The Minnesota Timberwolves are certainly one of the up and coming teams in the league. A core of Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio and Nikola Pekovic could be something special down the line. But are they ready to cash in on their talented young players and make the playoffs this season?
Before Rubio’s injury in March, Minnesota was hovering in the .500 mark and was gaining some steam winning close games and gaining confidence. The injury to Rubio really put a damper to their playoff hopes last year though as they crumbled and finished the season with just one win in their last fourteen games.
Now we enter a new season and head coach Rick Adelman is ready to lead his team to the playoffs. They have added three key players in Chase Budinger, Andrei Kirilenko and Brandon Roy. They have also let Michael Beasley walk and traded Wesley Johnson away. This roster is definitely interesting, but they will miss the services of Rubio as he recovers from a torn ACL that he suffered in March.
The effectiveness of Roy and Kirilenko will be crucial if they want to make the playoffs in 2013. Both of them are unknown as Roy missed the entire 2011-12 season with an injury that was supposed to keep him retired and Kirilenko missed the entire 2011-12 season after deciding to play overseas. If either player can at least show some signs that they could be productive and come close to their production earlier in their careers, then the Timberwolves could be a dangerous squad night in and night out. But if either struggle, especially Roy, to remain on the court then Minnesota could be in for a long year.
Love’s experience in this year’s Olympics will only make him even better and he is primed for a breakout year and could even be an MVP candidate come April. But everything will hinge on the return of Rubio, as he is the engine that keeps the offense running smoothly. Rubio is a special kind of player who is strictly a pass-first player and he takes delight in making his teammates look good. Rubio’s impact goes beyond the box score as he has the type of game that is electric and exciting and is what the team has been missing ever since Kevin Garnett left in 2007.
The Timberwolves definitely have an interesting mix of veteran players and youth and they will definitely have an exciting brand of basketball. They could definitely make the playoffs as an eighth seed, but they could just as easily miss it altogether.