Ghana is really close to the realization of a mainstay figure in the world’s best basketball league. Making this a reality goes a long way to rubberstamp the country’s development in basketball.
Yes, the West African country has not featured in top international competitions for God knows how long but to have an indigene on the screens on the regular is a major actualization mark bound to spearhead the hunt for that elusive continental and Olympic berth.
To be fair, the country’s female national side has made it to the African scene following an appearance at the 2011 Women’s African Nations Championship (AfroBasket). Sekondi-born Forward Ben Bentil came mighty close when he featured for Dallas Mavericks against Atlanta Hawks last season following his entry into the NBA a year before.
While circumstances that have led him to journey through the G-League, China and now France could have been different had he maintained his impressive second year numbers for another season at Providence College, the door is still open for a return. One or two impressive outings in Europe and he could be back in the league albeit on a permanent basis than before.
Speaking of near misses, Amida Brimah fell in this category a few months ago after going undrafted in this year’s NBA Draft. His four year 2013 Championship winning stint at University of Connecticut failed to land him a spot among the top 60 prospects.
His fundamentally sound but old schooled game at the Center position didn’t rub off too well with NBA teams he worked out for before the draft.
His prolonged stay in college was a problem since only one university graduate was drafted in the first round this year; unsurprisingly, Derrick White was drafted by lovers of the “old” San Antonio Spurs 29th overall. He played well to warrant a contract in the Summer League for Chicago Bulls but months down the line, he remains unsigned.
However, player transactions in the league are far from over and Brimah is likely to land a spot on a team with training camp just a fortnight away. As farfetched as this might sound, Minnesota Timberwolves should be in line to sign the 6 foot 11 inch shot blocker from Tudu. Here are reasons the NBA’s next big dynasty must add the Ghanaian defensive ace to its roster:
Filling out the roster
Under the new NBA rules, teams can sign 15 players with two spots reserved for players signed to two way contracts- players who can switch between the main league and G-League. Minnesota has 11 players under contract for the upcoming season per ESPN.com and needs to fill the roster. This is the reason the Timberwolves are interested in signing veteran Guard Jason Terry who featured for Milwaukee Bucks last season. There are many other veteran free agents on the market but not every player can suit up for Tom Thibodeau.
The no nonsense tough trainer has a reputation in the league as one not to be messed with. As a player who anchors his game in the department that got Thibodeau a coaching spot, Brimah should fit in just fine in Minnesota’s rebooted roster. Amida talked about and showed his improved shooting touch from deep in pre draft workouts but as a disciplined player who captained the Huskies in his final year, Brimah eschews personal glory to play his role in getting his team a win. Thibodeau’s strict adherence policy benefits Brimah’s team first approach.
Closely related to the first point, Brimah’s possible addition to the Timberwolves is friendly to the team’s salary structure. By signing and trading for Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, Jeff Teague and Jamal Crawford, Minnesota is above the salary cap and further exorbitant spending will cost the team in taxes. The only solution to meet the required number of players while avoid paying tax is by signing players on minimum contracts hence the connection to Jason Terry. After missing the cut on draft night and clubless with next season’s start date around the corner, Brimah suffices as a low maintenance player who helps the team immensely on Coach Thibs favorite spot on the court.
For a team that is under pressure to make the playoffs for the first time since 2004, nothing can be left to chance particularly in the Western Conference where teams are stacked with talent beyond the starting unit. Minnesota has Rookie Justin Patton, Cole Aldrich and Karl-Anthony Towns at Center currently but injuries are not far away from a player with a lot of minutes like Towns and Timberwolves need a true rim protector and that is where Brimah comes in as insurance to cater to these needs.
By Yaw Adjei-Mintah
@YawMintYM on Twitter