With the Western Conference being undoubtedly the superior and far more competitive conference in the NBA, the Minnesota Timberwolves need everything and anything they can get their hands on to compete for a spot in this year’s post season. This past week of disappointing play has only strengthened the notion that the team from the twin cities needs Kevin Love to not only continue being the best power forward in the league, but also to stay healthy.
The Timberwolves have not started off the month of February like they would have hoped. The team has dropped four of their first five games to start the month, and many fingers point the blame towards the absence of All-Star power forward Kevin Love in two of the match-ups.
Love was forced to watch from the sidelines against the number one seeded Oklahoma City Thunder, as well as the contest against the third seeded Portland Trail Blazers. The Timberwolves went on to lose both games by a combined 16 points, which on the surface looks great for a team without their star player. However, the ramifications of losing two close games against a pair of the best teams in the NBA while fighting for a playoff spot are insurmountable. By giving each of the two match-ups the forever trusted “eye test,” one would conclude that with the presence of Love the Timberwolves may have been victorious in both games.
To say that having Love healthy is crucial for the team’s success is an obscene understatement. The polished power forward is currently averaging 25.6 points per game and collecting 13.3 rebounds per game this season. Additionally, Love has been doing a better job of getting his teammates involved in the offense by averaging 4 assists per contest. Statistics usually do not tell the whole story in an NBA game, but in the case of Love and the Timberwolves they certainly do. With more than 25% of the team’s offensive production and rebounding efforts coming from Love, the team is in no position to sit comfortably while awaiting his return.
What is even more unsettling is the realistic possibility that Love may not be with the Timberwolves for much longer. The young superstar’s current contract with the Timberwolves expires after next season, which should be the front office’s main concern and highest priority. Assuming Love does in fact part ways with the twin cities, the Timberwolves will be able to offer another high profile play or two fairly large contracts, so the departure would not be a complete loss. However, it will be very difficult to replace Love’s offensive contributions, let alone his dominance on the glass. At this point, Love gives the Timberwolves at least a chance to win games and compete for a playoff spot. But, without his talents there is no telling just how irrelevant the team will become.
The Minnesota Timberwolves will hopefully have Love back in the line-up to finish the first half of the NBA season in two match-ups against the star-studded Houston Rockets and the explosive Denver Nuggets.
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