Keys To The Wolf Den: Minnesota Timberwolves Healing Their ACL Injuries
Stop, drop and roll, grab you knee and your season is over.
That describes Timberwolves players Corey Brewer and Al Jefferson's respective 2008-2009 season.
That describes the struggle to get back to the way these players were before their injuries; a type of injury that, 20 years ago in the NBA, would have ended a career instantaneously.
Al Jefferson and Corey Brewer are huge components to the Wolves, but the roads to recovery for both players were incredibly hard.
The progress of Corey Brewer has not only been about his ACL recovery, but as well as his skills in general. Known as "The Gator", for being the NCAA's Most Outstanding Player in March Madness, Corey was known as a defensive stopper, with incredible athleticism.
The progress of Al Jefferson has been possibly the most difficult. Going from an automatic 20 point, 10 rebound low post genius All-Star caliber player, to a low post scorer who struggles from the field at times, and cannot establish himself as the low post beast that he once was on top of all the losing the Wolves have endured, has taken its toll on "Big Al."
Now it's four months after the NBA season started, and both Al Jefferson and Corey Brewer are not only showing 90-100 percent form, but they have both improved on every asset of their game as well.
Al Jefferson, known for his incredibly lacking defense, has been playing great defense as of late. Not only is he averaging 18 points and 10 rebounds in his last 10 games, which has been a tough stretch for him nonetheless, but his blocked shots are hovering around 1.5, and he's drawing charges and paying more attention to detail on the defensive end, something he's been criticized for for his whole career.
Corey Brewer, known for his defensive skills and athleticism, has not only played great defense, but his athleticism has started to return to form. He's added a jump shot to his arsenal, and has been finishing on the fast break better than ever. Corey Brewer went from six PPG, to 13 PPG (still rising), while raising virtually every stat impressively, and it even got him ranked No. Four by ESPN on Most Improved Player in the NBA.
Al Jefferson is now starting to return to true form, proving he's so close to being the Al Jefferson that had the NBA shook at one point in time. In the win against Memphis, Jefferson hit all eight of his field goal attempts, all of which would bode difficult for an average low post scorer. But for Jefferson, it was automatic.
Corey Brewer's athleticism depended greatly on his leaping ability, reporting that the 6'9'' swingman had a 38 inch vertical. Watching the games, Corey Brewer will have dunks, but there are some moments where he truly leaps the way he used to back in his NCAA days. I'm pretty sure we've all seen the dunk over Al Horford? His quickness and speed have shown flashes, and once he improves his ball handling and adds 15-20 lbs, Corey Brewer will then be the complete player the Wolves thought he would be.
To take into context how much Brewer has improved, he has scored 20+ points 10 times already, the same amount as rookie sensation Jonny Flynn.
Al Jefferson averaged 19 attempts last season compared to 15 this season, and was heavily relied on offensively. It seemed as though Al Jefferson had to score around 30 points a game for the Wolves to win. Well, in the Wolves' last four wins, Al Jefferson only cracked 20 points twice, and it was his teammates filling in nicely.
The Gator and Big Al are starting to truly recover from their injuries, and it's boding well for the Wolves.
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