The Minnesota Timberwolves' January Resurgence
January was quite the month for the Minnesota T-Wolves. The squad went 10-4, recording more victories than they did through the first three months of the season—five.
GM turned head coach, Kevin McHale, was honored for the team's success in January by winning the Western Conference Coach of the Month.
However, from the onset, it wasn't all rainbows and butterflies for McHale and the Wolves. After taking the reigns on Dec. 8 with the dismissal of coach Randy Whitman (4-15 as head coach this season), McHale's first month under the helms (2-10 in December) was actually distinctly reminiscent to Whitman's (3-11 in November).
But in January, McHale's coaching philosophy appeared to click with his young group.
After ringing in the New Year with a two-game win streak over Golden State and Chicago, McHale made the bold move to replace Kevin Ollie with Sebastian Telfair in to the starting point guard spot. The decision paid off handsomely as Minnesota went 8-4 with Telfair in the starting five.
With Telfair running the offense, Randy Foye blossomed in his natural shooting guard position. He has scored in double-figures in every game except one with Telfair by his side.
Foye has proven why the Boston Celtics drafted him seventh overall in the 2006 Draft. And has showed flashes of the star guard that led the Villanova Wildcats to the Elite Eight in 2006.
Foye put up the best numbers of his career in January by posting averages of 19.4 points, 4.7 assists, and 1.3 steals per game. He also established himself as a threat beyond the arc by shooting 42.5 percent from three-point land, making 2.4 threes per game.
Al Jefferson has been Mr. Consistent for Minnesota all year. He is a force to be reckoned with and has been the steady rock for the T-Wolves. He is one of only three players-Tim Duncan and Dwight Howard, to average 20 points, 10 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game.
With averages of 23.2 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks it's hard to understand why Jefferson wasn't selected to the All-Star team. Hopefully, he will use the All-Star snub as motivation to get his young team headed in the right direction.
Another key to the Wolves' resurgence has been their depth off the bench.
McHale has replaced Rashad McCants with Rodney Carney in the rotation. And while Carney's been inconsistent at times, he has posted some nice lines.
Mike Miller is still adjusting to his new role off the bench. He is undoubtedly not the same player that he has been in the past, but his well-rounded game has fit in with McHale's style of play.
Kevin Love has been the biggest producer not in the starting lineup, and has spelled Craig Smith at the power forward position. Love's learning curve from college basketball to the NBA has gone quicker than expected.
He has averaged close to a double-double with 9.1 points and 8.5 rebounds per game in a mere 23 minutes of action.
Love like fellow Wolf Jefferson, was not invited to participate in the All-Star festivities at the Rookie Challenge. It seems that there is a recurring theme in the twin cities.
Like Rodney Dangerfield once said, "I don't get no respect!"
While the T-Wolves still have a long path ahead of them to compete in the tough Western Conference, their future is bright. If McHale can keep the core of the talent together, Minnesota has a chance to do something that Kevin Garnett wasn't able to do; bring home a national championship to the storied franchise.
A national championship has eluded the T-Wolves since their inception in 1989.
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