This NBA ‘All Time Team’ Reeks of Pooh
Steve Weinman, NBA General Blogger Extraordinaire over at CelticsBlog, is running an ongoing piece that delves into the all-time team for each of today’s active franchises. The rules state that the team must be a standard roster (2 guards, 2 forwards, 1 center) and should only consider a player’s time spent on that specific team (i.e. No Shaq on the Suns). His next foe is the Minnesota Timberwolves, and for that he reached out to some fellow bloggers, including myself, for contributions. I was more than happy to sift through the riff-raff that makes up the Minnesota Timberwolves history to come up with the following juggernaut, based on a combination of tenure with the Wolves, individual honors with the Wolves (All Star, All NBA, etc), impact on the team’s record, and overall likeability.
Point Guard – Sam Cassell
This one was tough. There were 4 candidates, none of which played more than three full seasons in Minnesota. There was a guy who threw a fit and broke up one of the most promising duos of the 90s, one with ankles made of glass, an “otherworldly” being with a knack for late game heroics, and some dude named Pooh. Each player put up somewhat similar seasonal numbers, typically in the 15-20 PPG range and 6-10 APG. I wouldn’t consider any of them as staunch defenders (although I never had the pleasure of seeing Pooh Richardson) and each had their own other assorted flaws. Stephon Marbury was ultimately eliminated because, well, he is a child. He broke up a flourishing team and friendship when he found out the Wolves couldn’t give him KG-type money. This was just the beginning in a long line of choices that ultimately has left Marbury with the “cancer” tag. Terrell Brandon was a great point guard at his peak. The Wolves were a great team when Brandon was leading them at his peak. Unfortunately, that wasn’t very often. Brandon couldn’t stay healthy, and he became more valuable as the expiring contract that brought Latrell Sprewell than for his play on the court. Let’s be honest, Pooh Richardson is only getting mention because of his name and what it did for this post’s title. I don’t want to completely discount him because he did have some fine statistical seasons with the fledgling Wolves, but it was for a terrible team.
Sam Cassell doesn’t stand too far apart from any of these, but he is the only point guard to represent the Timberwolves at the All Star game and he was a key piece in the Wolves only season worth remembering. If not for an injured hip, who knows…. maybe the Wolves get past LA? Maybe they beat the Pistons for the title? And maybe KG is content with his Wolves’ career and being the veteran star on a rebuilding team? Well, it didn’t work out that way, but what E.T. did in the 2003-2004 season earns him this spot (even if he wiped it all away with one complaint-ridden year a season later). Cassell was a 4th quarter fiend that year, developing his Huevos Grandes dance in the process, and he ran the pick ‘n roll like a thing of beauty with the Big Ticket. It may have only been one season, but it was great while it lasted.
Shooting Guard – Tony Campbell
Pause now while you Google ‘Tony Campbell’ to make sure that he did in fact play in the NBA for the Minnesota Timberwolves…………. okay. Yes, the best off guard in Wolves history is Tony Campbell (and he technically was a 2-3 swingman). Ouch. TC was the Wolves’ leading scorer during their first 3 years of existence (23.2, 21.8, and 16.8 PPG respectively), grabbed some boards, and dished a few assists. There is not much else to say, I never watched him play (at least that I can remember) so won’t go into his mannerisms or style on the court. There really was just no other viable candidate. (Please, don’t say Sprewell).
Small Forward – Sam Mitchell
I expect some people to have a problem with this pick, but let’s get something out in the open – I do not like Wally Szczberiak. I think he is/was overrated, there is no universe in which he should ever be a team’s 2nd option, he has always thought he was much better than he really is, and when I called his name from courtside during a pregame warmup in search of an autograph, all I got in return was a nasty stare while he walked past. Sam Mitchell’s first go with the Wolves featured averages of roughly 12.5 points and 6 boards in 3 seasons. He was brought back to the Wolves (coinciding with the arrival of Kevin Garnett) as a veteran leader and mentor, replacing the poor atmosphere harvested by JR Rider, Christian Laettner, and crew. His numbers aren’t at the same level as Wally World’s, but he spent more time in Minnesota and had a bigger impact in the long run, in my opinion. But there are no two ways about it, this is yet another horrid pick for any All Time Team.
Power Forward – Kevin Garnett
I had a strong inclination to take some liberties with my positions and put KG at the 5, because it is unfortunate that Tom Gugliotta, one of the Wolves key players during their mid-90s growth, will not be on this team when the likes of Tony Campbell and Sam Mitchell are. But KG is a power forward. In fact, he changed the way people think about the position of power forward. Picking KG to an All Time Wolves team is easier than picking Michael Jordan to an All Time Bulls team. That’s right. I really don’t need to go too much into this, but it doesn’t take much more than the following statement: The Minnesota Timberwolves have yet to win 30 or more games in a season when Kevin Garnett was not part of the team.
Center – Al Jefferson
All potential and most immediate memories of this past season aside, this is another sad, sad pick for the Wolves All Time Team. Jefferson has played 1 year with the Wolves, and is already the best center the team has had (besides being a power forward that the team insists on putting at center… don’t get me started.) What he’s done in one season is more than Mark Blount, Rasho Nesterovic, Dean Garrett, Cherokee Parks, Michael Olowokandi, Luc Longley, or Felton Spencer could do in a career. Big Al is really the only choice here, and luckily if this theoretical team ever took the court, his defensive lapses would be somewhat compensated for by Garnett.
So what is your All Time Wolves team? How ’bout the All Time team for your favorite franchise? Let us know in the comments.