Scouting Report: Minnesota Timberwolves
The Minnesota Timberwolves are happy to have one of the best all around players in the NBA on their roster. Kevin Love has already notched 16 20-20 games and won an NBA rebounding title and a Three-Point Contest title in his four full NBA seasons. He is legit.
Love is probably the best pure rebounder the league has right now. He doesn’t have great size (he’s just 6-foot-10) or great athleticism, but he reads the trajectory of the ball perfectly and knows where rebounds are going to land before shots even hit the rim. Love also drills 3-pointers on the regular, as he has shot at least 37.2 percent from downtown over the past two seasons.
Doc Rivers and Paul Pierce each called Love one of the best rebounders of this “era” on Tuesday. Those are pretty high regards, and he deserves them.
Boston’s season has been a roller coaster ride in terms of production. Minnesota’s has been a roller coaster in terms of health.
The Timberwolves have eight players listed on their injury report who are either out of the lineup or have just recently returned. Chase Budinger, Andrei Kirilenko, Brandon Roy and Ricky Rubio all remain out of the lineup with injuries.
David Kahn has received quite a bit of flak for his pension of signing and drafting point guards, but that shouldn’t overshadow the powerful frontcourt this guy has assembled. Love, as we’ve outlined, is one of the greatest players in the league. Nikola Pekovic, a near-7-footer who has become a legitimate force over the past year, flanks Love in the frontcourt. Former Celtic and shot-blocker extraordinaire Greg Stiemsma comes off of the bench as the backup center.
The Timberwolves aren’t deep along their frontline, but their starters are very, very good, and Stiemsma has proven to be a serviceable backup. Love and Pekovic can score, they can rebound, and they occupy space. Boston doesn’t have a true center, so dealing with this Minnesota team could prove to be difficult.
The Timberwolves are on the uptick now that one of their stars is back in the lineup and another is on his way. Love returned to the lineup seven games ago and is a big reason why Minnesota has won three of its past four contests. Ricky Rubio returned to practice this week and is expected to return to game action before the new year.
If you’re a Minnesota fan, you must be excited. The team is 8-8, yet it has been ravaged by injuries all season long. If and when it returns to full health, Minnesota will be more than a handful.
Their Achilles’ Heel
This Timberwolves team has a lot of talent, there’s no doubting that, but what it doesn’t have – and what it hasn’t had for several years – is a legitimate shooting guard.
The franchise attempted to turn former lottery pick Wes Johnson into a shooting guard but that experiment crashed and burned. They signed Brandon Roy this summer in an attempt to fill the shooting guard slot but Roy’s knees have allowed him to play in only five games.
This is the fourth consecutive season in which the Timberwolves have played without anything close to an established shooting guard. If Roy happened to be healthy for this entire season that would change things, but that’s an enormous ‘if.’
Teams need shooting to be successful in this league. That’s a fact. There is a gaping hole on any roster that cannot fill the one position on the floor that actually has the word ‘shooting’ in it.