|2013-14 Team Rating|
|10th Overall||9th Overall|
Stats Through Jan. 20
Kevin Love has roared back with All-Star numbers (25.0 ppg, 13.0 rpg, 35 double-doubles), though his numbers are down lately. Nikola Pekovic (20 double-doubles) has taken a big stride offensively. Corey Brewer is best in transition and on defense.
Ricky Rubio has folks in Minnesota worried that he might have plateaued, or might even be regressing, from what had been his projected stardom. His shooting (35 percent) needs a shrink. Kevin Martin halted his December dropoff.
Rubio and Brewer are the top steals tandem (174). The Wolves lead the league in total rebound percentage (52.5). But the team's reluctance to foul (last in fouls and opponents' FTAs) has earned "soft" label.
The cupboard is pretty bare, with some specialty players (J.J. Barea, Luc Mbah a Moute, Robbie Hummel), previously injured Chase Budinger and Ronny Turiaf and a couple meager-minute rookies.
No one doubts Rick Adelman's resume, but his enthusiasm and willingness to tinker have been questioned through Minnesota's tires-spinning start.
The stat hanging over this team, until it's not, is its 0-11 mark in games decided by four points or fewer. Offensively, the Wolves shoot their worse when games are tied or when they're five points up or down. They almost seem to relax and play better with big leads or big deficits (nine blowout victories of 20 or more points).
A year ago, with less experience and more injuries, Minnesota was 17-24. A three-game improvement hasn't been enough and .500 seems to be where the Wolves belong (they're 5-15 against teams at or above .500, 15-6 vs. those with losing records). Unfortunately for them, .500 won't earn a postseason spot out West and the pressure is on Love, Rubio and the rest to at least reach that.
-- Steve Aschburner
Explanation of Marking System
|Golden State Warriors||A-|
|Los Angeles Clippers||A-|
|Los Angeles Lakers||D|
|New Orleans Pelicans||C-|
|New York Knicks||D|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||A|
|Portland Trail Blazers||A|
|San Antonio Spurs||A|