It would be easy to pronounce this season dead, to say that the Minnesota Timberwolves should blow it up and start it all over again. Here are a couple excellent reasons:
- Kevin Love hurt his hand…twice.
- Brandon Roy’s knees were never ready for an NBA season and the team never really had another pure shooter on the roster.
- Two young guys that proved that they are franchise players, Nikola Pekovic and Alexey Shved, caught the injury bug.
- Coach Rick Adelman understandably had to leave the team because of his wife’s seizures, but his absence came at a time when he was needed most.
- There is always a feeling in sports that if things go wrong, a team should press the reset button ASAP.
Having said that, I am not sure that trading everyone away or failing to renew contracts is the way to go. My hope is that clearer heads prevail here and people realize that Adelman had this club playing .500 ball with all the injuries and that Ricky Rubio, Alexey Shved, Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic are all bona fide NBA starters.
Minnesota lacks a shooter, which needs to be addressed, but that’s also assuming that Andrei Kirilenko, J.J. Barea and Luke Ridnour come off the bench—meaning there’s some depth there.
The biggest argument to keep the team together may come from Love himself, who told Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski in that infamous interview:
You walk into the locker room every year, and it's completely turned over. There's new guys everywhere. And then it happens again and again. You start to wonder: Is there really a plan here? Is there really any kind of a…plan?
I can’t vouch for what happened in the past, but I’ll tell you this, the Wolves have one plan right now: Get a three-point shooter.
Have Derrick Williams hoist up a whole bunch of treys in practice and see if he can turn into a hybrid 3-4 that can shoot and penetrate. Alexey Shved might have a little shooter’s touch in his blood; they should see if they can tap into that. Otherwise, Minnesota better hope J.J. Redick doesn’t sign a new deal and the Wolves should throw the entire kitchen sink at him…like give him $8 million a year and name a lake after him or something.
If that doesn’t work, they’re going to have to go with a project, a Daniel Gibson or Jimmer Fredette kind of guy, and hope to turn him into a pure shooter.
At this point, it just doesn't make sense to try and reboot the team once again.
As for this season, I’ll play the role of optimist here. Here’s the way I look at it: This team has endured a lot so far. Just about everyone has been injured and Adelman has been out and as a result, only Sacramento, Phoenix and New Orleans are lower in the Western Conference standings.
In order to sneak into the playoffs, Minnesota has to get past Dallas, the Lakers and Portland and bounce Houston, Utah or Denver. They also will have to do that without Love for most of the way and, at least by the way it looks right now, without a real three-point threat.
It is difficult to fathom. They have recently lost to the Mavs, Lakers and Blazers. Houston is a unique team that appears playoff-bound. The Moneyball cadre loves this team and because all the rest of us have no idea what they’re talking about, we tend to agree with them. Portland, Utah and Denver are not really all that scary. They play good team basketball, but I believe that when fully operational, the Wolves are actually more talented.
In my mind, Adelman is going to have this team overachieving once again. Pek and Shved are back and have a lot to offer and Ricky Rubio is finally looking like himself. If this team can get back to .500, pass up the Mavs and Lakers, two teams with sub-.500 records, and make this a race between teams in their division, they can get lucky and nab that eighth seed.
It’s not a stellar plan by any means, but at this point, it’s certainly better than blowing up the entire team again this season.
Tom Schreier covers the Timberwolves for Bleacher Report and writes a weekly column for TheFanManifesto.com.