Kevin Martin (#23), Ricky Rubio (#9) and Andrew Wiggins (#22) taken 1.8 attempts per game. It’s reasonable to assume that most of those attempts were wide open. To make matters worse, small forward Corey Brewer also has historically struggled with range, making just 29.5 percent of his three-point attempts. The result was a weird offense where only Love and Martin provided spacing and far too much defensive attention was paid to Love. The fact that Love had the best season of his career so far anyway shows just how talented he is as an overall offensive player. And that’s the problem: Love is gone, having been replaced by Thaddeus Young, another player who struggles from three-point range. That leaves Kevin Martin as the only starter who is a serious threat from range. Spacing David Sherman/NBAE/Getty Images will be an enormous problem and opponents are likely to double-team Pekovic in the post early and often. Offensive help will come off the bench in the form of point guard J.J. Barea and Mo Williams. However, those players are both major defensive liabilities and will be a serious downgrade from Rubio in that respect. The biggest problem in Minnesota is the lack of a guard who can play both ways, unless Andrew Wiggins shows he’s ready earlier than expected. The reality is that the Timberwolves are going to have some serious struggles on offense. Losing a player like Kevin Love is not something a team can recover from easily, especially if they had some offensive issues even with Love in the lineup. While Martin and Pekovic are serious offensive threats, expect Minnesota t o have serious difficulty creating shots throughout the 2014-15 season. Outlook This is going to be a rebuilding year for Minnesota. There are a handful of young players the Timberwolves hope can be future building blocks: Wiggins, Dieng, Shabazz Muhammad, Zach LaVine, and even Bennett, who s t r u g g l e d w i t h Cleveland in his rookie season. However, none of those players has proven himself as a major contributor yet. As for the veterans, Pekovic is an underrated force at the center position, Young is a solid two-way power forward, and Rubio and Martin each have their merits. However, offensive spacing is going to be a serious issue throughout the season and this team has too many defensive liabilities and not enough rim protection. The 2014-15 Minnesota season will not be a major tanking job as is happening in Philadelphia, but this is not a playoff team either. Expect a finish in the 25-30 win range and a focus on developing some of the younger players as the season progresses. SPOTLIGHT: Andrew Wiggins There was a lot of hype surrounding Wiggins even before the 2013 NBA Draft occurred. Experts panned the 2013 draft class as historically weak, then cited Wiggins as the crown jewel of how the 2014 draft would be so much better. Wiggins drew comparisons to players like LeBron James before he even stepped onto the court for the Kansas Jayhawks. However, when Wiggins began his college season, he didn’t exactly produce like LeBron, or even like a college superstar should. Wiggins scored 17 points and grabbed 5 rebounds per game—good numbers but hardly the sign of the second coming of LeBron. Wiggins was good but he didn’t dominate as most pundits expected him to. Despite those concerns, the Cleveland Cavaliers selected Wiggins with the top overall pick in the draft, then promptly traded him to the Minnesota in exchange for Love. From Minnesota’s perspective, the logic is simple: by acquiring Wiggins, the Timberwolves have brought in a player who could potentially become one of the top players in the League. But is Wiggins truly that kind of prospect? While it’s easy to see Wiggins becoming a player like Paul George, a terrific defender who can also create shots on offense, it’s also easy to see Wiggins settling in as just “good” in the NBA, just as he was just “good” at Kansas. Fair or not, high expectations have been placed on Wiggins, and there is a lot of pressure on him to flash some of that superstar potential right away.
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