There’s an abundance of adjectives you can use to describe this season. How about apathy? Aloofness? Lethargic? Or what about numb? Exacerbate? Retrogress? All of these just about sum up this season in 10 letters of less. That was easy.
If you ask David Kahn how he would describe this season it’d fall along the lines of “good feelings,” “right direction,” and “vibrant home crowds.”
That right there should tell you why this season failed. Not only are the players on the same page as the coach but the fans aren’t even in the same zipcode as the guy running the show. When you have no one related to the organization seeing eye-to-eye, you won’t get anywhere and that’s what we’re left with finishing another season shy of 20 wins and a big shameful feeling in the pit of your gut.
In order to properly analyze this season, you need to take a step back — A giant one at that. If not, this post would sound an awful lot like this:
This season we witnessed one of the largest monstrosity’s of professional basketball ever. Not only was a team, both beaten and battered, wasting their time but also the hundreds of fans — maybe not even that many anymore — who invested both money and time into watching this team fail over and over again. Originally we had been installed with the faith that this team is indeed on the up-and-up. With so much young talent, this team will be feasting for wins in the very near future. But the problem is the issue of when the future becomes present. The future, in my opinion, should have started already, especially during the second half of the season. Instead, the Wolves found themselves winning just four games over that second half span and took one, maybe two, steps backwards rather than forwards.
So who’s to blame? Kurt Rambis? Maybe. He came into this organization on the platform of player development, an idea that David Kahn fell in love with. A coach with an emphasis on development should have the most to live for in that second half of the year, you know, the most to prove because they have that chip on their shoulder from being bullied around all year, but rather we gazed on as this team continued to step in potholes, hindering any ounce of improvement. No one besides Kevin Love improved one bit this season (You could argue Anthony Randolph too but he never got the burn he deserved in New York to show his stuff.) So only one player managed to develop over the course of one year? That blame should fall heavily on the coach’s shoulders but players have part in it as well. After all, they are responsible for who they are and how they carry themselves. With that, maybe you can blame the players.
During these past couple of weeks, there were rumblings of these players giving up on all hope. Giving up on the coach, giving up on themselves, giving up on the organization. With all the negativity and frustration clouding these players’ heads, maybe they just never had that opportunity to develop and grow within their shell. It all just stagnated thanks to all the losing. You can’t blame them, though. Fans are feeling the same way. Why should we continue to invest in such a poor product that has little-to-no way of climbing out from rock-bottom? Some players may feel the exact same way about such a bad season. But these players don’t deserve a job in the NBA, then. You’re being paid millions of dollars to play a sport that millions would do for free. Take the money, at least, as motivation to get better and increase your chances at winning and getting that championship. With this lack of motivation, you’re just never going to get anywhere, just like the Wolves teams before this one, so maybe that’s where you find someone else to blame.
Perhaps David Kahn is to blame. You know, the guy who decides which players actually come to Minnesota. Time and time again, our President of Basketball Operations has spoon-fed us a bunch of bullshit about how this team is 2-3 years from the playoffs. But why can’t we even simply compete at this juncture in the rebuilding phase? He says things like “Jonny Flynn could be one of the league’s best defenders.” Or, “This team is significantly better than what I took over two years ago,” – More BS from Mr. Kahn. As an ex-journalist, Kahn is a sly sucker. It was a given when Kahn held a presser yesterday morning and dodged every single tough question without any remorse. But when your team ends the season on a 15-game losing streak, you clearly didn’t develop anything over the course of one season and you actually now find yourself in the most vital summers of the team’s history, now more than ever you need a GM who is going to give you answers. Kahn isn’t that guy, and that’s why he’s to blame too.
Blame, blame, blame; Shame, shame, shame. I hope I didn’t lose you yet. That’s the analysis from an angered fan looking to point the finger in someone’s direction.
Now let’s take that step backward and dissect this season the right way and take a look at what’s going to need to happen in the future:
The season was long and miserable. Fans, players and coaches alike were all let down thanks to the lack of focus and determination. It’s not like we haven’t been here before, though. The feeling is nothing new, which makes the sting much more deadening and mute than last year.
When you take that into consideration and factor in the fact that this team is indeed more talented than one’s in the past and have a lot more potential, maybe this was the final season of pure grief. Maybe we really have reached the final stage of development, and just one more offseason is enough to hoist us into the thick of things in the Western Conference playoff picture for 2011-2012.
Granted many things have to happen for all that to take shape, but we’re close. Behind a Western Conference All-Star, a lethal offensive weapon and a couple young studs who have the potential to prove worthy starters down the road, this team is hanging on the cusp of exploding onto the scene just as the Thunder did last season. This team has the artillery to make that move in the next year or two.
And with all the other assets, it’s not foolish to think this team could get that much better in the offseason. The Spanish wizard at point, a trade or two using up our cap space and the hope of a non-botched draft could all contribute to that hope.
We don’t entirely know how things will shake out, but that is part of the fun. It’s the way we’ve lived our lives the past five years of following this squad and it’s kept a lot of us still interested. You can bet I’ll stay aboard for the length of it — Until someone royally screws up, that is.
Better? If not, take your pick on how to review the season — I’ll leave it up to you, the reader. Are you the glass half-full type of person with optimism oozing from all your pores? Or the pessimistic negatron who’ve lost all hope in this team, regardless of how bright the future could be?
It’s time for a break. Just like the Wolves, I need some rest and time to think. Overdramatic? Maybe so, but a little time to clear your head never hurts anything. Stay tuned, though! Starting next week Howlin’ T-Wolf will launch its “Exit Interview” series where I will place myself in David Kahn’s shoes and review each and every players’ status with the team and its future. Should be fun!