Look, I know it’s really early in the season, perhaps too early to speculate like this, but sometimes teams show their true colors in the first couple of games in the long NBA season. Obviously the regular season is for teams to come together and mesh as a team, but the Minnesota Timberwolves are an interesting case. Their foundation is built off of Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love and Nikolai Pekovic, but before this season the three have only been on the court together for 15 minutes. It seems like it has taken the Wolves forever to recover from the loss of Kevin Garnett, probably because it has. But the last few seasons we’ve predicted them to at least have a shot at the playoffs, especially last season. The only problem is that every season they’ve dealt with so many injuries, and the year before that the issues with Ricky Rubio wanting to stay in Spain. But now, they’re all together, with some added components such as Kevin Martin, and they’re 3-0. Is this the season that fans in Minnesota have been waiting for?
So far, the Wolves have beaten the Orlando Magic, Oklahoma City Thunder and New York Knicks. With the exception of Orlando, their wins are really impressive. Even more impressive is that they led both teams by more than 20 at one point in both of those games. The Wolves may be a legitimate threat to the Thunder in the Northwest Division. What are the Timberwolves doing so well so far?
Let’s start with the three-ball. They have so many outside weapons and they are using them. Kevin Love and Kevin Martin have been unconscious from downtown thus far. They’ve been killing teams off the fast break as well, led by the speedy and elusive Rubio. Their ball movement has been on point as well, and they’ve been beating teams in the assists category.
The most telling stat is that the Wolves are averaging 37.3 points per game in the first quarter. Now that you’re probably squinting your eyes looking for a typo I’ll repeat: 37.3 points per game in the first quarter. If your jaw isn’t dropped yet it will be once I tell you that opposing teams are averaging 21.6 points per game against Minnesota in the first quarter. They’ve been forcing teams to play catchup the entire game because of their start a quarter through it, and typically when teams have to play catchup, they either panic or wear out eventually. The latter happened to both New York and Oklahoma City.
So clearly this team is getting off to explosive starts to say the least. They have gotten off to an explosive start to their season. The key now is health. If their core stays healthy, they can really compete for the division title this season. Oklahoma City has been struggling at the start and may have to spend some of their season placing catchup. Right now, Minnesota is a huge threat to the entire league. They’re playing like they’ve all played with each other since grade school, meshing beautifully. Like it is for many teams throughout the sports world, health is the biggest factor for Minnesota.