Hollinger’s West Predictions

Published: December 20, 2011

For what it’s worth guys and gals, Mr. Hollinger from ESPN gave us a nice slap in the face today with his Western Conference record predictions. He predicts us to be worst in the west.

Obviously he didnt notice how CP3 did little to nothing for us last season until the playoffs, and how after West went down Landry was huge. Subtract CP3 and West but still have the core from last year plus Aminu, Gordon, and Kaman and I think we will be better than he thinks.

For what it’s worth below are his comments on us and the T’wolves. Please leave your thoughts.

15. New Orleans Hornets (22-44)

Even though I have the Hornets projected to be the worst team in the conference, they won’t be that bad — they’re pegged to beat three teams in the East and tie with a fourth. They won’t be overmatched physically with a frontcourt of Emeka Okafor, Chris Kaman, Carl Landry, and Jason Smith. And Eric Gordon can obviously get them some points; few bad teams have such a good go-to scoring option.

My analytics actually had them winning a couple more games, but two subjective factors limited my view of the Hornets this season. First, I suspect they may keep trimming talent as the season wears on and trade scenarios emerge. If a good offer comes along for Kaman, Okafor or Jarrett Jack, I can’t imagine the league — er, excuse me, independently operating New Orleans general manager Dell Demps — refusing. Second, along the same lines, New Orleans sure as heck won’t be making major additions to this group.

But Hornets coach Monty Williams will have them playing respectable defense. I’m guessing they’ll still finish around 12th in defensive efficiency, even with Jack surrendering blow-bys by the dozen at point guard (he’s much better at the 2). Trevor Ariza is a strong wing defender, they have quality big men to protect the rim, and the Hornets have tended to favor bench players who defend.

The problem is scoring. While Gordon can fill it up, he creates little for others, and without Chris Paul or David West, this could get ugly. Plus, Ariza possesses the worst shot selection in the league and may feel free to gun away now that the two stars are gone. Aside from Kaman, the bench is giving them bupkus. Look for the Hornets to land 25th or so in offensive efficiency, effectively preventing them from winning more than a third of their games.

10. Minnesota Timberwolves (29-37)

Sorry, Hornets fans, but that unprotected lottery pick isn’t quite as juicy as you may have been led to believe. Despite their comical zest for accumulating point guards and general knack for shooting their own feet, I expect the Timberwolves to achieve a measure of respectability.

Several items point in their favor, but let’s start with Darko Milicic. Minnesota employed the single most counterproductive offensive strategy in basketball last season, constantly feeding the ball in the post to Milicic even though he was their least effective offensive player on a per-possession basis. Merely redistributing these possessions to players who can either score or pass will substantially improve the Minnesota offense.

Second, they have Rick Adelman coaching, which means two things: (1) They have Adelman, and (2) they no longer have Kurt Rambis. The Wolves didn’t seem terribly motivated to play hard for Rambis, and Rambis didn’t seem terribly motivated to adjust his system to the Wolves. It seemed Rambis hoped to wake up one day and find Darko had become Pau Gasol.

Also, Minnesota is better talent-wise because of second overall pick Derrick Williams and the point guard combo of Ricky Rubio and J.J. Barea. I really don’t know how good Rubio will be; he’s one of the most unique players the league has ever seen, in both good and bad ways. He might shoot 30 percent, and he might get the first triple-double in history in which points wasn’t one of the categories. But he can’t be any worse than what Minnesota had last season, when Sebastian Telfair and Jonny Flynn played 1,694 combined minutes for this team. Egads.

They have several other young players, and nearly all should be better. In addition to the players above, Kevin Love, Anthony Randolph, Michael Beasley, Wesley Johnson, Martell Webster, Wayne Ellington and Nikola Pekovic are 25 or younger.

Finally, they potentially can squeeze more from the same talent just by playing small. Half the team consists of 6-foot-8 combo forwards, one of whom is currently posing as its starting shooting guard. Moving Love to center not only takes “go-to guy” Milicic off the floor, it also opens the door for Williams, Beasley, Randolph and Johnson to snag minutes as forwards. I’d argue it’s better for Love too, since he can’t guard the perimeter anyway.

None of this means the Wolves will suddenly be awesome, and we still see disturbing signs of mismanagement in the background. But the rule of thumb in the NBA is that, via the draft, bad teams continually receive infusions of talent until they can’t possibly be bad anymore. By this point, Minnesota has had so many high draft picks that they almost have to rise in the standings.

This post was submitted by edbballin504.


  1. nikkoewan

    December 20, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    i think he’s right. Talent wise, we may be the least talented in the West. but look for Monty to keep getting the most from his players. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. However, i still look for us to finish last in the conference.

    Side note, CP3 did a lot of work for us last year, it was not just what your accustomed to.

  2. Bee dat

    December 20, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    Agree that you can not dismiss Chris’ production last year. he was passive at times, but still was a major factor. i don’t think a bench of kaman, aminu, bellinelli, and qpon, and jsmith is the best in the league but hardly the worst. obviously theres a gaping hole at the one, with only jarrett. we’ll suprise some people and win some games for sure.

  3. BRballboy

    December 20, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    Another nail for the don’t tank crowd. Folks, we’re not going anyplace this year. We win this year by losing, and by Minnesota losing. That’s how you get CP3 type players that Dell and Monty can do a better job with than Bower did. Look at OKC. The biggest win we could have this year is to be 1 – 2 in the draft with cap room to boot. This, or something very close to this is very likely. Play hard, no giving up, enjoy player development, but accept you don’t lose CP3 and West and win. Not this year, but better times are coming!

  4. J

    December 20, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    If you listen to those nodheads at ESPN i blocked those fools they’re not worth watching.

  5. edbballin504

    December 20, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    I am not trying to dismiss what CP3 did for us, all I am saying is with Monty’s system we wont have as big of a set back as people expect. I agree that losing is in the best interest of the team, but that will be easier said than done with this team and coaching staff.

  6. Juan

    December 20, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    Even with JJack this team can win now! I understand the thinking of tanking to get the picks; I just dont perceive that to be the fabric that Monty was cut from! They were trying to get KMart, Scola, Odom and others to compete NOW! To WIN NOW! Because the DONT WANT TO LOOSE! This team can compete maybe not with the echelon of the league but outside of the Lakers and Thunder who else is there that is so dominant? Portland, Dallas, Clips, Spurs, Griz… All have the potential to be very good but none are that far ahead of where we are! Right? I know Dallas won the ship but we will always play them tough and they arent as scary without chandler and jj gone. Spurs are old: Portland, clips, and griz can all be beat! This team reminds me alot of the Portland team from last year! a bunch of good to quasi-great (GORDON and Emeka-to a lesser degree) players that will play D and hustle, This team I believe will not fulfill our desires of a lottery pick but maybe minny does.

    Unless dell blows this team up I say we are a 6-8 seed! I believe in Monty ball and what Dell has planned!!!

  7. da ThRONe

    December 20, 2011 at 10:21 pm

    This team will be bad. Sorry it will, but that (despite anybody admitting to it) should be the plan. Ship all these over paid guys Ariza and Okafor out of town ASAP. Trade Jack as well. We can either look to the draft or trade for a young PG. We have to hope Minnesota is ready to break out. So we can get a key big in the draft as well.

    • Jason Calmes

      December 20, 2011 at 10:27 pm

      Are you the one that traded Niall for the egg poacher?

      • edbballin504

        December 20, 2011 at 10:36 pm


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