February 16, 2006

In That Acura, Same Soldiers Attackin Ya, Desert Chameleon, No Civilian, Better Known As Dracula

There are some albums that, if someone else references, you just immediately know they're down. If you're talking with someone and they drop "Yeah, that's cool, but Atom Heart Mother will always be my favorite Floyd album", you know you're talking to Good People. The same goes for "Heist of the Century". If you're discussing the Wu Tang Clan with someone, and they venture into La The Darkman territory, they know what they are talking about. Stay close to them.

The soldiers are attacking right now, and the optimism is churning in my stomach.

It's not easy, but I think we all needed this win. It doesn't mean anything in the long run - the win itself - but the team is starting to move together and to feel each other out.

Ok, Banks is still a bit confused on that pick and roll. It seemed like Ridnour just wanted to run it into the ground last night, and Banks was lost on a more than a few of them. But the rotation made up for it quite often, and as was mentioned before, the Sonics couldn't hit their open shots. This isn't going to work against a good team, but let's not worry about that yet. Let's examine how these guys are playing with each other, and if this is indeed the best starting 5 we can go with.

Marcus Banks

First of all, I put Banks in here because he's obviously the go-to guy, even though he doesn't start. It's great to split time with AC, but we all know that in the 4th quarter, you give it to Markie. Ok, as best I can define Marcus' game, it's something like a controlled chaos with a lot of different options and somewhat erratic style. That means he does a lot of things (like Dave previously mentioned) like drive the lane, dish, pull up and hit a shot, etc. But he also loses the ball, throws it to the other team, or just travels. It's not an "inconsistent" way of playing, it's just chaotic. When he gets the ball and starts his move, it's like a tornado touching down. You just don't know what's going to happen.

Ricky Davis

If I may paraphrase Bill Simmons: Ricky doesn't seem to know that they keep score in a basketball game, and he plays hard regardless of the situation or the opponent. Again, Dave said it best when he called him the poor-man's Latrell Sprewell (by the way, being that Ricky's so young, he could EASILY become better than Spree as he ages). He's the kind of guy who doesn't need anyone else to do anything for him. He can ball all by himself. In fact, he works better when isolated on his man. Same goes on defense. Ricky's the guy you just leave alone. "Hey Buckets, you see that guy wearing number 25? Yeah, just try to not let him score. Oh, and on offense, try to score points. Cool?"

Trenton Hassell

Ok, is it me, or has his game changed since the trade? He seems to be a complete player now, someone not buried by the offense and passing, someone who can be relied on to hit a jump shot. Now, he always has had a good touch, but now it's like he's getting aggressive in the kitchen, firing shots and making moves all over the place. I think Ricky has ghettoed him up. He's still sneaky, and he probably will be for the rest of his career, because people just don't think Hass will burn them. But he's got game and it's perfect that he's not featured in this offense. He takes defenses by surprise with his shooting, dunking and (gasp!) passing.


This new team isn't quite the "Sam and Spree make life easy for KG" of two years ago, but they do make it easier on him. KG knows that on certain posessions, he can just dump it to Ricky and let him go, or kick it out to Markie for the whirling dervish into the lane, and basically just look for the rebound. That's got to feel good. KG spent the first half of this season being a babysitter to Marko, Troy, Kandi and Wally because those guys would lose their ass if it weren't screwed on tight. Not saying anything about Wally, but he needs the offense to move around him, and KG has to start and end it all. So without having to make so sure the offense is running smoothly, he's free to just play, and that may be good and may be bad, but at least he looks a little less tired now.

Old Dirt Dog

I can't imagine a less-skilled starting center in the NBA, but that's the rub. For some reason, he plays exceptionally well with this starting lineup. You know what it's like? It's like Big Swerve two years ago. He doesn't do anything other than what he's told, and he just takes up space and clears guys out. God bless Blunt and Eddie, and it's tough to not see them out there more, but Madsen does what is necessary for the other guys to have themselves some, so I think we're going to see him in there for awhile.

Actually, Madsen is a perfect microcosm for this starting lineup. You've got 4 scorers (with two being the big dogs) and one guy who runs around like a psycho tracking down loose balls and generally crashing into the floor. It works because the other guys get more space this way, and more touches. Both Ricky and Banks are guys that need to get touches to get going. Hass and KG are the complete opposite of that... it's almost like they're better when they're not the focus. Madsen never touches the ball, never WANTS to touch the ball, and doesn't care if he trips and falls. In short, he fits perfectly.

Personally, I like this starting lineup, and I'm glad that Casey's giving it an honest look. It seems like it's set for the time being, and I say let it ride until it falls apart. This is certainly not the best lineup we can put out there in terms of talent (I'd sub Blunt for Madsen and McCants for Hassell - just to have 5 complete offensive weapons out there at once), but undoubtedly these are the best 5 guys to play as a unit.

The sure-fire way to have success in the NBA is to have a reliable starting 5, bench players with clearly defined roles, and a coaching system that enforces rules and keeps everyone accountable. It's a tightrope to walk and I don't pretend that I have any answers at all. But look at the teams that are successful for long periods of time. They don't have players who go in and out of favor. They don't have guys who all of a sudden play 40 minutes a game just because they had a good practice or whatever. The teams put their same guys out there and use the same rotations because they are the best they have and they all work within the system. I'd like to see that out of the Wolves, that sense of order. It's not there yet, and probably won't be for the rest of this season, just because of these new guys and the new coach and all. But next year, it would be nice to see a defined starting lineup and a semi-set-in-stone second unit, with closely watched minutes and substitutions.

But that will come. For now, let's let Team Ghetto stretch its legs.

No comments: