Tag Archives: Minnesota Timberwolves

NBA Rookies

Top Five Rookie Forecast for the 2014-15 NBA Season

Each year as the start of the new NBA season approaches will always look to the draft to see which players will be successful and which ones are lucky to be drafted. There is always a draft pick or rookie that will make an instant impact each year and will make his statement for the rookie of the year. This year is no different. There are a few rookies that have been drafted that stands out above the other rookies. You can look for the following names to be mentioned when it comes to rookie expectations.

JPJabari Parker was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks and is currently playing forward. In his October 9 outing against the Detroit Pistons he put up 11 points and added three rebounds with one assist and one still. That was with 31 minutes of playing time. He has been used at both forward positions but still a question as to where he will be positioned during the regular season. No matter where Coach Jason Kidd will place him in the lineup look for Jabari to be a huge contributor and make a nice run for the rookie of the year.

Nerlens Noel is having a somewhat rough start to the season. Being drafted by the Philadelphia 76’ers to play forward and center he does have the potential to be a strong defensive presence in the NBA. After playing in the first two preseason game for the 76’ers he is listed as day to day while he is nursing an injured right thigh. Look for Noel to be healthy for the regular season and to improve the more he plays.

Andrew WigginsAndrew Wiggins showed why he was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves when he scored 11 points by shooting 5 for 10 from the field against the 76’ers on Friday night. He also added three rebounds. Three of his eleven points came from one three-pointer. Playing at guard and forward he will go through some slumps as does everyone else but look for him to put together a streak of consistency playing an average of thirty minutes per game.

Dante Exum a rookie guard for the Utah Jazz played twenty nine minutes in his October 8 outing off the Jazz bench. He was a little rusty only hitting one of his five shots. This want last long because he will have to improve to gain some sharing time with starting point guard Trey Burke. He will have to improve his ball skills to make his run at rookie of the year. Exum is one to keep an eye on throughout the year.

Julius Randle a rookie forward for the L.A. Lakers will have to make some adjustments if his last outing on Friday night is any indication of what is to come from this rookie. He only played eighteen minutes and shot a low 4 out of 12 from the field. The Lakers will move the ball around a lot and Randle needs to get used to the ball movement so he will learn his placement on the court. He will need more playing time to develop his confidence. But he will get better and make a strong push during his 2014-15 season year.



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Chris M.

Where will Kevin Love end up?

Kevin Love

LOVE

The Kevin Love saga is continuing to unfold and in fact, it’s gradually reaching its peak, as we get closer to the free agency period. Up to now, there is no clear indication about which uniform the 25 – year old megastar will wear next season. The only thing we can be almost certain about is that he will not be a part of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Amongst all the teams which have entered the race for Love, the Golden State Warriors seem to have the capability of forming the best offer but also to offer a winning environment to Love. So are they the ultimate front runners? And can they acquire Love much sooner than the beginning of the 2014 – 2015 season?

There are two variables in this equation. One of them is Love’s choice. It will be very essential for the team which will trade for Love to secure a long – term deal with him. In other words, don’t expect any team interesting in landing him to trade away some valuable assets without the assurance that a long – term contract will be signed. So, unless Love wants to play for that particular team, it will be difficult for it to acquire him.

NBA Kevin Love

LOVE

The other variable in this equation is the exchange the Minnesota Timberwolves are looking to get out of this deal. The Wolves want to sell high at this point and they don’t actually care that much if Love will head to a destination where he will be happy or if he will win rings. All they want is to get the maximum out of this deal, whether this means acquiring one or more capable players, receiving draft picks or a combination of the two.

Whilst Love expressed his desire to play in New York and although he has also been flirting with the Los Angeles Lakers since the beginning of the 2013 – 2014 season, those legendary teams don’t have the assets needed offer to the Wolves as an exchange for Love. The Boston Celtics are not in a much better position either. In fact, it’s the Phoenix Suns, the Golden State Warriors and maybe the Houston Rockets which currently have the most to offer.

