Andrew Wiggins will turn 22 in less than a month, but he knocked down what should be the first of many buzzer-beating game winners, becoming the youngest player of the season to do so:
A buzzer-beater win in Minnesota is rarer than a healthy Nikola Pekovic. The last one happened almost 5 years ago on a Luke Ridnour floater on February 22, 2012. About the same time as Pek’s last game.
In addition to the game-winner, Wiggins added 31 points (11-22 FG), 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, and 2 threes. Wiggins continues to develop in his third NBA season and makes the young Timberwolves roster a fun team to watch.
Today I will be focusing on a somewhat specialist subject of mine: European basketball players plying their trade outside of the USA. Being European myself, and residing 50 miles south of London, my fascination for basketball in Euroleague and domestic leagues across Europe matches that of my love for the NBA and NCAA game (albeit, not doing my laptop much good with illegal streaming for domestic European league basketball from some questionable sites).
As we prepare for the 2016-17 Fantasy Basketball Season, I’ll be taking a look at each NBA team with their major adds and drops to see if we can pan for any surprise rotational gold. This open is especially witty for the Nuggets. We’ll be counting down from worst NBA regular season to the best, mainly because I’m still figuring out how to rank the Warriors…
Minnesota Timberwolves (29-53)
G Kris Dunn (Rookie)
C Cole Aldrich
F/C Jordan Hill
G/F Brandon Rush
COACH TIBBY TIBS!
G Kevin Martin
Mayyyyybe Kevin Garnett, which would dramatically drop their average age…
Wow, this is going to be one of the most similar looking teams from last year to this season, with their only overhaul at the head coaching position. And yet, I think they’re going to be a popular sleeper playoff pick after finishing 5th worst in the NBA last year.
The Wolves will presumably roll out the same starting 5 that ended 15-16, and it’s a mad fun team. Rubio with the passes, LaVine with dunks, KAT with the post game, Wiggins with the isos, Dieng with the D, lions and tigers and bears, OH MY! And they add into the fold another combo guard who easily looks ready for the NBA, not to mention the Summer League MVP. Plus some underrated vet backups to get this young crew through their run at making the playoffs. Here’s how their roster is shaping up:
David Blatt could have realized that all he had to do was get out of the way and let LeBron James coach. But I’m pretty sure the clock was running on his tenure in Cleveland the second he was hired.
Jeff Hornacek could have figured out how to turn Archie Goodwin into “Teen Wolf,” or mastered whatever weird magic/religion that fire woman from “Game of Thrones” practices. Not sure either one of those tricks would have turned an injury-ravaged Suns team into a playoff squad.
Somehow, without doing anything close to the above, and racking up a record of 14-35 with a talented but raw roster, Sam Mitchell has managed to keep his job.
And thanks to injuries to Kevin Garnett (wink, wink) and Nikola Pekovic (big shocker), he might actually be forced into doing something right. Mitchell is now playing his best young players, a group that so obviously includes Gorgui Dieng.
After riding the pine all year so Garnett and Tayshaun Prince could log minutes in meaningless games, Dieng finally has the starting slot and minutes (close to 40 per) that he deserves.
He’s responded by averaging 17.6 ppg and 11.3 rpg in those three starts. All Mitchell could do was mutter that he’s “getting a lot better.” No, he’s playing a lot better, because you’re playing him!
Win or lose, the Wolves have to keep running Dieng out there with Karl-Anthony Towns and make it work. Or Sam might go the way of Blatt and Hornacek.
Get Dieng, any way you can, and check out some of these other guys:
Monday night’s heavyweight match between the two best teams in the league mostly disappointed. Sure, Stephen Curry and the Warriors were fun to watch, but the Spurs were mostly a no show, losing 120-90.
On Wednesday, the Spurs returned home to host the Rockets. They took all of their rage out on the self-destructing Rockets, destroying them 130-99. Do you think the Spurs were mad about losing by 30 on Monday night?
Scoring only 5 points on Monday, LaMarcus Aldridge rebounded to lead the Spurs with 25 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists. Danny Green knocked down 6 threes to post 18 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, and 1 block. That’s more like it Aldridge and Green!
