Reminiscing With Ratke

Happy belated Thanksgiving, folks.

“Kyle, how was your Thanksgiving?”

Well, thanks for asking Imaginary Reader! My Thanksgiving went well. I went back to Cold Spring and sat on a couch, watched my grandma yell at a dog, opened Christmas presents early, watched my uncle go from “man, the Packers stink!” to instantly falling asleep and ate wayyyyyyyyyyy too much stuffing.

Beat that.

This was the first year in a while that we didn’t go around the room to say what we were thankful for. While I wasn’t totally disappointed because I’m not good with showing emotions at all, it’s always nice to say what you’re thankful for, so I’ll do it here.

I’m thankful for this organization. I’m thankful for the digital media crew here. Best crew around. I’m thankful for my family for always being there for me. I’m thankful for my friends, even though I’ve become the new joke punching bag as of late. And I thank you for reading this. Your feedback means a lot to me and to be able to write about basketball for a living? Well, things could be worse.

Side-note: When my family normally says what they are thankful for, my sister has a tendency to say very odd things. Like, “I’m thankful for Snapchat.” Or, “I’m thankful for corn.” Then she just starts eating corn like she hasn’t had food in four days. She’s a wild card.

As always, three topics. Let’s get the ball rolling.


Changing The Landscape of Basketball

There are certain things in life that change the landscape of things forever. That’s no different in the sports world when it comes to injuries.

Grant Hill in his early years in Orlando. Brandon Roy at the end of his Portland run. Tracy McGrady’s knees. Penny Hardaway’s everything. Yao Ming’s feet. To go cross sport, we might be seeing it right now in the NFL with Roger Griffin III.

Let’s take a look at Hill.

Hill averaged 25.8 points, 6.6 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game in 1999-2000 and was on his way to being one of the best players in NBA history. Don’t believe me? Check out his numbers.

Every year from his rookie season in 1994-95 to 2000, Hill averaged at least 19.9 points, 6.4 rebounds and five assists per game while shooting better than 45 percent from the field in each season. Hill was the ultimate do-it-all guy.

He was a five-time All-Star, a Rookie of the Year, was named to the All-NBA Team once and All-Second Team twice. The former Dukie left Detroit during free agency to Orlando. Hill was hampered by ankle injuries ever since his arrival with the Magic, playing in only four games in his first season with the Magic, 14 games in his second and 29 in his third. He was forced to sit out his entire fourth year with Orlando. If healthy, what does Hill average? We’ll be conservative (even though it would have been his prime years) and go with 22 points, 6.5 rebounds and five assists per game. That’s FOUR seasons we missed out on numbers like that. FOUR! And that's not counting how his later years were changed by those injuries.

While he managed to get 19 seasons, (19 after four injury-plagued years. That's insane!) most notably playing as a very nice role player on a Phoenix team from 2007-12, Hill was never the same player, which is a shame. Not to sound like a selfish fan, but I’m going to do it. I feel like we missed out on history.

The Chicago Bulls announced earlier this week that former MVP point guard Derrick Rose will miss the entire season due to a torn meniscus in his right knee. This is coming after Rose missed all of last season while recovering from a torn ACL in his left knee.

Here’s what we know:

Rose is 25 years old. His last full season (2010-11), he took a leap and was the MVP of the league, scoring 25 points to go with 7.7 assists and four rebounds per game. He is a three-time All-Star.

Trying to explain Rose’s game is difficult. He balances his speed and somehow manages to fit it perfectly into the game. He’s explosive, but not irresponsible. He’s fast, but under control. Watching him drive to the lane? Well, it was a thing of beauty. And once he figured out his outside shot, he was nearly impossible to stop… Until a torn ACL did exactly that.

Here’s what we don’t know:

How will he respond? I was talking to the Wolves VP of Fan Experience Jeff Munneke (check out “Munn’s Musings” every Tuesday if you don’t already on Timberwolves.com) the other day and basically, Munn and I said the same thing: Rose depends so much on his explosiveness and speed, that two injuries like this effects him so much more than other players. Steve Nash in his prime? He might have been able to overcome that. Rose? I’m not quite so sure.

