Pekovic Emerging as Reliable Option for Wolves but Many Questions Still Present
At the beginning of the season, the Wolves were using Darko Milicic as their starting center. But due to his lack of effectiveness and ability to pile up fouls in small amounts of minutes, backup center Nikola Pekovic was given an opportunity to start. Since he was put into the starting lineup against the Spurs on January 27th, he has been averaging 15 points and just under 10 rebounds per game while providing another interior presence to play alongside franchise cornerstone Kevin Love.
With Rubio, Love, and Pekovic, the Wolves appear to have a strong young core to build around for the future. With this core emerging, it becomes even more crucial for the Wolves to solve their issues at shooting guard and small forward. The Wolves have been using Luke Ridenour and JJ Barea as their shooting guards for most of the season to play alongside Ricky Rubio. But Ridenour is a natural point guard, and Barea has been injured for most of the season. Barea has also been more of a player off the bench throughout his career. The Wolves have also been giving minutes to Wayne Ellington and Malcom Lee, but have been getting inconsistent results. For the Wolves to continue their rise back to prominence they will need to address the shooting guard position in the offseason.
The play of second year small forward Wesley Johnson has also done nothing to instill confidence in his ability to be a successful starter in this league in the years to come. Johnson appears lost and timid when he comes into the game and often doesn’t make any sort of a contribution to the final outcome of any game he starts. Michael Beasley has also been getting minutes at small forward, but he often alternates great performances with mind-boggling ones. The Wolves are also attempting to get playing time for Anthony Randolf, Anthony Tolliver, Martell Webster and #2 overall pick Derrick Williams.
As the season progresses one of Rick Adelman’s biggest tasks will be to manage playing time at these two positions to try to see who can provide the most consistent stability. In what has already been a very promising season, for it to continue these spots in the lineup will need to be solidified and provide quality minutes over the second half of the season.