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NBA Minnesota Timberwolves

5 Things To Watch For In Minnesota Timberwolves’ 2013 NBA Preseason Games

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5 Things To Watch For In Minnesota Timberwolves 2013 NBA Preseason Games

Love
Brace Hemmelgarn - US PRESS WIRE

The Minnesota Timberwolves begin NBA preseason play Monday. Fans are eager to see the team take the court after last year’s disappointing season, where Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio, Chase Budinger and Brandon Roy missed most of the season and the Timberwolves finished last in the Northwest Division. As the 2013 season begins, Roy has retired and Budinger just underwent surgery, but Love and Rubio are back and Timberwolves fans have plenty to be excited about. The Timberwolves face many questions going into the season, and the 2013 preseason can provide some answers.

Nick Guenther is a Minnesota Timberwolves writer for RantSports.com. Follow him/her on Twitter @nickynicknickk, or add him to your network on Google.

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5. Who Will Play Defense?

defense
Greg Smith - US PRESS WIRE

The Timberwolves weren’t a great defensive team last year, and they lost an elite defender in Kirilenko this offseason. Their best player, Love, is also a pretty poor defender, which certainly hurts. Rubio will continue to get plenty of steals and Pekovic will anchor things down low, but a lot depends on whether Dieng can be a defensive stopper at the NBA level when Pekovic needs to rest.

Corey Brewer returned to the Timberwolves this summer and isn’t a bad defensive player. Watch for Brewer, Derrick Williams or Muhammad to step up on defense at the wing. If they don't play effective defense, the Timberwolves will struggle.

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4. Will Kevin Martin Return To Form Playing with Ricky Rubio?

martin
Mark D. Smith - US PRESS WIRE

Last year, Kevin Martin played his fewest minutes per game and scored his fewest points per game since his second year in the league. He will get more shots and more minutes in Minnesota, where he will be a main offensive weapon. Martin will also be playing with Ricky Rubio, a pass-first point guard who is great at creating shots for others. If Martin and Rubio have good chemistry together, it wouldn’t be unrealistic to see Martin score close to 20 PPG on close to 44 percent from the field. His offensive production will be a key to the Timberwolves’ success. Watch Martin's shooting, especially off the pass from Rubio.

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3. Has Ricky Rubio's Shot Improved?

Rubio
Jesse Johnson - US Press Wire

Rubio shot well at Eurobasket this summer, hitting 46 percent of his shots and 44.4 percent from three. Clearly that is a small sample size and against different competition, but if Rubio can shoot above 40 percent this season, few will doubt that he is a top point guard in the NBA. The Timberwolves would also benefit greatly if Rubio can improve his shot, especially from long-distance. If his shot is falling during preseason games, it definitely bodes well for the Timberwolves’ playoff chances.

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2. Who Will Make The Team?

hummel
D.J. Kennedy - US Press Wire

Lorenzo Brown, Robbie Hummel and Othyus Jeffers entered training camp unsure of their futures with the squad. The three will compete for a roster spot after playing well enough at Summer League for a camp invite. Hummel seems likely to make the squad with Chase Budinger out indefinitely, but all three could offer something to the Timberwolves this season. Hummel is a pure shooter with a great knowledge of the game and great hustle but limited speed. Brown is a tall point guard who passes well, but has a below average three-point shot. Jeffers is a 28-year-old swingman who has played in the league before but never stuck on a team. His D-League numbers are good, but what he can contribute in the NBA remains to be seen. Look for one of these players to make an impression this preseason.

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1. Can Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng Contribute Right Away?

contributions
Jerry Lai - US Press Wire

Muhammad and Dieng had disappointing summer league production, but it’s hard to tell much from that. Muhammad has a lot of doubters to prove wrong after falling to the 14th pick in the 2013 draft. So far, he hasn’t done that, but he can’t be written off. Watch to see how Muhammad’s game translates against NBA talent.

Dieng was a defensive stopper in college, blocking 267 shots in his University of Louisville career. He was projected as a role player in the NBA by most scouts. If he can play effective defense off the bench right away, Timberwolves fans should be happy.