Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Fictional Basketball Trade of the Day: The T'wolves Need A Shooting Guard

Yesterday, the Star Tribune (Twin Cities, Minnesota) posted an article about how the Timberwolves really, truly, desperately need a point guard (link here). Jim Souhan, the author, was trying to make a case that Wayne Ellington, Wes Johnson, and Martell Webster need to step up. One of them, Souhan wrote, needs to solidify himself as the starting shooting guard. They obviously can't start both Ricky Rubio and Luke Ridnour in the backcourt - those guys are both in the neighborhood of 6'2", 175 pounds. If one of them is left to guard Kobe Bryant (6'6", 205 pounds, possibly the most talented player in the NBA, definitely the most ferocious), bad things are going to happen to Minnesota. Take, for example, the stat line from the MIN-LAL matchup:

K. Bryant: 35 points, 14-29 FG, 5-9 3FG, 14 rebounds, 38.8 JPoint

I could put up those numbers too, if I was primarily matched up an eighth grader.

So the next logical step would be for one of the taller guys to get the start at 2-guard, right? There's three main options (with season stats, in order of how many minutes per game they average):

Wesley Johnson (6'7"): 22.3 minutes, 5.9 points, 3.0 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 36.8% FG, 23.6% 3FG, 60% FT, 23.8 JPoint
Wayne Ellington (6'4"): 21.2 minutes, 6.7 points, 1.8 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 40.7% FG, 35.9% 3FG, 78% FT, 31.2 JPoint
Martell Webster (6'7"): 17.0 minutes, 6.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, 0.3 assists, 36.4% FG, 37.5% 3FG, 33% FT, 28.5 JPoint

The only way to analyze that is to say that Minnesota has three low-end-of-average options are shooting guard. Johnson was the #4 overall draft pick and it's safe to say that he has not performed the way a lottery pick is expected to. Ellington is their best offensive option (usually) but he's terribly inconsistent and he gives up height to the other two - and to much of the league. Webster was the guy that Souhan called on to step up and be Minnesota's backcourt savior. Personally, I just don't see either of these three guys filling the role well enough for Kevin Love to lead them to a whole lot of success. But the good news is I LOVE THE NBA TRADE MACHINE (and the T'wolves) so I'm going to work some wizardry and find a 2-guard for David Kahn to trade for.

The criteria for the player:

  • Must be able to shoot fairly well from 3-point range, 2-point range, and the free throw line (playmaking ability doesn't really matter to a team with 3 starting-caliber point guards and one of the best passing big men in the league)
  • Must be young-ish and fairly fun to play with (as we've seen, youth and chemistry - in that order - are the most important characteristics this season)
  • Must not have a salary above like $5-6 million or so (bargain players, guys)
The criteria for the teams involved:
  • Minnesota is looking to make a move to contend. This year. Right now. 
  • (A) The partner could be a contender with an excess of shooting guards and a lack somewhere else.
  • (B) The partner could be a contender with a lot of age that's looking to get younger.
  • (C) The partner could be a rebuilding team looking for a piece to the puzzle. 
  • (D) The partner could be a horrible team that just wants to shake things up. 

Option 1: Toronto Raptors
Minnesota Receives: SG DeMar DeRozan 
Toronto Receives: SF Martell Webster
Let's start off easy: a straight-up, DeMar for Martell swap. Toronto fits somewhere between criteria C and D because I can't tell if they have a plan for the future or not. Minnesota could utilize DeRozan's athleticism to add to the Rubio-Beasley-Randolph-Love-Williams-Johnson freak show of fastbreak talent they have. The problem here is DeRozan's miserable at shooting from everywhere. You'd basically just be swapping Webster for a clone of Wes Johnson. Probably not a smart trade from a basketball point of view. 
Which team says no? Probably both, actually. Neither team would lose or gain anything, so why bother?

