An Exchange with the Enemy: Jacob Padilla, Bright Side of the Sun

Seeing how we haven’t had a guest lately, and Wolves-Suns is always exciting – for me – because of personal reasons — Timberpups welcomes Jacob Padilla of Bright Side of the Sun. Padilla is an editor at BSoS, and because both sites are reciprocation stations, you can find me in an email exchange over there answering a few questions. I can’t entirely suggest you will like what you see, though.

I’m calling this the first edition of, “Exchange with the Enemy.” It may also be the last time we call a preview that, it’s up for debate. I asked Padilla six questions hoping to get a little closer to the Phoenix Suns, they’re in town tonight to play the Timberwolves — let’s begin.

I hate the term tanking, but like everyone else, the ‘method’ is an unavoidable topic and the term was tied to the Suns entering the season. Is it safe to say Jeff Hornacek feels as strongly as I do about this subject? How much of the success is thanks to Hornacek? He’s a clear front-runner for Coach of the Year, but what’s something he does for the Suns personnel, in terms of X’s and O’s, that makes this team a threat to make the playoffs? How does he have this team winning when nobody expected them to?

 Magic. I’ve taken to using the #HornacekWIzardry hashtag on Twitter to describe how the Suns are winning. Jeff hornacek really has done a phenomenal job getting guys to play to their strengths. I’m not really exaggerating when I say that nearly every single player on the roster is having a career year, and Hornacek deserves a lot of the credit for that. He has designed a system that puts everyone on the team in position to succeed. He encourages them to run on every play as transition is really where they do the most damage, and he has conditioned guys to take good shots.

The Suns are shooting mostly 3-pointers and shots around the basket, which is what you want your team to do in today’s NBA. Channing Frye, Marcus Morris and Gerald Green are bombing away from deep, P.J. Tucker is killing teams from the corners and making the hustle plays along with Miles Plumlee, and Goran Dragic is doing his Dragon thing on and off the ball.  I haven’t even mentioned Markieff Morris, who is legitimately in the conversation for Sixth Man of the Year. Hornacek isn’t doing anything super complicated from what I can tell. He’s just encouraging his guys to do what they do best.

As for the tanking, it’s not all Jeff Hornacek. It looks like the Suns went into firesale mode and got rid of all their veterans, but I don’t think the return on those moves has been all luck. Ryan McDonough saw something in Eric Bledsoe, Gerald Green and Miles Plumlee and he has been proven right with their play this season. We don’t call him McMiracle (among several other nicknames) for no reason. The team’s may be a complete surprise to almost everyone, but I don’t think it caught McDonough off guard at all. [Read more…]

Timberpups Weekly Preview – Week 11

Setting the stage:

The Wolves endured a very dramatic pair of losses during the holiday break, first against the Dallas Mavericks following a terrible non-call which kept Kevin Love from attempting the game-tying free throws, and then again at home against the Oklahoma City Thunder after Love was fouled on a three-pointer and awarded with three free throws with Minnesota down by two, but he was unable to make the first two and intentionally missed the last one.

Minnesota was able to defeat the New Orleans Hornets at home on New Years Day, but a 1-2 home stand does not cut it for a team that currently stands at 16-17 and tied for ninth place in the Western Conference. Let’s check out this weeks matchups: [Read more…]

Timberpups Weekly Preview – Week 10

 

David Sherman/Getty Images

David Sherman/Getty Images

Setting the stage:

With the holidays upon us, should we be celebrating the fact that our Timberpups have reached the .500 mark?  I have mixed feelings on this roster as a whole and would like to see more minutes given to the rookies, particularly Gorgui Dieng.  Someone needs to work with Ricky Rubio all offseason on his shooting stroke because it is clearly still broken.  All of that said, the Wolves are 15-15 and hopefully ready to roll going into 2014.  Much of the positives have to be credited to Kevin Love and his incredible play thus far this season – 26.1ppg (3rd in the NBA) & 13.8rpg (1st), with a PER of 28.5 (2nd).  Can we tear up his contract and max him out for the next five or six years?

