Now that he's back, Kevin Love is my favorite member of the Minnesota Timberwolves.
For those of you who regularly read my columns, you will note that I posed the question a few weeks ago of whether the team could challenge the NBA's all time record of futility at 8-74 when their record sat at 1-12 with no end in sight. While the article came off as extremely negative, keep in mind they were on pace for a 5-75 season at that point and it was still unclear how close, exactly, Mr. Love was from coming back from injury.
To be fair, I followed it up with this article, coming off a loss. "For The First Time In Three Weeks, Wolves Play Shows Passion."
Keep in mind, the fact we are even writing about and discussing a 3-17 team speaks volumes. The team is now on pace for an encouraging 12 wins, something I questioned was even possible a few weeks ago. Now we just need that winning streak.
Now I'm not saying he's a cure all, but as coach Kurt Rambis said, adding Love "will help our bench as well, because it'll push one of our starters to the bench so we have some support there." Through two very early games, one win and one loss, this has proven more true that I had initially imagined. All Love has done is average 14.5 ppg and 10.5 rpg. If his scoring is up, look out.
But it hasn't been just Love, for the whole team looks better.
Brewer, having been most affected by Love's return had only three points, a season low, in Love's return versus New Orleans Friday night in a respectable loss by nine which not only saw Chris Paul return and dominate for his club, but Jonny Flynn also had the worst game of his young career with just six points and a -14, meaning that when he was on the floor, the Wolves were outscored by 14 by their opponents.
How does this look better? Consider, rookie Wayne Ellington, who many believe to be the Wolves best new player this year and best draft pick, had a career high twelve points off of a career high 31 minutes and 5 of 7 shooting. Also consider that Jefferson looks to be nearly back to his old form and he'll have help on the glass and in the front court with the rebounding machine that is Love.
Ellington also followed that up with 10 points last night on 4 of 6 shooting in 24 minutes. Additionally, Brewer responded with the twelve points we've come to expect from him. Best part of all, the game was a Jazz's 4-game streak ends" target="_blank">near sellout at 18,466 unofficially, many fans, certainly, wanting to see Love for the first time all season.
Not only did the Wolves beat the Utah Jazz who were fresh off a four game winning streak, but with their next three games at Toronto—home versus New Orleans where I am convinced they only won due to venue, and at Los Angeles where, while they won't win, they also will no longer get blown out by 25—they may be able to win 2 of 3 to improve to 5-18 on the season.
They not only won with their biggest margin, seven, over Utah, but Jonny Flynn had arguably his best game with just 16 points but on 7 of 12 shooting and a career high +9 rating and career-low one turnover.
In any event, the Wolves are 2-2 in their last four games and have held leads late into each of those four games. With any luck they could be on their own four game winning streak but in a year of basically a year-long tryout, I am seeing the improvement that once lacked—thanks in large part to Love.
Statistics and information from ESPN.com and the Star Tribune directly contributed to this article.