NBA AM: Is The Wolves Season Over Already?
Where Do The Wolves Go Now?: The Minnesota Timberwolves, who were already set to begin the season without starting point guard Ricky Rubio, have lost All-Star power forward Kevin Love for what could be the first 6-8 weeks of the NBA regular season after he broke two bones in his shooting hand. NBA recovery estimates are always more cautious, so he could be back in action sooner than 8 weeks. However, the truth of the matter is the Wolves without Love become fairly average, fairly quick – unless someone steps up in a big way.
The Wolves have a couple of guys that could fill the void a little; none of them are Kevin love but they could get the Wolves more than half way there.
It was not that long ago that Derrick was the 2nd overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft and labeled the most NBA-ready player in the draft. In Minnesota he has been woefully inconsistent and looked more like a bust of a pick than a future star, however, with Love out for an extended stretch Derrick could get his shot at major minutes and more importantly more touches on offense as the Wolves try and replace Love’s 21 points and 15 rebounds per game. Williams’ logged 38 minutes in the preseason opener for the Wolves and kicked in 25 points and six rebounds on 9-19 shooting from the field, so if there is a singular candidate to replace the scoring punch it could be Williams.
In his prime Brandon Roy was an elite player capable of 20 point nights almost every time he touched the ball. Knee injuries have hampered him significantly, but if the Wolves are looking for a player with the potential to lead the way with Love out, BRoy could be that guy. Roy put up 19 points on 4-8 shooting on Tuesday in 25 minutes for the Wolves, after hanging 13 points on 3-7 shooting versus the Bulls last Saturday. Roy’s knees may not hold up to the demands of major minutes, but if he can continue to give solid double digit scoring on 20 or so minutes a game he could be a big help in closing the gap offensively.
Kirilenko was a monster for CSKA Moscow last year on his way to a Euroleague MVP. He looked as good for CSKA as he has looked in years, but the question surrounding AK47 is how will he look against NBA talent? He’s played in two preseason games for the Wolves – a dud in the opener versus the Pacers where he logged 27 minutes but only managed 1-4 shooting, six rebounds and just three points. Tuesday’s showing was a little better with 2-3 from the field and 13 points and seven rebounds. With Love on the shelf the Wolves will need a lot more than that from Kirilenko, the question is can he bring the big numbers in the NBA?
Some combination of guys above could replace Love’s scoring, but where Kevin really impacts the game is on the rebounding end and that where Nikola Pekovic comes into the picture. The Wolves have been raving about Pek’s physical condition, his focus on the game and his overall improvement as a player. With Love’s 15 boards game now up for grabs (pun intended) – Pek has to start logging multiple double digit rebound games like he did against Chicago – 17 rebounds in 39 minutes. If he can stay active and aggressive on the boards, things might not be too bad for Minnesota.
Most pundits put the Timberwolves in the hunt for the 8th seed in the West. With Kevin Love missing maybe most of November, the Wolves need a number of guys to step up and fill the void. Fortunately for Minnesota they have some guys that could fill the void in the short-term statistically.
Every year the gap between the 8th seed in the West and the 9th and 10th seed is general just a same number of games, so the Wolves can’t afford to fall behind due to Love’s injury.
The Wolves could get Love and Rubio back before the February 15th All-Star Break… the question is will the Wolves be in too much of a hole to dig out of to stay in the hunt for the postseason.
A Fresh Start For Beasley: At the NBA trade deadline last season Michael Beasley was headed to the LA Lakers. The deal was all but consummated and then both sides tried to force too much into the deal and the Lakers went elsewhere and Beasley hit free agency.
The fervor to sign Beasley was not intense; there were interested suitors, all of which had reservations about the mercurial Beasley. The Phoenix Suns ponied up a three-year deal worth $18 million and Beasley has a chance to start fresh.
Beasley talked with HOOPSWORLD about his new situation:
The October 31st Extension: Players drafted in 2009 and still under their rookie contracts are eligible to sign a long-term extension this year up until Oct. 31. While the large majority of those players are likely going to hit restricted free agency next summer, there are a couple of guys that might new deals before the cut off in 13 days.
Some of the 2009 draft picks have already hit free agency by way of their contract options not being picked up, such as Jordan Hill, Hasheem Thabeet and Earl Clark to name a few. There are also two International guys in Ricky Rubio and Victor Claver in Portland that did not start their deals in 2009 so they won’t be eligible for extensions yet either.
Here is how the 2009 Draft Class looks and where talks on a new deal stand.
| The 2009 NBA Draft Class |
The 90-Second Rule: Some are calling it the rule no one asked for, but the truth is the NBA’s new 90-Second Start The Game Rule is long overdue.
If you have watched enough NBA games you’ll notice the amount of pregame high fives and opening sequence rituals has gotten out of control.
Whether it’s fist-bumping every member of the organization, tossing powder into the air or just stretching at midcourt for three minutes, the NBA and surely its broadcast partners have had enough.
The new rule will establish a 90-second window after the player introductions are complete for each team to be ready to play.
The way the rule will work is 90 seconds will be put on the clock after introductions are complete. A buzzer will sound after 60 seconds and a verbal or whistle cue will be given by the officials letting each team know it’s time to go. If a team is not ready to tip the ball into play after the 90-second horn sounds, the team that’s not ready will be assessed a delay of game penalty.
The NBA and its broadcast partner strive to keep the NBA game within two and half hours for a number of reasons. Trimming off the extra 3-5 minutes some players have added to the process is a huge step in the right direction.
It might be a rule no one wanted, but given how long some NBA games have become, this is a huge step in the right direction.
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