Lue to coach the team because of team chemistry concerns.
Blatt deserved another chance in the NBA, but that didn’t come this summer. We’ll see if his return to Europe impacts that in the future.