Lunes, Enero 28, 2013

Minnesota Timberwolves: 5 Keys for Survival without Kevin Love

It's been nearly two years since I posted something on this site. Tonight, I unclogged this blog and oiled it one more time for another slide, and I'm starting 2013 with one of my favorite teams, the Minnesota Timberwolves.

When Kevin Love returned early in the season to bolster their line-up, things were looking great for the Minnesota Timberwolves, who are looking to enter the playoffs for the first time since Kevin Garnett brought them to the conference finals in 2004. They gained additional muscle when Ricky Rubio reported to the scorer’s table in a win against Dallas, from an ACL injury sustained last March. With their front runners returning from injuries, the Wolves had a clear look on their goal for this year.

Little did they know that the castle they built on the sands would once again crumble down. In a game against Denver, with Rubio out due to back spasms, Love fractured his right hand, his second since injuring the same hand last October 17. MRI reports confirmed the injury and the recovery period is yet to be known.

One thing is sure at this very moment. The Wolves are in a rebuilding process while their main men are breaking down, quite literally.

With Love out indefinitely, the Timberwolves are looking to survive another run without the leader of their wolf pack. How they would do it remains to be the question which I will be answering right at this moment.

1.  Maintain Rebounding Control
The Timberwolves lead the league in rebounding, grabbing a stellar 46.2 boards per game, 13.9 of which are coming off from offensive glass. This means that the Timberwolves are dominant on second chance points which are very vital on the offense. Love leads the team in rebounding, clearing 14 boards per night in 18 games that he played. With him out, the rebounding effort should be spread up to the last string sitting on that bench. This would come in handy now that Nikola Pekovic and Chris Johnson have improved their inside games.

2. Aggression
The Timberwolves have decent perimeter players who can knockdown jumpers anytime. But attacking the middle for a higher percentage shot is way better than pulling up. Derrick Williams has not blown to his full potential this season. With his explosiveness and athleticism, he would be a great uplift to the gang.

3. Improve Free Throw Shooting
With aggression comes hard fouls. With fouls come free throws. With free throws, the Wolves are shooting 73.1 percent. They rank 23rd in the league in that department which means that the opponent’s defense would rather give a foul rather than an easy two. If the Wolves continue their effort to make their foul shots, it would be a plus offensively.

4. Blast three’s
The Wolves have good shooters in their line-up. Stacked with European talent, they have the ability to make 3’s and to bang it up inside physically. But at this moment, the Wolves are shooting a lowly 29.5 percent from beyond the arc. Should JJ Barea, rookie Alexey Shved, and Luke Ridnour improve their touch from the arc, the Wolves can be unstoppable at every given night.

5. Defense
Cliche as it is, a good defense is the best offense. The Timberwolves are allowing 95.3 points a game, 7th overall in the league. They rank 19th and 10th in stealing and blocking shots with 7.6 and 5.6 respectively. With slight decency in their defensive stats, it’s the intangibles that count in their defense. With every wolf giving their all every night to protect the ball and maintain turnovers below 15, they would have every opportunity to flourish. The Timberwolves improving their defense would bolster their chances of making the playoffs this year.