Kevin Love broke two bones in his shooting hand and is out of basketball for six to eight weeks. This comes on top of the already known bad news that star point guard Ricky Rubio won’t return from a torn ACL until late December, at the earliest.
The Wolves have been rebuilding for nearly a decade, but I think they are built to withstand these injuries. The team brought in former All-Stars Brandon Roy and Andrei Kirilenko over the summer. Even though both are coming off their own respective issues and nearing retirement, they should have enough left in the tank to help this team keep its head above water while Rubio and Love are out.
They have a veteran head coach in Rick Adelman, who is used to injuries in the NBA. He will keep his guys ready and motivated to keep it going.
Second-year forward Derek Williams will get his chance right away in 2012 to be the go-to scoring option for Minnesota. He showed flashes of brilliance in a teeter-totter rookie campaign but lacked any true consistency. With a season under his best, and a full off-season and training camp, I expect Williams to shine big time. This kid wants to show the rest of the NBA why he was drafted No.2 overall last year.
The Timberwolves also have the luxury of having a very easy schedule the first half of the year. They have 15 games in November. They will not have to face the Lakers, Thunder, Heat, or Celtics until December.
If the Wolves can stay within striking distance until Love returns, they will definitely make the playoffs. When Love and Rubio are both healthy, this is one of the most dangerous young teams in basketball. Pair that with a coach who is Davinci-like in exploiting match ups in-game, and you make the playoffs, especially in a down Western Conference.