Words about Basketball, Written by Other People

It’s our duty to bring you the latest, most accurate, or at least the most interesting coverage of the Minnesota Timberwolves, as well as the rest of the NBA, as best we can. However, we can only do so much while we’re in the studio — so — here’s some bonus Wolves coverage from AROUND THE INTERWEBS. Let’s get started.

First, it’s theDISS. We’re big proprietors of what theDISS does, and have said so in the past, but if you’re unfamiliar with the work of Jacob Greenberg and Kevin Draper — take some time familiarize yourself with their work.

I won’t beat the proverbial dead horse on this one; not long ago a Minnesota State Representative made some questionable comments regarding the National Basketball Association. Draper was all over the story like a bad rash. He emailed the aforementioned representative (who I’m not referring to by name on purpose, for effect) trying to find the meaning behind a such a controversial statement made the politician, one that was elected by our fellow Minnesotans. Minnesota State House of Representatives Member Tweets Something Racist About Basketball; Doesn’t Claim He Was Hacked

Like using the word “thug”, talking about NBA players as criminals, delinquents, drug addicts etc. has long been a coded way of really saying those things about blacks, as 80% of the NBA is black, by far the highest percentage of any major American sport. By tweeting that if basketball players (read: black people) didn’t have a job playing basketball the crime rate would go up, Garofalo is saying that black people—all 41 million of them—are criminals.

Read Draper’s piece in it’s entirety by clicking this link.

Now, here’s Greenberg — and hey — look at that; he’s written something about the Wolves. Despite living in California, Greenberg has a soft spot for our favorite basketball club. Geared less toward this year’s team, and focusing on how things were previously assembled — Their Best-Laid Plans, Now Staring Back at You refers back to David Kahn as reason for the Wolves struggles this season.

I have always held a strange fascination for David Kahn, the former general manager of the Minnesota Timberwolves, and the man whom most Wolves fans label as the “scapegoat” for their team’s struggles over the last several seasons. As a writer-turned-lawyer-turned-sports-executive-turned-NBA-blogger-punchline, there are few resumes as interesting as Kahn’s. Very few people are able to convince so many rich white men to hire them to run their shows, and in that regard, Kahn is one of the finer traveling salesmen in this fine country. But that’s only one reason why Kahn fascinates me.

Read Greenberg’s piece in it’s entirety by clicking this link. (Thanks for letting us use the picture, Jacob. [[Even though I didn’t ask]]. Also, Greenberg participated in Hickory-High’s “Boogie Week”. Boogie Week was extensive coverage of the Sacramento Kings center; DeMarcus Cousins. Bias and affiliation aside, everyone that participated in this week provided a vast array of input about such a complex player. Greenberg’s take on Cousins (aka Boogie) was a fantastic way to cap off #BoogieWeek).

Yet, when I watch DeMarcus Cousins, this moment of relaxation never arrives. Whenever I watch Boogie, I find myself squirming uncomfortably in my seat, clearing my throat self-consciously.  When I see other players crash into his impressively-built body – a girthy specimen whose sheer size and mass reminds you less of an overland trucker, and more like a schoolyard bully, where size can be converted into a destructive payload more easily than not – and I witness his body language shift as ref’s whistles remain awkwardly silent, I become nervous for what surely is to come.

Check out another one of Greenberg’s pieces by clicking this link (Notice the sketch? Yea, I drew that!). I really really encourage you to check out all of Hickory-High’s Boogie Week content, it was a blast trying to keep up with it.

Now to more Wolves stuff. Friend of the Program, Derek James, wrote an interesting number over at Howlin’ T-Wolf about the Wolves attendance, or lack there of if we’re talking about games played at Target Center. The interesting part is this; opponents attendance in which the Wolves are the visiting team is great! But why not at home games? Reasons for the Timberwolves’ Variable Attendance Trends

Stumbling around the internet can lead you to some interesting places, especially on Basketball-Reference. While randomly looking at the roster of the 2009-’10 Timberwolves, I noticed they were 24th in attendance. Wait a minute. That is a few spots higher than this team and they’ve already won twice as many games as this team. So, I tracked it for the next few seasons and this is what I found.

Read James’ piece in it’s entirety by clicking this link.

It wouldn’t be an Around the Interwebs post without Steve McPherson, would it. This time, he talks about the Minnesota Timberwolves and their relationship with the viral mobile application, addictive video game that took much of the technological world by storm. Won’t take much time explaining this one. Flappy Bird, McPherson, Timberwolves, all in one place — For Timberwolves, ‘Bird’ is the word

“When I was playing,” he says, “I was getting close to my other high and once I finally beat it by 10 or something, then I was able to relax a little bit and just keep going. Once you’re past it, the pressure goes away. The pressure is in getting close.”

