By Michael Rand
The hit follow-up franchise to Stu’s Hunt Down is ready for another installment, per our request. Stu?
(TWWWTTWOWT’s goal is to analyze past Minnesota sporting figures to see if they were, in fact, who we thought they were. They will be graded on a scale of Absolute Dennys, with a 1 being We Let ‘Em Off the Hook, and a 10 being Crown ‘Em.)
Today’s Subject: Terrell Brandon
Who We Think They Were: a shoot-first, pass-second point guard who couldn’t stay healthy.
Were They Really: first of all, did you know that Sports Illustrated called Brandon the best point guard in the NBA in 1997? That seems like a reach, given that he didn’t even finish in the Top 15 in assists that season. I understand more goes into playing the point than this, but it is the most important facet of the position, yes? Perhaps Slate was in charge of SI that issue.
With that unpleasantness dispatched, let’s turn to assessing Brandon’s time with the Wolves. He was … kind of underrated, actually.
I believe that the biggest problem for Brandon at the time was that he wasn’t Stephon Marbury. Marbury and Garnett were going to be a freakishly gifted Stockton/Malone 2.0. It didn’t matter what Brandon did on the court, he was never going to be able to compete with the future greatness we expected from Steph and KG. In retrospect, though, I think we can all agree that Stephon Marbury was not who we thought he was (see what I did there?). Does anyone still think that convincing Stephon Marbury to stay here would have resulted in a significantly better run for the KG-era Wolves than what we actually got? I really, really doubt it.
Onto the all-important stats portion of the program. 1999-2000: top five in assists per game and free throw percentage, top ten in steals, top 15 in PER. 2000-2001: top ten in assists per game, steals, and free throw percentage. For someone who was nicknamed “Ol’ Stop and Pop” by Dan Barreiro, that’s pretty good, right? If Bassy Telfair was putting those numbers up, there would be a parade. It would be sparsely attended, to be sure, but still.
Of course, those respectable numbers came to a screeching halt as of February, 2002. Over to you, Steve Aschburner: “The Wolves were desperate and, after his 21 games in 1999, gave him a six-year, $60 million contract. They got basically 1 1/2 years out of it, Brandon going down in February 2002 with a cartilage fracture on his left femur…Brandon retired, collecting the $33 million remaining on his contract without playing again.”
The Grade: Terrell Brandon gets 5 Dennys. He was a better point guard than you remember him being, but he wasn’t healthy long enough for you to necessarily notice. And the point guard the Wolves really should have kept was Chauncey Billups.