Simons Says...




Thursday, February 17, 2011

The All-Star break couldn’t come at a better time for the T’Wolves. This young and talented group of ballplayers is tired. Tired after a long first half. Tired after losing a handful (and a few more) games they know they should have won. Tired of work and in need of a break, mentally and physically, for a few days.

A little rest will go a long way. Its 56th game of the season, the Wolves have wrapped up the first stage of the NBA marathon that is a season against the Clippers. Next up, Kevin Love will represent the 6-1-2 this weekend in LA at the NBA Midseason classic and also gracing All Star weekend will be Wesley Johnson, who’ll take part in the Rookie challenge game Friday night. Keep your eyes peeled to timberwolves.com for this talented bunch of web-journalists will document K-Love’s every move and bring it to you. You know, it’s been interesting and enlightening to listen and read the “experts” outside the state who watch the Wolves from afar. What’s encouraging is that most of those I’ve heard agree with a number of my takes. That is, this team is better than its record indicates. It’s underachieving a bit and they are on the right path.

The franchise’s mission to clear salary cap space, build carefully with youth and then teaching these players how to win together hasn’t come without hitting a few potholes and frustrating the players to death at times. It’s coming though.

What’s clear is that Coach Rambis’ team this year will outperform the cast from last year in the NBA’s second half. It’s all about consistency too. From Darko gaining it in the middle night in and night out to finding that stellar point guard play. Then there’s team defense and improving shooting on the offensive front. There’s also an urgency to trim the turnovers and move up from ranking 30th in the NBA with an average of 17-turnovers a game.

Now, these aren’t the only areas of need but those are the basketball bullet points from insiders watching this team. All elements that they insist, even if there is slight improvement and overall uptick in effectiveness, will make the T’Wolves a much more competitive team.

Personally, I continue to defend the growing pains these Wolves have encountered. Lots of injuries, many of the core players not on the court at the same time and truth be told, just impatience and inexperience when it counts has hurt team T’Wolves. I’ll take in the All-Star festivities and the game this weekend. It’s always a great show and I, for one, am very glad Charles Barkley campaigned for the K-man. Kevin Love is a delight to be around. He loves his job, he’s passionate about basketball (fans gotta’ love that), he cares about our community and when a kid wants an autograph, Love takes care of ‘em.

Much is made of the double-double doing’s and rightfully so. Love is a franchise cornerstone and I can see him being here a long time. Remember (and we’ve discussed this plenty in SimonsSays), having a rebounder like Love is gigantic. Add his nice shooting touch and his ability (in time) to be a more vocal, outspoken leader on the court and Love is a perfect investment for the future.

K-Love’s had an impressive first half, first in rebounds at 15 per game. In the top-20 in scoring at 21-a night. Love is in the top 10 in 3-point percentage at 43% and with his 37 minutes a night, Love ranks 25th among all NBA players in on-court-work. All I can say is it’s your turn! Knock ‘em silly on the big stage 4-2. You’ve earned it!

SimonsSays MAILBAG:
Chris in Woodbury (via rod@gameontvmn.com):
“I keep hearing the experts saying we missed in the draft with Wes not Cousins. I’ve heard you on radio and on TV say Wes was the better choice. Now what do you think” Rod: Chris, glad to get this note because I’ve been thinking a lot about it. I would take Wes with that pick again and again. I believe it’s way too early to judge the selection but I wasn’t impressed with Cousins in the NCAA’s and his immaturity while down in Sacramento only cements my feelings. Listen, who knows how it’ll play out but judging a rookie is, not only unfair, but nuts. There’s too much time to play out and improve.

I like Wes a ton, on and off the court. He’s a good fit here and, honestly, I don’t miss the drama. That’s what we’d have gotten going the other road.

OUR INTERN MADE ME:
I paid for the purchase of tickets for a recent College Night at Target Center and our GameON! intern loved it. Not sure if it was his college budget talking or he simply enjoys basketball as much as he says he does, but College Night, he insists, is a can’t miss. College Night is presented by Wells Fargo and plays out during all 15 Wednesday night games. If you are a student, all you have to do is present a valid school I.D. and you’ll get in for just $5 per game, with the first 100 people getting a free upgrade to the lower level. It’s one of those good deals and hope you get a chance to experience it. Make an older basketball fan pay! My intern did.

Check it out:
There’s hope and cautious optimism that a Target Center redux could get approval. It’s needed and vital to the future of Minneapolis. I urge you to get all the details and see the renderings of the $155 million proposed renovation at new website, targetcenterrenovation.org. Drop me some of your thoughts at rod@gameontvmn.com. Those thoughts are starting to stack up and soon, we’ll share some of them here in SimonsSays. Again, pro or con, let’s kick it around. And thanks for taking the time to write.

AND WATCH FOR:
Thanks for the e-mails and the uptick in communication from you out there. I very much enjoy getting those and next week, we’ll share some more of your FAN thoughts in our SimonsSays mailbag. Until then, keep your chin up and see you Sunday on GameON! I’d love to have you out to one of our live GameON! Tapings this next Tuesday at Courtside Bar and Grill in Anoka on Jackson Street. More details and guest listings on our redesigned show website (www.GameOnTvMn.com)