There is no doubt that the Timberwolves have enough talent to make a run at a Playoff berth, but they need their roster to stay healthy. Last season, Kevin Love missed extended time due to injury, and Rubio has struggled the last couple years due to the torn ACL his suffered a couple years back. They have put together a team that should compete for one of the last couple of Playoff positions this season assuming they are able to stay healthy.
Kevin Love is the face of their franchise, and rightfully so. One of the best rebounders in the NBA, he averaged 18.3 points and 14.0 rebounds per contest last season. His game is just about complete as an NBA post player can be, with a great inside, mid-range, and three-point game. He’s able to do everything scoring wise, and his motor never stops. In order for the Wolves to have their best chance at the Playoffs, they need Love to stay completely healthy and lead their team each and every night.
Ricky Rubio is entering his third NBA season and has had a full off-season completely healthy to work on his game. He averaged 10.7 points, 7.3 assists, and 4.0 rebounds per game last year, and is exactly what you think of when you think of the play-making floor general that a point guard needs to be. Most analysts are expecting a much improved offensive game from Rubio, and assuming the team surrounding him stays healthy, his assists will stay around the same if not improve as well. There is a lot of excitement buzzing in Minnesota’s organization regarding Rubio this upcoming season.
Nikola Pekovic got the big contract that he was expecting this off-season to remain with Minnesota. During Love’s absence last year, he took charge and averaged 16.3 points and 8.8 boards per contest. He’s one of those hard workers that every coach loves to have on their team, and is almost a guaranteed double-double each and every night. His defense could use some improvement, especially as a rim protector, but with his body and work ethic, you can expect improvement in that area as well.
There is a bunch of other talented players on the Wolves’ roster, including back-up point guard J.J. Barea, who is going to be energy off the bench. He’s able to score points in bunches when he’s on his game as well. Former 2nd overall draft pick Derrick Williams is coming off of a very solid season of improvement, and has high expectations from the Minnesota organization as well. Chase Budinger and Corey Brewer will be valuable wing assets off the bench. Brewer is one of the most underrated off-season signings, and will add great defense along with a new found ability to score the basketball. Other players who are expected to contribute off the bench are Alexey Shved, Shabazz Muhammad, and Dante Cunningham, who all are capable of stepping up and filling in when needed.
The biggest addition that the Timberwolves made this past off-season was signing shooting guard Kevin Martin away from the Oklahoma City Thunder. Martin put up great numbers off the bench for the Thunder last season, averaging 14.0 points, which is exactly the kind of shooting guard that Minnesota needed. They’ve been looking for a starting shooting guard who is capable of filling the bucket up, and Martin will be exactly what the doctor ordered to fill that need.
Overall, this Minnesota Timberwolves team looks stacked from top to bottom. They have a great mix of veteran players and young, up and coming players, and a great coach to lead them in Rick Adelman. The team obviously needs to stay healthy, just like every other NBA team, but the fans in Minnesota certainly have a reason to be excited. They could see their team return to the Playoffs and make some noise in the Western Conference, likely as a 7th or 8th seed.