Rick Adelman Unleashes The Wolves

By: 12.19.11  •  7 Comments
Kevin Love

Kevin Love (photo. Blake Peterson)

“He’s going to empower players to be as good as you want and he’s going to give you enough rope to hang yourself.”

Chris Webber has earned his keep in broadcasting. He’s smart, fair and usually honest. But he’s never said something before that fit so perfectly. C-Webb knows Rick Adelman as well as any NBA player in the league, perhaps of all time. He paired with Adelman in the summer of 1998, Webber being banished from Washington for reasons that had more to do with his off-the-court issues than anything else, and quickly became the De Niro to Adelman’s Scorsese. The perfect partnership making beautiful music together. It was there Webber was re-discovered and resurrected, Adelman putting Webber at the high post and taking advantage of his unique gifts. He allowed those teams to play, to make mistakes and to grow. The best teacher is experience, and in all his years in the NBA getting his teams to play over their heads, Adelman knows that as well as anyone.

His system emboldens players to make decisions themselves. He encourages it. The best parents are always the ones who aren’t overbearing, won’t slap you around or punish you for coming home drunk one night. They’ll be sensitive, still will scold you, but will ultimately let you decide for yourself.

If you’re open and don’t shoot it for Adelman – as Webber says – he’ll take you out. “Play your game” is what I imagine he says to nearly every one of his players behind closed doors. “Be yourself.”

Ricky Rubio has to be feeling rather lucky right now. For a while, it was rumored he didn’t want Minnesota. He wanted a big market, probably better weather and the chance to become one of the greatest international players ever. On Saturday night, he showed us a little of everything: lobs, behind-the-back passes, his rebounding potential and even his saving grace as a Tebow-esque crowd pleaser. With Adelman coaching him, I have complete confidence Rubio will turn into a very good NBA player.

Kaaaaaahhhnn. I can’t really hate on the man the way we used to. Outside of the fact that we’ve gone through nearly every point guard/small man joke in the book, David Kahn has proven to be vastly more competent than we ever dreamed (And before you start chastising that J.J. Barea signing, remember this: Adelman doesn’t run many pick-n-rolls but as a change of pace guard off the bench, one of the best pick-n-roll point guards in the league could offer something different). I remember one of the very first pieces I ever wrote for Dime was a research post discussing the different ways you could build a team: through the draft, free agency, trades, doing everything and anything you possibly could to find that one star player. Kahn was ironically one of the GMs I talked to. He was down to Earth, engaging and absolutely positive about what his plan was.

He needed great players. Actually, Kahn needed something more. He needed one of the top picks in a draft that had potential superstars. Perhaps his plan all along was to suck, build up his assets on young players and pray to the the gods of Ndudi Ebi that he’d get lucky and fall into the lap of another Kevin Garnett.

“That sounds obvious or simplistic,” Kahn told me. “But if you go back through history, very rarely will you have a championship team that doesn’t have one or sometimes two players who are at the top of their field.”

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