Kawhi Leonard (18 points) and Tony Parker (15 points, 7 assists) got in on the fun too, as Tim Duncan sat another game, while the Spurs await the MRI results on his knee. If Duncan misses substantial time, the Spurs will roll with a combo of Kyle Anderson (7/3/1), David West (4/2/2), and Boris Diaw (0/2/3), depending on matchups.
The University of Kentucky basketball program was well represented in New Orleans on Tuesday night. Wildcats alums Anthony Davis and Karl-Anthony Towns produced quality multi-category lines for their fantasy owners in an oddly entertaining contest. Minnesota got up big in the first quarter, riding a hot start from their prized rookie big man; Towns finished the game 20/13/2/1/1 with a 3-pointer and a perfect 5-5 from the foul line. Unfortunately, his five turnovers and cold shooting after the opening frame (7-17 FGs) contributed to the Pelicans getting back into the game and eventually claiming the W. Regardless of the real world outcome, KAT’s fantasy owners have to be encouraged by Tuesday’s outing. He was posting per-game numbers that had him ranked only 80th through nine January contests entering this tilt with the Pellies, so the big double-double – with money counting stats to boot – was a sight for sore eyes.
Davis led the charge for the home team with an efficient 35 points on only 22 field goal attempts (plus 8-10 FTs), chipping in seven rebounds and a pair of blocks. Perhaps most impressive was the fact that Brow navigated some foul trouble and a tight whistle while never turning the ball over in 37 very impressive minutes. He also connected on one of his two attempts from behind the arc, marking only the second time in 2016 he’s hit from deep (11 attempts). If he’s to leapfrog Kevin Durant for the best fantasy player not named Steph Curry, he’s going to have to start expanding that part of his game. His shooting stroke looks good and once a few more drop he should find the confidence to start taking more (ala DeMarcus Cousins). With New Orleans largely out of the playoff picture, they may take a developmental approach and encourage Davis to experiment with more shot variety on the offensive end. If he can avoid the little bumps & bruises he seems to accumulate on a near weekly basis, he should be a top-3 asset the rest of the way.
Here’s what else shook down on a relatively quiet four-game Tuesday night in the NBA…
I’m living at home with my parents temporarily, while work is being done on my condo. I didn’t want to be bothered living there while they’re painting and installing new carpeting and flooring. As a result, I’m getting kicked off the television so that my mom can watch her shows. I missed the Sunday Night Football game for “Downton Abbey” and then had to turn off the Wizards/Cavs and Knicks/Heat games for “Law & Order.” I guess it’s a fair trade, since I’m getting so many home cooked meals and leftovers for lunch.
Fortunately SVU ended early enough for me to catch the Thunder’s dismantling of the Grizzlies. Kevin Durant returned from a toe injury to post 26 points and 17 rebounds, while Russell Westbrook continued his near triple-double stat lines with 20 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists. You always worry with Durant’s foot being a problem last season, but it was nice to see KD back, after only missing one game.
It was all Thunder in this game, as the Grizzlies played down due to injuries. Mike Conley was out because of a sore left Achilles and Courtney Lee, who started for Conley, left early in the second half after injuring his hip. That left Mario Chalmers, who exploded for 23 points, 9 assists, 8 rebounds, and 4 threes. It’s unclear how long Conley and Lee could be out, but Chalmers would become the starter by default. It’s not like the Grizzlies will give Vince Carter lots of minutes!
Early in the day on Wednesday, Major League Baseball announced that All-Star Todd Frazier was traded from the Cincinnati Reds to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a seven-player trade. Wait, I thought this was a basketball blog! Well, one of those guys involved in the trade was Trayce Thompson. Not quite a Splash Brother, but the biological brother of the Golden State Warriors’ Klay Thompson and former NBA player, Mychel Thompson, who now plays in Italy.
As brothers, it’s pretty common to be competitive with each other. We may not be on as big of a stage as the Thompson brothers, but my older brother and I make almost everything a competition between each other, whether it’s games of one-on-one, 10-mile races, or Settlers of Catan.
While Trayce was gaining popularity as a new member of the Dodgers in California, Klay went off for 27 points in the 3rd on his way to a game high 43 points (15-22 FG, 8-13 3PT). It must be a happy time for the Thompson family!
