Saturday , Apr , 17 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

The Team from Minny

In several weeks a squad out west will be showing off more jewellery and teeth than usual thanks to their talented, complementary roster. State your case for any of the big names in the bestern conference, but as far as I can see, the trophy has to go to the team from Minny. Here are three reasons why:

The Big Fella

There’s not a player in the league that can match up with him, plain and simple. You can throw anyone at him and he’ll find the hoop. Crowd him with two or three guys and he’ll simply turn and kick it out to one of the players on the perimeter or a cutting swingman – he’s one of the most underrated passers in the league. He’s in the M.V.P. running every year, and for good reason. As for the first round, it’ll come down to how the second-year foreigner plays him. Don’t expect their early-exit woes to be repeated though.

The Feisty Point Guard

He’s an inveterate team leader who’s not afraid to take the big shots or talk trash to anyone near enough to hear it, which is just about anyone in the stadium. He’s oversized for a point and knows how to use it by taking his defenders into the post. Add to that the fact that he’s money from mid-range and developed a rapport with the man in the middle almost immediately and the team has to be pleased with their new acquisition. All of this aside though, he does have an oddly shaped head.

#8 – The Erratic Swingman

Ask the experts and they’ll tell you that the team’s success stems from the work put in by the big guy. Ask the haters and they’ll tell you he’s getting his buckets because of the extra defenders drawn to the middle. In reality, he’s an essential part of the roster, perhaps the league’s best role player (his self-imposed job description). He might occasionally fail the team, but most nights he’ll be an offensive catalyst, getting out on the break and attacking the rim while keeping his defenders honest with his three-point shot (he holds an N.B.A. single-game record for treys).

With all this in mind, I find it hard to see how the Lakers don’t take the grand prize.

Now read that again.