By Brandon Easler
The last thing Timberwolves fans wanted to see this season was one of their stars go down with a serious injury. The last time the Timberwolves made the playoffs was in the 2003-04 season, which was also the same year that Kevin Garnett won the MVP after averaging a staggering 24.2 points per game and 13.9 rebounds per game. Since then, they have gone 13 consecutive seasons without a playoff berth. However, the Timberwolves seem poised to change that notion this year as they currently sit essentially tied for third in the west. The T-Wolves were having a fantastic year up until Jimmy Butler’s injury in Friday’s game against the Rockets.
Butler fell to the ground in what seemed to be a non-contact injury. It was later revealed that he had a torn meniscus, which he had surgery on the 25th to repair. The injury could have been a lot worse for Butler, as many fear a torn ACL when dealing with non-contact injuries. Butler’s estimated return is 4-6 weeks, which puts him coming back either right before or at the beginning of the playoffs.
Butler was having his second-best year as a pro this season, as he was posting averages of 22.4 PPG, 5.4 RPG, and 5.0 APG. This Timberwolves team has a highly revamped roster compared to last year after the offseason acquisitions of Butler, Jeff Teague, Taj Gibson, and Jamal Crawford. However, according to NBA.com the team has a 7.8 net rating when Butler is on the court, but minus-7.3 when he's on the bench.
Butler’s indefinite absence could spell trouble for the T-Wolves, as they sit just 2.5 games ahead of the eighth place Nuggets in the West. A first round matchup with either the Rockets or Warriors would not be a favorable matchup even for a fully healthy Timberwolves team. They will have to search for production somewhere on their shallow bench while Butler is out, or they will need to be active on the buyout market in order to keep pace with the rest of the loaded West and have home court in a playoff series.
All stats courtesy of basketball-reference.com.
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