DA's Morning Tip
Morning Tip Mailbag: Your questions on Minnesota Timberwolves, Jason Kidd and more
Milwaukee Bumming. From Vitor Camargo:
This is something that’s been on my mind for a while now: is Jason Kidd the Bucks version of Mark Jackson?
Both came to coach a bunch of youngsters, did a great job of developing the kids, created a positive culture, and helped the rebuilding franchise take the first steps in that path. Both landed/developed a generational superstar (Stephen Curry/Giannis Antetokounmpo), got their teams to the playoffs and almost upset a favored opponent (Golden State actually did upset one).
Yet, over time, both teams grew stale, as the coaches kept sticking to their old concepts (playing big for Jackson, the pressing defense for Kidd) and the offense relied too much on individual talent and never got to maximize the talent at hand. It became increasingly obvious that there was more potential there that wasn’t being unlocked in their current state.
The Warriors eventually canned Jackson, hired Steve Kerr and the rest is history. Should the Bucks follow the same path if they want to contend for a championship with Giannis?
Man, y’all are harsh on J-Kidd. Second week in a row I’ve gotten a letter from an unsatisfied Bucks customer. Frankly, I don’t get it, and especially now; Milwaukee’s won seven of its last 10 and is in fourth place in the Eastern Conference, which I think is impressive.
The Land of 10,000 Lakes, and a couple of holes on the pine. From Jeff Pryor:
The Timberwolves bench needs serious, serious, help. Shabazz Muhammad is like a black hole: toss him the ball and no one else will ever see it again. Cole Aldrich is in line to win the 14th man of the year award. And while Jamal Crawford, Nemanja Bjelica, Tyus Jones and Gorgui Dieng are solid reserves, it’s evident Minnesota needs another player or two on the bench that are at least playable. The starters minutes are dragging them down in the fourth quarter and they look visibly gassed at times.
Do you foresee any realistic moves from Coach Thibs to get his guys some help? Nikola Mirotic? DeAndre Jordan? Nerlens Noel?
Well, Noel would have certainly been an option before he tore a ligament in his left thumb and needed surgery last Friday; he’s expected to be out two months. He is nonetheless eligible to be traded as of this coming Friday, when many of the players who signed deals this summer are free to be dealt by their incumbent teams.
Muhammad is also eligible to be traded as of Friday, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Minnesota inquired about moving him for that very bench piece you think they need. I’d be surprised if the Wolves were serious suitors for Jordan, given they’ve taken on the rest of Jimmy Butler’s max deal, just maxed Andrew Wiggins themselves and will soon have to do the same with Karl-Anthony Towns. I’d think they’d go for a less-expensive option.
For example and not based on information, a Willie Reed-type of big (Reed signed a one-year minimum deal with the LA Clippers, and given that Reed was a client of now-shuttered agent Andy Miller, Reed is no doubt looking for a higher-profile gig off the bench than the Clippers provide). Maybe Ersan Ilyasova from the Atlanta Hawks; he’s had a couple of huge offensive games of late for the Hawks, and we know he certainly isn’t averse to taking charges; that’s right up Thibs’s alley.
The Sixth Vleet is ashore. From Jimmy Chow:
Do you think it is possible to win an award mostly based upon Net Rating — specifically Fred VanVleet for 6th Man of the Year? For bench players with about 15 minutes per game, Nene, Shaun Livingston, Devin Harris and the aforementioned VanVleet are the leaders in Net Rating. Where VanVleet has an edge is that about half of his minutes are played without All-Star teammates on the court. By comparison, Livingston’s and Nene’s minutes are predominately with at least one or more All-Star level teammate. Looking at other stats even at per 36 minutes, they don’t jump out at you.
Fred’s having a solid season, Jimmy, and the big jump clearly is in offensive rating, which is nine points better than it was last season. (His overall field goal percentage is up, even while his 3-point percentage is down so far compared to last season.) It would be hard for me to give him Sixth Man just off of Net Rating, though you make a good case for it. It will also be hard to overcome the penchant for giving the award to scorers off the bench — not that that has to be the only way to judge how effective a reserve player is.
