The Minnesota Timberwolves are in 12th (TWELFTH!) place in the Western Conference right now. True, they’re only 8-9 and not exactly out of it, but they’re burning the candle at both ends right now and there’s legitimate cause for concern. We’re dealing with Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio here, neither of which have been a model of health in recent years.
What is Rick Adelman thinking and is he being much too risky?
The Wolves are the No. 4 scoring team in the NBA, averaging 105.7 points per game but that’s a little misleading. They are also No. 2 in pace, which means not only are they playing a lot of minutes, they’re playing at a frenetic pace. For reference, their offensive rating is 106.2, which is good for ninth in the NBA.
A quick look at the starters shows that there might not be much reason to be concerned. After all, these numbers look reasonable:
Love has played over 40 minutes in both of his previous two games, though. Would it surprise you to know that the Timberwolves starters are tied for No. 4 in the league with those numbers? Take a quick look at the team leaderboard:
Washington Wizards – 36.1 MPG
Portland Trail Blazers – 35.0 MPG
Philadelphia 76ers – 34.3 MPG
Minnesota Timberwolves/Golden State Warriors – 33.9 MPG
Again, it doesn’t sound like a whole lot of minutes. After all, that LeBron James guy plays a lot of minutes and he’s pretty good, right? Would it surprise you to know that the 33.9 minutes per game would have been No. 3 in the league last season?
The big problem is that ALL FIVE of the Wolves starters are in the top-20 in total minutes played, with Love at the top of the list. You know, the same guy who broke his hand doing knuckle pushups, then re-broke it brushing up against another player. Seems safe to play that guy the most minutes in the league. Interestingly enough, none of the starters are in the top-20 in minutes per game.
So back to the original question — are the Timberwolves burning out the starters? Well, yeah. Do they need to? They’ve gotten…let’s just say the bench has been horrifictastic (yes, made that one up).
The bench is shooting 37.1 percent from the field, which is dead last in the league. They are shooting 20.9 percent from the 3-point line, which is something an actual dead person could get close to. The Wolves are having to ride their starters so hard because the bench can’t hold a lead and certainly can’t close the gap.
The Wolves started the year with playoff aspirations. Hate to break it to you, but unless you improve the performance of that bench, it’s going to be lottery time again.