Blog Profile Central: A Wolf Among Wolves
Get To Know: A Wolf Among Wolves
Editor's Note: The Timberwolves community is fortunate to have a collection of dedicated, knowledgeable blogs that cover the team year in and year out. It's a network of gifted writers who bring a mixture of insightful analysis and humor to the game of basketball and the Wolves. Over the next nine weeks, Timberwolves.com will profile nine members of this community through a series of Q&A sessions with the founders and main contributors at each site. Part II focuses on AWolfAmongWolves.com, which joined the Wolves' blogosphere in 2010.
Blog Name: A Wolf Among Wolves
Web Address: awolfamongwolves.com
Year Established: 2010
Main Administrators (with Twitter handles): Ben Polk
Contributors (with Twitter Handles): Ben Polk (@A_W_A_W), Zach Harper (@talkhoops), Steve McPherson (@steventurous)
What sparked the creation of A Wolf Among Wolves and what is the focus message you try to send to your readers?
Ben: The blog was started because Kevin Arnovitz at Truehoop had liked my work at City Pages and Myles Brown’s stuff at Slam. He approached us and asked us if we would be into starting something for the Truehoop Network. Thought it sounded like a good time so we said yes.
I think the focus message is that there’s a lot more to the game—strategically, aesthetically, even politically—and to the viewing experience than meets the eye. We try to get into that.
What will readers find at AWAW?
Steve: I like to think they’ll find what I found there when I was just a reader: thoughtful, often creative analysis that’s neither hyperbolic, nor dour. When I took over for Myles—who left for New York City after last season in a trade that brought back high draft picks and cash—I just wanted to contribute to the conversation that was already going on, to help carry it forward. I like writing for the site because I think that as different as Zach and Ben and I might be as writers, we share a lot in terms of how we think about basketball.
Zach: I think we try to bring a realistic view of the team to our readers. I don’t know if we always accomplish that, but bringing an unbiased (or as unbiased as we can be), yet passionate discussion about the Wolves seems to be something Wolves fans respond to, whether they agree with you or not. Also, I drop the occasional terrible photoshop whenever I can.
From a feedback standpoint, why do viewers choose to come to your site?
Ben: I think they come because they get deep, thoughtful analysis of the game and the team and because they get good writing. At least I hope that’s why they come.
Zach: I think they also like to remind me how dumb I am.
What keeps you so dedicated toward analyzing and following the Timberwolves each year?
Steve: Speaking as someone who was first a fan from a distance when I lived on the East Coast and then got progressively closer until I’m now fortunate enough to sit on press row, I have to say that there’s a reward simply in the following. Each season enfolds its own dramas and arcs: sometimes they end gloriously—if ultimately disappointingly—like in 2004; sometimes they show great promise that’s never realized—like this past season. It can be frustrating and I’ve certainly had my moments over the last decade-plus, but ultimately there are always new wrinkles, new moments, new things to discover and appreciate. Or at least mock.
Zach: Like Steve, I was a fan from afar because I grew up in Sacramento but was never a Kings fan. I randomly decided to like the Wolves when I was six or seven years old (probably because I thought Wolves are cool, which they are) and have been dedicated ever since. When I moved to Minneapolis, I was finally able to be around the Wolves fan base and it’s been a lot of fun. Plus, getting to cover a professional basketball team with great potential is really fun.
Favorite Wolves memory?
Steve: It’s really a toss up between two things. In the spring of 2004, shortly after I moved to Minnesota, I watched the Wolves’ playoffs run with some friends at the Groveland Tap in Saint Paul. We were there for the first round and every game of that epic seven game series with the Kings. Obviously, it didn’t end well, but the ride was great. And the second one is smaller: Rubio’s pass between Dirk Nowitzki’s legs to Tolliver for the 3 early in the season last year. I was at Target Center for that one and it was positively electric.
Ben: Without a doubt, Garnett taking over in the fourth quarter of Game 7 against the Kings.
Zach: Again, I lived in Sacramento for a long time so the majority of my friends were Kings fans. KG dominating the Kings in 2004 and Chris Webber’s desperation shot in Game 7 falling outside of the rim was an incredible moment. I’m sure I was pretty obnoxious toward my friends at that point.
Biggest decision the Wolves need to make/address this offseason?
Ben: Whether to resign Pekovic and how much they’re willing to pay him. Both financially and basketball-wise, I think that sets the context for whatever else they want to do.
Zach: The Timberwolves really need shooters to space the floor. They were the worst in the league at 3-point shooting last season and they need it to thrive.
How do you view the Flip Saunders hire as the new President of Basketball Operations?
Steve: I was no great fan of David Kahn, but I do think he gets less credit than he deserves while also doing a worse job than should have been expected. I’m a big believer in the idea that positions—in any kind of organization—have a shelf life, and that turnover is a necessary if sometimes painful or frightening thing that needs to happen. I’m looking forward to seeing what Saunders does.
If you’re making selections for this team in the draft, who do you ideally take with that first pick?
Ben: I would say Victor Oladipo, provided they can climb that high. He’s a big, athletic perimeter player who can shoot and defend—just what they need.
What was the most enjoyable storyline in the NBA this season? Why?
Steve: Personally, I really enjoyed watching James Harden take on the role of being a team leader and a star in his own right. I’ve always enjoyed watching him and seeing him blossom in Houston on a team that’s just so smartly designed by Daryl Morey was great to follow. The Rockets as a whole are a fascinating team to follow because Morey seems to have a clear vision for the kind of basketball he wants and has the tools to understand which players are going to get him there. In a league that can be so focused on “win now,” Morey’s shown the patience it takes to build piece by piece, and that’s commendable.
Which beat writers do you follow closely to get more information on the Wolves?
Steve: I feel like the line between beat writer and blogger gets blurrier all the time—although I know I can always count on Jon Krawczynski to remind me where it is. But seriously: I’ve had great experiences with all the beat writers I’ve met covering the Wolves and really respect the work done by Jerry Zgoda, Jon, and everyone else.
Which are some of your favorite NBA- and Timberwolves-related blogs you follow?
Steve: Canis Hoopus was the blog that introduced me to coverage of the Wolves outside of the mainstream media, and I love getting different perspectives from places like Punch Drunk Wolves and Howlin’ T-Wolf. I don’t know if Zach is allowed to push his own other site, but CBS Sports’ Eye on Basketball is great, and the other ones I read regularly (and contribute to some of them) are Grantland, Ball Don’t Lie, SI’s Point Forward, ESPN’s TrueHoop, and the New York Times’ Off the Dribble.
Zach: Steve, don’t forget the Eye on Basketball Podcast that is available on iTunes!