The Timberwolves were supposed to be a team of the future but Kevin Love has made Minnesota a threat now.
Once again playing out of position, back at center following an injury to Nikola Pekovic, Love has dominated no matter where is lines up.
The Most Improved Player from a year ago has a legitimate case to become the Most Valuable Player Player in 2012.
During March, Love is averaging 33.5 points and 14.3 rebounds while shooting over 45 percent from long range.
Wednesday night against Charlotte, he carried the Timberwolves to another win, posting 40 points, sank four shots from downtown, along with 19 rebounds and four assists during an 88-83 victory.
Love’s performance marked his third scoring performance of 40 or more points, second his past for games, and the 22nd time he has totaled 15 or more rebounds this season.
The night before, Love swatted four shots while posting 28 points and 11 rebounds against Memphis.
For the season, Love ranks fourth in scoring, averaging a career-high 26.3 points and is the second-leading rebounder, pulling down 13.8 per game.
Love’s play has the Timberwolves in contention for their first .500 season since 2005 and possibly snapping a seven-year playoff drought.
The average age of Minnesota’s roster is 24.8, a number skewed by Brad Miller, a 35-year-old center that played eight games this season and will retire at the conclusion.
Over the past two seasons, the Timberwolves have gone 32-132, the worst among any teams in the league and the worst stretch in franchise history.
A year ago, Love led the league in double-doubles, posting 64 in 73 games, including a stretch of 52 consecutive, the longest streak in league history, was named to his first All-Star Game and led the league in rebounding, grabbing 15.2 per game.
With an extended off-season because of the NBA lockout, Love dropped 25 pounds and looked much lighter.
This season, Love has meant everything to his team, scoring 32 percent of Minnesota’s points, snaring 39 percent of its rebounds while totaling 16 percent of its blocks and steals.
If Love is off the floor, the Timberwolves are being outscored by five points by their opponents. When the 6-foot-9 forward is playing, the team is owns a 2.8 point scoring advantage.
While his rebounding numbers have dipped a bit, down to 13.8 from 15.2 a year ago, he has remained active. Love is the only player besides DeMarcus Cousins to average over four offensive rebounds per game.
The Timberwolves are the third best rebounding team in the league even as Love nearly doubles the average of Minnesota’s next best rebounder.
Love has posted a league-high 44 double-doubles in 48 games and is the only player besides Dwight Howard with over 35 this season.
The result was he came ready to play, opening the year with a 22 point, 12 rebound, five assist performance against Oklahoma City and had the right conditioning to keep pace with the leagues hectic 66 game schedule.
During his first three seasons, Love logged over 40 minutes 19 times, all last season, but has played 40 or more minutes 16 times in his last 25 games and totaled 28 such performances this year.
The time he spends on the court, Love is having his defenders chase him all over the floor.
Love is converting 1.9 three-point attempts per game, shooting 38.2 percent from beyond the arc, opening up the lane for his teammates to attack the rim.
During the All-Star break, he battled Durant in the final round for the 3-Point Shootout championship, totaling 17 points to win the event.
His proficiency from long range hasn’t been limited to exhibitions.
In 2012, the former UCLA standout took the step from All-Star to franchise cornerstone and has established himself as the best power forward in the game.
The biggest disadvantage Love has going for him is the lack of team success of the Timberwolves.
Even with its win over the Bobcats on Wednesday, Minnesota’s record for the year is 25-27 and sits 2.5 games behind Houston for the final playoff spot.
When Moses Malone claimed the MVP award in 1982, even after averaging 31.1 points and 14.7 rebounds per game, his selection was a bit controversial because Houston went 46-36, finishing sixth in the Western Confernce.
Malone and the Rockets fell in three games to Seattle in the opening round of the post season.
No player since has received the MVP award with his team winning fewer than 50 games.
Love may not be the typical MVP candidate, but there is no denying his value.