Coming off their first loss of the season, the Warriors blew out the Suns by 25, leading by 40 after the 3rd quarter.
With the game in hand, Thompson, Draymond Green, and Stephen Curry weren’t even needed in the 4th quarter. That was enough minutes for Green to go for a triple double (16/11/10/5) and Curry to drop 25 points and 7 assists. So much for feeling sad about their first loss.
Shortly before the tip of the Grizzlies’ game in New Orleans on Tuesday night, Memphis beat writer Ronald Tillery reported that coach Dave Joerger “desperately wants to reduce Marc Gasol‘s minutes.” Coming into the game, MG had averaged in excess of 38 MPG over his last five contests – a number that is, by all accounts, quite high for a true big man in today’s National Basketball Association. Fantasy owners of Gasol were probably watching Tuesday’s game to see how Joerger would adjust his rotations to get the prized center some more rest. What did they witness? (I’m so glad you asked…)
Marc Gasol played 42 minutes of other-worldly basketball, posting 38/13/6/0/4. If that wasn’t enough, he shot an even 50% from the field on 22 attempts and was flawless from the FT line on 16 (!!!) tries. Yep, sixteen for sixteen. He was the only Grizzlies starter with a positive rating (+8) on the night and his team won the game, which goes to show you just how instrumental Gasol was in this one.
(As an aside – perhaps Tillery heard coach Joerger wrong and he said he desperately wanted to reduce everyone but Gasol’s minutes? No other Memphis starter played more than 31. Go figure.)
This is your ultimate sell-high moment on the younger of the two Gasols. If you can score a top-25 asset in return, I think you pretty much have to do it. In trade negotiations you can point to the high minutes, the nice boards & blocks numbers, and the sweet out-of-position dimes. That is, unless you are a believer that Marc can withstand this kind of workload over the course of an 82-game season. I’m never one to predict injuries, but wear & tear is a very real thing, and when you’re dealing with a 7’1″, 265lb monster of a man on the wrong side of 30, miles add up quickly.
I’d be interested to know where Gasol’s owners stand after this one. Are they looking to sell? Or are they going to ride him all the way to the edge of the cliff? (Chime in below via the comments section if you have a buy/sell/hold take.)
Let’s take a look at what else shook down on Tuesday night with 12 teams in action…
On what should have been a relatively quiet evening in the NBA, there sure wound up being a lot of noise. And not a lot of it was good noise. For a lot of fantasy owners, Tuesday probably sounded a bit like this.
Mid-game injuries, late-breaking inactives, and low minutes due to a few blowouts seemed to be the consistent narrative of the night.
We’ll get to all that depressing stuff, but let’s start out on a high note – Mo Williams had himself a game. On nearly perfect shooting (8-9 FGs, 9-10 FTs, 4-4 from 3-point range), Mo helped the Cavaliers slip past the Utah Jazz 118-114 in the best game of the night. In addition to the stellar percentages, Williams chipped in six boards, six dimes, and stole the ball twice just for funzies. Five turnovers took a bit of shine off an otherwise brilliant outing, but this still goes down as one of the top fantasy lines of the evening. Mo Williams will continue to be a must-start player until Kyrie Irving comes back, and common sense would suggest that if Mo keeps balling at a high level and the Cavs keep winning, there’s no reason to rush Kyrie back anytime soon. So it’s a bit of a snowball effect in that the immediate returns are great, but they’re also likely to help extend Mo’s opportunity for a 30+ MPG role on a title contending team. People waiting on Irving to return won’t enjoy hearing that, but it’s championship-or-bust in Cleveland, so Kyrie isn’t coming back with health a single percentage point below 100.
Not to be outdone, LeBron James had himself a phenomenal fourth quarter, scoring 17 points (6-8 FGs), 4 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal as the Cavs scored 38 points in the final frame against one heck of a good defensive team. LBJ finished the game with 31/7/8/2/0 and dropped in a three pointer. He matched Mo Will’s five giveaways and missed four of his 12 freebies, but for all intents and purposes this was a win for LeBron owners as he made it out of the game healthy after soldiering through an owwy on his thigh.