Love, Rubio injuries shouldn’t cripple Wolves
by Adi Joseph, USA TODAY Sports
Kevin Love is the best player on the Minnesota Timberwolves. He’s the face of the franchise, the top scorer, the top rebounder, the U.S. Olympian, the power forward, the All-Star and all that.
But his broken right hand, which he injured Wednesday in practice, won’t leave the T’wolves punchless.
Minnesota restructured its roster this offseason, making the kinds of risks necessary to return a moribund franchise to the playoff land. The goal was to build around Love and point guard Ricky Rubio. Now it seems they’ll both be out until December-ish, as Rubio is practicing but not fully recovered from his knee ligament tear last season.
Let’s play it safe and say Love and Rubio will be back by Dec. 15, a home game against the Dallas Mavericks. Both could return two weeks earlier. But even that conservative return date would mean the Timberwolves only need to survive about 20 games without the faces of the franchise.
Minnesota can’t afford to flop in those 20 games. But the team has the talent to avoid that. Here are some players capable of shouldering the burden, particularly of Love’s 26.0-point, 13.3-rebound a game output from last season:
Picked second overall in the 2011 draft, the forward struggled in Love’s shadow last season. He naturally plays power forward but has worked to prove he can hack it on the wing, next to Love. So far, he hasn’t.
Williams is 0-for-11 in his past two preseason games. But those were played next to Love. He’s most comfortable in the paint, showing off the athleticism and post skills that allowed him to dominate the college game. At Arizona, he looked like a super-charged Antawn Jamison, more explosive if less polished.
Jamison blossomed when he went to the Washington Wizards and was allowed to play power forward. Williams should hope to show that same comfort at his natural position. He lost a lot of weight in order to better fit on the wing, but it shouldn’t be too difficult for him to return to the post.
Williams should be Love’s natural replacement, but he can’t be expected to improve upon his 8.8 points … [For more on Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio injuries shouldn't cripple Timberwolves, click here.]