Some might say that regardless of their injuries, the Minnesota Timberwolves weren’t supposed to make the playoffs this season. That’s debatable, but what isn’t is their incredible line of injured players now and earlier, including Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio, Chase Budinger and Brandon Roy.
We’ll begin with the most important player, Kevin Love. Love has played in only 18 games this season, missing the beginning of the year due to a broken hand; on January 3, Love re-fractured his arm and won’t be back until late February-Early March. Love was struggling with his shot while he was playing, averaging 18.3 points while shooting 35.2% from the field and 21.7% from beyond the arc.
Then there’s the case of Ricky Rubio, who missed the first 20 games of the season and then some more after making his initial return due to back spasms. Even over a month into his comeback, this looks like a relearning season for Rubio, who more than anything looks like he’s afraid to do and try certain stuff he did last season. He still hasn’t scored in double figures this year, averaging 4.2 points and shooting 23.1% from the field.
Brandon Roy was somewhat of a gamble, bringing him back after not playing for an entire year, pretty much retired from basketball. Roy lasted only 5 games, starting them all and playing 24.4 minutes per game, before going down once again. There’s a good chance that scoring 6 points against the Indiana Pacers on November 9 was his last basketball game ever.
Then there’s Chase Budinger, who played in only six games since the start of the season, averaging 11.8 points per game. He’ll hopefully be back by March, but that might be too late for the Timberwolves, already slipping to three games below .500, losing six of their last seven games.
Nikola Pekovic, one of the Timberwolves’ most consistent players this season (averaging 16 points and 8.6 rebounds) has missed the last couple of games and is out for at least one more week if not more. Alexey Shved, who is having a good rookie season, averaging 10.7 points per game, has an ankle injury, so far keeping him out of the last two games. Malcolm Lee underwent successful knee surgery on Monday and will have hip surgery on Wedensday, not playing since early December. Josh Howard is missing games once again.
Maybe it wasn’t meant to be their year. The West, as always, is extremely competitive, with the Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets and Portland Trail Blazers being the new additions trying to get into the playoffs, while the Dallas Mavericks, now that Nowitzki is back, are making a run for it. But with so many injuries hurting this team from the beginning of the year, this might end as another what-if season, going down as a lost campaign, partially due to bad luck.