The Minnesota Timberwolves have gotten off to a solid start to the season, going 4-2 and standing just a half game behind the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Northwest Division. Even more amazing is that the team has succeeded with Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio continuing to rehab from ACL surgery and double-double machine Kevin Love recovering from a broken hand. However, the team's fortunes may soon become all the better.
According to a tweet by Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.com, Love is on track to return to the lineup by early December, just over two weeks away. He would step in for second-year man Derrick Williams, who has been disappointing to the tune of 9.3 points and five rebounds per game while shooting just 33 percent from the field.
Once Love and his career marks of 17.3 points and 12 rebounds per game return, the Timberwolves will be in a prime position to make a run not just for the playoffs, but for the divisional crown. Once Rubio returns from his knee injury in mid-December, there's no telling how much great work this team will do.
However, the Wolves' success starts and ends with Love this year and once he's back in the lineup, the possibilities will be endless. Rubio coming back is just the icing on the cake. Love has great size at 6'10", 245 pounds and is the rare type of big man who has a great jumpshot along with his ability to play hard under the basket.
For his career, the former UCLA Bruin has shot 46 percent from the field and an impressive 38 percent from long range.
With him back in the lineup, the pressure on the rest of the Timberwolves players will immediately be turned down. Andrei Kirilenko can go back to doing what he does best and just score points off the wing rather than be something of a point forward, like he has been all season thus far.
In the backcourt, Luke Ridnour and Brandon Roy won't have to worry so much about putting points on the board and just be able to take shots when necessary. When Love returns, a majority of the offense can be focused on him and keep Minnesota afloat until Rubio returns.
Once the Spanish sensation comes back, the Timberwolves will truly start to look dangerous. Here is a man who, at just 21 years old, averaged 10.6 points, 8.2 assists and 2.2 steals in his rookie season. The only real mark against him was that he shot 36 percent from the field, but he is not a score-first point guard so it can't be held against him too much.
Today, Rubio is a year older and has a better idea of how basketball is played on the NBA level. Once he returns, expect his playmaking ways and crisp passing abilities to improve the games of everyone in the lineup. Roy will return to his old form, and Alexey Shved's jumper could improve immensely.
At that point, the forgettable years of the Minnesota Timberwolves will be a thing of the past. For the first time since the days of Flip Saunders, the team will be a young and cohesive unit ready to contend in the postseason.
Simply put, if the team has gotten off to a good start now, they'll start to look truly great once their two young studs come back from injury.