The Timberwolves Top 5 Offseason Objectives
Email / Twitter
Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations David Kahn joked as he entered Friday’s season-ending press conference about the severely different paths the team took during the 2011-12 campaign. Would the media like to talk about the first two-thirds of the season, he asked, or the final six weeks of the year?
That distinct divide is the difference between the Timberwolves taking the leap into playoff consideration and fading down the stretch. The Wolves, who heading into March 9 were in the thick of the postseason race, turned a 17-win season a year ago into palpable excitement each night and a true ad campaign around the Twin Cities and the state: Everybody is talking about the Wolves.
But injuries halted all the progress, and the Timberwolves got an opportunity to evaluate which pieces would be good complements to their core group of forward Kevin Love and guard Ricky Rubio moving forward. Kahn said beyond those two players, any possibility to make the team better is on the table and all potential moves will be explored.
“We have to get better around our core group,” coach Rick Adelman said. “I’ve said it before you can improve through three areas. You can improve through the draft; now we have a first round pick. Then free agency, obviously, and trades, and the other area is improving your own young people and get better and see how you can help us.”
If the Timberwolves have a successful offseason in those three areas, Minnesota likely will be right back in the thick of the playoff race next season. When at full strength this winter, the Wolves were a team that opposing clubs knew wouldn’t be an easy matchup. Even on the final night of the regular season, ravaged by injuries and a 5-20 finish since Rubio’s injury on March 9, Denver coach George Karl said the Wolves are in position to take that next step next year.
“They have a lot of pieces. They’ll probably have to make some maneuvering to balance their roster out in whatever way they think is best for them,” Karl said. “If Rubio comes back healthy, they’ll be in a good place. They made good steps forward. Most of their roster is really young and really energetic.”
Heading into the offseason, here are the top five focal points for the Timberwolves offseason that will put them in position to succeed in 2012-13.
Love, who suffered a concussion on April 11, was cleared to play the final two games of the year but did not for precautionary measures. Love became one of the hardest players to contain offensively this season. He was the league’s fourth leading scorer and second leading rebounder, led the league in double-doubles, proved he can make the game-winning shot and became a constant 3-point threat. Love lost 25 pounds in the offseason and made yet another step in his development one year after being the NBA’s Most Improved Player. Now, Wolves player development coach Shawn Respert said Love’s main goal needs to be motivating his teammates to improve. He has reached a level in his game where he is arguably the best power forward in the game. Now, he needs to elevate his teammates’ games, and that begins with offseason workouts.
Guard JJ Barea missed 25 games, guard Luke Ridnour missed 13 games and forward Michael Beasley and guard Martell Webster each missed 19 games. When healthy, the Wolves proved to be a formidable club. Health will be an important part of their chances next season.
Lee’s main objective is getting familiar with the offense. He picked it up as he went along, but he missed more than half of the regular season after knee surgery and simply needs time to adjust to the speed of the game. But in the final month with extra playing time after Rubio and Luke Ridnour’s injuries, Lee showed his quickness and his ability to make tough passes.
For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter.