When looking to summarize the 2012-2013 season the Minnesota Timberwolves had, it’s not oversimplifying to say it was Kevin Love’s injury woes that did them in. There were obviously numerous other injury issues and glaring roster imperfections, but none of them would prove as insurmountable as replacing Love’s versatility and the sheer volume of his production. Any fantasy basketball geek will tell you Love’s value lies in his otherworldly ability to rebound while filling the role of the stretchiest stretch-fours of his generation.
Absent Love’s outside shooting, the only other perimeter weapon of note on the entire roster’s absence was ridiculously magnified as Chase Budinger’s (still ongoing) injury woes left last year’s Wolves to take their turns hopelessly jacking threes. That’s a little hyperbolic to say because they ranked 21st in attempts, but the misses had the effect of watching hopeless gunning. The Wolves shot 18 threes a game and made 30.5% of them, making less just tenths more per game than only two other clubs in the entire league. (Memphis and Chicago, who attempted three and five fewer a game.)
This summer Flip Saunders was flexing his media savvy by inflating the expectations balloon with stories of Love’s peak physical conditioning not seen around these parts since his breakout lockout season of two years past. Whether Flip was doing his part to sell season tickets, just cheerleading, or mending President of Basketball Operations fences neglected by the previous regime, the hype looked to be pretty legit in the preseason.
The role Love needs to fill for the Wolves this year won’t be quite the same as year’s past. We’ll talk about why that is next.