This was supposed to be Al Jefferson’s year. Coming into the season, the Timberwolves star was supposed to be the most dominant big man in the West and a lock for the All-Star Game in Dallas. Between him, Kevin Love and Jonny Flynn, the Wolves were expected to be an improved team this season.
But things haven’t quite panned out like that so far. As of today, the Wolves are a horrible 3-21 and have lost four straight games. Jefferson’s season has also been a disappointment so far. His stats are significantly down from a season ago (16.5 ppg, 9 rpg, 1 bpg on 46.5 percent shooting versus 23.1 ppg, 11 rpg, 1.7 bpg on 49.7 percent shooting in 2009-10). As for being an All-Star this year? Big Al isn’t even in the running.
In fairness, the Wolves have been dealing with a variety of issues that date back to last summer. Jefferson is coming back from a knee injury that shelved him for the final 32 games of last season. The team had to adjust to new coach Kurt Rambis and the triangle offense that he runs. Jefferson had also missed a few games this season due to the death of his grandmother. Love, had missed the the team’s first 18 games due to an injury of his own. Ricky Rubio refusing to play for the T-Wolves also didn’t help.
While this season is on its way to being another lottery-bound year, things have started to look up for Jefferson. Despite starting the season slow, he has really shown glimpses of his old self in the past few weeks by putting up six-straight double-doubles. In that six-game stretch, he’s averaged 19 ppg, 12.6 rpg while shooting 51.5 percent from the field. Jefferson clearly plays better and feels more comfortable when K-Love is in the lineup. The defense can’t just focus on shutting down Al now, they are also forced to concentrate on Love.
It’s going to be a long, cold season in Minnesota, but expect them to continue to make strides. Jefferson has the talent to be one of the top three centers in the League and along with Love, could form one of the the best frontcourts in the NBA. With Flynn, Corey Brewer and the additions they’ll likely get through the draft and free agency, the Wolves might be relevant again by next season.
Is Jefferson and Love the best young frontcourt in the NBA?