To say that the Minnesota Timberwolves have been unlucky in the health department is an understatement. It’s an unfortunate luck of the draw that can ruin a season and cripple a franchise. While the Wolves’ core may not be suffering from any career altering complications, these injuries have jeopardized this season as well as potentially altered the future of this team. The team has resorted to a series of 10 day contracts, most recently include Mickael Gelabale and Chris Johnson. The general consensus of this team from last season coming into this current campaign is that the Wolves are a team on the rise. This is primarily due to Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio and Rick Adelman. But without a full, healthy, season together this year a number of questions come to surface:
1). The Love injury, and the teams general health problem, counts against the playoff demands that he put forward at the onset of the season. The chances he decides to opt out of his contract seem higher than ever. Does it make sense to entertain the idea of trading Love? Or should we hope that the tail end of this year and next year will provide a healthy team with enough promise to keep him around?
2). With a weak FA class coming this summer Pekovic seems to be an early candidate to be signed to a ridiculously overpriced contract sheet. We’re talking Roy Hibbert money, about 12-14 million a year. Is Pekovic worth the payday that’s coming or should we look to deal him?
3). Injuries are never good. They often lead to a series of losses unless your team is unnaturally deep. There is, however, some good that can come from them: it can clear playing time to give other players a chance to show their worth. Hopefully the remaining healthy players are able to step up and in some cases carry the success through to the rest of their season and career. Ricky Rubio recently hinted at this need for players to “step up”:
“It’s tough when you’re playing, and there’s no more bodies over there,” Rubio said. “You have to remain doing new things every single game, and we can’t get the rhythm. But that’s no excuse. We are professionals. I think that players that are healthy have to step up and start doing a better job.”
Ricky is absolutely right about this. Now is time for one player in particular to pick up his game: Derrick Williams. People may be a little too quick to label him a bust but that doesn’t mean he has lived up to the promise he brought with him from Arizona. With the increased minutes and role in the offense he will see over the next week with Pekovic out, and months with Love out, it is time to see if he can put up or shut up. Ricky too needs to take a look in the mirror and start walking the walk. It’s important to have vocal leaders on the team, but he better start to play better and step up if he’s going to continue to call out other players on the team.
Does Williams show enough before the trade deadline that makes the Wolves want to keep him? Are him and Rubio able to step up their game enough so that this team, and record, don’t totally fall into oblivion? I’m willing to give Rubio some time coming back from injury but Williams is a different story. He may end up being a useful player in this league but if he doesn’t come through and show some life in the next few weeks I doubt it will be with this team.
I’m not sure how the rest of this season is going to turn out. One thing is for sure though, how the Wolves perform over the next several weeks will help determine not only the course of this season but also the next couple seasons down the road. It should be interesting to say the least.
Feel free to comment on any of the aforementioned questions or any other related thoughts.