When I first heard the news, I wasn't quite sure why the TWolves wanted ANOTHER big man. I remember being quite upset too, because I had wanted them to resign Anthony Tolliver (they still could have, but grabbed Lou Amundson instead and Tolli found a home in Atlanta). Tolliver was a guy you couldn't help but root for just for his energy and hustle on the floor. Now, nine games into the regular season this is the first time I've mentioned AT since the beginning of training camp.
Why is that? The surprising (to me) play of Dante Cunningham. Coming into the 2012-13 season, Dante had career averages of 5.2ppg & 3.4rpg in 16.9mpg. I knew he had some pretty good games in Memphis but because of inconsistent minutes never really got the chance to shine. With Kevin Love, Derrick Williams, Andrei Kirilenko and Chase Budinger on board I was puzzled, wondering where he would find consistent minutes here.
Dante had been vocal, when he came to Minnesota that he wanted a chance to play some consistent minutes and prove that he could contribute. Thanks to an unfortunate knuckle push up incident, Dante got his chance. Sure, Derrick Williams is starting at power forward, however it's Dante that Adelman has trusted late in games.
Thus far this season (through nine games) Cunningham is averaging: 9.7ppg & 6.1rpg in 24.7mpg while also shooting .541 from the field (a lot of those coming on his 'sweet' mid-range jumper).
Cunningham is consistently outplaying the #2 overall pick in 2011 and proving to the coaching staff that when Kevin Love returns to the lineup, that he's deserving of those backup power forward minutes. Sure, D-Will had a good game on Friday vs. the Warriors (23pts, 7reb, 2ast 4blks) but so did Cunningham (14pts, 6reb, 1ast, 1stl, 1blk), the difference being, Dante has continued to perform consistently, while Williams has continued to force up jumpers and blow open layups (often times going for flashy dunks--that he routinely misses, rather than an easy layup).
As of right now, I say, when Kevin Love returns Dante is the backup power forward and you explore some trades for Derrick Williams OR you sit him on the bench and have the coaching staff continue to work with him. BUT, for the love of God! If Adelman continues to give Williams minutes despite his awful production (Wesley Johnson circa 2011-12 anyone?) I might just lose it! Especially when you have a player producing consistently and at a high level for you (Dante Cunningham).
Dante's performance thus far has certainly taken me by surprise and I don't doubt he's done the same for some of you. Here's hoping that continues. That's all for now, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!