With the start of the NBA season less than a month away, one team that hasn’t given its fans much optimism in the past, is the Minnesota Timberwolves. This offseason the Timberwolves showed the NBA they’re tired of losing. The Timberwolves are coming off a tremendous offseason in which they acquired superstar Jimmy Butler in a blockbuster trade, and also brought in Jamal Crawford, Jeff Teague, and Taj Gibson via free agency.
The Wolves did lose some young talent in the Butler trade, as the package the Bulls received included young players such as Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn. LaVine was one of the team’s best shooters, while Dunn was drafted fifth overall last year and is a very talented point guard. To acquire a player like Butler, the Wolves had to sacrifice young talent, but in the end they gained a superstar they’ve needed. The Timberwolves already had a talented roster, as Karl-Anthony Towns is arguably the best young big man in the NBA. Towns is not only a tremendous rebounder, as he averaged 12.5 rebounds a game last year, but he is also a good three point shooter.
Their most talented young player however, may be Andrew Wiggins. The Wolves acquired Wiggins from the Cavaliers in 2015 for Kevin Love. The Cavaliers drafted Wiggins number one overall, and every year his offensive game has gotten better. Where he struggles is on defense. The Wolves are hoping Butler can help Wiggins improve defensively, making him the franchise player he was predicted to be.
Last year the Timberwolves finished with a record of 31-51. It was the 13th straight year they’ve missed the playoffs. The last time they made the playoffs, they lost in the 2004 Western Conference finals. Since the franchise made its debut in 1990, it has made the playoffs eight times in its 28 year history. The Timberwolves are not only trying to end a playoff drought, but also finish a season with a record above .500 hundred. They haven’t done that since the 2004-2005 season when they finished with 44 wins and 38 losses. They’ve seen franchise stars such as Kevin Love and Kevin Garnett depart to other teams and win championships.
This year may be different, as the Timberwolves are predicted to be a playoff team, and rightfully so. They have all the pieces. The main thing for this team will be playing with consistent effort, as last year they lost 25 games when entering the fourth quarter with a lead. They were 26th in the league in average fourth quarter scoring margin. The veterans on this team will be key, as it is up to them to make sure this team reaches its potential. If the Timberwolves can make the playoffs, then this franchise could see the start of a new era with Wiggins, Towns, and Butler. The Timberwolves may finally have a roster to end their futility, and Minnesota basketball may become fun for the first time in a decade.