Since I previewed week 8 of the season, the team has improved to 2nd in the league in scoring at 106.4ppg, 3rd in rebounding (46.2rpg) and 6th in assists (23.4apg).  Nothing much has changed on the defensive end, with the team giving up 102.3ppg, “good” for 23rd in the NBA.

Game 32: Monday, 12/30, 7pm – Dallas Mavericks @ Timberwolves (TV: FS North) [Read more…]

Timberpups Weekly Preview – Week 8

 

Early smiles for the Timberwolves this season! (Photo credit: Kentucky.com)

Early smiles for the Timberwolves this season!
(Photo credit: Kentucky.com)

Setting the stage:

The Wolves enter another busy week in the early months of the 2013/14 season with another 4 games, playing every other day after tonight’s back to back game.  Our Pups enter the week on the Mason-Dixon line of .500 ball after a gritty win in Memphis Sunday night.

Similar storylines continue to exist for this roster – very strong on offense, a work in progress on defense, and a desperate need for help from the bench so that the starting lineup doesn’t start to keel over come March and April.  The Pups are 4th in the league in scoring at 105.5ppg, 6th in rebounding (45.2rpg) and 8th in assists (23.0apg).  Unfortunately, the team remains in the bottom quarter of the league on defense (24th entering Monday’s play) giving up 101.7 points per game.

Game 26: Wednesday, 12/16, 6:30pm – Timberwolves @ Boston Celtics (TV: FS North & NBA TV) [Read more…]

A Philadelphia 76ers Roundtable, Hosted by Timberpups

So, I don’t know much about the Philadelphia 76ers. Is Allen Iverson still there? (Kidding)

But really, I don’t know much of anything about the Sixers.

Here’s a few bits.

  • Head Coach is Brett Brown
  • Record is 7-15
  • Royce White, Rodney Williams and Trevor Mbakwe were all Sixers at some point before the season, but are no longer — clearly Philly doesn’t like Minnesota Natives. So this one is personal, right?

Alright. That’s what I know. Anyway, to provide you guys with a little more (a lot more) in depth knowledge about tonight’s opponent — I’ve brought in the experts.

First, introductions.

My name is Jovan Alford and I am a senior communication major at La Salle University specializing in mass media and journalism. I am also the owner/editor in charge of totalsportslive.com, a site a part of the Broad Spectrum Sports network. My site covers Philly collegiate and pro sports and also national sports. I’ve been covering the Sixers for about two years now and you can find my work at totalsportslive.com.

Hi! My name is Emily Gruver and I am the Co-Editor of The Sixer Sense (Part of Sports Illustrated’s Fansided Network). I’m a huge Philadelphia sports fan. You can find my work at The Sixer Sense, That Ball’s Outta Here, and Hoops Habit.

O’Connor didn’t bother reading the ENTIRE EMAIL, but I had a chance to meet him over the weekend — he was in Minneapolis for business. After chatting with Sean during the Wolves-Heat game last Saturday, which was the most expensive loss I think either of us has payed for, I found that it really is true — people from Philly only talk about Philly, that’s it. (No disrespect intended, that’s what happened — he’ll tell ya) ALRIGHT HERE’S WHAT HIS TWITTER SAYS: “I write words on the internet, primarily at Liberty Ballers (Part of the SB Nation Blog Network)and occasionally at other places.”

Now, the good stuff.

