The Minnesota Timberwolves have an intriguing young team if they are capable of staying healthy. That is a big if. The Timberwolves three young stars, Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio and Nikola Pekovic were only on the court at the same time for 13 minutes last year. Mark Remme, the Wolves NBA writer, pointed out that after day 1 of training camp, the trio had played together more than the entire previous season.
If this trio can stay together this season, they comprise the core of everything the Wolves hope to achieve this year and moving forward. Rubio is the flash and the flair, the means of facilitating from the outside and on the fast break. He brings a little magic and a little mystery every time he touches the ball. Love is the focal point of the offense, the stretch-4 that can score down low, pick-and-pop and hit from the outside. He’s able to draw defenders away from the hoop offensively, and on the glass he’s as innately gifted as any in the NBA. Then there’s Pekovic, who physically can match up with anyone in the league. He’s a force in the paint, provides a post-up game and works hard at creating some space for his guards off screens.
Minnesota struggled to a 31-51 record last year. They were as unlucky as any team in the NBA with injuries. As this young team gels, I would anticipate some excellent play. Unfortunately for the Timberwolves they play in the Western Conference and that is not going to be easy to crack the top 8 teams. If the Lakers struggle like many predict, and the Wolves are able to improve I could see them sneaking in and grabbing a seven or eight seed in the playoffs.
For that to happen, Love will have to be fully recovered from his wrist injury and score around 18 a game for them. Rubio will have to continue to dazzle and the bench will have to contribute. If you are looking for a deep sleeper in the West, keep your eye on the Wolves.