I have an abashedly biased appreciation for stats guys. There are multiple possible reasons for this. Maybe it’s because I’m a numbers guy and operate with the same sophistication. Or, and infinitely more likely, i’m constantly amazed by how the work that statisticians do often bewilders me and makes my life easier all at the same time.
Whatever the case, among the reasons why I appreciate Andres Alvarez is the fact that he also believes that the Timberwolves should be considered a playoff dark-horse for next season. Also, we both disagree with ESPN’s projections on the Western Conference.
There are a few things that trouble me with these projections. Let’s stay with the Minnesota point and save my other objections for another post.
The Timberwolves discovered their point guard of the future in Ricky Rubio. The speculation was there. “He’s too small”, “can’t keep up with other guards”, “can’t shoot well enough”. Rubio went on to have a great season and unfortunately found himself injured late into the year.
The key reasons I think Minny should make the play-offs this year involve two names: The Mavericks and Michael Beasley.
The Mavericks are a shell of the playoff team that they used to be. The only enviable piece here would be an aging Dirk Nowitzki. They have a handful of players on contract and look to be set for a sub .500 season.
The Wolves on the other hand made improvements. Beasley was an unmotivated glob of cement in an offense that seemed to flow well without him. He was a ball stopper with minimal defensive skills. Essentially, he was a dirt-poor man’s Carmelo Anthony (no offense to Melo’s defensive ability) Minny ends up declining an $8 million option to keep him, and Beasley ends up signing a 3 yr contract with the Suns.
Kevin Love’s value goes without saying. That’s why the guy to talk about here is Nikola Pekovic. Pekovic, as the result, is the player whose value sees the most noticeable jump with the departure of Beasley. Simply put, with Beasley out, and Pekovic pretty much guaranteed a decent chunk of minutes, Nikola is in for much more touches and instantly begins to matter more in the Minnesota offense.
If none of that convinces you, you have to at least agree that Dallas is not very likely to make the playoffs. There’s no magic left. Hell, there are no players left, integral ones anyway. Think about what the banners in the front of the arena are going to look like. A picture of Dirk, one of Marion, and then Carter. Talk about age. And then there was the pick up of Chris Kaman. Minimal good can come from that acquisition, if any.
The Wolves are young, improving, and have the coaching. The Mavericks have the coaching, but are old, and regressing rapidly. I don’t see Dallas seeing anything further than the 9th spot, just below Minnesota.
Mohamed Abdihakim is a journalism student at Florida Atlantic University. He is a Phoenix Suns fan, who is not prepared for the possibility of Nash winning a title in a Lakers jersey. Mohamed is also a contributor at “Les Snobs”. Interests include International basketball, Mad Men , and blues music. Twitter handle: @Abdi_hakim