1. Before we get into any talk about tonight’s game, and not to kick anybody in the dirt, but; how bad are the Sixers? Does it reach beyond player personnel and go up the front office ladder? 
Alford: The Sixers are bad. The sad part is as Philadelphia fans we expected them to be bad because once you trade away your all-star point guard in Jrue Holiday that automatically means you are going to have a couple of loses under your bag. I think this is all apart of Sam Hinkie’s plan to blow it up and bring in the players that he wants to fit the team.
Gruver: The Sixers are really struggling right now. With a 7-15 record, they are continuing to lose to teams that they are capable of beating. I think the main reason for this is injuries, mainly with Michael Carter-Williams recent absence for a few games now. I think it’s also the fact that they just don’t have enough talent to compete with these other teams. It’s really just these little things that are costing them these losses; injuries, turnovers, missed free-throws, and defense.
O’Connor: Well, even while they’re better than expected, the Sixers still have lost more than 2/3rds of their games. They haven’t won a game in regulation since November 8th, over a month ago. And it’s totally by design. 
2. Sixers and “tanking” are often associated, that’s what they’re doing — right? What is the best long-term result that could -possibly- come from this season for the Sixers?
Alford: I don’t think that the Sixers are tanking. The players don’t even like the word “tanking” it offends them. The best long-term result that could come from this season is hopefully you can find out who you want to bring back for the long term with head coach Brett Brown. You also want the players to be students of the game and learn how to play the game the right way. Also long term, they will eventually get back Nerlens Noel and possibly you will have two top ten picks so you can keep on building from there.
Gruver: The Sixers are in an odd situation because I actually do believe they don’t want to tank, but are continuing to just fall short. From listening to head coach Brett Brown, as well as the players, I’m actually getting the feeling that they want nothing to do with tanking, especially in the beginning of the season when they were creating miraculous comebacks.
O’Connor: “Tanking” doesn’t have a single, set definition. Some people take “tanking” to mean the intentional losing of games by the players put out on the court, either via holding people out with phantom injuries or an intentional lack of effort. This isn’t happening – the Sixers try really hard every game, and that’s part of Sam Hinkie’s vision. However, they are certainly not built to win games – which to me constitutes tanking by the organization. “Rebuilding” just sugarcoats the intentions.
The best case scenario from this year: vets play well enough to establish trade value, get swapped for future assets, MCW and Noel develop into all-star or borderline all-star caliber players, and the Sixers still end up with the worst record and the best chances for the number one overall pick and a guaranteed top 4 selection.
3. Have you thought of any trade scenarios involving Spencer Hawes, Thad Young or Evan Turner?(These can be as a pair or individuals)  If so what are they? And are you for or against them and why? 
Alford: I haven’t really thought of any trade scenarios myself but one trade scenario that I think we all have probably heard is Thad Young to the Houston Rockets for Omer Asik. I am not a big fan of this trade because nothing about Asik’s game gets me excited. The Sixers already have a big man sitting on the bench in Nerlens Noel so it would be no point. Trading a player like Thaddeus Young would be devastating to this team because he is the heart and soul. If you watch him play he is always hustling diving your balls and taking charges. Plus he is a great guy on and off the court.
Gruver: I haven’t thought of any myself, but I know of the report in which the Houston Rockets would trade Omer Asik in return for Thaddeus Young. Spencer Hawes hasn’t really been in many trade rumors here, and the Evan Turner trade rumors have surprisingly died off.

