The #NewsBrothers | Wolves Coaching Search, Plus Who Wins The East & West
In this inaugural post, the #NewsBrothers Mark Remme and Kyle Ratke debate three burning topics: What to look for in the Wolves' new coach, plus who wins the East and the West
1.) With Rick Adelman's retirement, the Wolves have an opening at the head coaching spot. If there's one quality that you want out of the new coach, what would that quality be?
Remme Says: There was one glaring flaw in the Timberwolves this season from my vantage point, and that was accountability. Minnesota floated through much of the 2013-14 season with this idea that regardless of how many games slipped away late or how many close games didn’t fall their way, they were still good enough to be a playoff team. And they were. But time ran out before they realized as a collective unit that they needed to take a stand. The day the Wolves realized they were out of time to assert themselves as a playoff-worthy team was March 23, a home loss against Phoenix. By then, it was too late.
The Wolves’ next coach needs to be able to create a sense of urgency in the locker room from Day 1. For all of Rick Adelman’s strengths—he’s one of the greatest coaches of all time—he was not able to galvanize this group into realizing the urgency with which they needed to play. The Wolves were a better team than 40-42, but they ended up exactly where they should have in the standings because they waited too long to make their move. They weren’t able to climb the standings because they kept hitting these mental hurdles.
Minnesota needs a coach who will toughen the team up mentally and physically—someone who will keep Adelman’s offensive creativity and flexibility but preach the necessity of all-for-one lock-down defense, especially in the fourth quarter. Without it, the Wolves will again not reach their full potential. With it, we should see a jump from 40 wins into playoff-qualifying territory. Accountability for your actions on both ends of the court is a necessity in this league. The next coach must impose that accountability on the Wolves’ players to help them reach the next level.
Ratke Says: With the announcement of Rick Adelman’s retirement on Monday, the Wolves need a new coach. We all know that Adelman was the Einstein of Offense. While that’s talked about a lot – let’s not overlook it. Brad Miller. Chris Webber. Vlade Divac. Kevin Love. Nikola Pekovic (sometimes). These are all big guys who learned how to pass under Adelman.
Adelman probably is an underrated coach defensively and while he had players like Kevin Martin, Corey “Know When To Hold Them, Know When To Fold Them” Brewer, Love and Pekovic (who aren’t exactly rim protectors), he managed to allow 106.25 points per 100 possessions, ranking 10th in the NBA. All nine teams above the Wolves were playoff teams this year.
Despite that, I think it would be great to get a vocal coach that stresses defense and effort. Adelman, a legend, wasn’t all that vocal, and that’s his thing. But I think an energetic coach that focused more on defense than offense would be a huge plus. The team has offensive players. Martin, Pekovic and Love are three of the best scorers at their positions. I don’t think scoring will ever be an issue for this squad. Ricky Rubio is already a plus defender and will likely only improve.
If the new coach could get the offense and defense to be on the same level, the Wolves could be a very dangerous team in 2014-15.
Easier said than done.
2.) The Playoffs are in full swing and have been fantastic so far. Who's your favorite out of the West?
Ratke Says: Can you really go wrong if you pick any of the top three seeds here? I don’t know.
My head tells me that the Spurs are too old and can’t make another run in the West. Manu Ginobili looked like he was set to retire after a brutal postseason.
Now? It looks like he’s ready to win the Sixth Man of the Year. I don’t understand certain things. San Antonio basketball is one of those things.
“…Legends never die, follow your heart, kid.” Yes, that is a quote from “The Sandlot” and it’s how I live my life. My heart tells me that the Spurs have been the most dominating team all season. And what’s most impressive is that they’ve done so without their “Big 3” for parts of the season.
Random players step up all the time. Mark, I thought Boris Diaw was out of the league three years ago when he played for Charlotte. Now he’s a rotational player. Gregg Popovich said he didn’t play Patty Mills because he was fat. Now Mills is putting up 10.2 points per game off the bench.
With my apologies to the Clippers, Thunder and Rockets, I’m going with the good old reliable Spurs.
