Big Al’s Tavern Closed
The proverbial crap has hit the fan in Minnesota. Their best player, Al Jefferson, went down with a torn ACL. So how do you go about replacing 23.1 points and 11.0 rebounds a night? The quick answer is “you can’t”. However, even on bad teams somebody has to rebound and somebody has to score so some of those numbers will get gobbled up. The key is to figure out who’s going to feed a little more now that Big Al is out of the trough.
The logical choice is their big man Kevin Love. He’s having a solid rookie season and a steady diet of double-doubles is in his future. His minutes have steadily increased as the season has gone along, and with Big Al out he should start seeing 32-34 minutes a night. He should improve to around 12-13 points and 10-10.5 rebounds per night. Another player that has a chance to step up is Ryan Gomes. He has increased his scoring since the calendar turned to 2009. He’s averaging 13.4 points per game in his last 19 games. I expect he’ll take a more active role in the offense now that the big fella is done. Finally, Mike Miller will be asked to score more. He’s averaging a career low 9.1 points per game for the Wolves. He played some of his best basketball on bad Memphis teams so he knows how to perform on bad teams. He played better of late, which is a good sign. He needs to be more aggressive on offense instead of trying to get everyone involved. He’s only had double-digit FG attempts in seven games this year, and only topped 20 points once. Along with Randy Foye, he is the best scoring option they have now. The Wolves need him to score.
The Wolves had made great strides since Kevin McHale took over as Coach. The silver lining to Big Al’s injury is the timing. With the All-Star Game this weekend the team has more time to get used to life without him. I don’t see them winning at the same clip going forward, but hopefully they can play better than they did at the start of the year.