Building with Band-Aids

Alright, It’s Sunday, and I’ve never been a big Vikings fan. But like anyone, I could appreciate the sideline tip-toeing catches of Cris Carter, a speedy run by Robert Smith, or a jump-ball bomb tossed in the end zone to Randy Moss.

When announcements were made that Warren Moon, Randall Cunningham, Brett Favre, or Donovan McNabb were to be picked up, dusted off, and plugged in at quarterback — whatever year it was past their expiration date, I always thought it felt like a team made on the cheap.

Like turning someone else’s homework in, they kept cycling in these guys on the downside of their careers, and failed to ever develop, nevermind a franchise quarterback, but even a serviceable one to pair with the all-world receiving corps or running games of the other skill positions they already had.

(You can have your opinion on Daunte Culpepper, but between the rolling-travelling thing with his arms and the fact that anyone could have thrown jump balls to Randy Moss, I think my point stands.)

Ideally, having long-term pieces in skill positions would allow you to cycle competent contributors in at others. The Tim Duncan-era Spurs are an obvious example of this. Their championship teams have featured Sean Elliott, Michael Finley, or Stephen Jackson as a slashing, tough defender who could spot up and hit a corner 3. Before them, the Karl Malone and John Stockton-led Utah Jazz struggled to become legit contenders until they acquired a stellar third option in Jeff Hornacek to go with their battery of defenders at small forward and center.

With Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love, and Nikola Pekovic, the Wolves have the most critical ones set: the position most necessary to be competitive in today’s NBA (point guard), the best player at the league’s deepest position (power forward) and, arguably, the rarest commodity in the league (an immovable super folk hero center).

In other words, what is the most common player profile in the NBA?

A 6’9″ forward? A 6’6″ shooting guard?

Finding a hired gun looking for an opportunity to shine (Chase Buddinger) or a proven player who wants to win now (Andrei Kirilenko) and making sure they are on short, flexible deals would seem a pathway to long-term success.

And while the Brandon Roy signing smacks of the band-aid, quick-fix philosophy of the Vikings, Alexey Shved now seems to be the one that could make the Wolves look like they did their homework.

The injuries to Roy and J.J. Barea, and the inability of Ridnour to make plays besides his own pull-up jump shot, have forced Shved into the crunch-time role of primary ball handler and distributor.

Offensively, in the high pick and roll, he’s been capable of rambling all the way to the basket himself or recognizing open teammates and getting them the ball. The prospect of him joining Rubio and Kirilenko makes for a suffocating perimeter defense.

If Roy returns to the lineup and accepts his role as mentor and placeholder to Shved, the band-aid approach could still work this season.

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Tags: Alexey Shved Andrei Kirilenko Brandon Roy Chase Budinger Minnesota Timberwolves Minnesota Vikings

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