If it’s the right deal and the Sixers would get something reasonable in return, then I’m for it, but at this point, I don’t see the point in trading away any of them because I feel as though they can be solid pieces for the future.
O’Connor: I’m for trading all of them. Hawes and Turner are free agents at the end of the season – both could potentially help current playoff teams at the low, low cost of a late first round pick, and neither will be cheap or valuable enough to retain at the current market rate. Young makes more sense as a long-term piece, but he’s only guaranteed to be under team control for this year and next. I find it likely that he will opt out after next season, at which point it’ll be costly in years and dollars to retain him. He also should bring back a solid return in a trade.
As for individual deals, Young for Omer Asik has been bandied about quite a bit. I’m a fan if it’s part of a bigger move to eventually move Asik’s contract. Meanwhile, I’m a fan of pretty much any scenario that nets a first round pick for either Hawes or Turner, no matter what team really. But if I had to pick individual teams for them to move to, I’d say Hawes would fit well as a Clipper, while Turner could be useful in Atlanta.
4. No Michael Carter-Williams (<- Caution, there’s self-promotion in there) tonight means we’ll see Lorenzo Brown, right? He was one of the Wolves final cuts prior to the season, do you have any thoughts on his play?
Alford: You can probably expect to see some Lorenzo Brown tonight but more of Tony Wroten Jr. I think Brown has been adequate since he has joined the Sixers. I think he is better than Darius Morris, who the Sixers released earlier this season. In the last three games he is averaging 13.3 minutes per game. That is good, that means Brett Brown has him apart of this rotation and hopefully he can stick around for the entire season.
Gruver: Lorenzo Brown has been OK. He has only played 9 games so far this season and averaging just 7.7 minutes per game so I haven’t seen too much from him. He has just been a guy who will give you a few points and assists a game, but nothing special.
O’Connor:Brown doesn’t wow me in any way, but really that doesn’t matter. Sam Hinkie has brought in players to compete, and he’s lauded Brown for being a hard worker. The Sixers have him playing as a combo guard, but to me his shooting and/or passing (preferably both) need to improve to be a legitimate rotation player. At least he’s not Darius Morris, though.
5. Lastly, is there any way the Sixers beat the Wolves tonight? If so, how? If not, what scares you about this Wolves team. (Feel free to rant a bit here about anything really)
Alford: The only way this Sixers team beats the Wolves if they come out and play like they did to begin the season against the Heat and Bulls. They could sneak up on the Wolves tonight because Minnesota is coming off of a back to back. Those are the only two ways they win. But I think they won’t win because when you are going a team that has the likes of Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love, and Kevin Martin you are going to have to play solid defense. Rubio is a great passer, Love is a great passer and shooter, and Martin is a great shooter. The only person I can see defending Love is Thad Young because he is just as versatile. But Kevin Love has the ability to stretch the defense and he throws beautiful outlet passes. I also can forget about Pek who gets monster boards.That is a man in the paint and I hope the Sixers are ready to get punched in the mouth down low because if they aren’t it is going to be a long night tonight.
Gruver: I don’t see the Sixers defeating the Wolves tonight. First off, the Sixers are horrible on the road (1-8). What scares be the most about this Wolves team is that I’m afraid Kevin Love is going to completely go off and the Sixers won’t be able to defend him. Plus, the Wolves are 3rd overall in PPG, and 7th overall in both rebounds and assists per game. The Wolves just have the better talent and have Love and Nikola Pekovic who are dominating on the boards.
O’Connor: I suppose it’s possible that the Sixers could win but not likely by any stretch of the imagination.

Anyway, what scares me most about the Timberwolves is Nikola Pekovic. That was an easy answer! To be completely serious, though – the three-point shooting capabilities of Kevin Martin and Kevin Love. Though the game we attended in person had some of the worst shooting in the NBA this year, the Sixers are awfully charitable at giving up open three point opportunities. Having two guys that have the ball in their hands often that will fire away whenever open is a scary thought for a Sixers team that leaves people open entirely too often.
Welp. All of our guests today were fantastic. I don’t believe the Sixers can beat the Wolves, either — see weekly preview for further prediction. If you’re a fan of the Sixers or sports in Philly — give these guys a follow on twitter. If they were kind enough to answer my emails, they’re kind enough to befriend you guys.
Wolves-Sixers is tonight, 7:00PM CST — FSN North. 830 WCCO for Radio Goers.

Timberpups Weekly Preview | December 9th

This is the Timberpups weekly preview for the week of December 9th.

It’d be nice to have strong performances from the Minnesota Timberwolves this week. Looking ahead at the schedule, which is becoming fairly easier, there are some decent opportunities to get momentum moving in the right direction.

The Wolves have the opportunity to be, on paper, a better team than their opponent three of four times this week.

The Wolves have the opportunity to be, on paper, a better team than their opponent three of four times this week.

 

Tuesday December 10th. 

Wolves at Detroit Pistons. 

These two met at the Palace in Detroit during the preseason, this time the game counts. If you can remember the preseason meeting was a dramatic loss, Josh Smith hit a three at the buzzer and the Wolves lost a ‘heartbreaker’. The Pistons, like the Wolves, are hovering around .500 with a record of 10-11. Detroit had five players averaging double figures and enjoy a moderate paced game, picking-and-choosing when to run in transition — mobile big men; Smith, Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe aren’t slouches moving up and down the floor. The Pistons rank 14th in pace per game (the number of possessions a team uses per game) while the Wolves rank second.

Chauncey Billups and Wil Bynum are out indefinitely, Rodney Stuckey missed Sunday’s game with left knee tendinitis and it’s unsure if he’ll be ready to go for Monday’s game.

Prediction (and I’m no good at these): Wolves punish Pistons — 117-98.

 

Josh Smith whining, about something -- who cares?

