Controversy in Minnesota: Timberwolves Bench Kevin Love For Darko Milicic

Timber WolfAnalyst IIApril 2, 2010

PHOENIX - MARCH 16:  Darko Milicic #31 of the Minnesota Timberwolves puts up a shot over Robin Lopez #15 of the Phoenix Suns during the NBA game at US Airways Center on March 16, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Timberwolves 152-114.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Darko Milicic has started to actually play well, posting his second double double in six games, while helping the Wolves win their 15th game of the season.

When people say that the Wolves suck because Darko sucks for them, it's really a disgusting attitude to have because quite simply put, Darko is playing very well. He also works very well next to Al Jefferson—Jefferson loves the left block and Darko loves the right block.

Jefferson had some interesting things to say about him, when he was asked how much better will Darko be when he's in shape. "That's funny, he aint even in shape, I think that when his confidence gets the way it should be, and he gets in top shape, Darko is going to be amazing. It's a shame that a lot of teams didn't take advantage of him, he's a smart player, I feel like he's in the right situation to show what he can do."

That's the Wolves best player speaking about the epic bust. So I'm pretty sure that if Al were to have some say so, Darko will be back next season.

But there has been some arguments amongst Wolves fans that Kevin Love should not be benched because of that. As in, Darko should be on the bench while Kevin Love and Al Jefferson start the game.

But quite frankly, Kevin Love's benching has nothing to do with Darko Milicic.

Love, a 7'0" prospect that currently hasn't gotten a minute of playing time in the last two games, was benched before Darko even played for Ryan Hollins.

The reason that Love does not get 30-plus minutes every single night is because he hasn't developed that Manu Ginobili "play my a** off every single night because that's how we win" attitude.

Don't get me wrong, Love—even on an off night—can get double double by halftime if he wants to. But the fact of the matter is Love is nowhere near athletic enough right now to ever have a night where he's not giving 100 percent.

That's not to say that Al Jefferson brings it every night, but Jefferson can easily create his own shot, and he's a better shot blocker than Love is.

Having Darko and Jefferson starting is actually beginning to create good matchup opportunities for the Wolves, and it was highly apparent when the Wolves matched up against the Orlando Magic.

Although Dwight Howard had Darko winded within minutes due to his lack of conditioning, Darko had 14 points, five rebounds, five assists, and two steals.

The reason being is that Howard was assigned to Milicic, and Rashard Lewis was assigned to Al Jefferson who posted 18 points and 13 rebounds in 30 minutes.

Love is a very, very good and intelligent player. He can hit three-point shots, outlet the ball incredibly, and pretty much has the potential to be able to score from anywhere on the court.

At his young age of 21, he still has a lot to learn simply because he's one of the better players on a bad team, and he's going to be gunned for every single night unlike his rookie season.

Love and Jefferson could possibly be traded this offseason, but it's highly apparent that although Love is going to be one of the best rebounders to ever play the game, Jefferson when healthy—is one of the best power forwards in the game.

No one is to blame. Love is a second-year player and he's going to get his minutes when he plays hard. Young teams should never have to be coached to play hard...elite NBA players play hard every single night.

Elite players have two things that separate them from average or above-average players. That's elite skill and playing hard every night. Love has, or will have, the elite skill, but will he ever have point No. 2?

Thanks for reading!