Kevin Love

LOVE

Phoenix has six first round picks over the next two drafts and Houston could ship significant value to Minnesota while forming its Big Three with Harden, Howard and Love. Nonetheless, the Golden State Warriors seem to be capable to place the best offer on the table. If they form a deal which will include David Lee, Harrison Barnes and a few other assets, leaving Klay Thompson out of the package, not only will the Wolves will find enough value but they will also form a powerhouse in the West. Just imagine how deadly a starting lineup which would include Love, Thompson, Curry and Iguodala would be. The Dubs will instantly become by far the best three – point shooting team in the NBA and on top of that, Love seems to be a perfect match with Andrew Bogut. With Steve Kerr in the house, Golden State is ready for the beginning of a brand new era.

Kevin Love to the Warriors makes much sense, for every side involved in such a trade.

Chris M.

Lakers Face Durant and Howard This Week

Lakers Tickets Courtside

Lakers Bulls

With Steve Nash and Steve Blake in the fold things might be looking up, at least a little bit, for the Los Angeles Lakers. Nash and Blake returned to the Lakers lineup on Tuesday night in Minnesota, with Nash making his season debut. The depleted Lakers ended up losing Tuesday night at the hands of the Timberwolves, but then went on to win two in a row on the road before losing at home Sunday versus the Chicago Bulls.

Week Recap: Even with the return of Nash and Blake the Lakers continue to be the most snake bit team in the NBA when it comes to losing players. The return of their two point guards coincided with the loss of Nick Young and Jodie Meeks to injury. Wednesday’s night win in Cleveland saw Robert Sacre of the Lakers stay in the game after fouling out, a rarely seen NBA rule, due to the fact the Lakers had just five players left. After already losing Nick Young to injury and Jordan Farmar to leg cramps the Lakers were down to five players after Chris Kaman fouled out. Even with a depleted roster the Lakers hit a season-high 18 three-point shots to defeat the Cavaliers and former Head Coach Mike Brown. Los Angeles continued their winning ways Friday night with a fourteen point defeat of the Philadelphia 76ers behind 19 points from Steve Nash on his 40th birthday. Steve Blake contributed 14 points and 8 assists in the victory. Even without Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol the return of Nash and Blake is a welcome sight for Lakers fans. The Lakers returned home Sunday to face a competitive Chicago Bulls team, losing a tough one, 92-86. Chicago ran out to a nineteen point lead and the Lakers rallied back but couldn’t close the gap in the end, losing despite a season-high 27 points from Chris Kaman. Unfortunately for the Lakers they may have lost Steve Nash again for a short period of time. Nash knocked knees with Kirk Hinrich in the third quarter, causing his knee to flare up once again. He’ll be evaluated and may miss a couple of games.

Lakers Tickets Staples Center

Staples Center

The Week Ahead: The Lakers have a big home stretch coming up with five games at STAPLES Center over the next two weeks, including two with key Western Conference contenders. Los Angeles kicks off the week Tuesday night when they host the Utah Jazz. The Jazz are coming off of an impressive home victory over the Miami Heat. Thursday night Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder make a visit to STAPLES Center, giving Lakers fans a chance to see the NBA’s leading MVP candidate in action. Following the All Star Break the Lakers return home next week when they face off versus the Houston Rockets in a game that many Lakers fans have had circled on the calendar since last summer. Wednesday will mark the return of former Lakers center Dwight Howard to STAPLES Center. The gifted big man, who had an up and down season in LA last year, has teamed with James Harden to put the Rockets in the fourth playoff position in the west. Lakers Vs Rockets tickets start at just $48 per ticket. The Lakers wrap up the following week by hosting the Boston Celtics on Friday and the New Jersey Nets on Sunday. With five games including four playoff contenders it will be a big ten days of basketball for Lakers fans. Chris Michaels.

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Can the Lakers Lure Love?

