Year-Round News & Updates on the Minnesota Timberwolves
Things were looking grand, the Wolves added some savvy veteran pieces, got rid of all the knuckleheads from last season's squad and it seemed as though the Wolves were ready to break through in the Western Conference and finally claw their way back into the postseason.
Yesterday morning those aspirations for a playoff berth took a major blow. Word came that TWolves superstar Kevin Love broke his hand in a pre-practice workout and will be out for the next 6-8 weeks.
Minnesota is definitely going to be worse off without him, however they're not dead in the water.
David Kahn did a fairly good job of constructing this team and there are still a number of pieces that can contribute and keep this squad competitive.
So, the question remains: With Love Down, Who'll Step Up? The starting lineup will obviously change, however Luke Ridnour (PG), Brandon Roy (SG) and Nikola Pekovic (C) will remain in the starting lineup. Andrei Kirilenko will still be a starter, but it remains unclear whether Adelman will keep him at small forward, or shift him over to power forward (where many declare he's a better player).
Let's take a look at some potential starting lineups...
I think we all know Derrick Williams will get the first chance at that starting power forward position. However, if he continues to be inconsistent, the Wolves have other options. Honestly I'd rather see Dante as the starting four or have forwards Budinger & Kirilenko as the starters. In either of those scenarios, Williams would continue to come off the bench, but unlike with Love as the starter he'd definitely see some extended minutes--a lot of them at the four.
Owner Glen Taylor spoke to the media yesterday about Love's injury and said that for the time being the Wolves will likely go forward with what they have and give D-Will & Dante a chance, though Taylor hadn't yet spoken to David Kahn or Rick Adelman. So, I wouldn't yet rule out Minnesota adding another frontcourt player.
So, we have a rough idea of who will be replacing Love in the starting lineup, however that doesn't really answer the question of: Who'll Step Up? Where will the Wolves find those extra 26 points & 13 rebounds? Nikola Pekovic will get more touches in the paint and should average 20-25 points a night. Andrei Kirilenko will be asked to score a bit more with Love out, he'll be asked to do more on the boards, as well. Roy's knees become even more important as does his scoring.
The fact is, you can't fully replace Love's production. Kevin will likely miss 6 weeks to 2 months, which pegs his return around mid-December. Which is also the earliest that Ricky Rubio could return. For Kevin, he shouldn't to be bad off when he returns. Love will be able to keep up his conditioning while he recovers, the only thing to really worry about is how/if this will effect his shooting touch, considering it is his right hand (shooting hand) that's broken.
We'll get our first look of the Love-less Wolves tomorrow (Friday) night vs. the Chicago Bulls at the United Center. You can find a full gameday preview of that one under the "Gameday" section on this site. Thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
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