Oct 30, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love (42) and guard Ricky Rubio (9) talk to teammates against the Orlando Magic at Target Center. The Timberwolves defeated the Magic 120-115 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
The Minnesota Timberwolves and their fans can ask themselves a question they haven’t been able to ask themselves since the Kevin Garnett era. Can the Timberwolves not just make the playoffs but, make a run in the playoffs and possibly go past the first round? Here is what it would take:
For the record, I am not saying the Timberwolves are going to win the Larry O’ Brien trophy this season. I am simply saying that the Timberwolves have all the means necessary to make it out of the first round of the playoffs and possibly make some resemblance of a postseason run.
The key to this Minnesota basketball team is they are not a “super team”. As we have seen in the past 3 years on average 33% of “super teams” are successful. I am pulling this data off of the three most recent “super teams”, the Miami Heat, the Los Angeles Lakers, and the most recent, the Brooklyn Nets. While we cannot count the Nets as a lost cause yet, their season is definitely off to a rocky start. Obviously, the Lakers were a huge failure last year, and the Miami Heat have been extraordinarily successful. The Wolves are not a “super team”, meaning they have better odds of being successful in the postseason. Oh the irony… The Timberwolves can strive to be successful because each player who is a regular in Rick Adelman’s rotation has a specific role that they are tasked with to make the team successful. These super teams didn’t, so that is why the Timberwolves can make a run. Here is an in-depth look at each players role on the Wolves and what they have to do so that the Wolves can make this run.
Ricky Rubio – Rubio has been subpar this season in terms of scoring, but is tied for top five in assists per game in the league with 8.6 dimes per game. He needs to keep on being the floor general for the Wolves and leading the charge on offense. Rubio is also extremely valuable on the defensive end of the court. Rubio is leading the league is steals per game with 3.13 thefts per game. Rubio may sometimes gamble on defense and it may not always pay off, but one cannot be angry with over three steals per game. In short, Rubio needs to keep distributing and playing suffocating perimeter defense on the opposing teams floor general. It would also be valuable for the Wolves if Rubio could up his scoring to above 10 points per game, and start knocking down his perimeter shot with regularity.
Kevin Martin– Martin is looking like he was one of the premier steals of this offseason. Martin has been playing out of his mind with averages of: 22.5 points per game, and 3.7 rebounds per game, on insane 46% shooting from downtown, and 93% shooting from the charity stripe. Martin is not called upon to do anything else but put the ball in the basket, and that is exactly what he is doing. If Martin continues to play this stellar, it is going to be hard for the Timberwolves not to make the playoffs. Martin just needs to keep putting up points by the dozens for the Wolves to be successful in the postseason.
Corey Brewer – Corey Brewer was signed to be a defensive minded backup to Chase Budinger this summer. Boy, did he turn out to be so much more. Brewer has become a two way stud in Chase Budinger’s absence and has become a huge part of the Timberwolves defensive culture. Brewer always guards the opposing team’s strongest wing player, and usually does a pretty good job of it. This wasn’t surprising because, everyone saw it coming. This was the surprise: Coming into this season, Brewer was known for being lackadaisical on offense and not being able to hold his own. Now, Brewer is averaging 14.4 points per game, and gives Kevin Love a great target for his infamous outlet passes. Brewer is the Wolves number one option in transition, and also has shown that he possesses a deadly corner three. For the Wolves to be successful in the postseason, Brewer must keep playing lockdown defense on the perimeter, keep knocking down his corner threes, and streaking out on the break for easy layups and dunks in transition.
Kevin Love – Kevin Love is having arguably the best season in his career, and is making a serious case for MVP. Love has insane averages of 24.6 points per game, 13.8 rebounds per game, and 4.4 assists per game on 83% free throw shooting. One key to the the Timberwolves success is Love’s health, after playing in only 18 games last season because of multiple lingering injuries, injury will always be a concern for Love throughout the rest of his career. Love is 4th in the league in scoring and 1st in rebounding but one major stat is overlooked. Love is second in the league in assists for Power Forwards and Centers trailing only Josh McRoberts. Love’s distributing is essential to the Wolves and their success. In short, Love needs to keep doing what he is doing, and stay healthy.
Nikola Pekovic – Nikola Pekovic has seen a drop in his production because all of the scoring being added to the lineup over the last offseason. Even though his stats aren’s as good, Pekovic is still as important to the Wolves as he was last season. Pekovic’s main weapon is his size. Standing at 6-11 and 285 pounds, Pekovic is one of the biggest players in the NBA, and Pekovic knows how to utilize his size to its full potential. Pekovic also excels at pulling down offensive boards which is valuable to his team because it leads to extra possessions which, means more opportunities to score. Pekovic’s main duty to the Wolves is to clog the lane on defense and use his size to bully other opponents. Pekovic has the ability to score the basketball, and that should not be overlooked either.
If these five players can work together as a cohesive unit, and fulfill their roles, this Timberwolves team will be hard to beat come postseason and should present a major challenge to whoever their opponent is.