Good morning and welcome to the Therapy couch. Zach should have a recap of last night's loss to the Raptors up soon, but it's Thursday morning and we need to vent a little bit. It's been a very frustrating season to be a Timberwolves fan, as many seasons are. The never-ending injury bug, the mysterious coaching decisions, one thing after another. However, many things about this season have given me hope for the future. My goal for the final seven games of the season is to focus on as many of the positive goals for the future as I can. Here are the things that give me hope and keep my glass at least 30% full:
- Andrew Wiggins. In a season of injury turmoil for literally other member of the Timberwolves, the presumptive Rookie of the Year has started every one of the Wolves' 75 games to this point of the year. After Gorgui Dieng's concussion last week, he is the only Wolf to play in every game this year. Should he start the remaining seven games of the year, he will be only the 25th rookie in NBA history to start every game his rookie season. The currently active players that did: Tim Duncan, Blake Griffin, Dwight Howard, Andre Iguodala, Carmelo Anthony, Damian Lillard, Mario Chalmers, Brandon Jennings, and O.J. Mayo. Of the others: six Hall of Famers. Pretty good company to be in.
- Zach LaVine. Yeah, he's had a slightly harder run than Wiggins has had, and has deserved a large amount of the criticism that's been leveled at him over the course of the year. However, he has taken positive steps towards becoming a viable NBA player, if not a superstar, and has been noticeably better recently. Here are a few numbers from over the last ten games:
- Chase Budinger. Speaking of finishing the season the right way, the turnaround of Bud's game recently has been pretty incredible to see. In his almost three years with the Wolves, Budinger has scored 18 or more points in a single game nine times. Six of them have been in the last three weeks! Part of that has been the opportunity afforded in being one of the seven functional basketball players over that span, but he's also shown flashes of the skills that can make him valuable: smart cuts to the rim for easy baskets, decent shooting from 3, surprising offensive rebounds. Given the likelihood that he picks up his player option for next year, I am looking to see if Chase can continue the positive momentum he's gathered through the end of the year.
- The 10-day guys. From Lorenzo Brown to Justin Hamilton to Jeff Adrien to the short-lived heroics of Sean Kilpatrick, many of the contracts necessitated by injury have resulted in quality players for at least the short-term. I hope that both Brown and Hamilton remain on the roster next year, and while that may be impossible with all the players the Wolves have, in addition to draft picks and the potential addition of Nemanja Bjelica, I can and will hope. Both have shown the potential to be serviceable backups in the NBA. (We'll pretend that the Raduljica thing never happened.)
- Dunks. We went into this year with the promise of LaVine and Wiggins putting on a show above the rim, and while it's taken some time to develop, Wiggins especially has started to show absolutely no fear of putting a shotblocker on a poster. It's been contagious too. Lorenzo Brown's dunked a couple things. Chase posterized Robert Sacre, which I still wouldn't believe was a real thing had I not been there in person for it.
- The 2015 draft class. No matter which particular player is your cup of tea, it's easy to see the Wolves will have another shot at acquiring real NBA-level talent in this year's draft, and it will be on display this weekend with Jahlil Okafor, Karl-Anthony Towns and the host of other potential high draft picks in the Final Four.
In short: This year has sucked. However, there are still a lot of things that can be looked at in a positive light moving forward. What else can we look forward to and keep ourselves sane with over the next two weeks?