GH And Petey's Timberwolves Blog

Monday, November 29, 2004

Sam's Back!

I guess Sam Cassell must have been reading my blog. I'm sure he was looking at it the other day and then said to himself "Damn, this guy's right. I really need to step it up before they give Troy the nod for starting point guard." Yep, I'm pretty sure that's how it went down.

Last night Sam went off for 25 points and 6 assists (He had 11/8 in only 26 minutes against Memphis on Friday). They're not exactly monster games, but they're back to the kind of solid performances Wolves fans have grown to expect from Sam. Also, he seems to have his confidence back (I was sort of doubting this for a while too). Near the end of last night’s game, he hit a 17-foot jumper that just about sealed the game for the Wolves. I half expected him to run up the court doing his "I've got huge balls" gesture that he busted out against the Kings during the playoffs last year.

Another great sign I saw last night was the play of Eddie Griffin (20 points, 9 boards, 4/5 3pt last night). I knew he'd make a solid contribution to the lineup at the beginning of the season, and know we're already starting to see him come around. Although his natural position is forward, I think the Wolves should start giving him more time at center. He's about 6'10", so he's a little on the short side for an NBA center, but he more that makes up for it with his long limbs and athleticism. He's a great shot blocker on Defense, and he can shoot the 3 on offense. Having a center that can shoot the 3 could really be a boost for the Wolves on offense, as it would force the opposing center out of the paint and give Garnett some extra space to work his magic. Not only have his numbers been solid, but he's also shown a lot of hustle and been making amazing plays on D, which don't show up on the stat sheet. Plus, let's take a look at Eddie, compared to the other centers on the T-wolves roster:

Ervin Johnson
: He's getting old and isn't going to get any better. He's a solid backup center who plays good D, but is otherwise pretty much a stiff.

Mark Madsen: This guy is the definition of overachiever. He probably has less natural talent that just about anybody else in the NBA, but makes up for it with extreme hustle. He's a solid offensive rebounder, good defender, and a spark plug for the Wolves. However, he's been prone to missing wide-open lay-ups.

Michael Olowokandi: If you somehow injected Madsen's hustle into Kandi, he'd be one of the dominant centers in the NBA. Unfortunately, he got stuck with the personality he's got. As much as Madsen is an overachiever, Kandi is an underachiever. I'm not gonna say that I'm giving up on him quite yet, but it's time for him to start showing me something.

Eddie Griffin: At 6'10" he's only 2 inches shorter than Ervin or Kandi, but an inch taller than Madson. He doesn't have quite the intensity of Mad Dog, but quite intense but also under control. There were some questions about his past coming into the season, but so far, he's been nothing but a perfect gentleman since coming over to the Wolves. He doesn't have quite as high an upside as Kandi, but is more likely to realize his potential. He also plays D as well, or probably even better than Ervin.

When you compare Eddie to the other options, you can see he takes all the good traits of our other centers and combines them into one. The biggest weakness I've seen in him (which was exposed a little in our blow out win against Memphis) was that his low post moves don't seem to be too great. However, I think this is something he can definitely improve on. As I've said before, his natural position is forward, so he probably hasn't done as much in the low post as we would have liked by now. Plus, he's got Kevin "Slippery Eel" McHale to teach him how to do it.