Last season, Rose got tons of flack for not coming back for the playoffs even though he was cleared to play. My thoughts? Whatever. If the guy doesn’t feel right mentally, he doesn’t feel right. Who are we to judge? I haven’t torn my ACL. I have no idea what it feels like. Sometimes I decide I’m not going to run because my nose hurts.

And when you use your knees like Rose does, there probably should be some second-guessing.

If Rose didn’t come back last season because he didn’t exactly right, how will he feel when he knows that every movement he makes could potentially end his season?

Tough stuff. Thoughts and prayers go out to D-Rose. Here’s to a speedy recovery.


Thoughts On The D-Will Trade

It was announced on Tuesday that the Minnesota Timberwolves traded Derrick Williams to the Sacramento Kings for forward Luc Mbah a Moute.

On Wednesday morning, that trade became official as Mbah a Moute passed his physical.

“But Kyle! He was the team’s 2011 No. 2 pick. How do they just give up on him like this?”

Well, Imaginary Reader, as always, thanks for your interaction week in and week out. We truly appreciate it.

I get it. Trading away a former No. 2 pick isn’t ideal, but let’s look at the facts. It’s pretty simple actually. Williams played best last season when he subbed in for power forward Kevin Love. The team wanted Williams to play more small forward. That’s where the minutes were. Unfortunately, Williams wasn’t able to make that transition. With Love, an All-Star and MVP candidate, playing out of his mind this season, there’s no chance that he doesn’t play 35-36 minutes per game. And with the defensive ability of Dante Cunningham, there wasn’t a whole lot of room for Williams to play. Is that a reflection on a poor attitude or work ethic? Not at all. Since I’ve been here, Williams has been nothing but positive in the locker room and in practice. Don’t believe me? Watch a game from earlier this seasonand watch him on the bench. He doesn’t look like a grumpy guy who is a distraction. He looks like a teammate who cares about what’s going on.

After limited playing time after the first two games of the season, media member asked Williams how frustrating it was to not get in the game. His response?

“It’s not frustrating when you’re winning.”

With the trade, the Wolves get a guy who they can plug into the rotation as a defensive stopper. That’s important being that the Wolves are currently rolling with a rotation of eight guys. Williams is going to a team where he will instantly get an opportunity (the team’s GM has already said Williams will start) to prove himself. In fact, last night Williams started and had a pretty nice night, scoring 12 points, hauling in six rebounds and dishing out four assists.

I know it’s not popular in today’s “THERE NEEDS TO BE A WINNER!” world, but really, this is about as even as it gets. The Wolves get a much-needed rotational player. The Kings (a team looking to the future) get a young player looking to prove himself. And Williams? He gets an opportunity.


The Nets… Oh, My

Where to begin?

With pretty high expectations this season, the Nets have been a major disappointment, sitting at 4-12. And Jason Kidd thinks he can spill his diet Coke anytime he wants.

We saw the Nets first-hand here at the Target Center on Nov. 22 and they didn’t look good, granted they were without Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, Jason Terry and AK47.

Before we overact, let’s cover a few things.

1.) I think Kidd will still be a good coach. It would be very tough for any coach, let along a rookie coach, to deal with the injuries the Nets have had to deal with.

2.) The East is horrible. There are three teams with a winning record. THREE!!!!

I know, a team from the East has won the NBA title the last two seasons, but how is it possible that THREE teams in the East have winning records, while the West has 11? That doesn’t make any sense! With that being said, the Nets, despite how horrible the are playing right now, have a real chance to make the playoffs if they can squeak out 35 wins.

3.) Totally off topic, the team’s website consists of a lot of black and white photos. I’m not sure if I like it or not. Speaking of Brooklyn, I’m going to a Jay-Z concert tonight. Pretty darn excited. Jay-Z is from Brooklyn. Or something.

There’s a lot of talk going on in Brooklyn right now and for good reason, but hope isn’t completely lost. The team is three games out from first place in the Atlantic Division, as disgusting as that is. The team does have a rough stretch coming up, traveling to Memphis tonight before hosting Denver and New York on Tuesday and Thursday, respectively. We’ll check back on them next week.

Well, folks. 1,700 words. That’ll have to do. As always, thanks for reading. Go hop on the treadmill and work off that 20 pounds of stuffing you ate.