Kevin Love is tearing up the Association this season. The dude is playing like he had thousands of haters and people saying he'd never come back to the double-double machine that he once was. We've all heard it, in casual conversations about knuckle push-ups, as Wolves Nation still cringes their teeth. K-Love has done nothing but prove people wrong since he was drafted out of UCLA in the 2008 NBA Draft. Remember those days? We traded the almighty OJ Mayo, the supposed 'future of this franchise' for this chubby white guy? That was Kevin McHale's finale in Minnesota. His parting ways, as people thought he was trying to tear it down before he left. Little did we know, thanks to McHale, Love would become an All-star.
Through his first few seasons, it looked like the Minnesota Timberwolves would never get over the Garnett days and stay in the slums as long as David Kahn was running this organization. In 2011-2012, Love racked up 26 points a game and holds the NBA record for most consecutive double-doubles with 53. As time went, as we all know, Kahn made idiotic decisions one after another: the only good ones being drafting Ricky Rubio and signing former McHake pick Nikola Pekovic. Love was unhappy with the future of this team last season, as he made public to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. With an injury keeping him out of commission for the season, all Love could do was sit there, bite his tongue and rehab to the best of his ability.
As last season ended, and the Wolves won 30 games for the first time since the Garnett era and Kahn was finally fired, owner Glen Taylor wanted to bring this franchise back to respectability. He brought back Flip Saunders to run the basketball operations for the organization. Saunders rebuilt this squad and began to reestablish a positive relationship between Love and the Wolves. He re-signed Pekovic, Chase Budinger and signed highly coveted Kevin Martin.
This year is a make or break year for the Minnesota Timberwolves. They have all the tools to make a run in the playoffs. Through 29 games, this team is treading water in the vicious Western Conference. Again, this season, Love is doing nothing but proving his haters wrong. After that injury, he' has improved even more. We finally have seen the three-ball come back as he's shooting 39 percent beyond the arc this season. His passing, which scouts raved about in college, is finally being showcased. Love is averaging 4.2 assists per game, which is very solid for a power forward. His outlet passes and full-court passes are something like Christian Ponder (well, probably better). In November, he earned Western Conference Player of the Week. That's something Love has never done in his career. This season, Kevin Love is only averaging 26.5 points per game and 13.7 rebounds. No biggie, right? In 27 of those 29 games, he has posted a double double. Not to mention, he's fourth in the All-star voting for the Western Conference frontcourt. He's behind Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard and unfortunately Blake Griffin. But, that's solid company to be in, I'd say. How awesome would it be to see a player with Minnesota over his chest starting in the NBA All-Star game? It’d be something I haven’t seen since I was in elementary school.
Now, back to my OJ Mayo reference, he's averaging 14 points per game on a lowly Milwaukee Bucks squad that’s plummeted to the cellar of the weak Eastern Conference. This, obviously, looks like a good move looking back several years. It seems that Love is the only Wolf that is hungry to get to the playoffs. His supporting cast has been playing sloppy basketball and is fighting to stay at .500 at the end of December. In the month of December, Love is only averaging 30 points and 13.7 rebounds.
The other night, Minnesota lost a heart breaker to Dallas, 100-98 (Don’t get me starred on that terrible no call at the end of the game). Love only racked up 36 points, 11 rebounds and four assists. The previous game, he had to claw this team back to a victory over those measly Bucks in the fourth quarter. How frustrated do you think he is? He's racking up 30 points a night and dominating the boards constantly. But he is keeping his mouth shut and letting his play do the talking. Where is this fundamentally sound supporting cast Saunders created? Martin and Corey Brewer's hot starts fizzled out in the frigid Minnesota winter. Don't get me wrong, the Wolves are getting a lot out of Martin, but his shooting percentages have dropped considerably.. JJ Barea throws up shots like he's playing in a pick-up game at the YMCA. Alexey Shved looks like he should be playing in Iowa in the D-League. And the rest of the bench looks like lost puppies. After the Derrick Williams trade, Luc Mbah a Mute is giving the Wolves what they wanted, a shut down defender. He also switched up his offensive game a bit, driving to the hoop more. Rubio is Rubio, being a great floor general, but not opposing a threat to shoot the ball. Pek is the lone Wolf who has stepped up of recent. The last 10 games, he's averaging 21.1 points and 10 rebounds a game.
In a tough Northwestern Division with Portland and Oklahoma City taking the top of the West, the Wolves will be in a dogfight for a lower seed this season. Essentially, the Wolves will have to work their tail off to get a bottom three spot in the playoffs. More than likely, they will see a team like OKC, Portland or San Antonio come springtime.The odds of them of them advancing out of the first round are slim to none. But hey, I'm no Debbie downer. I have faith and promise in this team that they can right the ship. Remember in 2007, when Baron Davis and Golden State, the number eight seed shocked the powerful Phoenix Suns with Amare and Steve Nash? It could very well happen.But, I'm just trying to keep all ears open in Wolves Nation. If this season ends up a struggle or an eighth seed in the playoffs, expect Love to look for greener and warmer pastures. All we can do is cherish what he is providing us now and hope for the best. I mean, as Wolves fans aren't we used to it?