The Wolves had a Titanic-like season with rookie sensation Ricky Rubio falling into injury midway through a fantastic rookie season by helping lead the T-Wolves alongside MVP candidate Kevin Love to one of their best season starts since KG left for his first NBA championship in Boston. Which started out as a season of hope ended with a season of disappointment. However, the atmosphere of disappointment surrounding the Timberwolves and it’s loyal fans around the world, was different from the disappointments the previous seasons. The past two seasons in particular were disappointing mainly because the Wolves, despite being healthy, were the worst team in the NBA. The Cleveland Cavaliers had just lost their superstar, then 2-time league MVP, future hall of famer player in LeBron James to the Miami Heat and the Timberwolves still finished at the bottom that incoming season (2010-2011). This season’s disappointment was slightly different. It wasn’t disappointing to see the Timberwolves have a bad record, but it was disappointing because the Wolves had a chance to change the direction of the franchise had player’s, not only Rubio, had succumb to injuries. You know what I’m saying? The Wolves didn’t have a bad season to start with and the main and possibly the only reason they had a bad season to end with was because of players breaking bones and tearing muscles in a condensed NBA lockout season. The Wolves played better than ever before when they were healthy with the key additions of J.J Barea, #2 overall pick Derrick Williams, and of course, Ricky. But because of injuries, and injuries alone, the Wolves fell off the playoff picture in the very tough Western Conference. So overall, it wasn’t a disappointing season as it was in previous years because we all know that it was something (injuries) that players couldn’t control that stopped them from success.
When the Timberwolves were healthy, they were almost looking like the Oklahoma City Thunder before they became this now-elite and all grown up NBA team. The Wolves are starting from the bottom just like the Thunder in 2009. The Timberwolves this off-season will certainly have a lot to do in order to improve their team and most of all, prepare them for any future injuries to key players. At the center position, the Timberwolves started off the 2011-2012 NBA season with former #2 overall pick Darko Milicic at center. Although Milicic already has a championship ring on his finger from the 2004 Detroit Pistons, he doesn’t necessarily bring that championship experience needed by the Timberwolves down low. With Milicic falling out of rotation and eventually getting not much playing time in the later part of the season, Nikola Pekovic, a 6-11 big man from Montenegro came out of nowhere to take over the center position and ran with it well. Pekovic averaged about 9 more points and 4 more rebounds in only his second year in the NBA compared to his rookie year. Pekovic is clearly becoming the big man needed to help out Kevin Love in the low post. With Love already developing that three point shot, Pekovic will have to do Love’s regular work at the offensive glass every time Love stays outside. And Pekovic has proven he can do that. Regarding Milicic, I actually appreciate the work he can do in the low post. Despite only averaging under 5 points per game and 4 boards per game as well, Milicic doesn’t need to produce much on the offensive end to help the T-Wolves. His size is pretty much rare nowadays for any big man in the NBA as the league is starting to get smaller and more athletic. With that in mind, a big man his length is very important. Milicic just needs to develop his skills on defense and on rebounding as well. However, if the Wolves can find a better big man in free agency or in the 2012 NBA Draft, might as well get rid of him. The Wolves in recent past have been drafting small guys, so I guess it’s about time for them to pick up more big men to help out K-Love. So as a conclusion, keep Pekovic for sure and keep Milicic if and only if there’s no better option. Milicic is actually not that bad, especially for a team like the Wolves.
At the power forward position, there’s not much problem at all. Why? Don’t even make me rant about Kevin Love’s greatness from my personal point of view. With Anthony Randolph the obvious true power forward back-up for Love, I think the Wolves are fine in the power forward spot. At the small forward position, entering his second-year in the NBA, Derrick Williams’ true position for the Timberwolves really is the small forward position. Anthony Tolliver as well is a small forward for the Timberwolves and not a power forward. Why? Well they can shoot outside and they can run the ball better than any power forward. I don’t like to say this but they can control the ball like LeBron James to a certain extent that they are regarded as small forwards and not power forwards. You get what I’m saying? Sorry if that offended LeBron James fans. The Wolves obviously need scorers on their roster. That’s the biggest problem for the Timberwolves. They don’t have much players who can create their own shot and consistently knock them down. Derrick Williams, in my opinion, will obviously start next season instead of Michael Beasley. Beasley should be traded. No doubt about that. Beasley will be the guy the Wolves can use in the trade market in order to get a better consistent scorer on the team. Anthony Tolliver is not that bad of a three point shooter and I believe he can stay as long as his three point shot is working for him. Tolliver and Williams are different small forwards with one being a driver and dunker and the other being a three point specialist which is actually good for the team having distinct small forwards. However, if the Wolves can find a better small forward in the draft or during free agency, Tolliver can be up for grabs.
PS: Anyone not stated on this article when I talk about their position basically means they’re up for grabs.
For more NBA analysis and other NBA opinions check out Theon’s general NBA blog HERE