Remember last summer when the Minnesota Timberwolves were a sexy pick to make the 2013 NBA playoffs? Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love, and all the right spare parts brought basketball optimism to Minnesota the franchise hasn’t seen since Kevin Garnett and Stephen Marbury graced the cover of Slam in 1997.
Then Kevin Love broke his hand doing knuckle push-ups. Then it took Ricky Rubio some time to return to form following his ACL injury. Then Chase Budinger got hurt. And Kevin Love got hurt again, and only played in 18 games all season.
End result: worst 3-point shooting team in the NBA, 31-51 record, no playoffs, not even close, and little hope for the immediate future.
Enter Kevin Martin and the 4-year, $28 million deal he inked Tuesday.
Assuming a healthy start to the season, the Timberwolves will probably be picked by some pundits to compete for a playoff spot in the loaded West:
PG – Ricky Rubio (only 23 in October)
SG – Kevin Martin (42 percent 3-pointers last year, 38 percent for his career)
SF – Chase Budinger
PF – Kevin Love
C – Nikola Pekovic
The bench isn’t bad – JJ Barea and Luke Ridnour in the backcourt along with Alexey Shved, who played well last year. Derrick Williams can play multiple frontcourt positions. Ultimately, this will come down to the health of Love and Rubio, and the shooting of Martin and Budinger. It wouldn’t be a major surprise if the Timberwolves had a better record than the Lakers, if Kobe misses two months and they lose Dwight Howard.