As a site, we ranked all the NBA teams from worst to best for our release of season previews. Day five’s daily release of a season preview ends up being the young, exciting Minnesota Timberwolves. Eric Shreve provides a recap of their past season, an offseason recap, and then finally the season preview all of us fans are eager for.
Playoffs: Missed playoffs
Last season was nothing short of brutal for Minnesota Timberwolves fans to suffer through. After trading away star forward Kevin Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers for former number one overall picks Anthony Bennett and Andrew Wiggins, many thought the Timberwolves had enough talent to potentially sneak into the playoffs as an eight seed in the loaded Western Conference. However, the season quickly took an ugly turn, as injuries destroyed any chance of a decent season. Ricky Rubio and Nikola Pekovic, who were considered the team’s best players, missed most of the season with injuries, and the Timberwolves labored to an NBA worst record in 16-66. Andrew Wiggins did win Rookie of the Year, which was about the only positive thing in Minnesota. The offseason was about adding another top draft pick, and possibly trading away expensive veterans to allow for more playing time for their very talented young players.
However, things couldn’t have turned out much better for the Timberwolves. Andrew Wiggins was able to get in plenty of development in his rookie year, as he played all 82 games, while placing in the top five in overall minutes played last year. Wiggins also showed much promise with winning the Rookie of the Year award. Other young prospects, such as Zach LaVine, Shabazz Muhammad, and Gorgui Dieng, showed the potential to be great pieces for a potential championship contender squad a few years down the line.
Although the fans and teams had to suffer through all the losing, Minnesota received the greatest prize of all was securing the number one overall pick in the draft, and using it to draft prized big man Karl-Anthony Towns. Touted as a franchise changing talent, the duo of Towns and Wiggins could turn the Wolves into the next NBA powerhouse. The near seven footer has the size and athleticism to guard virtually every position in the court, and could turn into an elite rim protector. Factor in his soft touch and deadly mid-range jumper, the combo of Towns and Wiggins could prove to be deadly a few years from now. Minnesota was also able to secure the services of hometown favorite, Tyus Jones in a draft night trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Though he is small in stature, Jones has a killer instinct and a competitive fire that will fit in nicely with the Wolves other young stars. Never afraid of the big moment, Jones led the Duke Blue Devils to the national title in a win over Wisconsin, with Jones taking home the title of most outstanding player. His development could put Minnesota in position to trade Ricky Rubio for even more assets in the near future.
The Timberwolves have one of the best young cores in the league, and they have plenty of young talent that could turn this team into a future NBA powerhouse. However, none of these players are stars yet, and it will take at least a few years for all of these young players to develop into greater talents. This upcoming season will be another year of rebuilding and development for the Wolves, with a projected starting lineup of Rubio, LaVine, Wiggins, Garnett, and Towns. Minnesota also has a young, talented bench in Gorgui Dieng, Shabazz Muhammad, Nemanja Bjelica, Nikola Pekovic, lead by veterans, Kevin Martin and Andre Miller. The Wolves will almost certainly miss the playoffs for the twelfth consecutive season, which is the longest active streak in the league, but it will be another valuable year for the Timberwolves. Their young talent will be able to develop, and Towns, has a great chance for being a true contender for Rookie of the Year being on this rebuilding team, and being able to learn from the future Hall of Famer, Kevin Garnett. Rubio and Pekovic can get reintegrated into the rotation after injury riddled campaigns last go around. Minnesota can also use these two veterans as potential trade bait in their quest to build for the future. With Jones added during the draft, and Miller signed in free agency, Minnesota has no real need for the expensive Rubio, who has never been able to find a consistent shot, and could be used in a better role on a different team. Pekovic on the other hand has been in trade rumors since last season. Pekovic is a good offensive center, but his lack of defensive ability, and the addition of Towns, coupled with the rise of Dieng, makes paying $12,100,000 a huge waste. Due to his high salary, Pekovic may not command a huge return in trade talks, but getting him off the books opens up room to sign a better free agent, as well as opening up playing time for the younger players to develop. With another bad season, the Wolves can secure another top five pick, they will have the potential to become a perennial title contender for the next ten years, a la the Thunder or Warriors. Wolves fans will need this type of optimism for what will be another lost season in Minnesota.
By: Eric Shreve
Edited By: Mac Crowe