Bobcats and Timberwolves … Rising?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Don’t rub your eyes. It’s real. As of this morning, the Charlotte Bobcats and Minnesota Timberwolves are both doing the unthinkable for two teams that have served as league-wide punching bags in recent seasons.

All the fun we’ve had at the expense of Bobcats owner Michael Jordan and Timberwolves boss David Kahn has been silenced by the winning ways, so far, of their respective teams. They are both 5-4 and battling their way to respectability while shaking off whatever adversity comes their way.

For all of the early-season shockers around the league, both good and bad, these two winning outfits have to rank at or near the top of the list of biggest surprises.

One of the better games of this young season was the 89-87 thriller they played against each other last week, the one where Kemba Walker‘s buzzer-beater gave the Bobcats their third straight win.

Last night’s comeback win over the Milwaukee Bucks was another quality notch for Bobcats belt this season. They’re digging out of that ugly hole from last season in the only way possible: with their heads down, their defensive style looking legitimate and contributions from up and down the roster.

It’s more than most of us expected from a team with a new coach (Mike Dunlap), a new star (rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist) and plenty of other new faces added to the mix and continue to defy the odds. Jordan probably didn’t see this coming, not this soon. They didn’t win their fifth game during last year’s lockout-shortened season until March 12, just so we’re clear about how much progress has been made.

The Timberwolves are thriving on the other side of the conference divide without the services of their biggest stars. All-Star power forward Kevin Love (broken hand) and Ricky Rubio (recovering from torn ACL in left knee) have yet to suit up this season. Brandon Roy‘s comeback has been derailed by yet another knee procedure (he’s expected to miss at least a month) and Chase Budinger is out three months after knee surgery).

But Rick Adelman, as he often does, has found a way to cobble together enough healthy bodies to make the Timberwolves a factor every night. Andre Kirilenko‘s return to the NBA has been a huge boost. He leads the team in rebounds (8.3) and blocks (2.2). Fellow Russian Alexey Shved has also made an impression during his first few weeks of NBA action, showing signs that he’ll be a more than competent backup to Rubio, who, according to Jon Krawcynski of the Associated Press, has already started light practice workouts.

“Just having them five-on-(none) gives you a sense that when you get them back we’ll be pretty good,” Adelman said of having both Love and Rubio on the practice court. “We can’t wait for them. We have to go out there and play. But it gives us a sense.”

Love is expected back at the start of December and Rubio potentially a couple of weeks later, which couldn’t come at a better time. After winning five of their first seven games, the Timberwolves have dropped two straight.

Getting by with a shorthanded roster can last for only so long. Nikola Pekovic, not exactly a household name, leads the team in scoring (15.3), with Kirilenko (14.1), Luke Ridnour (11.4), Shved (10.4) and Derrick Williams (10.4) the only other healthy players scoring in that range.

If they can manage for another few weeks or so, at least until the first wave of reinforcements arrive, both the Bobcats and Timberwolves might remain among the teams boasting .500 or better records around Christmas, too.


  1. Wolves Nation! says:

    The Twolves are good enough to make the playoffs this year. They are one of the deepest if not the deepest team this season. Although the injuries are really hurting them. Anyone with a good enough know how on their line up and a good imagination can see how scary the Wolves are once they get healthy. The bobcats, I would say the bobcats are still young, and that might show towards the end of the season, but they have really surprised everyone with how good they are as a team early on. Especially defensively. Its their defense thats winning them games. We can never tell, the cats might surprise us this year.

    Bottom line is these two teams have made solid changes to their squad. They got the right veteran guys and didn’t really peg on how good their young guns might be this season. The veterans on their respective squad have helped a lot in calming down and just providing that leadership to overcome tough grinded out matches.

  2. The Spaz says:

    Derrick Williams is such a bust…

  3. Slippers says:

    All them high lottery picks gotta do something for these teams otherwise whats the point in the lottery system?

  4. same thing make ya makes ya laugh makes ya cry.. Die hard Bobcat fan here…. how can you say the wolves have a shot in the hard west but bobcats dont when the east is struggling, add the fact that we already beat the t wolves makes you state even more unbelievable. Thanks for all the well wishes btw, cause MKG is getting better by the game and i think would be even more aggressive then he’s already been playing (as of late) by the end of the season… And with our defense we can be pretty formidable by the end of the season.

    • dattebayo says:

      The Wolves didn’t have their starting point guard, shooting guard, power forward and center in the last 2 games and in addition to that they didn’t have the backup small forward and shooting guard. Barea, Love, Rubio, Buddinger, Roy and Pekovic are the best players on that team along with Kirilenko and the Wolves still almost beat the Bobcats and had a chance to beat Golden State. Knowing that all these guys will come back at some point in this season they have a much better shot at making the playoffs.

    • Rene says:

      I simply don’t see the Cats being better than the Heat, Nets, Knicks, Sixers, Hawks, Bulls (especially when Rose returns), Celtics, Bucks and Pacers.

      Yes some of these teams I named are struggling, namely the Pacers, Rose-less Bulls, and the Hawks. But talent wise they have a lot more talent than the Cats.

      • Eli Odell J. says:

        Weeell we gon have to see I guess, as they run the bobcats’re real good 6-4 now, I can see em as a 7/8 seed easy, Minnesota? Well love scored 16 in the first quarter yesterdy, I can see em risin on up, they been pretty amazin so far, considerin
        Bout time Carolina got a break

  5. Rene says:

    I hope the Wolves keep doing whatever they’re doing to stay in the race until Rubio and Love comes back with their respective injuries. I feel like they can make some real noise in the playoffs this year. Andrei Kirilinko was probably the most underrated signing of the off season. The guy is a great defender, and a great leader. Keep it up Wolves!

    The Cats are improving, and congratulations to them. But unfortunately I don’t see them going after that playoffs spot this year. Maybe in two years, when Kidd-Gilchrist polishes his offensive game and when Kemba becomes the star he could potentially be.

    Again, great improvements to both teams, nothing beats seeing these young teams grow up right in front of our eyes.

  6. ko0kie says:

    I love the way Michael Kidd-Gilchrist plays… great pick-up! his defense reminds me of tony allen..

  7. newyorksteelo says:

    Congrats to the Bobcats and Michael Jordan. They deserve a winning season after so many years of struggling. Congrats to Minnesota too. However, go Knicks lol.