Injuries are like free throws — you can’t use them as an excuse for losses piling up. Minnesota has had plenty of injuries. Veteran guard Ricky Rubio signed a $57 million extention and missed 42 games, virtually all of November, December and January.
Center Nikola Pekovic, 6’-11”, missed 31 games, and shooting guard Kevin Martin missed 34 games. My oh my, that’s 107 games missed by three guys you were counting on.
Flip Saunders used to know how to coach. In fact, he was one of the NBA’s top coaches first time around with Minnesota and Detroit before floundering three years in Washington, D.C.
Flip has guided his teams to 50 or more wins in a season seven times, including going 64-18 in 2005-06. Now he has returned to fix the Timberwolves. Remember he’s the franchises’ winningest coach in this, his 17th NBA season. He’s so confident that he can turn things around that he’s now part owner.
Honestly, for me it’s been quite difficult to watch bad basketball, but the Wolves, with the players that I mentioned — Rubio, Pekovic and Martin — who were out injured for most of the first half now appear to be coming on. Andrew Wiggins has been great; he plays hard and plays every day. He’s been the NBA Western Conference Rookie of the month for November, December and January. Thaddeus Young has been a consistent hardworking contributor.
The recent success of the team has been a welcome sight. Flip has a lot a talent, and he needs it in the loaded Western Conference. Ten teams in the Western Conference have winning records, so it’s too late for a Wolves 2015 playoff run.
But as somebody said long ago, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. This team needs to stay healthy and continue to take steps forward, because before too long they have a real chance to be really good.
Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to email@example.com, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.