Kevin Love trade

Love

It’s obvious that the Los Angeles Lakers are actively searching for ways to improve the bad situation the team is currently experiencing. Whilst a bunch of rumors are heard and lots of names are thrown on the table, the most realistic target for the team at the moment is Kevin Love. Let’s see how the Lakers can lure him to LA during the summer of 2015. Only then will Love be able to opt out of his contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

First of all, the Los Angeles Lakers will have to prove they can retain a solid course even with all the misfortunes that are occurring. A bunch of star-injuries made the Lakers struggle last season and with Kobe sidelined for the biggest chunk of this season, things don’t look better. But in order for a star like Love, or any other star of that caliber, to be willing to come to LA, the team will need to prove it can actually be competitive. Whilst it might not contend for a championship, LA needs to at least retain a playoff-course, so that Love is actually willing to jump in.

Lakers lure Kevin Love

Lakers Love

The Los Angeles Lakers should also stay pat during the free-agency of the upcoming summer. LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony might be available but they will most probably not be coming to the City of Angels. Both of them were longshots in the first place. Luol Deng is now in Cleveland and he might as well stay there. When the Lakers agreed to extend Kobe, they also placed the team in a position that it won’t have much financial flexibility. If Love comes in the summer of 2015, this seems like a perfect timing.

The Lakers should also consider performing small adjusting moves. That means they should not be chasing superstars like LeBron or Melo, but they should try their best to land quality and emerging players. Lance Stephenson is a very good target, Spencer Hawes and Thaddeus Young are two more. Even Deng could be considered as a candidate, considering that he won’t be asking for a fortune to come to LA.
The good news for the Los Angeles Lakers is that they might see Love coming to LA way before the summer of 2015. Because then, the Minnesota Timberwolves will risk losing him for nothing in exchange. We’ve seen that happening several times in the recent history of the league. That’s why Mitch Kupchak could act quickly and start the discussions with the Wolves. Minnesota wouldn’t be nothing but smart to perform a trade around Love sooner than later.

Kevin Love LA Lakers

Kevin Love

But even if the Timberwolves won’t trade Kevin Love sooner than the summer of 2015, the Lakers shouldn’t be worried. It’s true that the team will most probably go through two more tough seasons. But after that and through a quick rebuild, the Lakers will be able to chase yet another superstar, given that Love will have come to LA. The Lakers have always been a team that lured superstars and they should have little trouble doing it again soon.

The Lakers Vs Timberwolves tickets for their Staples Center matchups are available now with no service fees at Barry’s Ticket Service. Chris Michaels

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Kobe and Blake both 2014 NBA All Star Game Starters

Kobe Bryant Blake Giffin

Kobe and Blake

Kobe Bryant played just six games in the 2013-2014 season and his performance reminded little of the dominant superstar we all know the Black Mamba is. Nonetheless, this didn’t stop NBA fans from voting him as a starter for the 2014 All-Star game.

This will be Kobe’s 16th appearance in an All-Star game. Of course, it’s still uncertain if Kobe will be able to play. The 35-year old megastar is still rehabbing from his knee injury and the latest word from the Los Angeles Lakers states that he will be re-evaluated over the next few days.

Stephen Curry from the Golden State Warriors earned his spot in the All-Star game this season. In fact, there was much criticism around the league because of his non-selection last year. The 25-year old sharpshooter has been recording a terrific season up to now, showing us more of the same lethal scoring abilities, especially from long range. Actually, Curry is averaging career-highs in points per game, with 23.5 and assists with 9.2. This will be his first All-Star appearance.

Blake Griffin LA Clippers

Griffin

Blake Griffin will make his fourth straight All-Star appearance and this time he will be a starter. Griffin has really taken the Los Angeles Clippers on his shoulders this season due to the shoulder injury of Chris Paul. Griffin has been playing fantastically as of lately. He is averaging 22.6 points and 10 rebounds per game this season for the Clips, while his also shooting 52.4 percent from the floor.

Kevin Durant will of course be a starter for the Western All-Stars. His performance has skyrocketed this season, especially since Russell Westbrook went down with an injury. Durant is leading the league in scoring with 31 points per game. His buddy, Russell Westbrook will not participate in the All-Star game.

Kevin Love will complete the starting lineup for the Western All-Stars. This will be the first time Love will be starting in an All-Star game. He is the league-leader in double-doubles and he managed to steal the starting position from Dwight Howard. The fact that Dwight Howard will not start in this All-Star game was a big surprise.

