If the playoffs started today, the Minnesota Timberwolves would be the third seed in the West and would go up against the Golden State Warriors… OK, that may be looking too far ahead for the Wolves.
Before the playoffs should even be mentioned, the Wolves will bring back the stars of Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love. What happens when they come back?
I know the Wolves are only four games into the year, but they look good. The 22-point comeback against the Brooklyn Nets on Monday is something that would have never happened before. Who was to thank for that comeback? The bench.
After watching the first four games, the Wolves' bench has been more impressive than the starting five. Just look at backup center Greg Stiemsma. He scored 12 points in the Wolves' win against the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night. Not to mention the man is a shot-blocking machine.
I believe the reason the Wolves bench is so impressive thus far is the energy they bring to the floor. JJ Barea is purely just a little sparkplug when he steps on the floor, Chase Budinger is averaging 11 points off the bench, Dante Cunningham has brought great energy, and we’ve already touched on Stiemsma.
So how do the Wolves keep this energy when Rubio and Love come back?
Bring Rubio off the bench.
That’s right. Rubio is an energy guy and think of what he’d bring to that flashy bench. The current starting point guard for the Wolves is Luke Ridnour, and he’s not a real high energy guy. I believe Ridnour is a good NBA point, so keep him in that starting lineup that looks to be starting to mesh.
I love the combination of Rubio and Barea in the backcourt. I can just picture the beautiful passes Rubio can pull off with that second squad.
My Wolves starting lineup with all pieces in tact would be:
- C: Nikola Pekovic
- PF: Kevin Love
- SF: Andrei Kirilenko
- SG: Brandon Roy
- PG: Luke Ridnour
The second line would be:
- C: Greg Stiemsma
- PF: Derrick Williams
- SF: Chase Budinger
- SG: JJ Barea
- PG: Ricky Rubio
Dante Cunningham will split time between power forward and center, and Alexy Shved will be the other backcourt guy.
You need energy off your bench in the NBA. With that second line, every single guy brings energy. Obviously, the mixing and matching of starters and reserves is huge and that is in the very capable hands of head coach Rick Adelman.
Adelman is a mastermind when it comes to this area of the game. He knows how to manage the game, and he does it beautifully. If you look back at the head coaches that the Wolves have had, Adelman may be the best the team has ever had with only Flip Saunders making an argument.
If you want energy, keep it going. Bring Rubio off the bench throwing masterful alley-oops to Derrick Williams and Dante Cunningham and hitting Chase Budinger with spot up threes.
The Wolves are in playoff contention. If they keep up the energy, they may make people notice. Who knows, they might even get that third seed they currently sit in.