Plenty of Wolves fans have astutely pointed out that, through 10 games so far this season, the team has obvious deficiencies. Chief among them: Among their healthy bodies -- even more so when Michael Beasley was playing -- they have about 89 guys who can play small forward, another 43 who can play power forward, about 27 who can play point guard, but exactly zero healthy starting-caliber centers or shooting guards.
The problem at center is one that has flagged the organization for much of its two decades-plus of existence, and it has been well-chronicled thanks to a cast of comical characters who have tried to man the 5-spot. But we would also like to note that shooting guard has generally been just as big a gaping hole as center throughout Wolves history -- and perhaps more frustratingly so given that a good shooting guard seems like it should be among the easier things to obtain.
They've had head cases. They've had good shooters trapped in small forwards' bodies. They've had CBA players trapped in NBA contracts. But have they ever -- at least for a long stretch, and without causing 62 off-court problems -- had an efficient 2 who could knock down shots, get to the basket and play reasonable defense? We're not even talking about a superstar. Just a solid, above-average shooting guard. We went back through history to find the contenders. It was a somewhat difficult task because discerning between a shooting guard and a small forward is tough -- and often the difference is negligible and the player was both. That said, here are players at least under consideration, in roughly chronological order (we're not linking to every name, but we did all checking via basketball-reference.com:
Campbell and Corbin played some combination of the 2-3 for the early Wolves. We're pretty sure they played every minute of every game. They were good players, but Campbell -- despite his 23-plus ppg for the Wolves in their 1989-90 season -- was mostly (though admirably) filling a massive scoring void that didn't exist on good teams. He never averaged more than 11 ppg in any non-Wolves season.
We remember West as a solid defender, and he frankly had more good scoring seasons than we remembered (including nearly 20 ppg in 1992-93), but he had absolutely no range on his jump shot. He was a shooting guard you didn't trust to shoot. He made 37 three-pointers (on 19.1 percent shooting) IN HIS CAREER.
Rider was an undeniable talent and an undeniable pain in the [redacted]. Peeler was the opposite of West -- a player you trusted to do very little except shoot the three. Carr, like Glass, didn't work out. Hassell was a nice fit and a good defender, but he never averaged more than 9.2 ppg in four pretty full seasons. McCants (pictured) was a lesser Rider. Hoiberg was another nice piece but mainly a role player. Davis was all over the map, literally and figuratively, and he didn't stay here long -- though if you matched his 2006-07 production with Wes Johnson's smile, we would take it in a heartbeat.
Brewer couldn't shoot. Miller wouldn't shoot Foye was more of a combo guard, he never turned the corner anyway. Thankfully, at least, Washington wanted Miller and Foye enough for the Wolves to turn the pair into Ricky Rubio. Johnson hasn't proven he can be an NBA shooting guard at all yet, and Ellington gives effort but appears best suited as a career backup.
That leaves one person from the list: Wally. We put it out on Twitter -- was he a shooting guard or small forward. We had two votes for guard, four for small forward, one for beerman, one for defensive liability and one split vote. He was one of the team's best all-time perimeter shooters and was even a 2002 All-Star. He's the closest thing we can see -- at least on a meaningful Wolves team -- to being a high-quality wing. But in our book, he was a small forward. Every dribble was an adventure and every defensive assignment against a true 2 seemed to end with the yell for "help."
ADDITIONS FROM THE COMMENTS: Yes, Malik Sealy should have been on the list. For whatever reason we always thougth of him as a 3 (probably because he was 6-8), though as noted the 2-3-wing distinction is a dicey one to begin with. Malik only played really one full season here before tragedy struck, but it was a certainly a nice season (11.2 ppg). Also, Latrell Sprewell most certainly should have been on this list even if he was another classic "swingman" because Hassell was pretty much defined as the shooting guard. Not sure why we left him off initially.
We'll accept your counter-arguments for Wally, your thoughts on the BEST Wolves shooting guard in franchise history and any other nominations we might have missed in the comments. In the mean time, we'll wait on the health of the other M&M boys, Martell and Malcolm. There's a long list behind them, but nothing in front of theM