The starting five of the Minnesota Timberwolves has been a treat to watch so far in the 2013-14 NBA season. Kevin Love got off to a ridiculous start to the year and has still maintained a high level of production. Meanwhile, Nikola Pekovic has rebounded after a slow start and Kevin Martin, Ricky Rubio and Corey Brewer have played their roles for this team.
However, the bench has been an entirely different story. Alexey Shved has become a liability on both ends of the floor and seems overwhelmed by the NBA game. J.J. Barea hasn’t helped matters either with consistently questionable decision-making and shot-selection. It’s no surprise given the way their bench has looked that the Wolves rank 28th in the league in bench scoring at just 23.7 points per game while also ranking next-to-last in field goal percentage at 38.9 percent and last in three-point percentage at 30.3 percent.
Relief to their struggles may be on the way, though. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, Timberwolves forward Chase Budinger will be active on Wednesday night against the Phoenix Suns. Budinger has been out for the whole season up to this point due to a knee injury suffered in the preseason.
Budinger missed 59 games in his first season with the Wolves last year and was never really able to get into a rhythm. However, his career in this league has shown that he’s a versatile scorer with surprising athleticism. Budinger can attack with or without the ball, but can also consistently knock down jumpers on the perimeter.
Though it won’t solve all of the problems with the Wolves’ bench, adding Budinger is enormous for this team moving forward. Minnesota currently sits at an even 17-17 on the season and is really looking to establish themselves as a playoff-caliber team in the Western Conference. If their starters can continue to play at this level, having Budinger back could give them a reliable options among their reserves and really elevate this team to the level that they want to be at.