Minnesota Timberwolves Areas That Must Be Upgraded Before 2013 Season

Justin Hussong@@HeatChecksHussContributor IIIJune 14, 2013

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 28:  J.J. Barea #11 of the Minnesota Timberwolves scores on a layup past Dwight Howard #12 of the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on February 28, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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This group of young Timberwolves is a little rough around the edges. They have a foundation to be great, and with a little fine tuning they can easily reach their full potential.

Health and free agency permitted, Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Love can compete with anyone in the league on the front line and turn this team into an inside out nightmare, a la Indiana or Memphis.

The problem with that is they need some more "out" to complement the "in."

A couple of upgrades to this roster can put Minnesota over the top and vault them back into playoff contention for the first time in the post-Kevin Garnett era.


Outside Threats

With Chase Budinger and Kevin Love missing the vast majority of this past season, it left the team clamoring for three-point shooters. As the worst outside shooting team in basketball in terms of percentage, there is nowhere they can go but up.

Derrick Williams and Luke Ridnour were Minny's two most reliable outside shooters this past season. That's not really their game, so filling in the cracks with knockdown threats will allow them to slide back to more comfortable roles on the floor.

If Minnesota can bring in a guy like OJ Mayo, it will give the team an entirely new dimension. In fact, ESPN 1500's Darren Wolfson claims the team is planning to target Mayo. A guy who can strictly knock down threes will open up the floor for Pekovic and Love, give D-Will and Andrei Kirilenko more room and freedom to operate and finally provide Rubio a reliable option to pass the ball to on the outside.

As an outside threat, the team could use an adept ball handler as well. Rubio will be doing the majority of the work running the show, but he has been the only threat out of the backcourt other than JJ Barea who can get to the rim. Barea is too small to log extended minutes at shooting guard, so a larger slasher-type would benefit the team as well.

If they can acquire a player who can both penetrate and hit from the outside, then they will have struck gold. That may be there in the draft in the form of Victor Oladipo, CJ McCollum or Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.


Frontcourt Depth

At this point in his career, we can pretty much bank on Pekovic missing about 15 games per season with nagging injuries. He simply plays a brand of basketball that is too brutal to avoid a few dings and nicks every now and then.

The problem lies here with Pekovic's pending free agency. He is restricted, so Minnesota can match any offer made to him.

What's interesting is that Minnesota performs worse without him in the lineup than they do without Love— mainly because Love has to shoulder an enormous amount of the offensive load with Pekovic off the floor. 

We need another big.

For the few handful of games Pek misses, Minnesota is completely incapable of relying on Greg Stiemsma logging huge minutes down low. Stiemsma is slender in stature and racks up fouls like they are going out of style.

Bringing in another big man that can spell Pekovic and Love down low would help keep them fresh over the course of the season and prevent the team from sacrificing too much while they are not on the court.



This team simply needs to learn to play as a cohesive unit. There is plenty of talent on this roster to compete with the best of the best in the league.

Obviously, the main problem with the T-Wolves the past couple of seasons has been health. They have shown spurts of greatness and extraordinary play, but there has been almost no extended stretch of time with everyone healthy at once.

A few weeks before Rubio's torn ACL a little over a year ago, the Wolves were on a roll. Rubio was hitting his stride and he had turned the team around. There was a buzz in the Target Center and around the franchise as a whole that was absent for years. By the time he came back this past season, Love was out. The rest is history.

This season, they simply need better luck. There can be no comments to the media about the front office or looming coaching decisions. If Adelman is back and everyone is 100 percent, the overall chemistry and camaraderie will skyrocket.

Adelman has a great rapport with everyone on the team, and with almost the same exact roster plus a little luck in the health department, these Wolves can skyrocket up the standings.