I know what you're thinking... Yes. This article is about the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves, a team currently plagued by horrible luck, horrible management, zero direction, and countless disastrous personnel moves. However, despite all that, surprisingly all might not be lost in chilly Minny. Kevin Love has become a fine player already, to go along with super effective post Al Jefferson.
Two or three smart moves by the new GM (whomever he may be), and the Wolves could legitimately think about contending in a suddenly aging Western Conference (think Spurs, Rockets, Mavs, Suns, etc). Here are the five most critical questions facing our beloved Woofies heading into this offseason:
- Will Kevin McHale be back on the bench next year as coach? Yes, THAT Kevin McHale. The man who almost singlehandedly (have to give Glen Taylor some credit as well here) drove this franchise into the dregs of the NBA became a coach for the second time in his career last season. And besides a 10-4 January (in which he was named NBA Coach of the Month) where the Wolves' opponents were none too mighty, McHale did not fare much better than Randy Wittman, although the players seem to like Big Mac much more. News on the street is he would rather be catching walleye up in Hibbing, MN, than make millions coaching a game. Hmmm.
- Can F Corey Brewer become a respectable NBA player? Brewer was a top-7 pick in the NBA draft two years ago. That being said, Brewer has the offensive skills of a malnourished eighth grader. He's a great defensive presence, but for the Wolves to improve, Brewer must step up his offensive game. This may be impossible. We'll see.
- How effective will C Al Jefferson be coming back from a torn ACL? The big man in the middle, the key to the franchise's future success, the only reason the KG trade wasn't completely highway robbery... Big Al Jefferson. You never like to see large men tear something in or around their knees, with all that bangin' those things have to take. If Jefferson can make a full recovery, the Wolves can win 20 games again (yay!), but anything less than 100% will seriously hinder the Wolves' future plans.
- What position will (GM to be named) go for with the Wolves top five (for now) selection in June's draft? This team is in dire need of a long, lanky, shot-blocking, defensive enforcer inside. With K-Love and Big Al, they have themselves two great offensive players and two pretty horrible defensive ones. Another big need for this team is a legitimate small forward or perhaps a game-changing point guard to get the ball into the big boys. Obviously, when your team is bad, many needs can be addressed. Best scenarios with that first pick: PG Ricky Rubio (Spain), C Hasheem Thabeet (UConn), or SF DeMar DeRozan (USC).
- What is Kevin Love's ceiling as a player? We saw this year that the kid can rebound at an astronomical rate, a rate that should put him in the top 5 of rebound leaders in the NBA year after year. He works hard, and the kid has skills. This summer, he needs to slim down even more and work on his midrange game, which was seriously lacking last year. Can you imagine how good K-Love could be if he could stroke the trey AND put up double digit rebounds every night? Scary.