The Minnesota Timberwolves have been the hottest team in the NBA since January 1st. They have reeled off a 10-3 record and beaten top-tier teams such as Phoenix and New Orleans. Kevin McHale is winning back a portion of his reputation through consistent rotation and solid play-calling. The Wolves seem poised to make a run at a playoff spot. So in light of all of this, why does the league seem intent on overlooking this team for All-Star Weekend??
A big reason that the Wolves have had a good run in ’09 is the play of rookie Kevin Love. Love has turned into a beast of a rebounder. In fact, when he’s on the floor, he gets 21.3 of the rebounds. That’s good enough for 2nd on the all time rookie list – evidence here. He been turning into a sneaky good scorer too – putting up a number of double doubles in the last month. Yet, the assistant coaches of the NBA decided not to include him in the Rookie/Sophomore game during All-Star Weekend! Love is understandably upset over his exclusion , but hopefully he can use the snub as motivation to shine the rest of the season and push the team into playoff contention.
The cornerstone of this Wolves team is Forward/Center Al Jefferson. This season, Jefferson is averaging 22.7 points/game and 10.5 rebounds/game. Only 11 players are averaging a double double at this point. Jefferson scored 39 points earlier this week in an overtime win over the Bulls. This week also brought the news that he had been snubbed for inclusion in the NBA All-Star game. The starters for the game are voted on by fans and Jefferson didn’t make the cut. The reserves are voted on by the coaches, who should have been aware of the huge season Al is having. Many have pointed out that team success plays a role in whether a player makes it to the All-Star team and that’s why Al missed out. But how can those people not be aware of the 10-3 record the Wolves have jumped to in 2009?? This team is on a serious upswing and Jefferson is the backbone of the effort. He deserves to be in the game over David West of New Orleans and probably over Shaq (who skips the second game of back-to-backs now!).
The next couple months will be exciting ones for the Wolves. I’ll be at the Target Center tonight to cheer on the Wolves as the battle the Lakers. I’m looking for Love and Jefferson (along with a resurgent Randy Foye) to take out their All-Star frustration on Kobe and the Lakers. This could be a big statement win tonight.