In recent seasons, the Timberwolves have done nothing but underperform. Things seemed to turn around for the 2012/13 season, as they had arguably the best playing roster since the Kevin Garnett trade. Unfortunately, Kevin Love broke his hand doing pushups mere weeks before the start of the season. This quickly derailed any hopes the Timberwolves had of making the playoffs, and they finished the season with a dismal 31-51 record.
This year, the T-Wolves made it through the off-season without any injuries and have accrued a solid record of 3-1 so far. Assuming they can stay healthy, their playoff hopes may be realised by the time we reach the end of the regular season. If they are to reach these dreams, there is still some progress that certain players need to make.
Love needs to stay healthy if the Wolves are to make the playoffs. Last year was proof enough that he is the most important player on this team, and the team is not going to have much of a postseason without him. Aside from this, there really isn’t any more that Love can contribute.
He has started the season dominating and as a result, was named the Western Conference player of the week. This is a credit to Love and just how much he means to the success of this team, which reiterates the need for him to stay healthy.
It has been shown that Love is already doing all that he can to help the Wolves win as many games as possible this season. Rubio is a player that I expect to see a lot more out of for the remainder of the season. The Wolves are often considered to be a “League Pass darling” because of Rubio’s brilliance on the open floor, and his creativity when making passes. Teams are obviously becoming more aware of this and are challenging Rubio to go away from this strength.
In the 2012/13 season, Rubio made only 26% of all three pointers attempted from the top and wings of the arc, the area in which point guards attempt most of their three pointers. Currently, teams are daring him to take threes from these areas, which allows them to sag off in order to better defend his passes and penetration. This all adds up to the fact that Rubio needs to improve his jumpshot greatly in order to become a more complete player, which naturally adds up to more wins for the Wolves.
Obviously there are more players on the roster than Love and Rubio, and each player will play a part in determining whether or not the Wolves will make the playoffs. Despite this, the NBA is the league in which superstars can determine the outcome of a game more than any other sport in the world. If Love and Rubio can be the players they need to be, as outlined above, they will go a long way of ensuring the Wolves can live up to the expectations they have set themselves for this year.
Who do you think will turn out to be the surprise cog for the Wolves this season, outside of Rubio and Love?