With ESPN announcing their annual Top 500 NBA players list, the Minnesota Timberwolves currently have four players still unranked. Ranks 100 to 500 have already been released and in my opinion, these four will still have to wait for a little while for their names to come up. The remaining four players to be announced are: Andrei Kirilenko, Ricky Rubio, Nikola Pekovic, and of course, Kevin Love.
In my opinion, and most likely in every one else’s opinion, Kevin Love will probably end up in the Top 10 if not Top 20 section of ESPN’s list. Love is already one of the NBA’s elite players and certainly has the approval of fellow NBA superstars. Last year Love was awarded the 16th rank and in my opinion Love will probably be seen around ranks 6-10. Who knows Kevin Love might even end up in the Top 5 with current NBA greats like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, and Dwight Howard. Hmmm, is he the fifth one? That’s tough to say, so I leave it up to ESPN and the rest of the NBA universe to decide on that, all I know is that Love is up there.
Being a rookie from Spain and having not proven himself to play in the NBA level, Ricky Rubio was ranked 204th overall. After a shortened yet amazing rookie season, Rubio is more likely to land somewhere in the Top 40 players list in my opinion. Rubio is obviously not in the level of other elite point guards in the NBA like Derrick Rose or Rajon Rondo, but he’s not that far behind after amazing glimpses we saw from him last season. Set to return this December Rubio is once again anticipated in Minnesota as we and the rest of the NBA knows that the Wolves are best with a healthy Ricky.
In the midst of Linsanity during the month of February to mid-March, Nikola Pekovic was padding his stats and developing his game to help out fellow big man teammate Kevin Love in the front court. Before the 2011-2012 NBA Lockout Season began, Pekovic was ranked 395 by ESPN and now is on the verge of being ranked somewhere in the double-digits area. In my opinion I can see Pekovic being in the Top 50 if not Top 60. Pekovic last season came out of nowhere to say the least as I can vividly remember seeing him enter the game knowing that the only reason he came in was because it was already garbage time. This season how ever, he’ll be one of the players to make the game go into garbage time, for the Wolves’ opponents that is.
Having not played in the NBA or better the United States last year, forward Andrei Kirilenko much like Timberwolves teammate Brandon Roy (ranked 145) is a big question mark. However, unlike Roy, Kirilenko has been playing basketball and has been having success still as he was easily the best player in Russia last season winning the league’s MVP award. Ranked 90 before leaving for Russia, Kirilenko looks poised to be ranked somewhere around that rank once again heading into this season with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Defense is all Kirilenko does perfectly and that’s one big reason why he is ranked within the double digits.
Here are the ranks of the other Minnesota Timberwolves players on ESPN:
- 353 Alexey Shved – watch out for this guy this season
- 134 J.J Barea
- 194 Luke Ridnour
- 403 Malcolm Lee
- 133 Chase Budinger
- 139 Derrick Williams
- 270 Greg Stiemsma
- 298 Dante Cunningham