The PEKsecutioner, the Tyrannosaurus PEK; with all his imPEKable low post moves, Nikola is poised for another breakout season.
The Timberwolves will be without their All-Star, Kevin Love for (at least) the first ten games of the season. Sounds like it's Pek's time to shine!
I guarantee that Pek will be averaging AT LEAST 23 points and 12 rebounds a night without Kevin Love. With Kevin Love, I'd assume it'd be closer to 15 points and 8 rebounds. Assuming he gets the playing time: 35+ minutes, that shouldn't be a problem.
Pekovic will be good without Kevin Love, but he becomes a lot more valuable and dangerous, playing WITH Kevin Love. Allowing them to play off each other, with a high low, inside/outside--they'll become virtually unstoppable.
You want to pack the lane and deny PEK in the post? That's fine, Kevin Love or Brandon Roy will just splash a three on you. You want to spread the floor and leave the middle vulnerable, that's fine Nikola (or Kevin) will go to work in the paint, backing down the much weaker defenders (in Pekovic's case: that'd be every other player in the NBA!).
So, Pek is going to have a great year! However, will it be 'great' enough that he could challenge for a spot on the Western Conference All-Star team? Well, let's examine that...
First off, the skill is there, I have a great feeling (barring any injuries) that Pekovic will emerge as one of the NBA's best big men.
As you may or may not have heard, the NBA has implemented a new voting format for the All-Star game. Instead of voting in two guards, two forwards and one center (for the starting lineup); the format will now be two guards and three 'frontcourt' players.
Keeping that in mind, let's take a look at the starting power forwards and centers for every Western Conference team...
DAL: Dirk Nowitzki & Chris Kaman
DEN: Kenneth Faried & JaVale McGee
GSW: David Lee & Andrew Bogut
HOU: Patrick Patterson & Omer Asik
LAC: Blake Griffin & DeAndre Jordan
LAL: Pau Gasol & Dwight Howard
MEM: Zach Randolph & Marc Gasol
NOH: Ryan Anderson & Anthony Davis
OKC: Serge Ibaka & Kendrick Perkins
PHX: Luis Scola & Marcin Gortat
POR: LaMarcus Aldridge & J.J. Hickson
SAC: Thomas Robinson & DeMarcus Cousins
SAS: Boris Diaw & Tim Duncan
UTH: Paul Millsap & Al Jefferson
Anyway, out of those 14 players, who will make the All-Star team? Ultimately, on the All-Star team there will be seven spots for small forwards, power forwards and centers. Last season there was just one Western Conference small forward: Kevin Durant. I think we can all agree he'll be back (and rightfully so). The only other small forward that could make the All-Star team? Andre Iguodala of the Denver Nuggets. But then that'll raise the question: is Iggy a small forward or a shooting guard?! Rudy Gay or Nicolas Batum have an outside chance, as well. So, looking at the names above, here's who could make the All-Star team: Dirk Nowitzki (if he can return from the knee surgery and return to form), Blake Griffin (as long as he keeps throwing down dunks, the fans'll be sure he makes the squad), Pau Gasol (outside chance--more likely he recedes into Kobe, DH & Nash's shadow), Dwight Howard (a lock), Marc Gasol (doubtful considering all the talented Western Conference power forwards), LaMarcus Aldridge (he's the man in Portland and doesn't have a whole lot of help this season, he should have a big year and another All-Star appearance), DeMarcus Cousins (who knows), Paul Millsap/Al Jefferson (they're waiting in the wings, but they won't be All-Stars unless guys like Love, Dirk, LA or Blake struggle/can't play).
Kevin Love is a lock to make the squad. So, does Nikola have a chance to make the team? Short answer: No. I could sit here and play the "What If" game all night long, but we'll just leave it at no. We'll leave it at no, for one simple reason. There are other centers in the West that are either more talented (Dwight) or have more hype surrounding them (Cousins, Gasol, etc). Of course, there may not be any centers on the All-Star team(s), with the new format, that's a possibility.
I can feel myself rambling on, so I'll stop while I'm clearly WAY ahead!
All aboard the PEK bandwagon! That's all for now, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!