The Minnesota Timberwolves have had trouble finding a "center of the future" during their existence. The Wolves have tried everyone from Paul Grant to Michael Olowokandi to Reggie Slater. In other words, it's been a mess.
So it might be a bit mind-boggling if I say the Wolves have found their man in Nikola Pekovic. Yes, Nikola Pekovic.
The Wolves have seen this before. A random center from overseas has mostly mediocre performances, but every once in a while, he'll have a game where he throws up Kevin Love numbers. OK, maybe that's an exaggeration for Rasho Nesterovic, but when he had a 20-point game, eyebrows were raised.
They're being raised now by the play of Pekovic, the Timberwolves second-round pick in the 2008 NBA draft. Coming into this season, many expected Pekovic to be a bench player who would come in during garbage time.
However, his recent play combined with the ineffectiveness of Darko Milicic has opened the door for Pekovic to show the strides his made from his rookie season to this season.
Looking back on last year, there were times where I was impressed with Pekovic's skill set in the post. While attending a Timberwolves game, I saw that Pekovic had 14 points and was actually impressed with his ability to score. As soon as those words came out, somebody would blow by him in the paint.
However, while he's not a great defensive player, he's done enough to be more than just an orange cone when somebody is driving into the paint.
He's been able to pull down rebounds, alter shots and shown why Fran Fraschilla called him the "obvious first pick of the second round" when DeAndre Jordan was available.
If Pekovic is able to keep up his recent run of solid play that he's been on (13.8 points and 9.0 rebounds per game as a starter this season), it could mean that the Wolves have finally found a guy that makes opposing teams focus on their power forward (Kevin Garnett, Al Jefferson, Kevin Love).
The only obstacle left seems to be Rick Adelman's preference to play Milicic in the starting lineup over Pekovic. However, it only seems like a matter of time until Pekovic gets his chance to display his skills full-time.
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