With the long-pursued Anthony Randolph set to don a Wolves uniform via the three-team Carmelo Anthony trade and the NFL combine not far away, it felt like a great time to explore some of the adjectives that have become standard-use in sports -- particularly the NBA and NFL -- to see if we could come up with some working definitions and subtler shades of meaning:
• Freakish athleticism: See, there is athleticism (what you might observe at a pick-up game at a local gym); there is a lack of athleticism (what some of us might observe after wincing in pain while trying to pull up our socks); and there is freakish athleticism, which Randolph apparently possesses (and YouTube confirms). Adrian Peterson has heard this term before. So has Blake Griffin.
• Upside: Another term that is tossed Randolph's way quite a bit. It's kind of a fancy way to say "potential," usually when talking about a younger player who has athletic tools but hasn't harnessed them yet. For example: "Because Corey [Brewer] is in the last year of his deal and because many people like Corey's ability and upside, we receive a lot of calls on him." That was current Wolves boss David Kahn on Brewer a couple weeks back. Upside was swapped for upside. Can there really be a downside for either team?
• Non-stop motor: This describes the (apparently rare) player who plays with full-out zeal and energy for the entire time he or she is competing. It can make a good player great (John Randle), it can knock a great player down a peg or two (Randy Moss) and it can make or break a player in Minnesota. One thing is for sure: You do not want your motor questioned.
• High basketball IQ: This works for every sport, but it seems to be tossed around quite often to describe a basketball player. It implies an understanding of the game that combines intrinsic sense, court awareness and perhaps even a certain amount of film study-based preparation. For example: "He has such a high basketball IQ, he really solidifies us." That was Wolves head coach Kurt Rambis on Darko Milicic after an early December game.
• Juice: This one is a little more subjective, but we'll say it describes a perceived intangible quality an athlete might have to take a game over or deliver a spark when needed. For example: "We really liked Brandon Roy. We just felt [Randy] Foye had more juice," said former Wolves boss Kevin McHale in explaining the draft-day swap of the guards.