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Apr 16, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves center Gorgui Dieng (5) drives in the second quarter against the Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Three Timberwolves players who could have a breakout 2014-15 NBA season

Now that former Minnesota Timberwolves player Kevin Love (very weird to read those words strung together) has landed in Cleveland, it is time to move on.

The Wolves undoubtedly have some talent on their current roster and the potential is intriguing. With that said, it would take a lot of convincing for me to place them in the top-eight Western Conference teams right now, which, of course, would break their long playoff drought.

However, the team has an interesting balance of young and exciting players tossed in with a few proven veterans and should have some players turn in solid seasons.

Let’s take a look at a few players on the current Wolves roster who could very well have a breakout season in 2014-2015. (The term “breakout” typically comes with an assumption that the player has some league experience, so for this post I am excluding the likes of Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine.)

Nikola Pekovic

Best statistical season thus far (four seasons): 17.5 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 0.9 APG (2013-2014)

Some may consider Pek’s 2013-2014 campaign somewhat of a breakout year. The argument against that is directly correlated to the fact that the big man from Montenegro only played in 54 games last season. With Love out of the picture, Pek may become scoring option number one and at 28-years-old he should be entering or in the midst of his prime.

Look for number 14 to average a near double-double again, while hopefully improving on his defense and durability.

Gorgui Dieng

Best statistical season thus far (one season): 4.8 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 0.7 APG (2013-2014)

Dieng is stuck behind Pekovic on the Minnesota depth chart, but is one of the most athletic players on the roster. This is saying a lot when you consider his teammates include Wiggins, LaVine and Brewer.

I wouldn’t be shocked if Flip Saunders plays around with some different starting lineups throughout the entire season, possibly giving the Louisville product some starts at center and even power forward. With the acquisition of forwards Wiggins and Young, it could create a bit of a logjam of players fighting for playing time. I see Dieng getting plenty of court action this season though, whether it be as  result of an injury, rookie season struggles from others, or game-to-game foul trouble.

Apr 16, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves center Gorgui Dieng (5) drives in the second quarter against the Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Ricky Rubio

Best statistical season thus far (three seasons): 10.7 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 7.3 APG (2012-2013) OR 9.5 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 8.6 RPG (2013-2014)

Analysts and fans may have expected Rubio to break out in a big way last year, but now with more athletic guards and forwards by his side, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the 2009 draft pick’s assist totals continue to rise. (His highlight reel passes and alley-oop totals should increase as well.)

Where Rubio continues to struggle is his shooting. While he has made a respectable 80.1 percent of his free throws so far in his young career, that figure drops to 38 and 32.3 for two-pointers and three-pointers, respectively. There were far too many instances last season when Rubio made fantastic moves to the basket, only to come up empty-handed on a missed layup. He will need to improve his jump shooting too, as there could be a jump-shooting shortage on this year’steam.

Mar 23, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio (9) dribbles in the fourth quarter against the Phoenix Suns at Target Center. Phoenix wins 127-120. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Those who I considered but missed the cut include Corey BrewerChase Budinger, and Thaddeus Young.

Player capsules continue all week long, so stay posted for more analysis and opinion on this year’s ever-changing roster.

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Tags: Gorgui Dieng Minnesota Timberwovles Nikola Pekovic Ricky Rubio

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