Derrick Williams, hope you’re ready for your close-up.
Kevin Love has broken two bones in shooting hand and is now out for at least six weeks. Meaning we’re talking a return around Thanksgiving at the very earliest, probably more like the first week of December. That is in addition to Ricky Rubio being out from the ACL injury he suffered last March until likely Christmas.
Doesn’t matter, the goal for Minnesota doesn’t change — the playoffs. The Timberwolves want to be part of the dance. Which means until the Love/Rubio cavalry comes charging over that hill, they need to keep their head above water. They don’t have to have a winning record, but they can’t go 1-14 either.
If Love is back Dec. 1, that is 15 regular season games where Minnesota will be without both of its young stars, its two best players. The good news is this is not the murderers’ row part of the schedule — they play good teams such as the Pacers and Clippers in November, but they also have Orlando, Charlotte and Sacramento (twice).
So what does Minnesota do in the short term?
Trust in Derrick Williams, the No. 2 overall pick from a year ago who showed flashes as a rookie but also looked fully like a rookie at points. Now he can’t. Team owner Glen Taylor told Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune that there would be no moves in the short term — Williams and Dante Cunningham are going to get the chance to prove they can step up.
Glen Taylor said the team will consider all options, including signing a FA or trade, but said 1st thought is to give DWill & Dante a chance
— Jerry Zgoda(@JerryZgoda) October 18, 2012
If that doesn’t work, don’t be shocked to see coach Rick Adelman use Andrei Kirilenko at the four for stretches.
Even if Williams steps up and plays well (no sure thing, but play along with our hypothetical here) he’s still not going to put up Kevin Love numbers. Also, he’s not going to dominate the boards the same way, he’s not going to draw double teams that opens up other players.
Some of the scoring load also falls on Nikola Pekovic, who was second on the team averaging 13.9 points per game last season while shooting an impressive 56.4 percent. His scoring numbers have to go up now, he has to draw defenses.
It’s going to take a lot of things, a lot of people to step if the Timberwolves playoff slot dream not to die before the season even really gets going.