Option 2: Memphis Grizzlies
Minnesota Receives: SG Tony Allen, PG Josh Selby
Memphis Receives: PG Luke Ridnour, G Malcolm Lee
Another fairly simple trade. Memphis would be dropping their backup shooting guard along with a guard who averages 11.5 minutes and just 3.5 points per game. Minnesota would be dropping their kind-of-starting-kind-of-backup-but-everyone-likes-Rubio-more point guard along with a guard who has yet to play a minute in the NBA. I'm going to be honest, this trade has less of a chance than the Raptors option. I just thought Tony Allen could work. 
Who says no? Memphis. 
And for the record, I tried to do the same kind of thing with New York's Landry Fields but I couldn't find anything logical that worked. The Knicks' payroll is too topheavy and the T'wolves payroll is too balances. Here's as close as I got:

Option 2.5: New York Knicks
Minnesota Receives: G Landry Fields, PF Amar'e Stoudemire, PF Renaldo Balkman
New York Receives: SG Wes Johnson. SF Michael Beasley, C Darko Milicic, C Brad Miller
There is no reason for either team to accept this trade. Amar'e, Balkman, and Johnson have been virtually nonfactors. Miller is averaging 5 minutes per game. Amar'e costs $18 million. Beasley posted that picture on Twitter with the weed.
Who says no? Everybody, especially New York. No team needs to have Tyson Chandler, Darko Milicic, Brad Miller, and Jerome Jordan on their roster. Center overload. This doesn't even count as an option. 

Option 3: Indiana Pacers
Minnesota Receives: SG Paul George
Indiane Receives: G Wayne Ellington, SF Martell Webster, C Brad Miller
On Minnesota's end, they can afford to give up their third string small forward and center to upgrade their shooting guard position. Normally I'd say go with depth, but Minny would still have depth after this: Rubio, Ridnour, Barea, George, Johnson in the backcourt and Beasley, Williams, Love, Milicic, Pekovic, Randolph, and Tolliver in the front. All eleven of those guys see some sort of minutes in a typical game.
For Indiana, the situation is trickier. The 2-guard spot would be open for competition between Ellington, Webster, George Hill, Dahntay Jones, and Lance Stephenson. But it's kind of a wash because Danny Granger (Indy's best player) plays more like a guard than a forward most of the time. They rely a lot on their depth at frontcourt positions: Tyler Hansbrough, David West, Lou Amundson, Roy Hibbert, and Jeff Foster. This trade would give them the peculiar option of going Hill/Darren Collison-Granger-Hansbrough-West-Hibbert. They would dominate with their size.
Which side says no? If I were both teams, I'd say yes twice. But it's up for debate.

Option 4: Boston Celtics
Minnesota Receives: SG Ray Allen
Boston Receives: G Wayne Ellington, SF Martell Webster, PF Anthony Randolph
Boston is definitely the 'contender with age that's looking to get younger' category. And GM (I think?) Danny Ainge has said that he's not against breaking up the Three Basketeers if it means avoiding a drought like they had before Allen and Kevin Garnett came to Boston. Granted, Ellington and Webster are not necessarily who you want to build your team around (Randolph's contract is up after this year). But if you're Ainge, it's better to get something for Allen rather than letting him leave or retire after this season - even if that something is only three sets of fresh legs. Before this trade, they have just eight players that average 17 minutes per game or more. One of them is Jermaine O'Neal. Four of them are Rondo-Garnett-Pierce-Allen, who are all over 30 minutes per game. After this trade, Boston would have Rondo-Bradley at point, Ellington-Pietrus at shooting guard, Pierce-Webster at small forward, Garnett-Bass-Randolph at power forward, and just Jermaine at center. But the beauty of being deep at power forward is that Garnett and Randolph are both 6'11" and thus could play center if needed. On Minnesota's end, it gives them a champion who - although he is not young at all - can shoot the lights out of the gym and won't complain that his shots are being taken by Love, Rubio, Beasley, or anyone really. 
Which team says no? I think neither. And I think that strongly. I really think this deal benefits both teams, and John Hollinger (the guy who says what each team will do after you put the trade through the Trade Machine) agrees: +7 wins for Minnesota. He says Boston's win total would actually decrease, but I think they need depth more than anything right now.

Problem solved.

No comments:

Post a Comment