Over the last four seasons with Kevin Love, the Timberwolves have held a dismal fifth place in the division. Not that Love is to blame—far from that— as no team can be expected to win big with as little talent as the Timberwolves have been able to bring in.
The pendulum finally swung in favor of the Timberwolves when rookie point guard Ricky Rubio came over from Spain to join the team. In the limited time he was able to play, it became obvious just how much he was bringing to the table for the Wolves.
Ricky Rubio established himself as perhaps the next premier pass-first point guard, and all of a sudden, the team didn’t look so bad. Center Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Love paired up to make one of the best frontcourts in the NBA. The Timberwolves started looking hungry again.
With Rubio in the starting lineup, the Timberwolves went 18-13. Perhaps not an elite record, but considering that they had only won 20-plus games in a single season once in the last four years, the improvement was obvious.
When Rubio went out with the torn ACL in March, it stalled the Wolves' chances to come up big. It didn’t take away from the fact that the Timberwolves had finally found something special with Rubio.
One of the largest reasons that the Timberwolves weren’t able to get anywhere last season without Rubio is because the team simply hadn’t yet built the talent necessary to get them there.
Other than Kevin Love, the Wolves were relying on players like Michael Beasley and rookie Derrick Williams to provide scoring options. Both of those players were misfits at the positions they played.
As a result, in limited minutes, Michael Beasley averaged just 11.5 points per game (PPG), and Derrick Williams managed just 8.8 (courtesy of ESPN.com).
Obviously, Kevin Love is the pillar of the T-Wolves. He’s the superstar of the team, and he was a huge factor in Ricky Rubio’s ability to excel in his rookie season. In order to win, the team needs to build their talent around Kevin Love. In 2011, the pieces simply weren’t in place.
While training for the Olympics last season, Kevin Love made a big statement regarding the Timberwolves' inability to acquire serious talent.
My patience is not high. Would yours be, especially when I’m a big proponent of greatness surrounding itself with greatness? All these (Team USA) guys seem to have great players around them.
Kevin Love’s frustration with the Timberwolves stems from the last four years, which have been anything but a success. In the last four seasons, the Wolves have gone through four different head coaches, as well as four different starting point guards.
The Timberwolves understand what Kevin Love wants from them; the many additions and changes that they’ve made this offseason go a long way to prove that to him.
Out of the changes that the Wolves made, Brandon Roy is perhaps the most exciting. Last season, the shooting guard position was something of a mystery for the Wolves, seeing as how there wasn’t really a true shooting guard on the team.
For his career, Brandon Roy has averaged an impressive 19.0 PPG. That includes his last season, in which he was plagued by injury, and forced to play in limited minutes.
His health is his main concern. Over the course of his career, he has battled degenerative knees—which is essentially just a lack of cartilage between the bones of both knees.
He was forced to retire by the Portland Trailblazers medical staff and missed last season due to injury. In that time, he had surgery on both of his knees. As a result, he’s reporting back stronger than he’s felt in a long time.
If he can stay healthy, Brandon Roy will pay huge dividends for the T-Wolves. His scoring and ability to create offense should open up the court for the rest of the team, making him a huge threat to opposing defenses.
The other big move that the Timberwolves made was acquiring Andrei Kirilenko, who is coming off a season spent in Russia in which he averaged 14.9 PPG. Kirilenko has a lot to offer the Wolves, and is ready to be back in the NBA.
Although his elite defense may be his best quality, Kirilenko is known as a stat-stuffer—in his career with the Utah Jazz, he had an average of 12.4 PPG, and 5.6 rebounds per game (RPG). He should also bring a big veteran presence to the Timberwolves.
Other notable acquisitions that Minnesota made were Kirilenko’s Olympic teammate, Alexy Shved, who showed potential brilliance in the Olympics. Chase Budinger makes a great new reserve player at the forward position, and Greg Stiemsma proved in Boston that he will make a very solid backup center for the T-Wolves.
The Timberwolves found their head coach of the future with Rick Adelman last season. Ricky Rubio is supposed be back in December, and he’s got the point guard position held down very tightly.
All of the new players—combined with the talent that Minnesota has already accumulated—equate to a very talented roster. If Kevin Love wasn’t happy with the team at the start of the offseason, he should be extremely happy by now.
For the first time since Love started in the NBA, the Timberwolves are coming into the season with a full roster of players that not only fit with the system, but also bring firepower. Unlike the last four seasons, the Timberwolves now have the talent to become a serious playoff team.
The potential is high, and the team is finally ready for something big. Kevin Love finally has the team that he’s been wanting all along.
It’s time for him to make his move.
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