Today there will be more Olympic Men’s Basketball. And if Kevin Love’s conduct on Twitter and in interviews is any indication, I don’t anticipate him being in Minnesota any longer than he has too. He likes hanging out with the big dogs, and would prefer if he could do it a little more frequently. The caveat is that if David Khan could gather together a good team, he would consider staying. So he’s leaving basically, which I think we’ve all known since he was seen crumpling up the non-max deal Khan signed him to.
However, we have him for a little longer. And in the intervening time, Khan has absolutely BLOWN UP the team.
Some positions, barring a catastrophe, are pretty obvious. Kevin Love at Power Forward, Nikola Pekovic at Center.
So let’s go through the other positions.
At the 1 spot, Rubio is out for a while. As the ever astute Basketball Jones pointed out, it is a very real possibility that Alexey Shved (AKA the Russian Ricky Rubio) could be our starting point guard over Luke Ridnour (especially given that Shved is much stronger with ball handling and passing than shooting) At least until Rubio is back. Once he gets his sea-legs so to speak, I’m absolutely fine with this because he’s putting up impressive numbers in the Olympics. That said, when Rubio is back in good health, that makes four point guards (barring us shedding Barrea or Ridnour… probably Barrea of the two). So…
The shooting guard. This and small forward were the T-Wolves’ biggest trouble spots last year. Fortunately Shved is a combo guard, which fits into Adelman’s general everyone does everything system, so he can probably move here when Rubio returns. And while that’s good for the Points on the team, it’s not good for the 2-guards. I can’t imagine a world in which Brandon Roy is playing more than 12 minutes for us, especially early. He is more-or-less returning from the dead due to a very new and experimental knee procedure. If indeed he seems good to go a month into the season, I can see him getting more minutes, probably on the end of games (see Adelman’s utilization of Rubio in the first month of last season). Maybe Shved will play here, along with Ridnour and Barrea. My money is on Roy starting opening day to increase press and ticket sales, but not necessarily playing starter minutes.
Small Forward. We have Andre Kirilenko, Chase Budinger, and Derrick Williams (Dante Cunningham has played here as well). I for one, would like to believe that Derrick Williams’ lackluster rookie season was due to vying for minutes against Michael Beasley. I would like to believe that the 20 lbs he dropped will really enhance his game. That said I think Kirilenko will be starting.
If the Great Brandon Roy Experiment of 2012 works (see Kobe Bryant last season), and if Kirilenko can bring scoring and (ESPECIALLY) his defense, and if Pekovic (who should have won most improved player last season) can keep his numbers up, and if Shved and the guard platoon can prove an effective stop-gap, AND Rubio is the good Rubio that we saw last year, I think this team can crack the second round of the Playoffs.
Because I love seeing K Love in the White, Green, and Blue.