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The Minnesota Timberwolves have a strong starting lineup with Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin, Corey Brewer, Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic. What head coach Rick Adelman lacks, however, is a reliable bench.
After the All-Star break, expect the second unit to see dramatic improvements.
According to HoopsStats.com, the T-Wolves rank 27th at 25.7 bench points scored per game. The only semi-reliable source of offense has been J.J. Barea, who is shooting just 40.6 percent from the field and 33.5 percent from three-point range.
With previously injured players rounding into form, Barea will finally have some help.
Barea will be joined by a healthy Chase Budinger and a progressively improving Dante Cunningham. Ronny Turiaf will continue to provide a strong defensive impact, while rookies Gorgui Dieng and Shabazz Muhammad will see more playing time.
Collectively, Minnesota will be significantly better after the All-Star break than it was before it.
The key for Minnesota will be down low, where Cunningham and Turiaf have become a very strong combination. Both played well approaching the All-Star break, but that must be maintained to provide rest for Love and Pekovic.
In the end, Barea and Budinger's scoring prowess, as well as the improved second-unit interior, will be enough for Minnesota to remain in the postseason hunt.