(Photos courtesy: Minnesota Timberwolves/David Sherman.)
The Minnesota Timberwolves -- who many thought were bound for the NBA playoffs when the season began -- have finished the 2012-13 schedule with a 31-51 record.
Too many injuries (Kevin Love, knuckle pushups, etc.) threw everything off track ... but there were some bright spots along the way:
1) Ricky Rubio: With Love out most of the season, Rubio stepped up to become the Wolves' MVP. He had streaks where he struggled to score, but he never stopped hustling.
2) Derrick Williams: The former No. 2 overall pick averaged 11.2 points per game this season. NBCSports.com says he's ready for another big step next year "thanks to his athleticism."
3) Rick Adelman: He became the eighth coach in NBA history to win 1,000 games this season. Besides Flip Saunders and Kevin McHale, can you name another Wolves' coach that has garnered as much respect? As Adelman told reporters this week: "If we could just get this group together healthy, you’d like to see what we can do.”
4) Nikola Pekovic: Adelman wants to front office to bring back a player who has developed into one of the best centers in the NBA. It won't be cheap. Pekovic's asking price will likely be in the range of $10 to $12 million per year, according to Fox Sports North.
5) Kevin Love: This year, Love was perceived as someone who pines away to play in Los Angeles. Those perceptions will melt away if he comes back stronger than ever next year, as he has promised. A rough comparison: No one was talking about Joe Mauer's "bilateral leg weakness" when he went 8-for-10 this week against the Angels.