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Pau Gasol to Minnesota?

February 15, 2012
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A source has told Chris Tomasson of Fox Sports that Minnesota continues to pursue a possible trade for Lakers forward Pau Gasol, dangling rookie Derrick Williams, who is from the Los Angeles area, and draft choices. The only players considered untouchable by the Timberwolves, who are seeking to add a veteran by the trade deadline, are Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio. The Timberwolves believe it could be enticing for Gasol to play on the same team as fellow Spaniard Rubio. The Lakers, meanwhile, need to upgrade their scoring at the SF position. Williams worked with Kobe Bryant during the Lockout so the two already have a great teacher-student relationship. BlogNBAsketball will continue to monitor this rumor.

 

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How Good Is Nikola Pekovic?

February 16, 2012

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While Jeremy Lin has pretty much locked up the Most Improved Player award after just one week, there has been another player in the NBA taking quite a step forward into relevance. His name is Nikola Pekovic and he is the starting center for your Minnesota Timberwolves (pointing at Rick Kamla). I also think he will one day be a reserve in the All-Star Game.

While Pekovic began the season in the doghouse behind countryman Darko Milicic (trust me, Serbia n’ Montenegro are still tight) he is now starting alongside Kevin Love, terrorizing teams on the glass and in the paint. He’s a major reason why I’m sticking to my playoff prediction for the Timberwolves.

Think I’m exaggerating about him? just ask Dwight Howard, who finished with 11 points & 7 rebounds against ‘Pek’ the other night. “Superman” was in foul trouble all night as Nikola went for 16 & 13 himself. Forget super heroes, the guy could probably wrestle a bear and win.

I’m not just talking about one game either. Since he was put into the starting lineup, ‘Pek’ is averaging roughly 17 & 9. A few more games under his belt and he would’ve cost Dirk Nowtizki the All-Star Game.

The 6’11″ , 290 lb Montenegrin also leads the league in offensive rebounds per 48 minutes (Kamla’s gotta love that fantasy stat). Oh, and you know you’re playing well when Darko gives you props…”He deserves to play,” said Milicic, “He’s playing in a great rhythm right now. I’m happy for him.”

 

But unlike Jeremy Lin, the league is expecting a guy like Nikola Pekovic to come back down to earth eventually. “Experts” think he’ll return to the bench and start averaging 5 & 5 again. Well, they’re wrong.

I think Pekovic has All-Star potential…and this is why:

There are only a handful of real centers in the NBA today, and Nikola is one of them. He works primarily with his back to the basket on offense, using his beefy frame and excellent footwork to score in the paint on anyone. While he isn’t a high-flyer, he does get up enough to finish around the DeAndre Jordan‘s and Andrew Bynum‘s of the league. He doesn’t look like a dunker, but he’ll throw it down on guys every once in a while…and when he does, the basket shakes like a samba dancer at Carnival.

Defensively, Pekovic is nightmare for opposing “bigmen”. His physical play down low is refreshing in an NBA where ballerinas rule the hardwood. He is constantly grinding on opposing players to the point where it takes them out of their games early on, putting some in foul trouble just trying to counter his physical play. In that recent game at Orlando, he made Glen Davis look like Ricky Davis…..Big Baby wanted no part of wrestling with ‘Big Pek’ down low.

Becoming an All-Star in the NBA is as much about what’s going on between the ears as below the neck (just ask uncle Darko). Nikola is a professional in every sense of the word. His work ethic in Minnesota is outdone only by Kevin Love, though I hear it’s sometimes too close to call. The first thing Love says when asked about his center is usually ‘man, the guy works so hard.’

Pekovic spent his formative years in basketball punishing opposing centers in Europe, a far more physical brand of ball than here in the United States. During the Lockout he went back to dominating his old stomping grounds with Partizan Belgrade. Just ask Serge Ibaka, who had his worst day of the 2011 matching up with Nikola in a Euroleague game.

The Timberwolves center has footwork as good as anyone in the NBA today and a feel for the game down low that would make even Charles Barkley smile (if he ever cared to turn on his NBA League Pass). I can’t count how many times this month I’ve seen Nik pivot in a complete circle and still make a hook. If this NBA thang doesn’t work out, he can make a killing with instructional videos on post-play.

Lastly, making an All-Star team is as much about the supporting cast as it is about individual play. With Ricky Rubio running the point and Love getting the bulk of the defensive attention, Pekovic can be that unsung hero who sneaks up in the boxscore every night for 15 & 10. Plus, Kevin’s newly found 3-point touch is a major reason that Nikola can play alongside him this season and for years to come.

 

Nikola Pekovic has All-Star potential in today’s NBA and I’m not just saying that because he’s from Montenegro. He has the physical ability, the supporting cast, and the mentality to get to that level one day soon.

All he needs is for Minnesota to win more games…..or maybe to just play in New York for a week.

 

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One Response to Pau Gasol to Minnesota?

  1. REALIZATIONS on February 27, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    PACK YOUR BAGS, PICKETI-PAU!

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