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Stuck in a Triangular Box

Heading into this season, Minnesota guard Jonny Flynn was an obvious pick for "most productive rookie in fantasy." After all, the T-Wolves, in David Kahn's infinite wisdom, traded away just about every perimeter scorer from last season, then used a top draft pick on a player who will spend the next several years playing in Spain.

Flynn was essentially handed a starting job by default. But that was OK -- as we saw last year, when Flynn led the Syracuse Orange to the Sweet Sixteen -- he's a highly-capable guard with a very mature game, able to create for teammates or take matters into his own hands when necessary. Even the signing of free agent guard Ramon Sessions didn't dampen enthusiasm for Flynn's prospects -- after all, David Kahn told everyone he thought a two-point lineup could work when he was trying to convince the world that he didn't botch the Ricky Rubio affair.

Even the old cliche about point guard being the most difficult postition to learn at the NBA level didn't seem to apply... as players like Brandon Jennings, Tyreke Evans and Derrick Rose have shown, the league's crack-down on hand-checking on the perimeter gives quick, penetrating guards a real advantage.

So why isn't Jonny Flynn enjoying the same sort of success?

Part of the problem is the T-Wolves' system.

In another questionable decision of David Kahn's, the T-Wolves hired Laker assistant Kurt Rambis to replace Kevin McHale on the bench... and apparently didn't bother to ask the bespectacled wonder what he thought of playing two point guards side-by-side. Rambis has been playing Sessions as Flynn's backup -- basically ensuring that his two most talentented perimeter players never share the floor. Worse, he seems insistent on bringing the Phil Jackson/Tex Winters "triangle" offense to Minnesota.

The triangle offense has its merits -- Jackson's ten NBA titles as a coach prove that. But Jackson's triangle always had the added benefit of an all-time great playing on the wing and dominating the ball -- y'know, like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.

OK -- now quick -- name a truly great point guard from one of Jackson's Bull or Laker teams. Steve Kerr? B.J. Armstrong? Smush Parker? Derek Fisher? Yeah, that's what I thought. The point guard position in the triangle is primarily assigned with hitting open threes and playing defense.

Can this relationship be saved? Who knows. Maybe Rambis will open things up and take advantage of the talent he's got at the point. Maybe the return of Kevin Love and his passing will help cure Minnesota's offensive woes and free Flynn to create more. But for now, the player who looked like a sure bet as the top point guard in the rookie class of 2009-10 is a distant fourth -- behind Jennings, Evans and Ty Lawson -- and in danger of falling even further.

Comments

By: Jacobdk
On: 11/24/2009 5:23:00 PM
I'm going to hijack this briefly to vent about a completely unrelated NBA coaching pet peeve: the "removing star player X with three fouls so he doesn't pick up his fourth before halftime" fallacy. Granger was just removed from the Indiana/Toronto game with the Pacers DOWN 16 with three minutes to play in the first half (the lead stretched to 21 after his departure). WHY DOES IT MATTER WHEN HE GETS HIS 4TH FOUL?? It's punishing yourself (taking your player out) out of fear of being punished (having your player taken out)!
 
By: blizzard47
On: 11/25/2009 2:11:00 PM
Jacobdk you must be kidding right? And on a related note, you're kidding yourself if you think Granger can carry the Pacers.
 
By: schoenke
On: 11/26/2009 11:30:00 AM
The T-Wolves will make a trade eventually to get players to fit the triangle. That seems to be Kahn's m.o. But you could also mae the same case about Al Jefferson being a misfit in the up-tempo game plan. Wonder if that will result in a deal as well.
 

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