The 2013 Minnesota Timberwolves are for real, folks.
This Wolves team has been unbelievably fun to watch through the first eight games of the season. One of the biggest reasons why is simply because their stars are healthy. Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio finally get to share the floor together on a regular basis, and Nikola Pekovic is also back in action and completely healthy, unlike last year.
At 5-3, Minnesota is turning some heads as they have been up near the top of just about every league power rankings across the nation. What pulls this team of good and great players all together?
Rubio has been great this season, averaging about nine assists per game and 3.4 steals. His tenacity and vision on the court is all he needs to be incredibly effective at what he does. This season, he doesn’t need to worry about scoring — just doing what he does best.
But, what happens when Rubio needs a breather? That’s where the Wolves struggle.
With J.J. Barea and Alexey Shved backing him up, Rubio’s presence is dearly missed when he’s not on the floor. Both Barea and Shved have been mediocre at best, and the most recent showing in a loss against the Los Angeles Clippers proved exactly why they need some work.
The two backups combined to go 1-for-11 from the floor, with Barea’s four assists the only thing salvaging their lack of offense. On the season, Barea’s PER of 10.0 just isn’t going to cut it. Shved, on the other hand? It’s disgusting — a PER of just 3.6.
These guys are not efficient when on the floor. Most of the time shooting too much, Barea and Shved have to find their identity with this team. My advice would be to pull back offensively and just simply create for the rest of the playmakers they have on the floor. Flip Saunders brought in guys like Kevin Martin and Corey Brewer for a reason.
Barea and Shved would be smart to get the ball out of their hands and into the hands of one of their better offensive weapons. Thus far, they haven’t been consistent enough to warrant the Wolves being a true contender. In the playoffs, these two backups will get eaten alive if they continue to play at this level. It’s time to step it up.