NBA: Should The T-Wolves Trade Nikola Pekovic?
When Minnesota traded Kevin Love to Cleveland for Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett, and then made a separate deal for Thaddeus Young from Philadelphia, it was assumed the team would be in full rebuild mode.
While the team won’t be a playoff contender anytime soon, they could easily be the most exciting of all NBA teams
The team’s young core of Ricky Rubio, Wiggins, Zach Lavine, Bennett, Young , and Giorgui Dieng are going to be a nightmare for opposing teams. There is an abundance of talent that can create a buzz in the Twin Cities, while this core is exciting and freakishly athletic there is still one piece that seems out-of-place, and that is Nikola Pekovic.
While the team does have some older veterans like Mo Williams, who was signed in the off-season, and Kevin Martin on their roster, it’s Pekovic that might be the team’s biggest weakness.
Now, In no way am I saying that Pekovic is a bad player, in fact I’m stating quite the opposite. Pekovic might be the team’s best player, but he doesn’t fit in with the new-look Wolves.
Pekovic is said by many to be one of the toughest players in the NBA. He is a big, strong mountain of a man who imposes his will below the basket,which is evident by physical style of play and his 8.7 rebounds per game last season. However, while he can score around the basket he certainly can’t defend it.
Despite being a force on offense, Pekovic severely lacks on the defensive end. His 102.7 defensive rating, which accounts for the number of points given up by a player over 100 possessions, is near the worst in the league. In addition, Minnesota allowed opponents to shoot 68.2 percent at the rim, which is the second worst mark in the NBA. When you combine the horrific rim defense and the putrid rating you get a terrible defensive player, and that’s exactly what Pekovic is.
Even if Pekovic is a liability on defense, Minnesota is built to be an offensive juggernaut, and Pekovic’s 17 points a game should fit right in with the team’s scoring mindset. However, his athleticism won’t allow him to play in the team’s new offensive scheme.
As I mentioned before, the new look Wolves are going to run, they are going to have highlight reel dunks , and they are going to be exciting, and Pekovic accomplishes none of these tasks. He simply stays down low and looks for opportunities to receive the ball. He is not great at the pick and roll, as he isn’t a very skilled jump shooter, and doesn’t seem coordinated enough to cut to the basket.
He also has some competition at his position in the form of a freakishly talented second-year player, who has all the attributes needed to succeed in the high-octane Wolves offense.
Giorgui Dieng could prove to be a big factor for the team’s usage of Pekovic. When the team drafted Dieng they expected a player that would need time to develop, as he didn’t look like a complete NBA player during his time at Louisville. When Pekovic went down with an injury last season, it was Dieng who stepped in, and he looked admirable in doing so.
During the month of March, when Pekovic spent most of his time on the injury report, Dieng put up averages of 8.6 points and 8.3 rebounds.
While Dieng’s offensive game might not be as polished as Pekovic, he certainly showed potential to garner more minutes in the future, and for the Wolves the future is now. The new-look Wolves are looking to re-build their team’s core with young and athletic assets, and if that’s the case Pekovic would likely be moved. But, if the team decides to trade him, would they be able to?
The Minnesota Timberwolves believe in Nikola Pekovic as they signed him to a five-year $60 million deal at the beginning of last year’s season. However, last year the team did not expect to have such the young and promising roster as they do now, and moving Pekovic might seem like a feasible and smart idea. His contract is valued at $12 million a year, which puts his salary firmly in the middle amongst NBA centers.
So, his contract could be something a team might take on if they are looking for a solid contributor.
With the rumors that the Timberwolves were looking to acquire Eric Bledsoe from the Suns,whom has since been signed by Phoenix, Pekovic might be the teams best trade piece in any deal regardless of Phoenix, or any other team’s, stance on wanting an established All-Star from Minnesota in return.
Pekovic might not be an All-Star or an effective two-way player, but he can still make an impact. So, while he might not fit in with the new look Timberwolves, he could just be the missing piece for someone else.
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