Josh Smith whining, about something — who cares?

 

Wednesday December 12th.

Wolves -happily- welcome Philadelphia 76ers. 

There couldn’t be a better time to play the, less than stellar, 76ers — especially at Target Center. Philadelphia is allowing more points per game than any other team in basketball and are considered one of the favorites in the race to “Tank for Wiggins”. Former ‘potential’ Timberwolf Lorenzo Brown will be in the building, the Sixers recently signed him to fulfill the void that was created at point guard due to multiple injuries. One of those injuries was suffered by Michael Carter-Williams, the Sixers rookie has been a glimmering bright spot so far this year averaging 18 points and 7 assists per game but his status for this game is uncertain. “MCW” has a bacterial infection in his right-knee. Evan Turner will need to do a LOT for the Sixers to have a chance in this one.

Prediction: Wolves scoff at the Sixers — 110-89.

Barea drives hoping to score during a meeting with Sixers in the preseason

Barea drives hoping to score during a meeting with Sixers in the preseason

Friday December 13th.

Wolves at San Antonio Spurs.

This would be a rematch between these two teams, but because of the inexplicable generator fire in the Arena at Mexico City last week it’s the first meeting between these two this season. It’s no surprise that the Spurs are one of the best team’s in the Western Conference, this is the Wolves toughest challenge for the week. San Antonio is 11th in the league in offensive rating and 3rd on the defensive side of things. I’ll take the Gregg Popovich approach on this one by not saying much more; The Wolves have work cut out for them against a premier NBA franchise on the road.

Prediction: Wolves slip-up against the Spurs, late — 96-101

Rubio finding a way to pass around Danny Green to someone open in the lane for a dunk, probably.

Rubio finding a way to pass around Danny Green to someone open in the lane for a dunk, probably.

Sunday December 15th. 

Wolves at Memphis Grizzlies.

The Grizzlies may have proved a more difficult challenge than the Spurs were, but this matchup is a bit more even. Marc Gasol and Quincy Pondexter are sidelined indefinitely because of their respective injuries — a huge bonus for the Wolves. Tony Allen is also uncertain as of now, but his condition may be updated during the course of the week. The Grizz are 10-11 on the season thus far, but have suffered 20+ losses in their last two games; falling by 20 to the Los Angeles Clippers and 27 at the hands of the Golden State Warriors.

Mike Conley, Jerryd Bayless and Nick Calathes are now the key components to success in Memphis, hopefully the Wolves are able to take care of business against a team wounded by injuries.

On a lighter note, it’s likely we’ll see Jon Lauer. He’s a Minnesota native (Orono) and a University of Wisconsin Graduate (Something Alex knows very well). It’s always fun seeing guys I’ve watched in high school play at the professional level, though it doesn’t do much for my self-esteem.

Prediction: Wolves go Walkin’ in Memphis and leave victorious — 100-86.

Mike Conley is good, that's pretty much what I got -- but can he carry an injured Grizz roster passed the Wolves at home?

Mike Conley is good, that’s pretty much what I got — but can he carry an injured Grizz roster passed the Wolves at home?

 

Wrap Up: Wolves begin the week in Detroit, head back home for a cake-walk (or what should be), venture down south to hostile territory and hit Beale Street for a team suffering the blues. The travel continues, though it’s dispersed and there will be NO -I REPEAT ZERO- back-to-backs this week. That means there’s no excuse, other than being out played for at LEAST a 3-1 week.

 

That’s all for now.

Zach

Timberpups Weekly Preview 2014 – Week 6

Wolves will face both 2012 Conference Champions this week!   (Photo credit: sportsillustrated.cnn.com)

Wolves will face both 2012 Conference Champions this week!
(Photo credit: sportsillustrated.cnn.com)

Setting the stage:

After two tough weeks of games with a number of back to back series, the Timberwolves enter Week 6 under the .500 mark with a 9-10 record.  They are looking at a pretty soft schedule this week … but only in terms of the number of games being played.  Why is that?  Our Timberpups will travel to Mexico City for a “home game” to take on the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday, 12/4, and then travel home to face the Miami Heat on 12/7.  Sounds like a fun week, right?  [Read more…]