The NHL and NBA drafts are now complete, and as has been the case far too often for the Wolves and the Wild, the results were less than impressive. Let’s run the numbers through the MVP-a-Tron sports analysis supercomputer and see what we come up with for our MN sports teams.
Not only have the Wolves never had a draft position above that of their predicted one, they have also whiffed far too many times. If you scan the list of Wolves past picks you will see a towering pile of monkey excrement made up of names like: Will Avery, Christian Laettner, J.R. Rider, Wes Johnson, Paul Grant, Johnny Flynn, Felton Spencer, Luc Longley, Donyell Marshall, Ndudi Ebi, and Rashad McCants. Indeed, the only high draft choices the team has ever hit on in their 24 years of existence are Kevin Garnett and Ricky Rubio, and the jury is still out on what Rubio will ultimately become.
Given this long history of ineptitude, I wasn’t expecting much from this year’s draft, even with Flip Saunders at the helm. Sadly, my expectations were met.
The Wolves were unable to make any deal to move up in the draft and when the dust settled they were left with Shabazz Muhammad, a small forward out of UCLA. Although Muhammad was the #1 high school player in the country his senior year, his talent has been overshadowed by his poor attitude, uninspired effort, total disinterest in playing defense, and propensity for extreme ball hogging (he had 27 assists all season).
How self-absorbed is this guy? According to this article, the reason Muhammad chose zero for his jersey number was because: “Nobody wears zero in the league..” Not a bad rationale, until one realizes that there are fourteen other NBA players that currently wear zero, including big names such as Damian Lillard, Shawn Marion, and most noticeably, Russell-freakin’-Westbrook, a superstar that just happened to also attend UCLA. Muhammad seems to have a laser focus, but unfortunately that laser focus is squarely on himself.
Could Muhammad see the light, become a team player, and properly channel his tremendous talent to grow into a valuable contributor for this Wolves team? Sure, but I would put those chances somewhere between nonexistent and infinitesimal.
It’s too bad Muhammad doesn’t pay more attention to the NBA, for if he did he might learn a valuable lesson from the failed career of another uber-talented player who wears zero, Michael Beasley. And if the Wolves’ latest questionable top pick doesn’t make some significant changes, a career that parallels Beasley’s will be exactly what results.
Due to the Jason Pominville trade, which will be a huge failure if Pominville isn’t a major contributor this next season, the Wild had no first round pick. But GM Chuck Fletcher did pull off a deal to get a top prospect. Fan favorite Cal Clutterbuck was shipped to the Islanders for Nino Niederreiter, a forward who was the #5 overall pick in the 2010 draft.
I am fully on board for this trade, not so much because I think “El Nino” will be a future superstar, but more because I was tired of Clutterbuck’s act combined with the fact that the Wild were not going to re-sign him anyway. In listening and reading experts’ opinions on Clutterbuck, it is clear the team was also tired of his act, which consisted of him be so focused on collecting hits for the sake of his own stats that he neglected other parts of the game. To wit, Clutterbuck was known to pass up a loose puck in the offensive zone in order to go make a hit on a player, a decision that only padded his hit stats and did nothing to help his team. I have also heard that some of Cal’s teammates didn’t like how he would stir things up with his physical play yet disappear when it came time to drop the gloves, forcing other players to fight battles Clutterbuck had instigated. One radio host fully expects a Wild player to fight Cal when the two teams play next season. Good riddance.
“El Nino” has excelled at every level he has played at—except the NHL. But, he is only 20 and he had a poor relationship with the Islanders’ management, which resulted in him being stuck on a low scoring 4th line. Whether this is a sign of a Shabazz Muhammad-esque “me first” attitude by Nino or just more shenanigans from the Islanders’ certified butthole GM Garth Snow remains to be seen. However, I am optimistic that the 6′ 2″, 210 lb. goal scorer can become a good player for the Wild.
I wish I could say that the Wild’s picks in round 2-7 were great, but I don’t know enough about these youngsters to know either way. I did like the Avery Peterson pick though, as I have seen the Grand Rapids, MN high school player play a few times and he does have NHL size and has shown some nice skill. Hopefully he will develop into a legit NHL prospect during his NCAA career.
Kyle Gibson’s debut was excellent, giving Twins fans hope that the starting rotation may not continue to completely suck in the future. It was also good to see Jeff Diamond put out a quality start vs the much-hated, eternally-reviled Yankees last night, even though the bullpen crapped the game away.
The Twins still need to find a long term ace, and then the Gibsons, Diamonds, and Dedunos can fill in behind this top guy. As the trade deadline nears, it will be interesting to see if the Twins move a Morneau and/or Willingham in order to get more pitching. I sincerely hope they do, for this team needs all the pitching talent it can muster.
No Central Division team appears to be running away with the title, so the Twins continue to be within striking distance of first place. I wouldn’t bet on it, but I have watched Gardenhire-led Twins teams make 2nd half charges in the past.
No new big news out of Winter Park, but training camp starts at the end of this month so there will be stories galore flowing out of Mankato once it gets underway. It will be a frenzy, and I will be happy to join in.