When one reflects upon the first month of the season, one cannot help but feel a little excited, yet disappointed about this young franchise.
You feel excited because you have three players who are playing like All-Stars: Michael Beasley, who is 16th in the league averaging 21.6 points per contest; Kevin Love, who is a rebounding machine, leading the league with a 14.9 average, as well as a 30-30 game to his credit; and Darko Milicic, who leads the NBA in blocks with 2.9 and is out to show critics that the tag “draft bust” can be overcome.
You also feel excited because you think that the future of this team is bright. The Wolves have international rights to Ricky Rubio, and the young rising star point guard Jonny Flynn will be returning from injury within a week or so. In addition to Flynn, another young player from Syracuse, Wes Johnson, is showing his stripes, starting 13 games and nearly averaging double digits.
This team is the youngest in the league, and yet they know how to win some contests. Love is 22. Beasley and Flynn are 21. This may not be the year that the Wolves bust out and win 50 games, but at least you know that talent will remain for years to come in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
You feel disappointed about this team because game after game they do not finish as you would like. On November 24, riding an 11-game winning streak, the San Antonio Spurs found themselves 21 points down to the Wolves in the third quarter at the Target Center.
However, showing prowess and leadership, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and company decided to take over and win the game. Time after time the Wolves become the Timberpuppies when fourth quarter blood is drawn.
You feel that this team should be better than 4-13. The possibility of being 8-9 or even 9-8 pops up in your mind. Hurts, doesn’t it? The thing that upsets me most about this team is how year after year they finish with a low standing, and I hope that this is bound to change soon. The team has talent, and with talent victory shall follow.
GRADING THE WOLVES’ START
Record (4-13)- C-
It looks bad, but when you think about it, their strength of schedule isn’t as easy as you may think. They have played the defending champion Lakers twice, nearly beating them at the Staples Center. They have also lost to contenders Miami, Orlando, San Antonio, Oklahoma City and Atlanta. Take all those games away and you have a 4-6 club.
Beasley and Love, each playing like All-Stars, have provided most of the offense here, averaging more than 40 points per game put together. After the duo of forwards, however, the offense is reliant upon a bunch of players who would be better suited as role players on other teams.
As of November 30, the Wolves are giving up 110 points per game, second worst in the league. If they want to win more games they must mature quickly and play more defense. They are crashing the boards well; just ask Kevin Love. Darko Milicic is a blocking machine, but other than him this team has no “block ability.”