As these long, cold lockout-tainted days drift by, I really want to think about on-the-court NBA basketball, which is difficult since those sort of stories are few-and-far amid off-court tales and alternate summer vacation plans surrounding the lockout. That stuff is cool and I enjoy reading and writing about it, but it’s in no way related to the actual game. So when I heard that Don Nelson, the NBA’s all-time coaching wins leader, was interested in coaching the Minnesota Timberwolves next season, my mind immediately began contemplating the possibilities.
First off, Nelson’s arrival in Minnesota would be great news for Ricky Rubio. The neophyte – thank Walt Frazier for that vocabulary word – Spanish point guard looks to be a world-class passer. Instead of being stifled in the confines of a traditional NBA offense, it’d be fantastic to see him run wild under Nelson, freed to show that passing skill off to its fullest extent. Best-case scenario: Rubio turns into something like a young Jason Kidd, creating highlight-after-highlight as he pushes the break. Plus, when he needed a breather, he’d turn the game over to veteran backup Luke Ridnour, who’s fundamentally, well, a poor man’s Rubio.
Second, Nelson’s offense would unleash the T’Wolves array of stretch power forwards. Somehow, David Khan has amassed three talented, sweet-shooting big men in Kevin Love, Michael Beasley and Derrick Williams. Nelson loves athletic power forwards who can handle the ball – for example, he pushed Stephen Jackson up to the four in Golden State – and Love, Beasley and Williams would allow him to have three of the best. Add in Anthony Randolph, who’s still chilling on the Minnesota bench, destroying the basic concept of basketball positions and whatnot, and the T’Wolves would be incredibly fun to watch at the power forward position.
At this point, this is all rumor. But personally, I’d love to see Nelson get the job. At the very least, it’d make the Timberwolves a more interesting team – they’d put up a lot of points, and give up just as many – and make me look to catch some of their games over the course of the season. Considering the T’Wolves are coming off an 17-65 record, that’d be a pretty solid accomplishment.