Minnesota Timberwolves: 5 Bold Predictions for Second Half of 2011-12 Season
The last time the Minnesota Timberwolves finished the season above .500 was the 2004-05 season. Since then, Wolves fans have seen their fair share of rebuilding attempts fail.
Now the Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love and Rick Adelman-led Timberwolves have given something for fans to look forward to.
With a 15-16 record and a young, improving nucleus, many people view the Wolves as a team on the rise. But, only being 31 games deep into the season, there are still many unanswered questions for the rest of the season.
Can the Wolves prove they are for real and continue their progression as a threat in the Western Conference?
Will someone step up to play the shooting guard position or will that position have to be filled from the outside?
I will answer these questions and more in my five bold predictions of the Wolves' second half of the season.
1. Minnesota Will Finish the Season with at Least 34 Wins
Minnesota came into this season with very low expectations. Now after 31 games they are only one win away from being a .500 team.
At this point they are by far exceeding expectations, and I believe that this Wolves team will continue to improve and will have a winning record by season's end.
The rest of the schedule does not look to be easy, though.
With a dreadful seven-game road trip in the middle of March, the Wolves will have their work cut out for them. Fortunately, through the first half of the season Minnesota has been the only team not currently in the playoff picture to post a winning record on the road.
In order to get to .500 they will need to keep that up for the remainder of the season.
The youth and depth of this squad will also play a major role in the team's ability to continue winning games this season. Many of the older teams will be burnt out by the end of the season, and young legs will be a major advantage for the T-wolves.
2. Michael Beasley Will Be Traded
Michael Beasley has been slowed by a foot injury this year and does not seem like a good fit in Rick Adelman's offense. He is averaging a career-low 12.9 points per game.
It would be best for the Wolves if they can trade him away now and get a piece that will benefit the team more for the future. Ideally that would be a great spot-up three-point shooter to play the 2-guard position.
As a former No. 2 overall pick and at only 23 years old, Beasley should still be find teams very interested in trading for him. There is still a lot of untapped potential that Beasley has to offer.
3. Ricky Rubio Will Record a Triple-Double Before the End of the Season
Coming into the season, nobody knew what to expect from rookie Ricky Rubio. Now many people refer to him as the second coming of "Pistol" Pete Maravich.
By averaging 11.0 points per game and 8.6 assists per game, the nickname is well-deserved. He leads all rookies in double-doubles with 11, which is nine more than the next rookie.
In Rubio's 11 double-doubles, there have been four games in which he has had six rebounds or more. There are also six more games where Rubio has not recorded a double-double, but still had at least six boards.
With the possibility of Rubio having over 10 points and 10 assists every game, it is only a matter of time before he records his first career triple-double.
4. Kevin Love Will Average 25 Points and 14 Boards Per Game
Through the first 31 games, K-Love is averaging 25.8 points and 14.1 rebounds per game. If Love can end the season with more than 25 points and 14 rebounds per game, then he will be only the second player to achieve this feat since the ABA-NBA merger.
The only other person to do so was Moses Malone, who accomplished this three times during his NBA career.
Love is already leading the league with 27 double-doubles this season, and he is showing no signs of slowing down, coming off a 33-point and 17-rebound game against the Houston Rockets.
It is looking as if Love will have no problem reaching this milestone.
5. Nikola Pekovic Will Contend for the Most Improved Player Award
With the recent success of Jeremy Lin, the emergence of Nikola Pekovic has gone very overlooked.
Pekovic has recorded eight double-doubles since his first start 13 games ago. That includes his current four-game double-double streak.
Over the last 13 games he has been averaging 16.8 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. Last season, Pek averaged only 5.5 points and 3.0 boards per game.
If he continues on his current hot streak, he will not only compete with Lin for the Most Improved Player of the Year award, but he will also solidify himself as the starting center for the Timberwolves for years to come.