Blog Profile Central: Canis Hoopus
Get To Know: Canis Hoopus
Editor's Note: The Timberwolves community is fortunate to have a collection of dedicated, knowledgeable blogs that cover the team year in and year out. It's a network of gifted writers who bring a mixture of insightful analysis and humor to the game of basketball and the Wolves. Over the next nine weeks, Timberwolves.com will profile nine members of this community through a series of Q&A sessions with the founders and main contributors at each site. Part I focuses on CanisHoopus.com, a staple of the Wolves' blogosphere since 2007.
Blog Name: Canis Hoopus
Web Address: http://www.canishoopus.com/
Year Established: 2007
Main Administrators (with Twitter handles): Key (@canishoopus)
Contributors (with Twitter Handles): n/a
What sparked the creation of the blog and what is the focus message you try to send to your readers?
Well, Canis Hoopus was actually started before I joined as an editor, but our focus has always been the same: to provide a unique, fan-based perspective on the Timberwolves, and a community that our readers can interact with. Our coverage focuses on the Wolves not just as a sports team, but an entity and a part of our everyday lives, and our stories often reflect that with opinions and reactions to things the team does, and tie-ins to other aspects of life: music, movies/tv, politics, food, etc. We’ve also been fortunate enough to have very smart, very vocal readers who actively participate in our comments sections…often to the point of hundreds comments on a single story. Our reader know us and each other on a fairly personal level, which allows them to interact with more than just the content. They will also often contribute to the sites themselves, adding stories and their perspective, post-game and statistical analysis….a couple of our readers have even created their own statistical draft models that quite frankly exceed ours (which we affectionately call the Hoopus Score) and rival anything I’ve seen come out of the MIT Sloan Conference or any front office. That’s the kind of coverage you really can’t get anywhere else.
What will readers find on Canis?
At the risk of sounding cliché, I really do believe they find themselves. We view and run our site not so much as a blog where we dictate and readers consume, but rather as a community where we editors use our stories to launch discussions that our readers can have with each other. Canis Hoopus, at its core, is simply a group of ordinary people with an extraordinary love for the Timberwolves, and the site is our forum to come together…not just as fans, but as people…around that shared interest.
From a feedback standpoint, why do viewers choose to come to Canis Hoopus?
The community. Community community community. By far, the strongest draw our readers single out is the ability to interact with each other. There’s no stronger motivation than having a personal investment in something. Canis Hoopus is like the local diner….anyone can come in and have a seat and get to know their fellow fans. Our parent company, SBNation, has done a wonderful job of setting up a commenting system that is easy to use and intuitive, and we use that to its full potential.
What keeps you so dedicated toward analyzing and following the Timberwolves each year?
A couple things, really. One is I just really love basketball and the Timberwolves. They’re my team. And I love writing, so the site is a good outlet for that, of course. But also in a broader sense, I think of sports teams and athletes sort of as superheroes. They’re a common cause that unite people regardless of their differences elsewhere. I think people like to believe in a cause (Golden State: We Believe, right?) and be around other people that share that, which is why we work so hard to run Canis Hoopus as a place where people can unite around the Wolves.
Favorite Wolves memory?
Now this could be a long, long list. But If I were to pick just one, it would have to be the December 1997 game where the Wolves defeated Michael Jordan’s Bulls for the first time. Hoax call to MJ aside, that game felt like reaching the top of the mountain for that young KG/Marbury/Gugliotta group. The Bulls were the gold standard in the NBA, and the Wolves had never beaten them. The end of that game was pure elation, with Marbury throwing the ball into the stands while the team and everyone in the stands dancing. McHale’s out of his seat walking down to the bench while Steph’s laying on the logo center court as the streamers go off. Just a regular season game, but you would have thought the Wolves just won the championship. We had conquered Jordan. The sky was the limit now.
Biggest decision the Wolves need to make/address this offseason?
The biggest need is shooting. I think what to do with Pekovic would be an easy answer here….and that certainly is a big decision that needs to be made…but the bottom line is the Wolves are coming off a historically bad season for 3-point land, and that problem will need to be fixed regardless of whether Pek is kept around or not.
And to a finer point, with Adelman presumably returning to coach the team, there should probably be changes made to address the gaps in his preferred system. As tremendously good as Chris Webber was in Sacramento, the guys who really made that offense click were Peja Stojakovic and Vlade Divac. Adelman’s playbook is a combination of downscreens and off-the-ball movement where scoring happens most on catch-and-shoot opportunities or making cuts to the basket (reference Chase Budinger’s game-winner against Indiana as a perfect example of this) Pulling it off requires a couple key players: a big man who can facilitate from the high post and elbows (Kevin Love?) and wings who can move smartly away from the ball. Neither are easy to find, and the latter is particularly difficult. Most swingmen these days aren’t taught how to play off the ball independently, and they end up running playbook routes, like a wide receiver. Even with all the injuries and missing pieces, Adelman’s system kept the Wolves in a lot of games and facilitated some pretty spectacular upsets, like splitting the season series against the Thunder. Getting him a full roster of guys to run his playbook can only result in good things.