(Last week’s averages in parenthesis)
1) James Harden (38.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 3 apg, .500 FG, .913 FT): Saturday’s 48-piece at Portland was, amazingly, Harden’s 40th game since being traded to the Rockets in 2012 with 40 or more points.
2) LeBron James (28.5 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 9 apg, .538 FG, .741 FT): Collected his 58th career triple-double in Saturday’s win over Philadelphia, leaving him one short of Larry Bird for sixth place on the NBA’s all-time list.
3) Giannis Antetokounmpo (32.3 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 4.5 apg, .543 FG, .830 FT): The most unheralded part of the Freak’s game: he gets to the foul line in bunches: 47 attempts in four games this week.
4) Kevin Durant (30 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 7.3 apg, .458 FG, .895 FT): With 46 blocked shots in his first 22 games this season, Durant is on pace to obliterate his previous single-season high of 105 blocks, set in 2012-13 with Oklahoma City.
5) Kyrie Irving (26.8 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 2.5 apg, .533 FG, .938 FT): If he keeps sticking the three as he has of late, it’s a wrap. Really, it’s a wrap, anyway; there’s no stopping him from where he wants to go with the ball.
BY THE NUMBERS
3 — Home wins this season for the Hawks, who got their third win in 12 games so far at Philips Arena Saturday, over Orlando. Atlanta hasn’t had a home campaign under .500 since the 2006-07 season, when it was 18-23 at Philips. That was also the last time the Hawks didn’t make the playoffs.
4 — Number of teams — Indiana, Washington, Orlando and Memphis — that have yet to post a single double-figure win streak in a season. By contrast, Cleveland’s 13-game win streak, which ended with a loss at the Pacers Wednesday, was the 11th win streak of 10 games or more in Cavaliers’ history.
9 — Consecutive victories at Staples Center by the Clippers over the Wizards, including last Saturday’s bizarre ending where Lou Williams hit a go-ahead three with 1.2 seconds left. After a timeout/advance, the clock started inadvertently before Bradley Beal shot what would have been a game-winner at the buzzer, but after a video review, the time was restored (even though it shouldn’t have been). But the Clips survived anyway. The Wizards’ last road win over the Clips was on Jan. 31, 2009.
I’M FEELIN’ …
1) Victor Oladipo and the Pacers have made a lot of people, starting with me, who thought they’d fall off the face of the earth after trading Paul George look foolish so far this season.
2) Good for the Sixers to finally pull the trigger and end Jahlil Okafor’s penance. It surely wasn’t the deal they’d hoped for, but Trevor Booker is a solid, professional big man who’ll give you an honest night’s work on the floor and not a scintilla of trouble off of it — another good vet for the Sixers’ locker room. And Okafor, along with Nik Stauskas, will finally get some real playing time in Brooklyn and a chance to regain the form that made him a first team all-America at Duke.
3) Kenny J. Israel, Esq. Opening Friday at a theatre near you.
4) Great reporting and writing from Scott Cacciola of The New York Times on the Warriors’ unsung hero.
NOT FEELIN’ …
1) I thought the Thunder would figure things out quickly, and that it wouldn’t take much time for Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony to get on the same page. I was wrong.
2) RIP, Roland “Fatty” Taylor, an outstanding defensive point guard for really good ABA teams — he is the ABA’s all-time leader in steals, at 803 — in the ‘70s, including the Virginia Squires and Denver Nuggets. (He also has been given credit for giving George Gervin, his Squires teammate, the nickname “The Iceman.”) Another in the long line of great Washington, D.C. ballers, Taylor played at La Salle before going to the pros.
3) Happy that police finally found a suspect in Lorenzen Wright’s murder, but this just reminds you how tragic his death was in the first place.
4) Add Devin Booker and Aaron Gordon to this year’s butcher’s block of high-profile injuries. Just an awful season so far when it comes to long-term pains.
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