Just how far did Budinger sail past his previous career high? He nearly doubled it, finishing with an unfathomable 327 points.

In Flappy Bird.

Read McPherson’s piece in it’s entirety by clicking here. 

Prepare for tonight’s episode of the Break the Huddle Show. We DO open the phone lines — FEEL FREE TO CALL US. The number to reach the studio is 612-235-6353. To listen to us live via your mobile device, download the Sizzlin’ 99.9 Application for your iPhone or Android Device. Free, very user friendly, and the easiest way to tune-in to our live broadcasts. This is the link to Sizzlin’s LiveStream station, that’s where you may VIEW and LISTEN to our show as we discuss the Timberwolves and other NBA matters. Now, it may or may not work on your mobile device, I’ve received mixed feedback. If you’re on a desktop, laptop, or a compatible mobile device — this is a unique and interactive way to watch/listen to our show.

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Thanks, Everyone. We really appreciate your support.

Because Listeners are also Readers

The Minnesota Timberwolves, are, well — they’re five games back in a jumbled Western Conference postseason race. However, this does not make them a team that isn’t interesting. In addition to that, there’s always plenty of news happening around the NBA that can be discussed; here are some things from Around the Interwebs.

This one is from Andy over at Punch-Drunk Wolves. Much like ourselves, here, at the Break the Huddle Show — PDW is a place where you can go and find commentary about the Minnesota Timberwolves, as well as the rest of the NBA. “The Tense Disconnect Between Adelman and Rubio” has a self-explanatory title, it’s Andy’s take on why Rick Adelman seems to get upset with the Wolves point guard; Rubio’s creativity drives the old dog bonkers simply because Adelman would rather see the offense go through Kevin Love on the high, or low, post on every possession.

“I thought he was really active, but… this group has, uh… How do I put it?

(sighs)

When we’re 28 or 25 points up, we don’t need to score quick. I mean, we don’t have to make HERO PLAYS. We threw the ball away in the third quarter and even the last possession with a minute to go, we steal it, and Ricky throws that pass out of bounds trying to get it to Kevin–WHY?

Sooner or later that’s gonna cost you the game! We have to have more discipline in what we do. I don’t care what the score is, and that’s what we have to learn. It’s hurt us in the past and it will hurt us again.”

A leading question about Ricky Rubio’s good performance was posed to Rick Adelman.

Read Andy’s piece by clicking this link.

Sports are now in the midst of an analytic insurgence involving newfound advanced statistics. There’s a ton of data out there thanks to newly developed technology. SportVU is a system of cameras installed in every NBA arena that records everything on the court 25 times a second, providing “a breakdown of speed, distance, player separation and ball possession data,” according to SportVU’s website. You can find this data by clicking this link.

Seth Partnow used to live in Minnesota, but loved the cold and snow so much he moved North to Alaska. Just kidding, but it wouldn’t be properly introducing Partnow if I didn’t mention Alaska, also (HOORAY for inside jokes!!). Anyway, you can find his work at ClipperBlog, an ESPN TrueHoop affiliate, Hickory-High & BBallBreakdown. Seth also has his own project; Where Offense Happens. He very much enjoys the discussion that the advances in SABR-style research on the NBA allow us to have.

“Assessing The New Toys: A Primer On The Uses and Lessons of SportVU Player Tracking Data” is a two part series done by Partnow that will shed some light on how to best use the publicly available data. “It focuses on the data already being used as well as the newly available, box score level tracking data, while part two will examine some of the larger evaluation work that we and others have done by analyzing these stats in concert with other, more traditional metrics to shed new light on various aspect of the game.”

If advanced statistical analysis is something you’re just getting into, or hoping to understand even more — the following content is for you.

With their access to the full range of SportVU data and small armies (very small in some cases) of analysts and interns, the teams themselves are constantly seeking new interpretations of this information. We have to take it as an article of faith that insights gleaned are actually filtering through to the coaches and players, as aside from one well-received (excerpt in the hometown papers) feature on Toronto’s use of the technology last season, front offices are being extremely tight-lipped on the subject.

Read Part One of the Playing With the New Toys by clicking here. 

“Playing With The New Toys: Digging Further Into SportVU”

(..)Many of the full season “Player Tracking” stats found on NBA.com can, with a bit of manipulation, tell us a great deal about how certain teams and individual players go about making their contributions on both ends of the court.

Read Part Two of Partnow’s Playing With the New Toys by clicking here.

