Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE
Even though the Timberwolves enjoyed relative success while rookie sensation Ricky Rubio was on the court last season, big changes were made to the roster to ensure the team's survival without him.
Brandon Roy was not brought into Minnesota with the idea of him being a role player. Although forced to retire and miss last season due to injury, he’s back now, and he hasn’t shown any problems in his recovery thus far.
In his injury-free years with the Portland Trail Blazers, Roy averaged 20 points per game (PPG). He’s no slouch.
Over his first week with the Timberwolves he’s only put up 6.6 PPG. He has shown obvious rust—but then, it’s only natural to show rust after missing an entire season. As the season progresses we’ll see more of Brandon Roy. When he’s at full strength, he’s a force to be reckoned with.
The Wolves worked hard to acquire Andrei Kirilenko for situations exactly like the one they’re in right now.
Nobody currently playing for the Wolves has the leadership or veteran qualities that Kirilenko has—he’s the glue-guy. Night in and night out, Kirilenko is relied on to score, pass the ball and play defense. In the absence of team leader Kevin Love, Kirilenko is the guy the Wolves will look to fall back on.
Not many people knew of Alexey Shved when the Timberwolves acquired him. There were rumors that he could be talented, but most wrote him off as a player who would be unable to convert his game to succeed in the NBA.
We haven’t seen much weakness from him yet. In fact, he was one of the key players responsible for the massive comeback versus the Brooklyn Nets.
The fact that he’s a combo-guard is one of the more interesting aspects of his game. He can play the role of the scorer—he shot 49 percent from behind the three last year in Russia—or he can play facilitator. It’s a bit early to decide whether or not he can succeed as an NBA point guard, but his passing style is very well suited to the NBA.
Not only that, but his defense is actually very solid. One of the biggest criticisms that he received prior to joining the NBA was that he wouldn’t be able to play defense at a high level. Over the first three games, though, he’s proven that idea to be very wrong.
Utilizing Shved's talents is something that the Wolves and Head Coach Rick Adelman need to make sure they do. His talent on both sides of the ball can't be overlooked, especially while missing Rubio and Love.
Dante Cunningham was one of the underrated acquisitions made over the offseason. With superstar Kevin Love injured for at least the next month, Cunningham has been given the opportunity to prove just how good a player he really is.
Second year player Derrick Williams was anticipated to be the player that would benefit the most from the absence of Love, but Cunningham is making a major push to take over the starting role until Love returns.
His defense is stifling, he hits mid-range shots, makes big plays, grabs big rebounds—his game is exactly what the Wolves need to compliment the offensive style of play that Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic provide.