Keys to the Wolf Den: Nikola Pekovic and Bench Play
The Minnesota Timberwolves currently have a plethora of first round draft picks heading into next season, as well as European contracts, cap space, expiring contracts, and second round picks to complement them.
There is hope for the Minnesota Timberwolves, as they are set to build their future off of this year with a new head coach signed for the long term, and a new GM sent on revitalizing the Minnesota franchise back to the true respectability it once had.
Everyone knows about the Ricky Rubio situation, the Spanish sensation PG taken by the Minnesota Timberwolves who chose to remain overseas.
While that contract's future is currently unknown for sure, the Minnesota Timberwolves have multiple European contracts. Those include:
- Ricky Rubio
- Loukas Mavrokefalidis
- Henk Norel
- Nikola Pekovic
Some brief information on Loukas and Norel:
Loukas Mavrokefalidis: A 6'11'' center with some scoring potential. Likely will not make it to the NBA, seeing that he's 25 years old and is likely going to be used somewhere in a trade.
Henk Norel: A 6'11'' power forward with a low ceiling of potential. Has a great wingspan and tools for rebounding to complement a hard work ethic. Could develop into a solid role player in a few years.
The main player I'd like to focus on would have to be Nikola Pekovic. David Kahn has recently stated in an interview, that Pekovic is ready to come to the NBA and join the Minnesota Timberwolves, thus I decided to do some research, and I was pleased with the results that I found.
When it comes to scoring, Nikola has the moves, and he resembles Al Jefferson. With incredible footwork, quickness, and a great touch around the basket, he's definetly the Euro's Al Jefferson.
His statistics: 15 PPG and 4 RPG in 22 MPG, shooting 60 percent from the field.
Unlike a lot of European centers, Pekovic loves to establish in the post, and has the tools to rebound on both backboards. He also has a very harsh physical toughness that resembles Marc Gasol.
The rebounding numbers are horrible by NBA standards. But NBA All-Star Pau Gasol averaged a mere 11 points and five rebounds in his last season overseas in only 24 MPG.
He cannot effectively run the floor, which is bad for the Wolves. His potential for defense, while having the tools, is slim, and just like his offense, his defense resembles that of Al Jefferson.
His basketball IQ is not up to par. Al Jefferson is so crafty, and his basketball IQ is so high, that the minute that his opponent makes a mistake, he's able to take advantage, but the same can't not be said for Pekovic, and his IQ will likely be challenged in the NBA.
He also has no type of passing game whatsoever. I mean the comparison to Al Jefferson is so deep, it's incredible. His fundamentals need work as well, and his ball-handling skills resemble that of Oleksiy Pecherov.
A very fine prospect, he is arguably one of the best centers overseas. Nikola Pekovic can score the basketball with great efficiency, and is a high-volume producer in minimal minutes. At this point, he is a defensive liability, but he has toughness that could propel him on the defensive end, and his average athleticism doesn't hurt.
But will the Wolves keep his contract, and make him a official Wolf?
There are a few key factors:
- John Wall: I'm a firm believer that if the Wolves get the No. 1 pick, they will draft John Wall, and they will trade the rights to Ricky Rubio. If the Wolves land anywhere other than the No. 1 pick, Ricky Rubio will likely join the Wolves the following year. With a European elite player on the Wolves roster already, this will make the Wolves more appealing to the Spanish sensation.
- The lottery/mid-first round pick: The upcoming draft features many centers, and it's very possible that the Wolves go after one with one of their first round picks. More than likely, the Wolves are looking for their solid third big man to rotate in with Al Jefferson and Kevin Love. Nikola Pekovic's contract could be traded to a young team needing a long-term center for cheap, i.e. the Portland Trailblazers
- Another Al Jefferson: I understand that there's only so much I can see, but the fact of the matter is, the Wolves need a defensive presence, and while Al Jefferson is making strides as of late, the Wolves don't need another dominant scorer in the post. If Pekovic can assume defensive dominance, then he likely has a roster spot on the Wolves.
Keep an eye on Pekovic.
Ryan Gomes has said in a recent interview that he does not mind coming off the bench.
This is very good news for the Wolves, seeing that Ryan Gomes is a great initiator of the triangle offense, and he can knock down open shots.
Ryan Gomes, Ramon Sessions, Wayne Ellington, and Ryan Hollins give the Wolves sparks at times, and lately they have been contributing big numbers.
A few bench sparks:
- 11 points, 2 rebounds, 1 steal in 22 minutes from Ryan Gomes
- 15 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal in 31 minutes from Ryan Gomes
- 16 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists in 29 minutes from Wayne Ellington
- 13 points, 4 rebounds in 22 minutes TWICE from Wayne Ellington
- 8 points, 9 rebounds in 23 minutes from Ryan Hollins
- 10 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists in 23 minutes from Ramon Sessions
- 11 double digit scoring totals from Ramon Sessions.
The Minnesota Timberwolves needs their bench to come in and to play well. Alando Tucker, recently acquired in a trade, could provide a spark to give the Wolves a solid fifth player off the bench.
Thanks for reading!
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