RandBall

Michael Rand started RandBall with hopes that he could convince the world to love jumpsuits as much as he does. So far, he's only succeeded in using the word "redacted" a lot. He welcomes suggestions, news tips, links of pure genius, and pictures of pets in Halloween costumes here, though he already knows he will regret that last part.

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Thursday (Wolves competent, Young plays with Wiggins' ear) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated January 29th at 10:24am 290205031

martinThere have been many times the past two months when the Wolves — so young, so inexperienced and so flat-out bad — were simply unwatchable.

With Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin and Nikola Pekovic all out with injuries, and with other key players from a year ago either traded or dispatched — as we wrote the other day, the top seven in minutes played this year for the Wolves is completely different from the top seven in minutes played last year — Minnesota went from a .500 team that had a chance to win almost every game to a squad that couldn’t compete most nights.

When Pekovic returned a week ago, there were glimpses of more watchable basketball. On offense, he creates space and works the glass. He’s never been a great defensive player, but he’ll give a credible effort and take up space. He gave the Wolves better flow on both ends.

Another piece returned Wednesday, with Martin coming back and getting 21 points in his return. Just like Pek, Martin creates space on offense, scores in a way nobody else on the roster can score, and at least knows where he is supposed to be on the defensive end even if he’s limited.

The result was a 110-98 win over Boston. Yes, the Celtics looked like a tired team in the final game of a six-game road trip. Even at full strength, Boston is a bad team. But the Wolves, on many nights before the return of Pek and Martin, struggled against any team — good, bad, tired, fresh, you name it.

We at least have a glimpse, now, of the preseason vision. Andrew Wiggins is more fully developed now than he was three months ago. Shabazz Muhammad, who is out with an injury as well, looks to be another key piece going forward. Zach LaVine, raw but with ability, showed Wednesday when he can do in spurts.

The Wolves were in control of the entire second half — and had enough fun for Thad Young to play with Wiggins’ ear in the postgame locker room interview session.

When the Wolves get Rubio and Muhammad back, we still don’t think they will “shock a lot of people,” as Martin said the Wolves were poised to do before all the injuries.

But already Wednesday, they looked competent and played their most watchable game in months.

TFD: Ex-Wolves boss David Kahn is advocating a 12,500-seat NBA arena

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated January 28th at 4:32pm 290125771

kahnFormer Wolves boss David Kahn was a sportswriter in his past life … and now he is one again. He’s been writing recently for Bloomberg, weighing in on a number of sports topics.

His latest thoughts, which came out Wednesday, center around arena size in sports — more specifically in the NBA, and most specifically in Milwaukee.

Kahn’s argues that a small-market team like the Bucks doesn’t need the same size arena as a big-market team like the Lakers. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker announced this week that he proposes to both cut funding to UW schools by $300 million while also authorizing $220 million in state bonds for a new Bucks arena that could cost up to $500 million, which seems like a cool priority.

Kahn argues that a smaller arena would cost less and create more seating demand. Just how small? Per Kahn:

This isn’t just about Milwaukee: If a new or remodeled arena in a similarly small, oversaturated market calls for anything larger than 12,500 seats, then it does so at its (and the public’s) peril. The construction savings would be enormous — 12,500 seats requires only one seating level (no club level or upper deck) and only one large, well-designed public concourse, not multiple concourses, also reducing points of sale. Not all arena projects are priced the same — land, labor and finishes play significant roles in cost — but the elimination of 25 percent of square footage from a $500 million arena project should roughly correspond to a similar amount of savings. In Milwaukee, that 35 percent reduction in seating capacity would increase demand over supply when the team is winning and help protect the downside when it’s not.

There seems to be some logic here, but 12,500? That seems really small. Kahn holds up Cameron Indoor Stadium at Duke as an example of what happens when you control seating supply (though, you know, demand there is also helped by winning).

Overall, we’d say this isn’t a worse idea than drafting Jonny Flynn instead of Steph Curry. But we can’t say we fully endorse it, either.

Here's a Twitter thread from September in which Clarence Swamptown predicts 'Deflategate'

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated January 28th at 3:05pm 290115801

RandBall commenter and former guest poster Clarence Swamptown is crazy. He’ll admit that. It’s not libel if it’s true.

But he’s also somewhat of a sports soothsayer, with the ability to see into the future and see things before others do. He was anti-Christian Ponder before it was fashionable. He “reported” in 2011, months before it actually happened, that the Atlanta Thrashers were going to move to Winnipeg. There are other examples, but we don’t want to give him too big of a head because sometimes he is just too shouty and he turns out to be wrong.

Today, though, is Jan. 28. Clarence pointed us back to a series of tweets 135 days old — from Sept. 15 — in which he foreshadowed this whole “Deflategate” controversy. Naturally, it started from a tweet we had about the good job Tom Brunansky did with the Twins hitters in 2014.

Naturally, the final tweet in the thread was about Bill Belichick, from Clarence:

OK, OK, that doesn’t mention deflated balls and nothing has been proven about what happened in the AFC title game. But still. Watch out for Clarence. He might be starting into the future even as he types a lot of nonsense on Twitter.

Here's Wolves guard Zach LaVine dunking with a GoPro camera on his head

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated January 28th at 1:48pm 290103121

Wolves rookie Zach LaVine is a great dunker. He’s so good at it that he’s one of four participants in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest, announced Tuesday.

We posted a video earlier of some of LaVine’s best dunks, but we were also alerted to this video from several months ago of LaVine dunking with a GoPro camera mounted on his forehead, offering those of us who can’t dunk a glimpse of what it feels like.

Best parts about the video other than that? It was made this summer, before the Andrew Wiggins trade, so you see Wiggins in a Cavaliers jersey. Also, LaVine makes his case for being invited to the dunk contest … which of course came to fruition six months later.

In any event, here’s the video, which has some other nice dunks as well:

Wednesday (More memorable: Coyle or Parise?) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated January 28th at 10:32am 290074121

coyleYou see hockey players take pucks to the face fairly regularly, unfortunately. You also see beautiful NHL goals on a nightly basis.

But the Wild’s Zach Parise and Charlie Coyle went above and beyond the call of duty in those respective categories Tuesday in Minnesota’s 2-1 win over Edmonton (a win the Wild badly needed coming out of the break).

Parise was nailed by a puck in the first period, and the damage was bad enough to knock out a tooth. The cliche is that hockey players are tough, but MY GOODNESS it does take some toughness to get hit with the puck, lose a tooth and then be able to shake it off quickly enough to pick your own tooth up off the ice, as Parise did. And he of course returned to the game, logging nearly 17 minutes of ice time (third-most among Wild forwards on Tuesday).

That was plenty memorable … but for our money, Charlie Coyle topped Parise’s grit with one of the nicest goals in a big spot that we’ve seen a Wild player score for a while.

Watching it live, we saw the puck go in and assumed he must have banked it off a skate. There was no possible way, after going so wide behind the net to elude two defending players and the Edmonton goalie, that Coyle could possibly sneak the puck back in himself.

Except there was, somehow, a way. Just a crazy, crazy goal — and enough to upstage a teammate who picked his own tooth up off the ice.

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