The Minnesota Timberwolves could just be the most interesting team heading into the 2017-2018 NBA regular season. The Timberwolves had the best free agency in franchise history and it appears the Timberwolves are playoff bound for the first time in over a decade. While the Timberwolves improved dramatically, so did many of the Western Conference’s top teams. Where will the Timberwolves stack up in the West this year? Will Jimmy Butler be the go to guy? Will Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins make the All-Star team? Let’s look at the perspective season T-Wolves fans can expect from their recently built super team!
The T-Wolves had an outstanding offseason! They were able to trade Ricky Rubio, after a few years of rumors that he could be on his way out of Minnesota, for a first round pick. They also waived Nikola Pekovic, who once had a promising career. These two are key locker room losses, but the T-Wolves were able to trade Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine for Jimmy Butler. This was one of the most unforeseen trades the league has recently seen, and it is a great trade for the Timberwolves because it gives them the proven and consistent star that they were lacking last season. In addition, they added Jeff Teague to run the point and Jamal Crawford and Taj Gibson to help improve the bench. Gibson, Teague, and Crawford are all hungry for a chance at an NBA title, and they provide great leadership and experience for this young Wolves roster.
The Timberwolves retain young role players in Shabazz Muhammad, Tyus Jones, Cole Aldrich, and Nemanja Bjelica who all have proven they can provide energy off the bench and contribute on the offensive end. They also were able to add veteran guard Aaron Brooks, who has been a much traveled backup point guard. He can also provide some key minutes for them throughout the season. The Wolves had a nice draft adding Melo Trimble from Maryland, Amile Jefferson from Duke, and Justin Patton from Creighton who all had great success in college in their own right.
The key returning players include some of the brightest young stars in the game including Gorgui Dieng, Andrew Wiggins, and Karl Anthony-Towns. This trio of young stars have been with the Wolves for a few years of woes, and they are ready to take a leap into a super team this season. Towns and Wiggins will play second fiddle to Jimmy Butler, but that will only make this team even more lethal. The Wolves could have 3 All-Stars this season in Towns, Butler, and Wiggins. All 3 players could easily average 20 points per contest, but the biggest overall improvement that this team will make this season is not the All-Star nods, but rather overall team defense. With Jimmy Butler now on the team, he will be a big believer in this team playing much better team defense. The biggest defensive improvements need to come from Andrew Wiggins and Shabazz Muhammad who are two athletic and lengthy players who can drive people crazy if they lock in and play good defense.
The Wolves will be a playoff team this year for the first time in over a decade, but they still do not have quite enough to win an NBA Title. The lack of overall experience on this team will be an issue, as well as the lack of a full bench who can produce at all times. However, the T-Wolves could finish anywhere from 4-6 in the West and this is a dramatic improvement from last season. The Wolves finally have a closer in Jimmy Butler. He will help the team improve in clutch situations, which was a huge issue last year in Minnesota. The Wolves were not a second half team. They blew a lot of second half leads, which frustrated the young team and coach Tom Thibodeau.
The Timberwolves have all the makings of a future championship team. If they can improve on defense, in clutch situations, and also improve their bench, there is no reason that this team cannot contend for the next 5-7 years if they keep their core together. My exact projection for the T-Wolves is 53 wins and the number 5 overall seed in the Western Conference. This is the season to gel for the T-Wolves and the following seasons should be treated as years to attack and win a title. The T-Wolves are finally relevant again and it is beautiful for the NBA to have all these super teams. Especially, a super young and talented one like the Wolves that could be relevant for several seasons to come!
Photo Credits: Basketball Society