Elite Status

Jonah Ballow
Wolves Editor/Writer

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For some odd reason, an inspirational song from the 80's jumps into my brain while watching rookie Jonny Flynn face some of the top point guards in the league. Most people remember the famous movie, Karate Kid and the montage segment towards the end of the flick that makes you want to slap on a black belt to fight the Cobra Kai. Joe Esposito created the perfect jingle for the cheesy moment when Daniel Laruso (Ralph Macchio) battles his way towards the final match against Johnny Lawrence (that blonde guy). If you don't remember the song, movie, or you missed the 80's, a snippet from the lyrics will explain the relevancy to Flynn.

You're the best around!
Nothing's gonna ever keep you down
You're the best around!
Nothing's gonna ever keep you down
You're the best around!
Nothing's gonna ever keep you dow-ow-ow-ow-own

Flynn has experienced the peaks and valleys of a rookie point guard at the highest level. In his sophomore season, Flynn vaulted to the top of NBA draft boards by displaying lighting quick speed, strength, and most importantly, his ability to shine in pressure-packed moments. Flynn's heavily publicized performance in the 2008 Big East tournament elevated his status after the former Syracuse standout scored 34 points and dished out 11 assists in leading his squad to a victory over Connecticut.

Wolves President of basketball operations David Kahn witnessed this sparkling game from Flynn, which among several other qualities led to Flynn earning the No. 6 overall selection in the 2009 draft. From the moment Flynn placed the Minnesota draft hat on his head, the dynamic player became the floor general for the franchise.

49 games into his first season, Flynn has started 49 games. Flynn was forced to adjust his game while trying to understand a complicated offense where the point guard is responsible for organizing the four other players on the court and reading the opposing defense. Among periods of frustration, there have been distinct highlights that should make fans feel optimistic about the future.

On December 14, Flynn and the Wolves journeyed to arguably the most difficult arena for visiting teams in Utah. The Jazz feature All-Star point guard Deron Williams, who was enjoying a terrific game with 38 points. As the game clock showed 18.1 seconds, Williams fired a two-handed pass to a wide-open Andrei Kirilenko for a crucial dunk that tied the game at 108 apiece. Head coach Kurt Rambis called a timeout and Minnesota placed the ball in the hands of Flynn close to the halfcourt line with 6.7 seconds remaining in the game. Utah's raucous crowd rose to their feet while Al Jefferson, Damien Wilkins, and Corey Brewer moved to both sides of the floor to create space for Flynn to operate. Kevin Love ran to the 3-point line for a high screen with his defender, Paul Millsap trailing and preparing for a pick-and-roll scenario. Before Williams or Millsap could react, Flynn jolted past the two players reaching the rim in three seconds. Flynn connected a layup off the glass over the outstretched arms of Mehmet Okur and effectively secured a game-winning shot.

The 6-1 point guard from Niagra Falls, NY finished with 28 points in his first signature play in the NBA.

"I want the ball in those situations," Flynn commented after the win in Utah. "I grew up always being that guy, taking those last shots and I'm glad I could help the team out."

Williams is regarded as an elite player at the top of the list in the major statistical categories for a point guard. In his rookie season, Williams averaged 10.8 points, 4.5 assists in 28.8 minutes per game. This year, Flynn posts 14 points, 4.3 assists in one more minute of action. Flynn will reach the top of the mountain and the other top-notch point guards are already taking notice of his high potential.

"Jonny's great. I've known Jonny for a while now. He's a good friend of mine. He's an outstanding player, and he's playing with a great big man in Al Jefferson. He needs to play and when he gets a little more freedom, the sky's the limit," three-time NBA All-Star Chris Paul said.

Across the court from Paul on January 22, Flynn did not back down an inch. The Wolves stared at a 3-point deficit late in the contest against New Orleans at the Target Center. Sporting the throwback uniforms, Wilkins tossed the ball from the sideline to Flynn at the top of the arc. Flynn quickly realized James Posey cut off the right side and he used a jab-step to freeze Darren Collison. The seas parted for Flynn, he drove to the lane and finished a left-handed layup while falling to the ground. Flynn completed the old fashioned 3-point play to tie the game at 94-94 with 3.5 seconds remaining in the game. Unfortunately, Paul answered with his own buzzer-beater but Flynn's teammates became fully aware of the clutch player on their roster.

Flynn Against Elite Point Guards
Date (s)
Flynn's Stats
Devin Harris
Oct. 28 / Dec. 23
18 / 22 pts
Brandon Jennings
Nov. 6 / January 23
20 / 20 pts
Baron Davis
Nov. 23 / January 29
17 / 19 pts
Chauncey Billups
Nov. 25 / Nov. 29
20 / 16 pts
Deron Williams
Dec. 5 / Dec. 14
16 / 28 pts
Rajon Rondo
Dec. 20
21 pts
Tony Parker
Dec. 29
17 pts
Jameer Nelson
January 1
23 pts
Chris Paul
January 22
20 pts
"I know he will be something special in this league," Jefferson said. "One thing about him, he's tough, he doesn't quit, and he doesn't let anything intimidate him, he will go in and challenge shots. He might get knocked on the ground but he'll get up and go right back at it again. That's the type of leader and point guard that I need from him, and I really enjoy playing with him."

Jefferson may head to Dallas on February 12 to watch Flynn and Kevin Love fight head-to-head at the Rookie-Sophomore Challenge during All-Star Weekend. Flynn was selected to the game along with a group of ultra-talented point guards, including Tyreke Evans and Brandon Jennings.

Flynn's numbers against the elite point guards of the league are helping him gain respect from a first-year player to a future Hall-of-Famer.

"I've known Jonny for a while now; he's a good friend of mine. I played with him a couple of times; he's just a good kid," Evans said. "We both bring a lot of energy and we both love to win. He can get to the basket like me, he's a little guard and I go with the big guys. He's a great finisher and a great point guard. I'd say we have the same ability to get to the basket."

Jason Kidd lauded his talents, "He brings energy, he loves to play the game, he wants to win, and he loves the game of basketball. So I think for the Timberwolves they got a pretty good guy."

The Wolves have a special player with a tremendous upside. In his next step on the big stage in Big D, Flynn will hit the floor and "You're The Best Around" will instantly move to the top of my playlist.

Timberwolves.com will follow Flynn and Love on their trip to the Lone Star state with comprehensive coverage from Dallas.
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