So the Timberwolves finished their season with a 31-51 record. Back in September I wrote a piece titled "5 questions for 2012". Let's see how my five big questions played out.
1) Ricky Rubio and Brandon Roy's knees
Our great knee conundrum has multiple facets. In one case, a guy is trying to come back and the other is trying to hang on. It may sound like a broken record that a local team has its season hinging on a player or players returning from major knee injuries. Rubio reportedly aims for a December (or later) return from an ACL tear. Although he is ahead of projections, he isn't Adrian Peterson.
Brandon Roy returns from the NBA after a one-year retirement and while it is unknown how much the former All-Star guard has left, he will add a dynamic early to a team that is in need of scoring options. If Roy contributes in a big way, this team is going to be in excellent shape.
Rubio returned in mid-December and finished the season averaging 10 points and 7.3 assists along with 2.4 steals in 57 games and lived up to the billing. He changed the dynamic on both ends.
Roy's return was not as productive. He played in only five games before injuring his knee again, hence shutting his season down early.
2) Who plays D?
Only five teams allowed more points last season than the Wolves. That will need to change if the Wolves are going to get serious and play meaningful games in April. Newly acquired Andre Kirilenko and his 2+ blocks per game should help, but how will our shooting guard keep up with other scorers will be a question.
The team took big strides there. The team allowed 98.11 points per game 15th in the league.
3) Can the team play .500 until Rubio returns?
The Wolves have six guards on their roster. None of them bring the skills that Rubio does. Can the team survive with a Luke Ridnour, JJ Barea, Alexey Shved, Brandon Roy combo until Ricky returns?
The answer was yes. When Rubio returned on December 15th against Dallas, the team had an 11-9 record. The bigger issue was the injuries that decimated the roster as the season went on. With Kevin Love on the sidelines for all but 18 games the two corner stones of the Wolves played only 3 games together.
4) Where's the beef?
Right now, the team has two true centers on their roster in Nikola Pekovic and Greg Stiemsma. As in prior years, Kevin Love will be forced into center duty depending on the match-up. If you have seen T-wolves.com writer Mark Remme's interview with big Pek it is nothing short of impressive. Nikola is a workout hound and everyone inside of Target Center expects him to have a breakout season.
Pek became a focal point of the offense by default with all the injuries. The to-be free agent helped his cause for a huge contract averaging 16 points in 62 games.
5) Can D-Will up his game?
Derrick Williams was in large part a disappointment last season. He averaged only 8.8 points per contest and grabbed under five rebounds. The Wolves are banking that Williams can become the player they thought they selected him with the second pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. With the player moves in the off-season, there is no bigger question mark than what Williams will contribute to the team. If it is little early, he could get lost on Rick Adelmen's bench.
Williams was healthy for the entire season, but played in 78 games but Rick Adelman sat him out the other four games. He scored in double figures in nine of his last 11 games and appeared to figure some things out down the stretch. He worked through trade rumors that swirled constantly and produced.