Coming into the 2013-14 season, the Minnesota Timberwolves were expected by a lot to make it to where they haven't been in 10 years, the playoffs. The return of Kevin Love from a broken hand, the signing of shooting specialist Kevin Martin, and the continued development of 20-somethings Nikola Pekovic and Ricky Rubio made it undoubtedly the most important campaign since KG shipped off to Boston.
Even though it doesn't look like we'll see May basketball out of this team, it's been fun, and I sincerely mean that. You really can't take Kevin Love's 25-15-5's for granted. Remember five years ago when we drafted Jonny Flynn before Steph Curry? Or when we gave Mark Blount 31 minutes per game? While I still plan my day around watching the Timberwolves (isn't it sad that a college student would rather watch five grown men shoot a ball into a hoop than socialize at the bar in a vibrant town?), the energy I gave as a teenager was much, much less than what I put forth now. It's not even close. You can't tell me this season hasn't been at least enjoyable at times. The late 2000s were a disaster.
Why isn't this team a lost cause at this point? It's simple, really: they're better. Kevin Love is having his best season in Snowta and there's seemingly more reason every day that he'll stay after next season (sidenote/rant: I don't care what we could get for Love this offseason. I'm merely focused on keeping his talents up north. Anytime you have the option to keep a transcendent player, you do it. Period.).
The third year of the Love/Big Pek/Ricky era reminds me of Eric Church. When they're at their pinnacle, it's hard to top them. For Church, it was releasing singles "Springsteen" and "Like Jesus Does", and for the Timberwolves, it was the first few weeks of the season, or as I like to call them, the honeymoon periods. Then, inexplicably, Church decides to put out a steaming pile of poo, The Outsiders, and calls it "country" music and the Timberwolves lose six of seven, most being very winnable games, in a January/February slate.
Will the two ever recover? For the Wolves, 2013-14 hasn't been a waste, and there are two big reasons why. First, I feel stronger now than I did a year ago about Kevin Love staying. Look at his quotes. He likes this team. He and Flip get along really well. Second, signing Big Pek to a hefty four-year extension showed the team is serious about the future. Those two down low together for years to come would be so exciting to watch. I like to think they've just gotten started together.
The future seems bright, but for now, let's focus on the positives; and hey, we could get a very solid player in this deep draft class if we finish 10th in the West.
For now, focus on winning and improving team chemistry. It's tough, but the team has certainly improved. You can't tell me this isn't more fun than the years we suffered as the laughingstock of the league. It is. Being competitive in the NBA rocks.
We may not make the postseason this spring, but at least we're winning more than 15 games.
(image via ESPN.com)