Michael Rand started RandBall with hopes that he could keep lies from conquering the minds of the weak. So far, he's only succeeded in using the word "redacted" a lot. He welcomes suggestions, news tips, links of pure genius, and pictures of pets in Halloween costumes here, though he already knows he will regret that last part.
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In any event, Chad Ford has Mock Draft 4.0 out, and because we're obsessed with the NBA draft, here is what he has for the Timberwolves with the No. 9 pick (Insider required):
Analysis: New Timberwolves GM Flip Saunders has made no secret of his desire to acquire a shooter on the wing. He already has auditioned several in Minnesota (Caldwell-Pope, Allen Crabbe and Tim Hardaway Jr. worked out for him Thursday) and traveled to Vegas to see Russian Sergey Karasev Friday. I think Caldwell-Pope might have the most upside of any shooter left on the board. I'm hearing the Wolves agree.
On the plus side, Caldwell-Pope is a big shooting guard who made 84 threes last season and who improved quite a bit from his freshman to sophomore seasons. On the down side, he could still be somewhat of a project.
But the Wolves absolutely need a good shooting guard with size. If they like him and he's there, we have no problem at all with that being the pick.
Jason Kidd has always been a dynamite passer. He has not, however, always been a good three-point shooter.
Kidd, who announced his retirement Monday after 19 years that will surely lead him to the Hall of Fame, was a 27.2 percent three-point shooter as a rookie. In fact, from his rookie season in 1994-95 through the 2003-04 season, he shot 32.5 percent from behind the arc in 720 games.
It was in the back half of his career that he really became the Kidd most of us remember -- able to kill a team with a deft pass or a dagger three-pointer. He shot almost 37 percent from three-point range in his final 671 games (2004-05 through this past season). And while he will never be remembered, perhaps, as one of the game's great marksmen he does retire No. 3 all-time in three-pointers made with 1,988. Part of it has to do with the style employed by the teams he was on. And some of it was his evolution as a shooter.
Which brings us to Ricky Rubio. We all know Rubio is a dynamite passer. What he is not, yet, is a great three-point shooter. He's at 31.7 percent in his career -- parts of just two seasons. If he can add just five percent to that accuracy -- make one more out of every 20 he tries -- Rubio will be transformed. Defenders don't respect him from beyond the arc right now. If he develops that three-pointer ... well, look out. Really, look out.
It's starting to feel like old times for LeBron James -- not that anyone is feeling sorry for him. The man who broke Cleveland's heart and joined forces with two other top-5 picks from the 2003 NBA draft in order to ensure he would never have to be the lone wolf again ... well, that guy is suddenly doing it all himself agian. Maybe it's not quite the one-man band it used to be in Cleveland, but it sure feels that way. Not four, not three, not two, not one guy for the Heat in this year's playoffs has scored half as many points as LeBron. No, seriously, the numbers are below. And it looks a lot like how it used to look in Cleveland (sample there is from the 2009 postseason).
Now: We have a lot more faith in Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Ray Allen -- or at least one of them -- to step forward in Game 7 against Indiana tonight and push the Heat to the NBA finals than we ever did in the players James was surrounded by in Cleveland.
But this does bear watching. When the Big Three united in the summer of 2010, Wade was 28 years old. Now he's 31, and his ability to excel even while banged up is in question. Bosh has always been the third wheel. With Wade limited, Bosh has scored just 19 points combined in the last three games.
Maybe they all come through and the Heat wins by 25 tonight. Or maybe Indiana shocks the world and James is left with another familiar feeling.
Apologies in advance for bringing up the NASL again - it's on my mind lately, I'm afraid - but the league landed on an innovation this year that's working wonderfully. In past years, teams played 28 games in a season. By early July, with the playoffs still months away and the opening-day excitement long since faded, boredom started to set in a little.
This year, though, the league is split up into two halves, including a 12-game season and a 14-game season. Even though it's June 1, this week's games have major playoff implications, if only because there are four games left in the season after today, not 20. Artificial it is, but it feels far more exciting - only thanks to a shorter season.
I'm not saying that the NBA or NHL should split its season into two halves, because that would be ridiculous. But there are 30 teams in both leagues; what if those sports played a 58-game schedule, playing every other team home and away once? Players would love it, owners would hate it, but I think every game would feel like a bigger game for the fans, which might drive more people to the gate and to the television screen - and isn't that what owners really want? If nothing else, it sure seems to work for football.
*On with the links:
*Aaron Gleeman looks at the Twins' choices in next week's MLB Draft, coming up with nine directions the Twins might go with the fourth pick.
*You should be reading A Wolf Among Wolves' offseason recap, which includes wonderful looks back at every player on the roster last year.
*Joe Posnanski writes about Doc Emrick, the voice of American hockey, who by common consent - even among his fellow play-by-play announcers - is the best in the business.
*Why can't Canada win the Stanley Cup? Let's ask Nate Silver!
*Jonathan Mahler has some very European soccer ideas about how to get the insanity out of youth sports in America.
*And finally: NBC is taking over Premier League coverage from ESPN, starting next year, so we wave goodbye to our Saturday morning family, ESPN commentators Ian Darke and Steve McManaman, with this outtake reel.
Only now he plays for the Brewers.
Near the forefront of the loves we lost list has to be David Ortiz, the slugger who had some decent early seasons in Minnesota and then became one of the best sluggers of the past decade with the Red Sox.
Nick Leddy and that gruesome Cam Barker trade also comes to mind. Leddy is logging major minutes for the Blackhawks and looks like a long-term puck-moving defenseman. Leddy hurt extra bad because he is a local kid.
Wolves fans of a certain ilk will always be haunted by Brandon Roy/Randy Foye, while others STILL lament how Ray Allen, albeit briefly, was one of us.
Rich Gannon fought for playing time with the Vikings; in Oakland, he was an NFL MVP.
As a diversion from complaining about the weather ... we ask for your other great Minnesota sports regrets -- players who went on to stardom after failing to stick or last here -- in the comments.
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