In the 2012 NBA Off-Season thus far, the Minnesota Timberwolves have added two big men into their roster: Center Greg Stiemsma, who played alongside Kevin Garnett last season in Boston, and power forward Dante Cunningham who didn’t have much playing time behind the big men of the Memphis Grizzlies. With those players already in mind, plus All-Star power forward Kevin Love and center Nikola Pekovic most likely starting together for most of the upcoming season, it seems as if that the Timberwolves already have a solid 4 man rotation in the front court. Unfortunately some people, including myself, feel as if it’s not enough. What can I say? You can never have too many big man, especially in the Western Conference, where length is necessary to succeed.
The Memphis Grizzlies have two big men in Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph starting and up and coming center Marreese Speights coming off the bench for the Grizzlies. Memphis is very much expected to make the playoffs this season and for the Timberwolves, the Grizzlies is one team they will probably be seeing a lot in the near future.
The Los Angeles Lakers are currently the biggest and simply the brightest team in the Western Conference with the addition of quite possibly the best center in the NBA today, Dwight Howard a.k.a Superman. The Lakers this off season have also been able to keep Pau Gasol despite going through with the trade that sent Andrew Bynum to the East coast in Philadelphia. Furthermore, in the off season, the Lakers have silently acquired veteran forward Antawn Jamison whose array of skills in the paint will be useful for the already lengthy Lakers who are currently favored to win the conference this year. The Timberwolves in my opinion will make the playoffs as the 8th seed and most likely their first opponent will be the Lakers. Yikes.
The Oklahoma City Thunder in the off-season have just extended Serge Ibaka’s contract. Last season, Ibaka was one of the favorites to win the 2012 KIA Defensive Player of the Year and now assured of being a Thunder for a couple more seasons, the Western Conference will still have problems going inside with Iblaka running the show down low. The Thunder also have one of the best one-on-one post defenders and rebounders in the NBA in Kendrick Perkins. Perkins, who played for the Boston Celtics before, is a center that can defend big men no matter how tall or how big they are. I can clearly remember how well Perkins can defend Dwight Howard. Could you imagine how easily he could stop Nikola Pekovic or even Kevin Love, well, running to the three point line will be problem but shutting down Pekovic will be a bit easier.
The Los Angeles Clippers are still standing taller than the Timberwolves mainly because of the new addition of forward Lamar Odom, one of the most versatile players in the NBA. Odom, who last played for the Dallas Mavericks and also is a 2-time NBA champion with the Lakers, provides great defense with his agility mixed with his length. Offensively, Odom is very active and can be sometimes annoying for opposing big man in the paint when going up for a rebound. Coming off the bench for All-Star forward Blake Griffin, the Timberwolves’ power forward spot is on an obvious disadvantage already. DeAndre Jordan on the other hand is one center that is slowly but surely developing into one of the better NBA big men. Together with point guard Chris Paul, Jordan can somewhat become a Tyson Chandler and if that happens Pekovic and Love stand no chance against that.
Other Western Conference teams in the NBA such as the Denver Nuggets with JaVale McGee, Al Harrington, and second year forward Kenneth Faried, the Minnesota Timberwolves’ front court stands at a sometimes slight yet sometimes huge disadvantage. The Timberwolves obviously at this point of the off-season still need another big man. With all due respect, Dante Cunningham is not that good and him coming off the bench for Kevin Love is something I will not enjoy. Greg Stiemsma is a dark horse in my opinion as we have yet to see more from him this year. We know Love and Pekovic can do their thing, but they somewhat still lack something more.
Power forward Kenyon Martin seemed to be the favorite for Dunking With Wolves viewers on the poll I had, and in my opinion, I think he’s one player the Timberwolves must look to pick up. Not only does he bring extra length and size to the team, he brings A LOT of energy. With the Clippers last season, Martin was great defensive big man and offensively he brought the same energy and it was not necessarily done through scoring. If not Martin, the Timberwolves could possibly move Kirilenko to the four from time to time despite most likely starting this season. From there, the Timberwolves could now try to move on to adding another wing player. Maybe these NBA Free Agents would be good:
- Michael Redd, Leandro Barbosa, Mickael Pietrus, Ivan Johnson
The biggest name that actually strikes me from there is Ivan Johnson or Michael Redd. Johnson is a power forward/center and with the Hawks he slowly made himself known to the rest of the NBA when the other big men on the roster fell out of rotation due to injuries. Johnson is a hard worker down low and will bring some “beef” and toughness to the Timberwolves if ever picked up. Michael Redd on the other hand is a solid wing player and will be relied on to hit big three pointers.
The Timberwolves’ off-season is obviously not finished. They still have about two months to go until the 2012-2013 NBA Regular Season tips off. So expect more rumors and more deals to happen within that time span.
Hopefully they’re good!