The Minnesota Timberwolves might be off to the most impressive 5-4 start in pro sports history.
OK, that might be a bit of a stretch, especially after back-to-back home losses to Charlotte and Golden State, both of which saw Minnesota embark on fourth-quarter comeback attempts that fell short.
But the Wolves are definitely treading water, despite the following players being injured: Kevin Love, Nikola Pekovic, Ricky Rubio, Brandon Roy, Chase Budinger, J.J. Barea.
That’s four-fifths of the projected starting lineup, plus two valuable backups who the Wolves are playing without.
So who is left getting the job done?
Leading the pack for the Wolves right now is Andrei Kirilenko. His stat line from the exhibition game at the Fargodome last month didn’t jump off the page at you, but I was thoroughly impressed by his court vision and ability to make the extra pass when needed.
Kirilenko is shooting 60 percent from the floor so far, averaging 14 points and 8.3 rebounds per game.
Last year’s first-round pick Derrick Williams also seemingly responded in his last game to criticism for not stepping up when called upon. He scored 23 points in the Wolves’ loss to the Warriors on Friday.
Alexey Shved has also looked really good with every game of experience. The rookie looked lost in his first couple of games, but his 22 points and seven assists on Friday night are cause for optimism. He made some great plays in that game.
The Wolves hope to have Pekovic back to soon, while Love and Rubio should return in about a month. Until then, the leftovers will have to try to hang in there. So far, so good.