Al Jefferson is out for the season with a torn ACL. That's a bummer, and a big blow to the newly energized Wolves, who had been playing really well since McHale took over as coach.
This news is going to have a huge impact on Kevin Love's rookie season. McHale was a huge fan of Love's, and notoriously traded him for OJ Mayo on draft day. Mayo got off to a very quick start, as he became the Grizzly's first option and Rudy Gay's running mate in training camp. KLove had a different greeting: the big issue in his Timberwolf status was that he was a very similar player to Al Jefferson, except that Jefferson is better. Neither of them is a true NBA center, and Jefferson's outstanding production is compromised by playing him at center. Part of McHale's resurgence was figuring out point guard and shooting guard play, but he also got Love more minutes and a bigger role, and Love has played very well, as far as I know. He was, however, left off of the all-rookie team.
Well now, through unfortunate circumstance, KLove is no longer playing behind anybody. Jefferson was carrying a huge load and the Wolves figure to struggle mightily. At the same time, KLove's minutes and stats should spike, and he'll get better, quicker, and more effective playing more and getting a lot more touches. It should be interesting.
The situation is similar to the boost that Eric Gordon received when Mobley was traded and everybody got hurt. They're not exact parallels, but it's interesting to see how things shake out in any season, and you never know what the opportunities are going to be like. Gordon's issue, now that he's firmly established, is figuring out how to play his game and be effective with key guys returning from injury. Lots of interesting rookies out there, fun to watch and follow--the Clips get to see DJ Augustin tonight, for instance.
I'm looking forward to the updating of the Thorpe and other rookie rankings, and hope Gordon has a great week and goes strong into the rookie-sophomore game.