There are relatively high hopes for the Minnesota Timberwolves as they start their campaign in the 2013-14 NBA season. After an injury-plagued and relatively ugly season last year, the Wolves are now (almost) fully healthy and, most importantly, have their star power forward Kevin Love back on the floor and making things happen for them.
Minnesota probably didn’t imagine that their season-opener against the Orlando Magic would be as tightly contested as it ended up being, with the game spilling into overtime. However, the Wolves were able to grab their first win of the season right off of the bat and much of the credit is due to their star forward.
Love played 41 of the possible 53 minutes in the contest and was phenomenal. He finished the evening with 31 points, 17 rebounds and four assists while shooting 8-19 from the floor, 3-8 from long-range, and, possibly the most impressive part of his line, 12-16 shooting from the charity stripe.
There are several things that you have to like about Love’s performance on opening night. Though you’d like to see his overall shooting efficiency step up as the season progresses, Love knocking down shots from the perimeter is hugely beneficial to the Wolves. Minnesota ranked last in the NBA in three-point percentage last season and Love will certainly look to remedy that if he can continue shooting as well as he did on Wednesday from distance.
The most impressive and promising thing from Love, though, was his physicality on the interior. Whether he was fighting on the glass or drawing contact on the interior offensively, Love wasn’t hesitant to seek out contact and show off how he can use his improved and more chiseled frame. For a player that’s already one of the best rebounders in the league, that’s a huge step forward.
While the Wolves look to clinch an elusive postseason berth this year, so much of their success hinges on Love. As a versatile offensive player, elite rebounder and underrated defender, Love brings a great deal to this team, which he put on display in the opener. 31 and 17 might be a bit much to ask every night, but that superstar-type of production is possible for him this season and could vault the Wolves into the playoffs.