Apr 3, 2013; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic (14) dribbles the ball as Minnesota Timberwolves guard Malcolm Lee (8) reaches in during the third quarter at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Nikola Pekovic Named Player of the Week

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Pek has been named the NBA’s Western Conference Player of the Week, per the Strib

Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic was named the Western Conference player of the week for games played April 1-7.

It is a career first for Pekovic, who becomes the Wolves’ first player of the week since Al Jefferson got the honor Jan. 5, 2009.

Pekovic averaged 25.0 points on 58.9 percent shooting and 8.5 rebounds per game as the Wolves went 3-1 with victories over Boston, Milwaukee and Detroit. He led the team in scoring in all four games, scoring at least 20 in each game.

For the season Pekovic is averaging career highs in scoring (16.4), rebounding (8.9), assists (0.9), steals (0.7), blocks (0.8) and minutes (31.8). He has 26 double-doubles and 11 games with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds. He has also gotten an offensive rebound in 72 straight games, the second-longest active streak in the NBA behind Kevin Love (75).

Not sure how ‘active’ Kevin Love’s offensive rebounding streak should be considered, but it’s interesting Pek is getting recognition on a national scale and not just by the local trolls like Patrick Reusse. What about Reusse? Well, he wrote this bit of emotional reasoning

There was a feeling a couple of months ago that the Timberwolves could only go so far in bringing back center Nikola Pekovic.

Or to put it another way: I was blind and now I see. The Wolves have to do whatever it takes to bring back the soon-to-be restricted free agent.

He’s not a major defensive presence in the middle. He’s going to miss a few more games to injury than you would like to deal with. But here’s the bottom line: Pekovic gives you an advantage over his main opponent on more nights than any other player in the lineup.

Ricky Rubio is an outstanding point guard taking on 20 other outstanding point guards as the Wolves play out a schedule. Kevin Love, when healthy, is a big numbers producer at power forward, with a tendency to give up as much on the defensive end as he gains with those numbers.

Pekovic can make himself more of a factor than an opposing center in 80 percent of the games he plays. That has been particularly true in the last month, as Rubio has made it all the way back from knee surgery and has been running the show for 35 minutes per night.

The Wolves can come up with the $12-13 million a year it’s going to take to sign Pekovic without making an immediate move with Love. They can put off a decision on Love until after the 2013-14 season.

The advantage here would be two-fold: A) Love could decide if he wants to stick around, or make official and not just hints that he’s looking forward to leaving Minnesota; and B) he could have a healthy season and regain his trade value.

The disaster would be if the Wolves were to lose Pekovic, and then find out for certain that Love had no plans to stay.

No way the Wolves, with salary-cap and escrow issues, can afford to have Pekovic, Love and Rubio (with a close-to-max contract in his future) on the payroll long-term, you say?

So be it.

Rubio and Pekovic are excellent players and fully-committed teammates. Love is an excellent player and fully-committed to individual achievement.

I’d rather have a lineup that included Pekovic at center, Derrick Williams at power forward and Rubio at point guard, than a mediocrity at center, Love at power forward and Rubio at point guard.

Patrick may be a bit too slanted against Love’s attitude and willingness to bolt for California, but the crux of this article is a falsehood in that there is a choice between paying up for Pek and keeping Love in the mix — there isn’t, yet.

The benefits of proper spacing and added weapons surrounding Pek would seem to have been (almost, without Love) on full display this past week. Seeing the locals converted and the NBA recognizing what might be good for the Wolves to consider themselves: just what a force it is they have on their hands. The value of a strong center versus a mediocre power forward isn’t a conundrum the Wolves will find themselves in until next year’s K-Love free agency circus watch beings,but it’s nice to have Pek recognized as a bona fide force in his absence.

As Brandon Knight found out on Sunday…

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