4 Wolves make Sports Illustrated's Top 100 Players of 2014

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Sports Illustrated released its top 100 players for the 2013-14 NBA season this week. Consider that there are 30 teams in the NBA, and 13 players on each roster. That's a total of 390 players in the league, so we're not talking about an elite list until we get inside the top 50 players.

Four Timberwolves cracked the top 100, and two made it in the top 50.

Here are the players ranked 100-51.

NO. 93 - RICKY RUBIO

Bag on Rubio’s shooting if you will, but few see the floor as fully as he does and fewer still combine that level of playmaking with impact defense. Even at this early stage in his development, he’s a transformational player. His presence on the floor translates to smoother offense (despite not projecting as much of a scorer) and more stifling defense, all of which makes him a worthy building block for Minnesota despite his obvious flaws. Even mediocre shooting numbers would go a long way in propelling Rubio up this list, but in his current form he’s still a skilled, helpful two-way player.

NO. 73 - KEVIN MARTIN

Martin isn’t particularly strong, he isn’t a natural distributor, he definitely isn’t someone you can rely for rebounding and he most definitely isn’t an impact defender. What does that leave? At this stage of his career, an efficient complementary scorer with great range and, until injuries hit in 2011-2012 and his role narrowed in 2012-13, the ability to get to the free-throw line early and often. Last season, after being acquired from Houston in the James Harden trade, Martin was the sixth man and No. 3 scoring option on a Thunder team that ranked No. 2 in offensive efficiency. Oklahoma City posted a better offensive rating and a better net rating with Martin than at any point during the Harden era. There’s no question that Oklahoma City missed Harden’s playmaking ability when Russell Westbrook went down with a season-ending knee injury in the playoffs, as Martin failed to step up into a secondary scoring role behind Kevin Durant. That turn of events shouldn’t erase the Thunder’s top-notch body of work in the regular season, and Martin’s role in it. Minnesota made Martin a very generous offer this summer, and he will reunite with Rick Adelman, who oversaw some of Martin’s best work in Houston. 

Here are the players ranked 50-31.

NO. 50 - NIKOLA PEKOVIC

Pekovic is a traditional center who understands that his job is to score around the rim, draw fouls and clean the glass. He ranked in the top 10 among centers in PER and posted career highs across the board last season. More than 88 percent of his shot attempts came in the basket area, a testament to his discipline and ability to consistently establish low-post position. His hulking physique makes for an eye-popping first impression, but Pekovic has some niftiness to his footwork and ball fakes, too.

The Wolves didn't have anybody ranked 30-21. Here are the players ranked 20-11.

NO. 13 - KEVIN LOVE

When healthy, though, Love is one of the league’s best rebounders and an amazingly varied scorer. He had started to put together some of the high-level offensive skills that would bolster his status as a first-option player before injuries derailed his progress, and I’m very interested to see if he’s capable of picking up where he left off. Shot creation remains a primary concern. Love is better at manufacturing offense than he’s given credit, but he doesn’t do so at the level of the league’s most dynamic players — many of whom outrank him on this list. If he can reach that level consistently, he could be bound for the top 10 soon. Even if not, he’s still worthy of this spot and capable of improvement, provided he continues to pick up the finer points of defensive coverage.

The top 10 players will be revealed Friday.

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