The Eastern All-Stars will have a weird starting lineup, as none of the frontcourt players normally plays a position above the small forward. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade will both start for the Eastern All-Stars. LeBron’s selection comes as no surprise. He still is the best player in the world. Wade on the other hand is experiencing some injury issues as of lately but he should be ready to go for the All-Star game.

Paul George will also be a starter and that was widely expected around the NBA. George is continuing to improve his performance and he is putting up superstar-like performances.

Carmelo Anthony and Kyrie Irving complete the starting five for the Eastern All-Stars. This will be Irving’s second straight All-Star appearance and his first start. Melo will start for the sixth time in an All-Star Game. By:

You can watch Kobe Bryant and Blake Griffin square off on March 6th at the Staples Center when the Lakers take on the Clippers in the next round of Battle of LA. Chris Michaels

Damian Lillard The Next NBA Superstar

Damian Lillard Trail Blazers

Damian Lillard

is putting up significant performances this season. He and the Portland Trail Blazers are surprising the NBA world with their outputs. The last season’s Rookie of the Year is continuing to improve his performance this season. In fact, he does better in almost any part of the game, in comparison with the previous season. His scoring, his shooting, his defense and his clutch performances have seen improvement. But can he be considered as a star? Does he rank amongst the elite point guards in the league?

The 6’3” Weber State product has exploded offensively. After putting up two consecutive 36-point performances against the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Minnesota Timberwolves, he went on to score 29 against the New Orleans Pelicans. He also shot over 47 percent from the floor in those three games. In overall, Lillard is averaging 21.3 points per contest this season to go along with 5.8 assists and 3.7 boards. His shooting from the floor has reached the 41.0 percent mark on average and 42.6 percent from three-point range.

Damian Lillard Blazers

Damian Lillard

Despite the big numbers, Damian Lillard’s importance to Portland goes beyond that. He is a general when on the floor, he draws much defensive attention and that’s where the entire offense starts for Portland. Lillard has built a great chemistry with LaMarcus Aldridge, especially on the offensive end. He plays with him the pick and roll and due to Aldridge’s finishing skills and versatility, this duo is really hard to stop. Lillard started showing some real clutch and leadership skills. Several times this season he has hit game-winning shots.

Taking a look at Lillard’s attributes, we first see that very explosive. In fact, he ranks at the top spots of the most explosive guards in the league, together with Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker and Chris Paul. His first step is super quick first step but he also has great body control when in the air. Additionally, he is an excellent ball handler and has developed his moves this season. His shot has also improved in comparison to the previous season. He has good court-vision although it could be further developed. What Lillard needs to work on now is improving his distributing role in the Portland Trail Blazers team. So can he be considered a star?

The answer is no. Because in order to rank amongst the elite point guards of the league, like CP3, Westbrook or Tony Parker Lillard will need to retain this exceptional performance. Consistency is what differentiates stars from the rest of the players who simply are on hot streaks. However, Lillard seems like he has the potential to do so.

In general, it’s fair to say that Damian Lillard is an emerging star. Really, he can reach the star and the superstar level but he is just not there yet. Nonetheless, the future is ahead and he will just have to continue and deliver.By:Chris Michaels

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The Lakers Without Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant LA Lakers

Kobe

The six-month wait for Kobe Bryant to return from his Achilles injury was short-lived. The Lakers superstar was slowly working his way back into shape before injury struck again a week ago Tuesday versus the Memphis Grizzlies. Bryant’s knee injury was suffered in the third quarter. The optimism the Lakers saw in Bryant’s improved play has he rounded into form was quickly scuttled once again. Bryant’s fracture of the lateral tibial plateau in the same leg he suffered his Achilles tear has put Bryant on the shelf for an additional six weeks that will carry through into the All Star break. The injury has made many question the wisdom of Bryant returning at all this season. The Lakers superstar reiterated his determination to play again this season, which he will likely do. The latest injury, although clearly not season ending, has once again made many question the Lakers decision to extend Bryant for two additional seasons beyond this year.

