The Scouting Report: Minnesota Timberwolves
Projected starting line-up: Zach LaVine, Kevin Martin, Andrew Wiggins, Adreian Payne, Justin Hamilton
Key injuries: Ricky Rubio (ankle) is out for the season, Kevin Garnett (knee)
The first year of the post-Kevin Love era is coming to an end. They brought back Kevin Garnett, which tugged at the heart strings of their fan base. It was a nice story and it even helped them win a few games, including one against the Blazers in their first game without Wesley Matthews.
The Wolves are in the running for the league’s worst record, which would be a big boost to their chances of having a top pick. Having gotten Wiggins in the Love trade, they’ve set themselves up for a promising future. Zach LaVine has gotten a ton of run lately and he has shown, at times, that he isn’t just a spectacular dunker.
His 3-point shot reached a peak in March but that has since cooled off in the first few games in April. He had 21 points and 11 assists on Tuesday against the Kings and this time without Rubio in the line-up will be crucial for his development.
Kevin Martin can still score. He had 37 on Tuesday against the Kings and his wonky style still enables him to get buckets. Somebody on the Timberwolves has to and Martin can still score even though he’s a question mark doing a lot of other basketball things.
Wiggins can post-up, score in transition and come off a screen very nicely. His perimeter shooting has tailed off quite a bit as the year has progressed. But his early season excellence has helped him become the front runner for Rookie of the Year even though candidates like Elfrid Payton and Nerlens Noel have made a case during this final stretch of the season.
Wiggins has played well against the Blazers in the games when he’s been healthy. He played in Portland but was blowing chunks int he locker room at halftime according to his coach. He’s averaged just under 21 points in the last two meetings, both Minnesota wins. Obviously the Blazers didn’t play very well in either outing.
They were incredibly sloppy back in December and then couldn’t play defense to save their lives back in March. The defense is still an issue for the Blazers and an athletic wing like Wiggins and a good scorer like Martin will get their points.
In the middle, the Wolves rolled with Adreian Payne, who I haven’t seen much of in the pros, and Justin Hamilton, a 3-point shooting big man. Payne has promising athleticism and skill but was traded by the Hawks before getting a season under his belt. But he wasn’t exactly blowing the D-League away, putting up subpar numbers in 17 NBADL appearances.
The Wolves that are coming in are a rag-tag bunch, inching towards the end of a painful season. Hopefully for the sake of their team and their fans they are rewarded with a high draft pick who can help them next season.
The Blazers rested guys and should be ready to run the Wolves out of the building rather quickly.