Exciting new era starts this season for the Timberwolves…
A Kevin Love led Minnesota Timberwolves failed to make the playoffs last season, but with a new era starting at the franchise, can they fare better this year?
Despite another year in which the Timberwolves were expected to surpass expectations and make the playoffs, they fell short with a 40-42 record. That left them nine wins short of the top eight in a competitive Western Conference and Kevin Love has since opted to try his luck elsewhere.
Ultimately, they didn’t do enough in close games, going 6-13 in games decided by four points or less, and the support cast for Love wasn’t good enough, or at least not as good as expected.
A 40-win season is a solid return for most teams, but if the Timberwolves have aspirations of breaking through this year, they will need to get closer to 50 as the competition around them just gets more and more difficult.
Can this young, talented roster including likes of Rubio, Wiggins and Bennett be a surprise package?
The Timberwolves lost Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers, but in return they acquired the No.1 overall pick in Andrew Wiggins along with Anthony Bennett. Add that pair to their own Draft selection in Zach LaVine, and Minnesota have one young yet highly talented roster.
Add point guard Ricky Rubio to the mix and they should be one of the more entertaining teams in the NBA that regularly features on the highlights of the night reel, as they also acquired talented forward Thaddeus Young and experienced point guard Mo Williams.
With Flip Saunders now overseeing the coaching side of things at the organisation as well, he will need to get this team to gel. If it works, this could be explosive. If it doesn’t, then the Timberwolves will sadly fall short of their ambitions yet again.
Wiggins looked good in his pre-season debut but it remains to be seen how much Bennett and LaVine will be able to contribute, while there are question marks over whether or not Rubio can become an elite point guard in the NBA. The Spaniard has the vision and passing ability, but can he improve his shooting?
There is rightfully a lot of excitement surrounding this team, but aside from Nikola Pekovic, their biggest downfall could be the lack of steel and strength, particularly on the defensive end, as offensively they will be a delight to watch on the fast break with Rubio leading the orchestra.
Take Love out of any team, and they instantly become weaker for it. However, the Timberwolves should be quietly confident of what they are building in Minnesota, as this core could well become a threat in years to come led by Wiggins.
However, for the short-term, don’t expect them to crack the playoffs at the first time of asking, as not only will their inexperience be a factor, but ultimately, there are simply just eight better teams in the Western Conference that are built and ready for a playoff push.
It won’t come down to avoiding finishing bottom of the Conference, but the Timberwolves will probably experience another year of mediocrity where they fall short of the playoffs.