In noodling around on the ESPN Trade Machine vis-à-vis the possibility of the Los Angeles Lakers moving Pau Gasol at all, BallinEurope again noted the amazing bank-per-buck BiE’s NBA home team Minnesota Timberwolves are getting early into 2012-13 … and BiE can’t believe team general manager gets props for a surprising 5-4 start by a team he designed plus a bright future.
Okay, after that Xmas distraction, BallinEurope is ready to write up some more stuff about good tidings and cheer*, namely, the start of the NBA season. With hours to go, BiE’s got just enough time to get in the part two of the Euro-centric big-league preview in this brief look at the teams in the Western Conference – plus Official Fearless Predictions™, guaranteed to be as accurate as they are popular.
*Los Angeles Lakers fans, over whom a huge cloud of doom hangs to start this season, excluded (sigh).
As in the Eastern Conference preview, BiE seeks to keep an eye on those players who contributed a stint in Continental ball this summer during the lockout period and even, to some, extent participants in Eurobasket 2011. BiE believes that the running start from real game-time situations plus the suddenly intensive NBA season will give the Euroballers an advantage in the short-term against more laggardly opponents not in “basketball shape.” And with the shortened regular season, a jump start will provide lasting effects.
To BiE, it looks something like this.
The 2011 NBA Draft is still going on as of this writing, but with the amazing amount of Continental players going early and often – a direct contrast to last year’s greatly Europe-bereft selections – BallinEurope gets in a quick two Eurocents with a brief look at (and YouTube clips of) the first seven players prospectively going to America to begin a career in the big league.
Enes Kanter, Utah Jazz – In a draft without scads of marquee players, it’s not too surprising that the biggest X-factor on the list was drafted so quickly. Kanter, he who spent his entire season watching University of Kentucky games from the stands thanks to an NCAA ruling of ineligibility, is certain to land a nice deal in Utah. The Jazz interestingly enough still went with Kanter despite the Turk’s declining of a pre-draft combine interview with the team.
In case you were wondering whether the Minnesota Timberwolves had given up on Ricky Rubio, BallinEurope is here to tell you it ain’t so. A group of Minnesota Timberwolves front-office types, led by general manager David “Khaaaaaaaaaaaan” Kahn himself, arrived in Spain a couple of days ago and will reportedly be discussing matters with the FC Barcelona guard (plus presumably his powerful parents).
With the 2010-11 NBA season tipping off tonight, BallinEurope marks the occasion in the best way possible: By overrating the league’s Continental players and making a few offhand Fearless Predictions™ in the guise of a preview column.
Brief notes and snarky remarks on all 25 NBA teams follow. (Yes, BiE said “all 25.” Since the Cleveland Cavaliers, Denver Nuggets, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, and Los Angeles Clippers boasts no Europeans, they can’t really be considered proper NBA teams for our Eurocentric viewpoint.
Some folks are calling the 2010-11 edition of the Dallas Mavericks its strongest team ever; it’s also a pretty good Team France embryo, with Ian Mahinmi, Alexis Ajinca, and last year’s sensation Rodrigue Beaubois helping make up Dirk Nowitzki’s posse. Unfortunately, the Western Conference may be tougher than Western Europe this year…
News from the NBA free-agent market this morning says that the Minnesota Timberwolves and Toronto Raptors are both reckoned to be closing in on officially incorporating a pair of big names from The Continent.
The Associated Press is reporting that Timberwolves GM David Kahn soon hopes to be reporting the official signing of Nikola Pekovic, who will join Minnesota on a three-year deal. You can see this short reportage, complete with pronunciation key to those difficult Slavic names here, although the AP seems to have left out help for a pair of crucial names: “Ricky Rubio” is pronounced “¡Rrrrrrrrrrrrrricky Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrubio!” while for assistance in sounding out “Kahn,” see below the break.
While there may be a dearth of European rookies actually cracking NBA squads in 2009-10, at least the rights to a quartet of promising Continental players have been picked up on draft night.
Despite a recent injury and thus a lack of NBA combine workout, Kevin Seraphin was the first European player selected in 2010, going just outside the lottery range at no. 17 overall by the Chicago Bulls.
At first seeming to be a teamup of Team France players in Chicago – hey, BiE’d like to see the Joakim Noah-Seraphin duo together in the NBA – Seraphin will actually be serving as trade bait.
For perhaps the first time since he was drafted at no. 2 overall by the Detroit Pistons in the 2003 NBA Draft, Darko Milicic’s picture is in newspapers across the world. Of course, the location is far from the safe confines of a basketball court and the Associated Press piece instead captures the beleaguered baller on Friday in O’Hare Airport, from where Al Italia had canceled all flights to Serbia due to that great bloody cloud of ash spewed forth from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano that’s hovering malevolently over swathes of The Continent.
BallinEurope can, as of yet, find no word in Serbian or English-language media on whether Milicic has actually managed to depart Chicago and/or arrive on The Continent since then, but i’m reckoning there’s some sort of conspiracy going on involving Odin, Loki, the board of directors of the former Kaupthing Bank and Minnesota Timberwolves GM David Kahn to keep him in America.
After all, while (for all we know) Milicic continues to stew at O’Hare, the Timberwolves-centered bits of the interweb are warm to agog about the team’s
meaningless late-season addition lucky find.
The move by the man they sometimes call KAAAAAAAAAAAAHN prompted Star-Tribune writer Jerry Zgoda to collect quotes on Rubio from some big names in the NBA. If you think BallinEurope is gushy about the Spaniard, check out what folks like King James, Kobe, Pau, Marcin Gortat, Chris Paul, Jason Kidd, Mike D’Antoni and Flip Saunders have to say about him.
(Here’s the summary: Rubio will be anywhere from “good” to “special” to “amazing” in the NBA; his basketball IQ is well above average; has leadership qualities to go with the proverbial tremendous upside; and his sole weakness appears to be general strength and conditioning.)
More story – and obligatory video featuring the Human YouTube Clip himself, this one with soundtrack by Duran Duran (i know, i know) – below the break.
It’s not that BallinEurope is obsessed with both Bill Simmons and Rubio-to-Minnesota, but … all right, i am obsessed with both Bill Simmons and Rubio-to-Minnesota. Still, when BiE finally got around to reading this week’s patented “Mailbag” column only to see no. 1 best-selling author The Sports Guy take an incorrect swipe at the poster boy for European basketball’s future on the international stage, well, BiE had to come to the defense of Rubio, especially since the sparring partner in this debate will never actually see this column, heh heh.
The topic was, as stated, the Minnesota Timberwolves’ future. A frustrated fan sought empathy from Simmons in a pleading email that dissected a bit of the infamous 50% season-ticket discount the Wolves are pitching which BiE had a look at last week.