SleepersJanuary 31, 2006

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Sleeper Watch

By Arlo Vander

Did anybody enjoy yesterday’s game between Minnesota and Boston as much as Kevin McHale? For one evening, at least, the former Celtic great and current Timberwolves vice president of basketball operations proved his critics wrong as the new-look Wolves trounced Boston, 110-85. And those critics hadn’t wasted any time in lambasting McHale for the trade that had sent Wally Szczerbiak, Michael Olowokandi, Dwayne Jones, and a first-round pick to Beantown. Twin Cities institution Sid Hartman, for example, wrote in the Star Tribune that the deal was one of the worst in franchise history.

Yesterday, however, it certainly looked as if the Timberwolves had gotten their money’s worth, and leading the way among the new acquisitions was point guard Marcus Banks. The 13th overall pick of the 2003 draft had fallen by the wayside in Boston, where rookie Orien Greene was seen as a better option for the future. After a frustrating month of January in which he never scored more than six points in a game, Banks appeared rejuvenated, leading the Wolves with six assists and 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the floor. In 21 minutes of action, Banks seemed to be able to penetrate at will, and made some nifty passes to boot.

Was this a career game? Was Banks simply playing on overdrive against the team that lost faith in him? How much court time will he receive in the Wolves’ suddenly crowded point guard rotation? Will he even stay in Minnesota long enough to learn the equipment manager’s name, or will he quickly be shipped out of town again?* Questions abound, but one thing seems clear: Marcus Banks will be a player worth watching as we head into February.

*The hot rumor has him heading to Seattle.

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