How do you view the Flip Saunders hire as the new President of Basketball Operations?
It’s interesting, because we both are and are not familiar with him. Obviously he coached here for a long time, and coached the best iterations the Wolves have ever had. At the same time, he’s not a coach anymore (or at least for the time being) and he doesn’t have much history as a front office guy. What is his draft process? How well does he understand the Collective Bargaining Agreement? How does he interact with the coaching staff? (nothing kills a team’s success more than a POBO and coach who aren’t on the same page) These are all questions that don’t really have answers yet. So I think ultimately, the jury is out.
Was is a good move? Yes, I think so. Kahn was simply not getting this team anywhere (average of 24 wins/season since he took over for McHale) so that alone was reason enough to make a change. We’ll see going forward now. With the draft and a gigantic decision to be made about Pekovic looming, we’ll have a much better idea about Saunders the Suit fairly soon.
If you’re making selections for this team in the draft, who do you ideally take with that first pick?
Is this if the Wolves are picking No. 1 overall or if they stay at that No. 9 spot?
If it’s first overall, the pick is Nerlens Noel, no question. Not only is he the best guy on the board both statistically and in terms of potential, he’s also a very ideal fit for the Wolves frontcourt as a third big man to compliment Love and Pekovic, or as a replacement for Pek if he isn’t retained. Noel has the potential to be a game-changing defensive anchor at a Dwight Howard/Marc Gasol/Tyson Chandler level. Even with an ACL injury, you don’t pass on that.
If we’re talking pick No. 9, that gets a lot more difficult. Three guys who would make sense for ‘Sota are Ben McLemore, Otto Porter, Jr. and Victory Oladipo. McLemore is a smooth, versatile athlete and a potentially great shooter. Porter is a high-IQ guy with great height, reach and skill. He’s got a solid shooting touch and is great at rebounding his position and outside his area…something that almost always translates to the NBA. And Olapido is a tremendous athlete and defender, and has a strong ability to get to the free-throw line, which is a great indicator of NBA success.
All three will likely be off the board by the time David J Stern puts us on the clock. This simply isn’t a strong draft. So of the guys in the 8-12 range, I think the two to look at are Rody Gobert, who is genuinely physically intimidating (his 7’8.5” wingspan is 5th all time in DraftExpress’ combine database) and has a sky-high FG%, even adjusted for NBA play. And Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is a classic under-the-radar player who shoots and defends well and rebounds at a ridiculous rate for a guard.
CJ McCollum would be a fine pick as well, if the team thinks he can play off the ball next to Rubio. And Cody Zeller intrigues with his size and mobility, but if Pekovic stays in town, that would kind of be a wasted pick.
What was the most enjoyable storyline in the NBA this season? Why?
As always, I’ve really enjoyed watching the Thunder, especially this season post-James Harden. They made an interesting call to not amnesty Kendrick Perkins, but rather deal Harden for Kevin Martin, and, unfortunately, the worst case scenario ended up playing out for them in the postseason when Russell Westbrook went down. Perkins was a negative value in the postseason…more fouls (39) than points (24) and a negative PER (-0.7), and while Martin provided a lot of the box score stuff Harden did, he didn’t provide the same impact. Without Westbrook, the media often referred to Durant and Martin as ‘just Durant’. No one would have said that about Durant and Harden.
I’ve also been intrigued by the Memphis process and how they’ve built their team and the way they play. In an era of fast-paced small-ball lineups, they’ve gone big and defensive, and it’s paying off for them. Marc Gasol is a tremendous player, just a lot of fun to watch. And the Grizzlies also have embraced the analytics movement. They did away with nearly their entire scouting staff, then hired John Hollinger from ESPN, which resulted in a great trade; they got out from under Rudy Gay’s contract while bringing in Prince and the a guy who’s probably dollar-for-pound the best value player in the NBA, Ed Davis.
Which beat writers do you follow closely to get more information on the Wolves?
I interact with Darren Wolfson (@DarrenWolfson) pretty regularly. He does a fantastic job of covering all teams in Minnesota. There’s also Zach Harper and Ben Polk at Truehoop’s blog, A Wolf Among Wolves, and Jerry Zgoda on the Star Tribune. And we’ll miss Joan Niesen over at Fox Sports North, but it looks like Phil Ervin is up to the challenge of replacing her.
Which are some of your favorite NBA- and Timberwolves-related blogs you follow?
Again, A Wolf Among Wolves is fantastic, as is Dunking With Wolves over on SI’s Fansided section. I also regularly read Howlin TWolf…those guys do a brilliant job of running another fan-perspective blog.
For NBA blogs in general, one of my favorites is our SBN sister site, Blazers Edge, although I don’t envy their task of coverage in a one-sport town. Britt Robson is actually a former editor from Canis…he’s done coverage for Sports Illustrated and is over at MinnPost now. And Marc Stein at ESPN is a fun read since he can never quite hide his bias for our beloved Wolves.