The Lakers have re-upped Bryant so it’s pointless to debate the merits of the deal. The club may have over-paid for the player that Bryant is at this point in his career, but you have to admire their interest in rewarding their superstar for what he’s done for the franchise. In a difficult Western Conference it’s difficult to see the Lakers competing for one of the final playoff spots. Los Angeles currently sits at 12th in the west, in a solid group of teams that includes Denver, Minnesota, New Orleans and Memphis. The Dallas and Phoenix greatly improved the already competitive west has become even tougher. With the Lakers playoff chances dim does it make sense to sit Bryant the entire regular season?

Kobe Bryant Los Angeles Lakers

Kobe Bryant

Actually getting the famously competitive Bryant to sit out the season is a challenge in itself, but the idea of sitting Bryant does make some sense. Without Bryant the Lakers were surprisingly competitive due to the roster decisions they made in the offseason. An entire year off would give Bryant the ability to truly recover, both from the knee injury and the Achilles. There is no indication that the two injuries are related but Bryant has now suffered two major injuries on the same leg in the past eight months. A fully recovered Bryant, even if he’s diminished athletically, will allow the Lakers to achieve the max value out of his two-year extension. During the remainder of the regular season the club can take a long look at some of the younger players (Wes Johnson, Nick Young, Jordan Farmar) that have helped ignite them this season. The combination of a potential lottery big and any value the club can get for Pau Gasol in a potential trade will give the Lakers even more versatility next season.

The Lakers fan base can tolerate a subpar season to build for the future. A fully recovered Bryant and a solid draft pick can do wonders for the franchise as they move into next season. Meanwhile let’s sit back and enjoy this year’s team, who though far less talented are a lot more entertaining than last year’s Dwight Howard centered club. By:Chris Michaels.

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Do the Lakers Need Some Love?

Kevin Love LA Lakers

Kevin Love

The Los Angeles Lakers are constantly searching for ways to shake things up. They are exploring trade scenarios, they are looking for their next superstar. They will have to find a way to turn things around and stop their descent.

The team might make a move soon, this summer or eventually the next one. But it will make a move, a big move, that’s what the Lakers have always done. LA needs to find the player who will lead the franchise to the post-Kobe Bryant era. Kevin Love might be exactly that player.

Love could be the perfect fit for the Los Angeles Lakers. He could be the superstar the team needs.

The 25-year old power forward has a contract that expires no sooner than the summer of 2016, but he does have a player option for the last year of his contract. If he chooses to opt-out, he could be a really hot target for the Lakers.

Although the Lakers would be eager to land him sooner, the team doesn’t have the assets to offer the Timberwolves. So such a deal would never work.

Kevin Love trade

Love

Nevertheless, Minnesota signed Love to a four-year deal, when they could have offered him a maximum five-year contract. That seemed to bother Love a bit, whilst he wasn’t dissatisfied with the deal, of course. Nonetheless, Love certainly is not 100 percent happy in Minnesota. It’s not just about money. The team still hasn’t found a way to reach the highest level of competiveness.

Love’s addition by the Lakers only makes sense for the team. The departure of Dwight Howard and the rejection of the Chris Paul trade from the NBA left the Lakers with little hopes of finding the next big thing, their next superstar.

Love has many ties with Los Angeles. He was born in Santa Monica and he attended UCLA. There is an obvious link between the Lakers and Love. It’s growing constantly. However, Lakers fans will have to wait for this process to evolve.

For now, Love is just showing a bit of his talents to the Lakers fans, to the entire franchise. That’s what he did during the Lakers – Wolves meeting, earlier this season, when he put up points in bunches and sank one three-pointer after another.

Lakers Kevin Love trade

Laker Love

There not many more options for the Lakers in the market. LeBron James most probably will stay in Miami, where he will have the chance be a member of a winning organization and play alongside his buddy, Dwyane Wade.

Carmelo Anthony is another tough case. Melo is in the middle of his prime and the last thing he wants is to become a part of a one-star franchise. That’s what the Lakers are projected to become after Kobe retires. Melo has been in a similar situation, when he was a member of the Denver Nuggets.