Here’s some more insight on advanced statistics from Steve McPherson. His writing can be found, well, a lot of places but this one comes from another ESPN TrueHoop Affiliate; BallerBall. McPherson’s Wolves related content can be found at A Wolf Among Wolves, that’s where our own Billy Bohl writes about them, too.

Every new statistical revolution in the NBA has held forth the tantalizing promise of showing us the game more clearly, of allowing us to finally understand definitively how each player contributes to a team winning or losing. Whether it was something seemingly simple like keeping track of blocks starting with the 1973-74 season or looking at per 36 minute numbers instead of per game numbers or John Hollinger’s more complex player efficiency rating (PER) or the still nascent expected possession value (EPV), new stats and analytics have provided us with ever-greater fidelity, but total understanding has eluded us.

Until now.

Read McPherson’s “FAILED SLOAN PRESENTATIONS: TOWARDS A COMPREHENSIVE VALUING METRIC FOR TOTAL PLAYER SUCCESS” by clicking this link. 

 

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Catch us again this Tuesday from 6-7PM CST.

 

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What We Didn’t Forget to Mention

In Episode 19 we talked about some of the news happening around the NBA. Here’s some of the work that we referred to during the show.

This piece is from friend of the show, Derek James of Hardwood Paroxysm, and it’s titled “Jason Collins’ Perfect Timing.”

There has been a lot said about Jason Collins’ first game since coming out as gay last April. Just look around and you’ll see just about everyone has already posted their opinion regarding last night and what it all means. This makes adding more to the conversation beyond the affirmative head nod a little difficult, but there is: timing.

When Collins gave us his revelation last April, the timing was a little curious. Collins’ contract was expiring and was also entering the free agent market at the age of 35, something that would make it difficult for many players to land a job. But there’s rarely a perfect time for moments like this and Collins eschewed concern for making his job hunt even more difficult. Collins understood the risk that came with making the announcement at this stage in his career, but it was a worthwhile gamble to not have to live his life in secrecy and be unabashedly himself. For Collins, the reception was mostly commended, as it should have been, but we wouldn’t be exactly sure yet how the NBA would respond to having an openly gay player until Collins or someone else actually played in a game.

Read the rest of James’ column by clicking here. 

Not sure if we referenced, “Kevin Love Wags the Dog,” on yesterday’s show, but seeing as we mention Britt Robson of MinnPost nearly every time we’re on the air — why not promote some of his work.

Minnesota Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love is doing and saying all the right things. Belatedly, and for the moment, so is the Wolves’ management. Consequently, Wolves fans get to watch Love make a valiant, likely Byzantine, quest to lead his squad into the playoffs over the final seven weeks of the 2013-14 season. If you love basketball and live in Minnesota, this is good news indeed.

Love’s performance in Wednesday night’s win over Indiana at Target Center exceeded the bar of high expectations he has established during his six seasons in a Wolves uniform. Indiana allows the fewest points per game and per possession to indisputably rank as the best defensive team in the NBA. Aside from Love, Minnesota was minus its top two scorers in center Nikola Pekovic and swingman Kevin Martin. Thus, the Wolves’ lone All Star walked out on the court with Corey Brewer, Ronny Turiaf, Ricky Rubio and Chase Budinger, not exactly a murderer’s row of sharpshooters.

Read the rest of Robson’s, “Kevin Love Wags the Dog,” by clicking here.

Other notables (Thanks, ESPN)

After the show, before we broke the huddle *ducks*, we did mention our mutual enjoyment for Jacob Greenberg‘s weekly feature over at theDISS known as the Annotated Smartphone Bathroom Reader. So, here’s a plug for Greenberg’s most recent references.

Inside this most recent Bathroom Reader you’ll find Steve McPherson of A Wolf Among Wolves. You may recognize the site name because that’s where our very own Billy Bohl writes about our Timberwolves. Here’s a plug for McPherson’s bit, “Are the Wolves the Most Disappointing Team in NBA History?”

How bad a team is — in linear terms — is relatively easy to measure. The 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers are the sine qua non of awful by most standard measurements; their 9-73 win-loss record earned them the nickname the “Nine and 73ers” (which is pretty good, as far as nicknames go). But although their season was shortened by the lockout, the 2011-12 Charlotte Bobcats were demonstrably worse than those Sixers with a winning percentage of .106 to Philly’s .110.

But Charlotte that year was awful by design. Whether or not you want to label it tanking, the roster was not built to win games, having lost its best players from the previous season in Gerald Wallace and Stephen Jackson and leaning heavily on Kemba Walker in his rookie year. So they were terrible, but were they disappointing?

 

Click here to read the rest of “Are the Wolves the Most Disappointing Team in NBA History?”

 

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