A Timberwolves season mostly sabotaged by Jimmy Butler early and a rash of injuries later has been revived, at least to a point, by an on-the-surface unlikely suspect: veteran Luol Deng, a man we tend to think of as old but who in real life is just 33.
Deng is enjoying a second act in his career thanks to running with an opportunity given him by interim coach Ryan Saunders — a man who we think of young, and who is in fact just a year younger than Deng.
Two weeks ago, the Wolves' season was going nowhere. It still might not be going anywhere, but Deng is trying to give it an upward trajectory. On Feb. 11, he started in place of the ill Andrew Wiggins.
Beginning with that game, the Wolves are 4-1 and Deng is a ridiculous plus-86 — meaning Minnesota has outscored opponents by 86 points when Deng was on the court. The Wolves overall are plus-26 in those five games. So they're minus-60 when Deng is not on the court.
Read Michael Rand's blog at startribune.com/randball. firstname.lastname@example.org.