Tag Archives: Minnesota Timberwolves

The Opportunist: Wally Szczerbiak’s NBA Career

szczerbiaAs the Sweet 16 boils down to the Elite Eight, I’d like to turn your attention to a man who turned his knack for striking while the iron’s hot into a decade-plus-long NBA career. It was during the tournament in 1999, when Wally Szczerbiak stormed onto the national scene. His Miami, Ohio RedHawks were the 10 seed, facing the heavily-favored, seventh seeded Washington Huskies.

In a 59-58 win over Washington, Szczerbiak scored a remarkable 43 points. He took 33 shots from the field–the rest of the Red Hawks attempted just 22 shots. He collected 12 boards and shot 5-12 from three-point land. The team advanced to the second round, where they took on the 2-seeded Utah Utes.

It was a showdown featuring Szczerbiak versus Utah’s future NBA sharpshooter Andre Miller. Miller did his best, scoring 20 points and grabbing six rebounds, but it was Miami of Ohio, behind Szczerbiak’s 24-point, 8-rebound effort, continuing their Cinderella run to the Sweet 16. Miami finally lost to Kentucky, but Wally Szczerbiak became a household name (once households learned how to pronounce it).

Wally went sixth overall to the Timberwolves  in that year’s draft. His tourney foe Andre Miller went eighth. After an impressive rookie season, two more solid years followed for Szczerbiak, including his 2002 campaign–his best as a pro. He made his lone All-Star game appearance in 2002 for the T-Wolves. And that off-season, seeing what they had in Szczerbiak, Minnesota decided they NEEDED to keep Wally in the Twin Cities, so they gave him a 6-year, $63 million extension, the structure of which was heavily back-loaded.

Six  years and several teams later, Szczerbiak was one of the richest bench players in the NBA and an annual member of the NBA’s All-Expiring-Contract team, the players of which are constantly on tour throughout the land, and whom are traded mid-season almost every year (See: Raef LaFrentz). He was somewhat famously involved in the trade that sent Ray Allen to the Celtics, as he moved to Seattle before their final season as the SuperSonics in 2007-08.

He now works in broadcasting, as a member of the MSG network post-game crew for Knicks games. In total, Szczerbiak played parts of twelve seasons in the NBA, and was a pretty good player (14.1 PPG). But he always carried the “ridiculously overpaid” moniker. I say he was simply one of the most opportunistic players the game has ever seen. It’s good work, as they say, if ya can get it.

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Sports Blog Movement NBA Preview: Northwest Division

SBM NBA crystal ball - Copy

1. Oklahoma City Thunder (63-19)

Kevin-Durant-SI-CoverKey Additions: Steven Adams (Draft), Ryan Gomes (Out of the league)

Key Losses: Ronnie Brewer, Kevin Martin, DeAndre Liggins, Daniel Orton

The Thunder didn’t make many moves this off-season. Then again, they didn’t really need to. Kevin Durant and Russel Westbrook will lead this team to a great regular season record– anything under 60 wins should be viewed as a disappointment. Their biggest question will be the shooting guard position. Thabo Sefolosha is a great perimeter defender, but he’s more of a situational player than a full-time starter. The Thunder will need second year player Jeremy Lamb to blossom into the player they think he can be.

A player to watch here is Steven Adams. The rookie has been very impressive in the preseason and could end up unseating Kendrick Perkins at the starting center position. Overall, the Thunder are the only team that has a legitimate chance to beat the Heat in an NBA finals series. That is, provided they can get there. Continue reading

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SBM Exclusive Feature: Sports Doppelgangers, Volume 7

anthony tolliver donnel rawlings

Former Minnesota Timberwolves and current forward Atlanta Hawks forward Anthony Tolliver and Donnell Rawlings, also known as “Ashy Larry” from the Dave Chappelle Show.

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Consumed By Linsanity

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The Knicks are a car accident to watch. It’s such a frightening mess and I know it’s bad to look at yet I still drag myself to a television set to watch this pathetic mess almost every night.

Last year they couldn’t play defense, this year they forgot how to score.
Bill Walker is a lackadaisical mess. Toney Douglas gets too trigger happy. Amare Stoudamire is the black David Lee (I told everyone this when he was signed but no one listened to me). Carmelo Anthony has no scoring help and all Mike D’Antoni could do was sit around and watch.

I wanted D’Antoni fired last year for his constant lack of detail, I wanted him fired this offseason for a defensive coach like Mike Brown, I want him fired this year because I’m sick of seeing him and his mustache.

Yet none of this matters right now in New York because Knick fans are on cloud nine thanks to a 6-3, 200 pound, undrafted point guard from Harvard that has become an overnight sensation.

His name is Jeremy Lin, and he is a gift from the heavens above.

Ok maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but jeez not even last year’s acquisition of Melo brought this much buzz an joy to the basketball Mecca that is the NYC.

Lin’s emergence came at a time when the Knicks desperately needed some good news. At 8-15 and flirting with a disastrous season that would’ve surely ended the D’Antoni era for the Knicks, Lin has caught fire and has led the Knicks through their best stretch of the season.

He’s been the missing piece that the fast pace D’Antoni offense has needed to get going. A pick and roll point guard with excellent vision and passing skills that is able to create shots for his teammates as well as fend for himself offensively.

Funny thing was that he was almost released to make room for the return of Baron Davis, I guess that won’t be happening now.

Ever since he stepped onto the court against the New Jersey Nets Lin has created a buzz across the league and has turned skeptics into believers.

He schooled Deron Williams and ran circles around him two Saturdays ago, he treated Devin Harris like a rag doll, he embarrassed John Wall with a sick crossover and dunk that was replayed over and over on Sportscenter, his performance against the Lakers last Friday will be talked about for years, and he showed toughness and moxie in gutting out a win in Minnesota.