The addition of Kevin Love is one that only makes sense for both the Lakers and the 25-year old superstar. Time will tell if this will become reality. By:Chris Michaels.

Western Conference Contenders and Pretenders

Western Conference

Western Conference

Two weeks into the 2013-2014 NBA season the Western Conference is taking shape. The usual contenders, San Antonio and Oklahoma City are at the top, but with Denver and the Los Angeles Lakers struggling there’s an opportunity for some new contenders to make a playoff run. Here’s a look at the elite, contenders and pretenders of the early NBA season.

The West Elite: (San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State Warriors)

The veteran San Antonio Spurs picked up where they left off and are off to a fast start to begin the season. They’re well coached, experienced and deep and should contend for the top record in the NBA all season. If Tim Duncan and Tony Parker can stay healthy the Spurs are the favorites for a return trip to the finals. The Oklahoma City Thunder welcomed back Russell Westbrook early and their star point guard seems to be the same explosive player he was before his meniscus tear. The Thunder is 5-1 on the season with their lone loss versus the Minnesota Timberwolves. The presence of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook guarantees 55 to 60 wins—how that translates into the postseason is the big question. The Thunder still misses that extra scorer that James Harden once provided. The Los Angeles Clippers are still adjusting to the coaching style of Doc Rivers, but have a deep lineup and bench and an elite point guard in Chris Paul.

The Next in Line: (Minnesota, Memphis, Dallas, Houston)

The Minnesota Timberwolves are finally healthy and displaying the potential that many predicted when Ricky Rubio arrived in the United States. In Rubio, Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic the Wolves have one of the best trios in basketball and an elite Head Coach in Rick Adelman. The Wolves acquisition of Kevin Martin, who thrived under Adelman in Sacramento, has given the club the strong perimeter shooting two guard they missed. Look for the Wolves to challenge the 50 win mark and reach the playoffs for the first time under Love. Memphis switched Head Coaches, with Dave Joerger taking over for Lionel Hollins. They’ve struggled initially in the transition but still feature the same big and physical lineup that’s worked for them the past three seasons. Marc Gasol is one of the league’s best centers and he forms perhaps the best center/power forward combination in basketball with Zach Randolph. The Dallas Mavericks, who missed the playoffs last season, have rebuilt to make another run. The newly minted backcourt of Monta Ellis and Jose Calderon is working so far, giving Dirk Nowitzki the guard play he hasn’t had since the Mavs title run. The key for Dallas, like San Antonio, is the health of their veteran players. Over in Houston the Rockets have the potential to be in the elite group, but have struggled defensively so far this season. Dwight Howard is showing many of the same inconsistencies he displayed in Los Angeles last season and he’s not yet providing the interior defensive presence the Rockets desperately need. Houston can score points on anybody; the big question is whether or not they can defend like an NBA title contender. Right now the jury is still out.

On the Upswing: (Portland)

The Blazers are off to a fast start (5-2), although only one victory is over a legit playoff contender (San Antonio). That being said the Blazers look to be a club that can occupy the playoff position(s) that the Lakers and/or Denver may be vacating. LaMarcus Aldridge is one of the premier power forwards in the game, while Damian Lillard and Nicolas Batum are consistently improving their game. The Blazers have been efficient, reducing turnovers, and are second in the conference in field goal attempts per game. Their +4.0 scoring margin is good for 5th in the conference.

Bubble Teams: (Los Angeles Lakers, New Orleans)

Putting the Lakers in the bubble team category may be a stretch. Their success hinges on how close to .500 they are when Kobe Bryant returns. Los Angeles has improved their overall depth and the youth of their roster, but still lacks the quality depth of most playoff contenders. It’s questionable whether or not Steve Nash has anything left in the tank as he battles persistent injuries. If Nash can’t provide the minutes the Lakers need they may plummet down the standings. The Pelicans are an interesting club. They’ve had some good victories this season as well as some bad performances. They’ve injected some talent into their roster but it’s still not clear how the backcourt trio of Tyreke Evans, Eric Gordon, Jrue Holliday will co-exist due to their high ball usage rate. Inside though the Pelicans have the emerging Anthony Davis who’s quickly becoming the superstar many predicted. Davis alone could be the difference maker that vaults the Pelicans into playoff contention.

