FreeDarko Profiles in Courage pt. 787776954
Since TNT, ABC, and ESPN have all but shut out the Minnesota Timberwolves this year--and with good reason as the team is one of the ugliest to watch--I feel it is my duty to spotlight a player who, although not quite falling under the radar, has yet to get any of the surprise breakout praise that Monta Ellis, Kevin Martin, and Paul Milsap are gleaning. His name is Craig Smith. That's a terrible basketball name, but the dude is soon to be Mr. Smith, or at least some derivative of Smitty. For those who don't know, Smith is a second round pick out of BC, with steamroller box-out moves, crunk dunks, and the hunger for minutes.
I have endured over the past 26 months, the agony of being a Timberwolves fan, something not necessarily new to any Minnesotan who was around for the pre-Garnett years. The thing about those early years, though, was that there were always at least a perennial fan favorite or two (the hallmark for terrible teams). Chris Carr, Doug West, or even the rookie Isaiah Rider were cheered for their dunking prowess. Pooh Richardson, Spud Webb, Luc Longley, for the sheer novelty of their name, stature, or place of birth. Randy Breuer or later Bobby Jackson for sentimental hometown ties. But for the past couple years, the best the Wolves could muster as a fan favorite was Mark Madsen (he dances funny and waves a towel on the bench). Without guys who you at least enjoy seeing on a basketball court, watching an untalented team is downright torturous.
Smith, however, has given us at least one reason to start watching again, fitting the perfect qualifications for a fan favorite: good at rebounding, good at dunking, underdog exceeding expectations, and most importantly, FAT. What's scarier to me personally, however, is that he has given us much more. Specifically, for the first time as a Wolves fan, I feel comfortable trading KG with Smith as a formidable power forward. Undersized at 6'7" and under-drafted, Smith has a Gilbert-sized chip on his shoulder and Barkley-type-tendencies . I guess I should qualify the Barkley comparison as we are probably all a bit weary of every fat guy with a little skill, from Melo to Sean May, being compared to Sir Charles. It's much simpler with C-Smith, however. He is Barkley with simply no outside game whatsoever. In a weird way, I feel like he's what I always wanted Al Jefferson to be. A guy who can get you 10 rebounds in 20 minutes, with at least two key offensive boards, and double-digit points of garbage putbacks and soft-touch post moves.
Our FreeDarko college expert has discussed with me how it is an inexact science predicting which stocky college-impressive big men will succeed in the pros, but when it happens, all you can do is sit back and enjoy it.