It's not difficult to identify the brightest spot in the Wolves' 2014-15 malaise to date. Rookie Andrew Wiggins, 19 years old and far from a finished product, already has surpassed some of the lofty expectations heaped upon him since well before he was drafted first overall last summer. The top rookie of the year candidate leads all first-year players in scoring, averaging 15.1 points, to go with 4.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.1 steals per game.
Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY SportsChris Humphreys
Far from vindication
Minnesota's "other" No. 1 overall pick, power forward Anthony Bennett, is in a better spot than he was this time a year ago. He's in better shape. He's healthier. He can even see farther. But uneven production and a frequent lack of grit have Bennett playing at a level only slightly higher than he did his rookie season: six points and 4.1 boards a contest.
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY SportsJesse Johnson
Derailed by ailments
Together, starters Nikola Pekovic (31 games, wrist and ankle soreness), Ricky Rubio (36, sprained ankle) and Kevin Martin (32, fractured wrist) have missed a combined 99 games. That trio also comprises about one-third of the Wolves' 2014-15 payroll, making a combined $23.9 million this season. With the three of them sitting out most of the season's first half, youngsters such as Wiggins, Shabazz Muhammad, Gorgui Dieng and Zach LaVine have seen increased roles. Muhammad in particular has had a resurgent second season, but he too is now out with an injury.
Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY SportsSam Sharpe
Until Wiggins morphs into a bona fide All-Star, this is Rubio's team. And until Rubio comes back from a severely damaged ankle that's had him out for 10 weeks, the Wolves will be severely limited. Starting power forward Thaddeus Young has struggled without Rubio's setup skills to complement his skill set. Minnesota's defense was the league's worst for most of the first half without Rubio wreaking havoc against opposing point guards. And the Wolves have been relying up on a 19-year-old rookie (LaVine) and 32-year-old veteran (Mo Williams) in Rubio's stead.
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated PMarcio Jose Sanchez
From the ground up
Once three starters went down with long-term injuries, Wolves coach and president of basketball operations Flip Saunders proclaimed the team is in full "rebuild" mode. Then he went out and showed he wasn't kidding, trading Corey Brewer and focusing further on the young players' long-term development. Saunders and general manager Milt Newton still have till the Feb. 19 trade deadline to make further moves. They also hope to see what a fully healthy roster looks like during the season's stretch run -- one that will ultimately lead to a high spot in the draft lottery -- in order to decide who goes and who stays after the season.