Even though there is still a decent chance the Timberwolves make the playoffs this year, it's hard to qualify the first half of the season as anything but a disappointment.
They were relatively healthy, with their four "core" players -- Kevin Love, Kevin Martin, Ricky Rubio and Nikola Pekovic -- missing a total of three games combined. They showed flashes of dominance, leading the NBA in games in which they have led by 30 points (10 times). But they have been beset by late-game struggles that have made their overall statistics add up to an underachieving 20-21 record.
As such, SI.com has handed out mid-season grades and given the Wolves a "D+." We like to guess at grades in these types of stories, and we were thinking "C-," so we were pretty much on the same page.
What really stood out, though, is the succinct way in which the SI piece laid out the team's struggles and what is at stake. It's not earth-shattering stuff, but it's hard to do much better in five paragraphs. It takes a trip through the offseason moves, late-game struggles and Love's impending free agency before concluding with this:
Individually, Minnesota’s offseason moves were logical, and in some cases (particularly Pekovic) the alternative would be far worse than the current reality. Together, though, the moves have put Minnesota over the cap for next season, and none of its newcomers (many of whom can be classified as overpaid) carries much in the way of trade value. The Wolves lack young prospects, too. Because of these factors and Love’s free agency next year, the Timberwolves badly needed to end their playoff drought and generate some momentum this season. There might not be another team in the league that needs a second-half turnaround more than this one.
So very true. They have an All-Star starter. They have other very nice pieces. Now they really need to put it all together or risk it all falling apart.