Next up, a Timberwolves team we just want to see healthy for a full season.
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The Timberwolves have been ravaged by injuries the past few years, but the core is healthy heading into this year and expectations are high. The ‘Wolves should be one of the most exciting teams in the league with Rubio running the show and both big men back healthy. Here are five reasons to tune into their games on League Pass this year.
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Derrick Williams Making the Leap
Coming into the league in 2011, Derrick Williams was lauded by many as the most NBA-ready player in the draft. The Cavs even had serious discussion about taking Williams with the first overall pick that year. You look at some of his highlights from his days in Arizona and can’t believe his game hasn’t translated as smoothly at the next level. Here he is against Duke in the 2011 Tourney.
The guy is a monster and can stroke it to boot! Surprisingly, Williams hasn’t turned into the player many people thought he would. He has only shot 42.3 percent in his first two seasons and just hasn’t made the impact that seemed imminent coming out of school. While Williams has been a mild disappointment thus far, that is all about to change.
Early reports out of camp say that Williams worked out with Kevin Love‘s personal trainer this past summer and showed up slimmed down and in great shape, with an increased emphasis on his quickness in order to guard more small forwards. Williams will have to earn most of his minutes at the three with Love returning from injury. Chase Budinger is out for the foreseeable future, and those minutes at the small forward are there for the taking.
Williams is only 22 and has been playing under Rick Adelman, a coach notorious for taking his time integrating young players. It also didn’t help that the lockout was during Williams’ rookie season and prevented him from any training camp before his first game. Despite his low percentages, Williams still managed to average 12 points along with 5.5 boards in just 24.6 minutes per game this past season. He is a super athlete (check out this dunk reel) and started to find his stroke more towards the end of last year, shooting 34 percent on 3-pointers over the last 33 games of the season. Williams still oozes potential and gives the ‘Wolves a different dimension with his athleticism and ability to get to the rim. Watch for him to build on his strong finish from last year and earn major minutes this season, providing plenty of highlights along the way.
Ricky Rubio’s Razzle-Dazzle
Ricky Rubio has been in the limelight since he was a 17-year-old kid playing against Team USA in the 2008 Olympics. Just a few years later he is one of the most exciting players in the league. The Spaniard seems like he’s playing in the park, always looking to make fan’s jaws drop with his crazy handle and dazzling passes. The guy is simply a wizard with the ball. His rookie year he averaged 8.3 assists per game, staggering numbers for just 20 years old. Rubio can throw every pass from every angle and his teammates love playing with him because of his pass-first (and second and third) mentality. He is not the best shooter or the best finisher, but he can run a team with the best of them.
The knock on Rubio has always been his injury problems (and shooting). He is always nicked up, and though he has been in the league for two seasons, he’s only played in 98 games. He is again entering this season healthy and hopefully he can stay that way. The ‘Wolves have plenty of options on offense so they don’t need Rubio to score to be successful â€“ he can simply play the same role Rajon Rondo did in 2008 for the Celtics. The league has been deprived of too many Rubio games already in his short career. Hopefully this year he can avoid the injury bug and man the point for the ‘Wolves for a full season. Who doesn’t want to see more of him?