Year-Round News & Updates on the Minnesota Timberwolves
What might have been. This is a sentence that most Wolves fans correlate directly with Kevin Love and perhaps more importantly David Kahn. What might have been if the Wolves took DeMarcus Cousins instead of Wesley Johnson or Stephen Curry instead of Jonny Flynn?
However, in this context we're speaking on these 2014-15 Wolves and their injury-riddled season. What if Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin and Nikola Pekovic had never gotten hurt?
Kevin Martin believes that this Timberwolves squad could've been this season's "Phoenix Suns". Who came out of nowhere to compete for a low seed in the Western Conference. The Suns defied expectations last season. Everyone expected them to be lottery-bound as one of the NBA's worst teams. Instead they finished with a 48-34 record and amazingly and one game behind the Dallas Mavericks (49-33) for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West.
That was done with a nucleus of Eric Bledsoe, Goran Dragic, Miles Plumlee, Channing Frye, Gerald Green and the Morris twins (Markieff & Marcus).
Is it ridiculous to believe that a core of Ricky Rubio, Andrew Wiggins, Corey Brewer, Kevin Martin, Nikola Pekovic, Thaddeus Young, Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng couldn't have been this year's surprise team?
Some good has come of these injuries, however. Ricky Rubio spent his time rehabbing by working on his shot. In the couple games he's played since returning from that severe ankle sprain and ligament damage, there is a noticeable improvement in his shooting stroke and confidence in his shot.
The other big positives have been the extended playing time that Andrew Wiggins, Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng have gotten as a result of these injuries. Wiggins has developed quickly as the cornerstone of this franchise. Shabazz Muhammad has shown off all the work he has put in this summer. Even Zach LaVine has received an uptick in minutes because of injuries. That has sped up their development and put them in situations they wouldn't otherwise had the opportunity to be in.
By the time this Wolves team finally pushes its way back into the playoff picture, there's little doubt that guys like Ricky Rubio, Andrew Wiggins, Shabazz Muhammad and Zach LaVine will be key components in that. Add in another high lottery pick this season and the Wolves are quietly becoming one of the most intriguing groups of young talent in the NBA.
They may not even make the jump in 2015-16, however (barring yet another injury-plagued season) this will be a fun team to watch and more competitive than they've ever been.
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