So, to answer the question — Can the fastest get any faster? — in its most simplistic and existential form: Yes. How you get to that point?
Minnesota played at the league’s fastest pace, but it rarely got out in transition.
Go on, explain.
The Wolves turned the ball over a lot — more often than any other team, in fact. When you cough the ball up a lot, possession changes happen fast, and a team’s number of raw possessions increases. This can make it look as if a team is playing Nellie-style, fast-break ball when they are really just dribbling the ball off their feet.
Lowe also goes on to explain another reason for the Wolves’ speedy woes last season was their lack of clock management skills. All too often the Wolves heaved up inefficient shots from all over the court just way too early in the shot clock. Part of that is due to Luke Ridnour’s minimal abilities at the starting point guard spot. He ought to feel more at home on the bench behind Rubio instead of being the on-court general for more than 30 minutes a contest. Another reason you can blame our poor clock management on was Kurt Rambis’ philosophy and strategy itself. The Wolves often tried setting the pace of their half-court offense by lobbing the ball into Darko on the low block. That seemed to be a dead end that usually resulted in; A) A turnover; or B) Poorly executed running floaters in the lane, usually going sliding to his left because he couldn’t go to his right hand. Those two results clearly loop back to Lowe’s point: The Wolves ultimately played fast because they never made the most of their possessions by turning it over or chucking up a contested shot, regardless of the spot on the floor.
Upon hearing that, now, you just have to ask yourself if David Kahn’s vision of an up-tempo squad is really going to succeed. Or even give the fans what they want to see.
Where I disagree with Kahn’s assessment that Wolves fans want to see up-tempo basketball is in the word “want.” To say Wolves fans just want to see up-tempo basketball seems to be extremely shortsighted. I think Wolves fans are willing to settle for up-tempo basketball if the wins aren’t going to be pouring in any time soon. If up-tempo basketball is going to make the Wolves more competitive than they were last season, I think it’s something we’d all settle for.
Isn’t it time to settle down? Even if it means just steady improvements on a year to year basis — 25 next year, 30 the next, etc. — instead of an unlikely giant leap in victories, I feel most fans would be on board. This team has been such a loser for the past five years that they’ve officially lost their homebase as well as their dignity. And all the rebuilding with no secure hope until recently doesn’t help the cause one bit. Watching a fast-paced team does, and will, put fans in the seats, but it comes down to the Wolves’ will to win in the future that will help solidify that fanbase to where it once was. It doesn’t happen overnight, ya know.
So although a faster-paced team is Kahn’s desired future, and it may seem “shortsighted,” but until they learn the ways of winning, it’s what we need to settle for. Until they learn to put together quality offensive possessions that are sprouted from terrific team defense — See Miami Heat, — a fast-paced, offensive juggernaut will hold over fans in the meantime.
I have a feeling Don Nelson doesn’t have that same type of defense-creates-fast breaks, open-courts and-efficient offense philosophy. Hmm, lots to ponder.