The Pretenders: (Sacramento, Denver)

The Sacramento Kings have a talented roster that once again looks like a bunch of spare parts. DeMarcus Cousins is one of the most talented big men in the game, putting together a solid season. His checkered past though makes it hard to rely on him day in and day out. Ben McLemore has great potential but he’s young and finding his place in the NBA. The Kings have nice depth inside and some solid role players, but due to the consistent roster overhaul it’s been hard for them to find consistency. They’ll be a lottery team again. Denver, a Western Conference power last season is off to a slow start in the post-George Karl era. Losing several key roster components, like Andre Iguodola, Corey Brewer and Kosta Koufus has disrupted their rotation. They still have Ty Lawson to lead the team but the recent injury to Javale McGee is another blow to their depth. Denver has a significant home court advantage at Pepsi Center that could make them a fringe playoff contender, but it’s hard to see them making much of a run.
Andrew Wiggins Contenders: (Utah)

The Jazz are the NBA’s worst right now. With Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson playing for other teams the Jazz are relying on the young of Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward and Enes Kanter to provide the bulk of the scoring. The trio has potential but they’re young and overmatched against the rest of the Western Conference. Utah is solidly positioned to get a high lottery pick with the ability to add a significant piece next June.

By:Chris Michaels

Minnesota Timberwolves vs Los Angeles Clippers Feb 28th

Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Los Angeles Clippers
NBA / Western Conference
Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
Tuesday, February 28th, 2012. 10:30 PM EST

Analysis of the Minnesota Timberwolves
While their opponents on Tuesday night may have something to say about it, the Timberwolves have gone from a team few cared about to arguably the most fun team to watch in the NBA. After only winning 17 games last year (in a full 82 game season), the T-Wolves matched their win total in just the first half of this season going 17-17 and staying in the playoff hunt out west. The combination of PF Kevin Love and rookie PG Ricky Rubio seems to be the spark this young squad needed to become relevant again.

Analysis of the Los Angeles Clippers
As good a PG/PF combo Rubio and Love are, the Clippers have them beat with All-Stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. The two have put on a show this season combining for 40 points per game on average leading their squad to a 20-11 record in the first part of the season. Currently they’re sitting in the 3rd seed in the Western Conference and will have to at least match their performance during the first half of 2012 in order to keep that seed or possibly move up, something that won’t be easy in the same division as the rival Lakers.

Key Players
Timberwolves: PF Kevin Love
Love is the star of this team, though he doesn’t make very much noise about it. The young power forward is 4th in the NBA in points per game (25) and 2nd in rebounds (14), making him one of the most effective player sin the game. A tough matchup against Griffin awaits, but Griffin’s focus on offense over defense may be enough for Love to put up a dominating performance

Clippers: PG Chris Paul
Paul is the field general for the Clippers and is responsible for the nightly performance of his team. He’ll get a favorable matchup (as he always does) against Rubio, but that doesn’t mean the night will be his. Rubio is in the top 5 in assists and steals in the NBA (just as Paul is) so a night off for Paul will absolutely mean a loss for the Clips.

Key Statistics
Turnovers:
The Clippers are a decent team in preventing turnovers, only averaging 14.2 each game (6th in the league). The T-Wolves average 16.2 per game though, 28th in the league. Those 2 turnovers may be the ~5 points that down the Timberwolves in LA, so stopping that from happening will have to be a priority for them.

Prediction
When these two met in Los Angeles earlier this season Love hit a 3-pointer with no time left to push the Timberwolves to a big win in OT. You have to feel that coming off of the All-Star break both teams will be little rusty but that the Clippers will have the edge due to their depth and talent advantage. The Timberwolves already proved they can beat these guys, but 2 wins against the Clippers in LA is probably 1 too much for this season.

Prediction = Los Angeles Clippers: 95 – Minnesota Timberwolves: 88

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