Remme Says: Hard to argue with that, Kyle. The Spurs are no less equipped to make a Finals run this year as they were last year, and they’re seemingly just as equipped today as they were when they won it all in 2007. But something tells me this year will be different. There is so much parity in the West this year, and that means there will be few sweeps. No easy roads to the Finals this year. So while the Spurs continue to thrive, I think longer series from the Western Conference Quarters through the Finals will catch up to them eventually.
That means my pick will be young, and I think there is no team better suited to do it in the youth movement than the Thunder. They need a healthy Russell Westbrook, no question, but other than that question mark they do have the type of makeup built for a strong run. Kevin Durant is All-World, Serge Ibaka/Kendrick Perkins provide enough toughness/size in the paint and their rotation of youthful experience (Reggie Jackson), perimeter defense (Serge Ibaka) and championship guidance (Derek Fisher) should lead them a long way this year.
I find flaws in other teams: Portland looks great so far but can their inexperience keep up with the pressures that will soon follow as we move toward June? Can the Clippers stay consistent enough? Will Houston find its rhythm before it’s too late against the Blazers? Golden State lives by the 3, but will it die by the 3? And the Grizzlies and Mavs are absolute wildcards.
Very, very tough to pick in the West. I’m going with youth coupled with the best player in the conference as my pick to advance.
3.) ... And the East?
Remme Says: This one is much easier. I’m going with your three-time defending Eastern Conference champions and two-time NBA champion Heat. And here’s why:
Miami just continues to roll. When you’ve got the type of target on your back like they have all season—and when you add in the injury concerns they’ve had with Dwyane Wade all year—you’d imagine they’d face a certain level of adversity that could topple them. But it never really happened. The Heat kept rolling, even taking the top spot in the East from Indiana for a moment. And even though they wound up in the second seed, I don’t see that being as big of a deal for them as it might have been for the Pacers. Miami’s been through it before, and they’ve got the correct mindset to succeed in the playoffs whether it’s at home or on the road.
That first year together when LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined the organization really callused this team. They heard everything in the book from fans nationwide, and they ended up not winning the title. But they learned from that experience, and it taught them not to panic—even in the darkest of situations. The best example is trailing late in Game 6 against the Spurs last year. They get the big basket—albeit from Ray Allen, who wasn’t on the team in the 2011 Finals loss—and they moved on to take care of business in Game 7. They’re built for the moment, the pressure and the adversity that might come their way.
Indiana is a Jekyll and Hyde team right now. The Bulls—my trendy pick to get hot—are down 2-0 heading back to Washington. The East is more competitive than it was for the first three months of the season, but at the end of the day experience wins out. I’m going Miami vs. OKC in a 2012 Finals rematch.
Ratke Says: Had you asked me in January, I would have told you the Indiana Pacers.
You probably already know this, but the Pacers have fallen apart. This is tougher to watch than an episode of “Toddlers and Tiaras.”
The Pacers lost to the Hawks in Game 1. THE HAWKS! Atlanta did a nice job of keeping its head above water after Al Horford got injured, but keeping your head above water in the East is like doing so in your bathtub.
I’ve never seen anything quite like this before, and Indiana still has the No. 1 seed.
I don’t see this squad turning things around anytime soon. Which leaves the Heat as the heavy favorite. LeBron James is still the league’s best player. Dwyane Wade isn’t 25 anymore, but he can still pick his spots. Chris Bosh is exceptional with the 17-foot jumper.
A team to watch for is the Brooklyn Nets (if they survive the first round). The Nets went 4-0 against Miami this season. That seems like a typo, I know. It’s not. I find it very interesting that Jason Terry, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce were supposed to be big parts of this team getting deep in the playoffs. Terry was traded. Garnett averaged 6.5 points and 6.6 rebounds per game during the regular season and is playing just 19.5 minutes per game this postseason. Pierce has become a difference maker, but hasn’t done nearly enough to make up for Terry and Garnett.
I never thought I’d say this, but Jason Kidd has done a very nice job with this club, especially after the Brook Lopez injury.
These playoffs already have been great and I have a feeling things will only get better.