Monday, June 25, 2012

NBA Draft 2012: The Wrath of Kahn

POBO David Kahn stifles a smile as he thinks of those about to suffer his wrath

With the NBA Finals finally finished, it’s time to move on to every Minnesota fan’s favorite part of the season: the offseason. Our beloved Timbas come into this offseason seemingly one piece away from being a playoff team.  Below the jump, we take a look at where this piece will fit it, why the position is such a glaring need, and who (if any) in the draft will be able to come in and address the issue.

I’m just gonna come right out and say it: The problem starts with Wes Johnson. My oh my, did we get some awful production out of Wes this past season. CAUTION! There be numbers ahead! Skip to the next paragraph if you don’t like numbers! In his 22.6 minutes per game, Wes managed to average less than 1 of the following per game: three pointers made, free throws attempted, offensive rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks. LESS THAN ONE! What is he doing out there? Seriously, I never know what he’s doing out there. (MA! THE MEATLOAF!) The efficiency stats tell a similar story. Last season, 138 NBA players logged over 1400 minutes at the G/F positions. Of those 138 players, five had Win Shares of less than 1. Three of those players were rookies (MarShon Brooks, Bismack Biyombo, Kemba Walker). Three played for an epically bad Charlotte team (Bismack Biyombo, DJ Augustin, Kemba Walker). The missing fifth player? Wes Johnson. Player Efficiency Rating (PER) is another useful metric that measures per-minute production for NBA players. It is normalized so that the league average is 15. Four players played over 1400 minutes and had a PER of less than 9. They were Kendrick Perkins, Chris Singleton, Derek Fisher, and, you guessed it, Wesley Johnson.

With Wes, we basically have a SG/SF that plays about half the game, doesn’t do a whole lot of stuff off the ball, isn’t efficient when he’s on the floor, and is estimated to have contributed less than one win to the Timbas’ total last season. Did I mention he starts? Oh, I must have forgot. He started 64 games last season, most on the team. Good grief.

To fix this situation, we turn to the NBA Draft. Thanks to a strong late-season run, the Utah Jazz squeaked into the playoffs, and in turn, sent their pick, number 18, to us. As you may or may not know, our own number 10 pick is in the hands of the Hornets, via the Clippers, after the infamous Marko Jaric trade of 2005. So thank goodness the Jazz made the playoffs, otherwise we wouldn’t have a draft pick to work with this year. Armed with this pick, President of Basketball Operations David Kahn will walk into draft day and hopefully add one of the following players to the Timbas. Any other choice would be rather Kahntroversial.

Guys who would be great and still available at #18
Jeff Taylor, Minnesota Timberwolves: Music to Silky's ears.

Jeff Taylor- Vanderbilt:
Taylor is an intriguing prospect out of Vanderbilt. He is most well known for his defense, having been named to the SEC All-Defensive team three times. This defensive prowess should translate well to the pros, as his size and athleticism will allow him to guard both the 2 and the 3 at the NBA level. His three point shooting also stands out. When he first arrived at Vandy, he was a raw athlete with no 3 point range. Over his college career, he has slowly developed his jump shot, which peaked at 42.3% from three his senior year. He is limited, however, when it comes to creating his own shot. The system at Vandy didn’t help that, as he was more active on the ball in isolation and pick and roll. With the right point guard (*cough*RUBIO*cough*), he should be more effective spotting up on the perimeter, cutting to the basket and in transition. The steady improvement of his jump shot, as well as his effort and intuition on the defensive end, shows that he has the work ethic to continue to develop and be successful in the pros. He may not be a lights-out scorer, and at 23, he is one of the oldest prospects in the draft, but I think his strength on defense and as a perimeter shooter would be good additions to the Timbas.

Jae Crowder wants to be a Timba THIS MUCH

Jae Crowder- Marquette:
Crowder may be a bit of a reach at 18, but if I know anything about David Kahn, it’s that he’s willing to Kahnduct multiple trades on draft day, so don’t be surprised if this 18th pick turns into a late first and early second rounder, either of which would be perfect for selecting Jae Crowder. Crowder is a classic hard-working under-rated over-achiever (see: Faried, Kenneth). He may not be blessed with elite basketball talent, but his instincts, hustle and basketball IQ more than make up for it. Crowder is the kind of player who is going to fight for offensive rebounds, step up and take a charge, dive head-first into the stands for a ball, and give 100% every play on defense. His 1.6 Assist/Turnover ratio (better than most point guards in this class) is indicative of his high basketball IQ. His jump shot needs improvement (35% from three), and, like Taylor, can’t create much off the dribble. He is good at finding holes in the defense, however, and his .60 True Shooting percentage shows that he can convert his looks from mid-range and at the rim. Between his two years at Marquette, he improved his free throw percentage from 61.6% to 73.5%, which shows he has the work ethic to fix problem areas in his game. Combine that with his tenacity and effort on the court, Crowder could quickly become a fan favorite in Minnesota.

Other players that would not make me angry if they were drafted by us:

Terrence Ross- Washington: Active, capable defender, average ball handling, good jump shot and shot creation, adept at catching, turning and shooting off of screens.

Will Barton- Memphis: Versatile scorer with a good touch, does a lot off the ball (rebounds, steals, etc), will need to bulk up a lot to be successful in the NBA.

The feel good story that would not make me feel good:

As cool as the Twins logo tat is, I still think Pek's got him beat.

Royce White- Iowa State:
Born and raised in Minnetonka, MN, White originally committed to Tubby Smith and the Gophers but left before seeing the court due to legal issues. He latched on at Iowa State, where he led the Cyclones in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks. The assists in particular stand out, as we haven’t seen a passing big man like him come out of college since Greg Monroe a couple years ago. As ball dominant as he is, though, he comes with drawbacks. His turnover rate is also substantial. At 6’8” and 270 lbs., he projects more as a 3-4 tweener, of which we have plenty already. And, unlike Williams and Beasley, he doesn’t shoot, or make, a lot of threes. I don’t think he has the conditioning or quickness to be able to guard small forwards effectively in the NBA, and we already have an abundance of power forwards, so I don’t see the reason in getting another one. The Prodigal Son story may sound nice to all the Lutherans here in Minnesota, but I just don’t think the fit would be right on the Timbas.

No thanks, do not want:

Remember this? I do.

Austin Rivers- Duke:
Nope. Please, no. First of all, he’s a Dukie. I can’t bring myself to root for a Dukie. He’s a high-usage, ball-dominant, dribble-drive shot creator. Despite the fact that he was involved in 21% of his team’s possessions, he only managed to average 2.1 assists a game. He doesn’t rebound well, he is not an impact player on the defensive end, he only hits a third of his catch and shoot jumpers, and for how much his game is based on driving the lane, he only makes 65% of his free throws. What is he going to do when Ricky’s on the court? I would like to know. I’ll take the hard-working, do-everything hustle players over the volume scorer any day of the week.

Well, there it is. The NBA Draft is this Thursday, June 28th at 6pm. If you see any of the previous names other than White or Rivers in the Strib on Friday, you’ll probably be able to guess how out of Kahntrol I was on Thursday night.

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