As they sit at 4-2 through the first six games of the 2013-14 NBA season, there’s no question that the Minnesota Timberwolves are assuredly better set up to succeed than they were last season, partially because they’re healthy and partially because their new additions to their roster have been beneficial.
Kevin Martin and Corey Brewer, who comprise the Wolves’ starting wings, are the second and third leading scorers for Minnesota early in the season and have been arguably two of their more consistent offensive options for the year. Along with Kevin Love and despite the struggles of Ricky Rubio and Nikola Pekovic, Minnesota’s starters have been getting the job done and are the key to their solid start to this year.
Minnesota’s bench, however, has been exactly the opposite of what Martin, Brewer and Love have been for this team.
Of the six players that have appeared in three or more games off of the bench for the Wolves, none of them are averaging double figures, none of them are shooting above 43 percent from the field and the only two that are shooting over 40 percent from the field are Derrick Williams and Dante Cunningham, two players that play power forward that should be gunning for 50 percent shooting, not just over 40.
The Wolves’ bench has struggled mightily and it has reflected in Minnesota’s play. If the bench was coming in and playing great defense, that’d be one thing, but they aren’t. They simply aren’t executing in any facet of the game right now.
I like this Wolves team and their chances this season. If Rubio and Pekovic can pick it up, if Love can sustain his MVP-caliber play from early on, and if Brewer and Martin can continue to be key cogs in their system, they’ll almost surely be a playoff team. However, if their bench can’t step it up, this team is going to have a difficult time taking it to that next level.