In the Minnesota Timberwolves last game against the Los Angeles Clippers, Kevin Love shot 2 for 14 from the field. Ricky Rubio shot 2-7 from the field. Despite poor play from their two biggest stars, the Wolves remained in the game and lost by four points in the final minutes. While it’s disappointing that they lost another close game, there is something good to take away from this and other recent losses. The other Timberwolves really stepped it up and made up for Rubio and Love’s sloppy performances.
In that game against the Clippers, Kevin Martin scored 28 points, Nikola Pekovic scored 20 points and Corey Brewer scored 17 points. These players, among others, must be counted on as Rubio and Love will often be double teamed, need rest or simply have off nights. That Martin, Pekovic and Brewer were able to keep the Wolves in this game bodes well for the Wolves, but players beyond the starting lineup will need to contribute as well.
The Timberwolves’ bench ranks 29th in bench points per game at just 22.8. Their bench also ranks dead last in shooting percentage, three pointers made and points allowed. The Timberwolves’ bench players will need to support the team when starters get tired, injured or slump, and right now the bench is not capable of that. The second unit has no go-to scorer, and is weak at nearly every position.
While the starting lineup has been able to produce consistently and help each other out when one star is struggling, without a solid bench to back them up, all five starters will need to play well in order to win games. Luckily for the Wolves, the starting five have all played well in most of their games, and the team still holds a good record. But the team’s lack of depth is glaring and will need to be fixed if they expect to earn a highly coveted playoff spot in the loaded Western Conference.