Kevin Love not only had the NBA's 1st 30-30 game in 28 years, since Hall of Famer Moses Malone did it before some of us were born, but his sidekick Michael Beasley followed up a 42-point performance against the lowly Sacramento Kings with 35 points against the Knicks.
Keep in mind, not only did Minnesota erase a 21-point third quarter deficit but the team had two players score 30+ ppg in the same game. When was the last time that happened? Garnett and Marbury in 1996? This is the most excited I've been to be a Wolves fan since that time, and that is an understatement.
It's a shame that only 15,000+ got to see the game (at least that's the number being reported), but with a massive snowstorm that day, it's certainly understandable. Still, the Wolves who went into Big Bad Los Angeles and only lost by 5 points to the defending NBA Champion LA Lakers, the game may prove to be a season turning point. Also, don't look now, but the Wolves fans, 17th in the league in attendance (up from 25th last year) may be slowly starting to notice.
"The Sooner You Sign (Them), the Cheaper It Will Be"
If this quote sounds somewhat familiar to Minnesota sports fans, it should. It was uttered by wanna-be Hall of Famer Johan Santana, who forced his way out of town upon refusing to sign a more modest contract with the Minnesota Twins prior to 2007. In his individual case, only the "them" was replaced with a "me" when talking about his own contract.
After falling in love with the Beasley deal the day we traded for him, I wanted him signed to a career contract. He's going to be that good. We all know it. I predict border-line Hall of Famer at worst. Same for Love, but more on that later.
Beasley's still so ridiculously young (21) that signing him to the max 7-year deal under the current CBA would make him only 28 when his contract expires. Same for Love, who would be only 29 if signed to a similar deal which the Timberwolves should do right now with both players.
Think about it: they both have that limitless potential a la Kevin Garnett. When was the last time you could say that about any Wolves player? They both could make several All-Star teams and even if they get snubbed in favor of the big cities and six team representation BS we seem to see most years, they are going to be right up there in caliber every year.
Heck, at 18.1 ppg and 14.6 rpg, Love almost is Kevin Garnett in his prime and he's only 22 himself. He's going to keep getting better and better. Thanks Memphis! Enjoy O.J. Mayo, whom I never wanted anyway.
One could argue that at 20 ppg and 5.3 rpg, Beasley, with fewer rebounds, is almost at Garnett level. I can only hope owner Glen Taylor and President David Kahn realize this soon enough to lock up both players and ignore any and all trade offers for Love from pesky Portland and Houston, as have been reported recently.
The cap is no problem for the youthful Wolves, who have only about 40 million of a 58 million cap committed to their entire roster thanks to the Al Jefferson salary dump. More than enough room to max both out and get Ricky Rubio over here in time to really compete with the big boys as the missing piece that makes this team go and for whom Kahn can finally be evaluated as an executive.
If I were the Wolves, I'd "max" Love and Beasley out now, 5 years, $85M (the same as Dwight Howard received). True, if you can get them for less, do it, but the point remains, they absolutely can and should find a way to keep them both. Now, not later.
The Wolves are very close to having two border-line Hall of Famers themselves (at the low end), and two of the five starting positions solidified for the next 15 years. Once they include a starting rotation of PF Beasley, SF Love, C Pekovic, SG Johnson, and PG Rubio, with a competitive bench,they finally might be able to do something.
Get ready for the NBA to fall in love with the next Oklahoma City Thunder (there, I said it), even if it is premature. We are soon gonna be a team opponents aren't going to want to mess with.
Two Straight Wins Does Not a Season Make, But...
Lost in the 31-31 game from Love is the fact that the team, even at 3-7, is only on pace for roughly 24 wins; nine more than last year, but nine less than the 33 I picked for them in my pre-season predictions. In order to get even 30-35 wins, I think most of us expect from this rapidly improving team, the team has to average five wins a month. So far, the team is 60% of the way there with these 3 wins and its not even half over.
Last year at this time we were, of course, 1-9 through 10 games and didn't pick up our second win until a Game 18 shocker against the perennially overrated Denver Nuggets, to get to 2-16. Kahn's boys are showing vast improvement and proving the naysayers wrong. Heck, they are only 2.5 games worse than the Miami Hype Machine, the Miami "Showtime" Heat, who are 5-4!
The winning should continue tomorrow in Charlotte against the downtrodden Bobcats, then the 1-9 predictable Clippers on the 17th, for a 5-7 start which the NBA will, of course, ignore. The schedule gets dramatically harder (i.e a long losing streak potentially ensues) but that would be the five wins necessary, if we don't steal one the last game of the month, against the Annual Enigma, the Golden State Warriors.
Information and Statistics from ESPN.com directly contributed to the content of this article.