While Sebastian and I pride ourselves on trying to give you Nets fans as much statistical information as possible before every game, we’re never shy about deferring to people who know their teams the best. So before “momentous” games and home games, we’re going to try and tap a fellow member of the NBA blogsphere for a short little question and answers session to give you guys some more insight about that night’s matchup.
NAS: A lot of NBA fans who don’t follow the Wolves heard a lot about your team, via Ricky Rubio news this summer. Despite that, how do you feel the team has come together during the preseason?
Hodgdon: Well, the Wolves had a tough preseason to say the least but it can be mostly linked to injuries. Losing your second best player in Kevin Love and having your best player in Al Jefferson sidelined as well doesn’t particularly help a team that is trying to integrate 10 new players (almost 11 since Corey Brewer is returning but was out all last year) and implement new head Coach Kurt Rambis’ half Pat Riley uptempo showtime, half Phil Jackson triangle offense. Anyone that has ever tried to run the triangle knows its very tough especially at the beginning (I had the opportunity to have one of my coaches growing up who had played for Tex Winter teach us the triangle so I know first hand it’s really tough) and that you need a lot of time to learn your teammates tendencies in order to keep the all-important spacing the triangle demands. So when your two best players are on the sidelines early there are plenty of growing pains left for the Wolves to go through. That being said the Wolves did come together and win their last two preseason games in which both Corey Brewer looked like a legit lottery pick for the first time this year, coming off knee surgery, and Jonny Flynn looked like a legit point guard. Their last preseason game was their 3rd in 4 nights and they won it in the second half mostly off their energy, which is a good sign for a team that is going to have to win a LOT of games off their energy if you know what I mean.
NAS: Nets fans love talking about Brook Lopez as an up and coming big man but Minnesota has a pretty solid piece with Kevin Love. How much is his injury going to hurt the team’s gelling at the start of the season?
Hodgdon: A lot. There’s no way to sugarcoat it. Our best rebounder, and a guy that gives Jonny Flynn and Ramon Sessions runs at their money for highest basketball I.Q. Love could be arguably a more important player to the team than Jefferson. Love is almost the perfect player to play power forward in the triangle offense and Wolves fans were excited to see him step out and shoot it more this season too. So when you lose 3-4 second chances (off of his offensive rebounds), your #1 outlet passer to start the fast breaks, and a pass-first, make the smart play, type player in the triangle, you are going to miss him a heckva lot. On the glass half-full side however, the Wolves will now get to see just exactly what free-agent signee Ryan Hollins and the newly acquired Olesky Pecherov are able to bring to the table for the team. Hollins especially, Nets fans will see, is a freak athlete that needs to refine his basketball I.Q. and could develop a lot with the playing time that should come his way.
So really Love’s injury could become a blessing in disguise if either of these guys becomes a solid role-player in the frontcourt that the Wolves need.
NAS: Is Al Jefferson an All-Star this year?
Hodgdon: If he’s healthy, yes he is. He should have been last year but Shaq got the veteran/sympathy vote and in the end it became moot with Al’s injury. This year though Shaq is in the East and I think the new slimmed-down Al (for Nets fans that don’t know he shed 30+ lbs.) will prove his All-Star game worth. It’s kind of hard to have a “best of the best” game when the best offensive post player in the league is missing.
NAS: Name a player on the Wolves have most Nets fans never heard of that you think we should watch out for tonight?
Hodgdon: Well Corey Brewer hasn’t done much since he was M.O.P. in the 2006 NCAA Championship game for Florida but as I mentioned before he finally started looking like a lottery pick in the last 3 preseason games. Look for him to step up his game with Love out and become an option for the team on offense to go along with his already lock-down D. It will be fun tonight if he gets some run guarding Harris as Nets fans happily know he is one of the hardest guys to stay in front of in the league. He and Terrence Williams should be a good match-up as well.