Simons Says - October 24, 2013
This is a great time of year. Baseball playoffs morph into the World Series and even though our Hometown-9 isn’t part of the festivities, it’s special. It’s great to watch and it’s one of a pack of sports that make fall unforgettable. Add to it the NFL season (we’ll leave out any and all discussion about “Who’s your QB” and “Have we called Brett Favre yet”) and hockey’s back on ice, too. I save the best for last when I break out the peach basket. And yes, you got me at tip-off when you mention the NBA.
Every year, for as long as I can remember, I’ve looked forward to that day when I could say basketball’s back! There’s nothing like it. For once, fans have talked about the Wolves and with a busy off-season orchestrated by Flip Saunders, there’s good reason to be optimistic.
I ran into assistant coach Jack Sikma before a game this preseason and he started to really get me excited about the Wolves. The pride of Illinois Wesleyan and the former No. 1 draft pick of the Seattle SuperSonics is one of Adelman’s trusted arms. Sikma knows this team in and out, he pained with every injury that disrupted the Wolves growth last season. Sikma sees good things so far and is optimistic for the marathon ahead. Sikma also elated that Adelman is back for his 23rd coaching season in the NBA.
My questions to Sikma centered on Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio and Big Pek (Nikola Pekovic). Always the team man (even back in the day when his running mates were “Downtown” Freddy Brown (Pride of Iowa), Dennis Johnson, Paul Silas and John Johnson), Sikma quickly shot back with other names on the roster like Cunningham, Turiaf, Brewer, Barea and Shved. “On paper, we are better and it’s our job to make it translate on the court. So far, so good. But we have work to do,” Sikma told me. I’ll take that.
Sikma likes this team’s size. In the paint, opponents need to be ready to rumble because the Wolves version of the Bruise Brothers will be busy, if not BIG. Pek and K-Love will gobble rebounds, they’ll get pushy and physical and add Cunningham & others in there, the Wolves will be relentless. Pekovic should show us why he deserves that Big Money Daddy contract. Pek is only getting better and if he adds to his 16 pts./8-or-9 rebounds a game, that’s icing.
Now Love. He’ll be better than last year because it was hell for him. Injuries, team losses, bad press and a very cold winter made our 3-point-specialist a bit cranky and for good reason. Love will once again establish himself as one of the best forwards in the game. He’ll top his 18 PPG/14Reb of last year. And that should help Love realize that his last season, now in the rear view mirror, was a bad dream. Love’s back. He’s lean, still a dynamic shooter, he’s smart and poised to become one of the game’s elite players. Personally, I love the fact that Love was part of a USA Olympic Gold Medal run. That intangible can help in so many ways. Just watch. Love will be very good this season. I have NO worries about shouting this from the escalator.
The Wolves will get better and can insure better playoff possibilities if Ricky Rubio is able to add a few elements to his game. Rubio scores about 11 points a game. He needs to score about 10-more a night while improving his shooting percentage (29% from “3” and overall, FG %, is 36%). Rubio is a solid defender, he’s a sparkplug on the break and 2nd in the NBA in steals. A few more points make Team Adelman much better.
So, my wish list for the season ahead. It’s a tad long but that’s OK. It’s my list and I’m picky. I’m hoping to end the playoff drought (now in its 9th straight year) by 1) Seeing the Wolves stay healthy 2) shooting better as a team (one of the three worst shooting teams in the NBA last season) 3) Showing the naysayers what can be accomplished when your big guns (Love, Rubio, Pek) can stay on the court and play most of the season together. 4) With wins, showcase the fact that the Twin Cities IS basketball. It’s a ball town. That’s why Flip is back. He lives here, played college ball here, he’s city, he’s proud and he wants this team to win. I like Flip and Adelman together.
It’s time to be optimistic and it’s OK to want the moon out of the season ahead. If it falls short, it’s all good. It’s good to hope. If it happens, even better. There are few things better in the spring than NBA playoffs and start of the Major League Baseball season playing games at the time.
Here’s to hoping. Here’s to the Wolves in their 25th NBA season. Here’s to making magic all season long. Just what a hoopaholic dreams about.
SIMONSSAYS SHORT TAKES
One last mention before the NBA season takes over. Congrats to the WNBA Champion Lynx for sweeping the Atlanta Dream and winning a second title in 3-years. And in case you didn’t know, when you look at the Lynx, they are also respected league wide. In addition to having 3 Olympic Gold Medalists on the team, the WNBA’s All-First Team sports two Lynx stars. Lynx guard Lindsay Whalen and forward Maya Moore reside on the All-WNBA First Team. Guard Seimone Augustus is All-WNBA Second Team. This season is the third time in Whalen’s 10-year career she’s earned All-WNBA First Team honors, the first for Moore and the fourth time Augustus has been named to the All-WNBA Second Team. This year marks the first time in franchise history the Lynx have had two representatives selected to the All-WNBA First Team. Well deserved.
SimonsSays on TV/PODcast:
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