He’s done it all from knocking down clutch free throws, reigniting Tyson Chandler’s game and leaving Derek Fisher flat-footed as he spun by for a highlight worthy lay in.

Yeah, I’m in love with this guy. But it took me a while to get into him.

Like most people I had to actually see him to believe him. Watching highlights of Lin didn’t tell the whole story. Yeah it was nice to see him drive at will against Utah and destroy the Nets already grim confidence but I wanted more.

I wanted to know three things about Lin while everyone was already crowning him the next big thing:

1. Can he handle the mounting pressure that comes with being an athlete in New York?
2. How does he deal with failure in a game and can he still stay on point when he’s not on his A game?
3. How will he play with the return of Stat and Melo (yeah, forgot about then right?)

My first question got answered on Friday against the Los Angeles Lakers.

The last few times the Lakers have hit The Big Apple it’s been Kobe Bryant’s town without question. He has carved his own name into Madison Square Garden lore with huge performances like scoring 61 points in a game there just years ago.

It was the perfect test for my Lin theory, play arguably the best player in the game and keep the Knicks on pace with the Lakers.

That was the first full time that I actually got to watch Lin, safe to say I was shocked by what I saw.

He didn’t just keep the Knicks in the game, he controlled it. He dominated the pace and flow of the game by continuously attacking the rim, floating lobs to Chandler, coming up steals on the defensive end and destroying Fisher and Steve Blake when the ball was in his hands.

He looked like a younger Steve Nash, honest to god. Just his style of play and the way he maneuvered around the Lakers reminded me of the two-time NBA MVP.

Every time the Knicks needed a big play or a big shot the ball found its way to Lin. He never backed down and always came through. 38 points & 7 assists later I was starting to get sold on the NBA’s Tim Tebow.

(yep I made a Tebow reference but all of the similarities and hype and mass coverage are there. The big difference? Lin can ball out, Tebow’s a bum… Just saying.)

The next test came the next night against the Timberwolves in a hyped up battle versus Ricky Rubio.

The main reason I wanted to see him fail is because I wanted to see if he was more like Eli Manning or Tony Romo.

When things don’t go Manning’s way his demeanor doesn’t change and he pressed on. For Romo he panics and loses his cool. I wanted to see if when things get too tight of Lin folds or rises to the occasion.

(yeah I fit an Eli reference in there, so what? By the way did you know that the New York Giants are Super Bowl Champions? God that makes me happy)

The T-Wolves game was a game of two halves. Lin was his usual self in the first half 7-12, 4 dimes and running the offense efficiently. In the second half Lin was totally taken out of rhythm. He only hit 1-12 shots and the Wolves forced him into bad shots and 4 turnovers.

However, I got the impression from Lin that even in tough stretches he still doesn’t get rattled.

Even with all of the turnovers and with his shots not finding the net he still continued to set up his other teammates including Steve Novak’s game tying three with less than a minute left. He also scored the winning point from the free throw line after being fouled getting to the basket.

Even without a dominant performance Lin still found a way to pull out a win for the Knicks. That was enough to make me even more of a believer.

Now the third and most interesting task is at hand… Can Lin, Melo and Stat all work together to be effective?

Carmelo Anthony has received a lot of bad press in the last week with all of the Linsanity spreading through NY.

It’s as if we forget that we wanted Melo here in the first place, it’s not his fault that the Knicks traded the farm to get him (thanks James Dolan). Melo has always needed a point guard to stabilize this offense to make more effective. Sorry Toney Douglas wasnt the answer.

With Lin’s emergence Melo and Amar’e for that matter now have a lot less pressure on their shoulders to score.

The main question is can Melo let Lin run the offense without asking for the ball too much?

As dynamic of a scorer as he is, Melo holds onto the ball for too long in too many stretches of the game. With Lin at the point now Melo will have to find his rhythm in the game and let it come to him.

Besides elevating Chandler, Landry Fields has found his game and confidence and Novak has become a reliable shooter off of the bench. The Knicks have gone from a two horse team to an actual team with a good rotation.

If Melo can stay dominant while letting this mix still cook then the Knicks will be making noise come playoff time.

If not then he’ll be the one taking most of the criticism if the Knicks go back to struggling.

The next stage of Linsanity is upon us. He won’t be throwing up 25 shots a game any more or dropping 38 on defenses, but I believe that after watching Jeremy Lin he is the answer to a lot of the Knicks woes.

Lin has dazzled America, balled out on every opponent that he’s faced and is getting better by the day.

In a city consumed by sports with the Giants winning Super Bowls, the Rangers leading the NHL and the Yankees always on the back pages, the Knicks have wiggled their way back into the minds of New Yorkers.

Linsanity is here and hopefully it’s not a flash in the pan.

Kevin Howard is The Brooklyn Buckeye because he is from Brooklyn, NY and is a graduate of The Ohio State University. Follow him on twitter @brooklyngohard and on his blog site at brooklynbuckeye.wordpress.com

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“Love Tap”

On Saturday Minnesota Timberwolves superstar foward Kevin Love  stomped on Luis Scola of the Houston Rockets. The NBA has suspended Love for 2 games, its been said that he stomped him twice. One time to the face and one time to the chest. When asked about the incident after the game he responded and said ” It was not intentional at all”, and then went into the Rockets locker room and apologized to Scola. Even with the apology the NBA upgraded the foul to a floagrant-two call, so now Minnesota will be without their leading scorer and rebounder. The Timberwolves host the Sacramento Kings in their next game on Tuesday night.

Follow me on Twitter @JdotBras and check out my website at thesportsoutlaw.com

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