Last year the Timberwolves ended the season with a disappointing 26-40 record. Through the first half of last season the Wolves were led by their core of young players featuring Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio, and Derrick Williams who at a certain point led them to a record above .500. But then things started going downhill when rookie phenom and floor general Ricky Rubio went down with a torn ACL. Then things got worse when Kevin Love had health problems and emotionally caused the team to stumble. Their final record doesn’t really show how good this team was and can be this year. This season they should be back at full strength and better than they were the first half of last season.
1. Ricky Rubio who averaged 10.6 points, 8.2 assists, and 4.2 rebounds per game will be back in action. His ability to get other players in involved and also create his own shot driving to the hoop was the catalyst for the Wolves last year. In addition, despite being out for the start of the season, Kevin Love is coming off another great year filled with 20-20 games, a 30-30 game, top 10 scoring, and a league leading rebounding performance. These two will be the most important players out there and I expect them to deliver.
2. In the NBA today, every team is looking to get the most stars on their squad as possible to win a championship. Role players are often overlooked and are keys to success in the NBA. The Timberwolves have a bunch of them, including second overall pick Derrick Williams who showed great potential, surprising Nikola Pekovic who had a great season of 14 points and 7.4 rebounds a game, and veteran JJ Barea. These guys will once again be key contributors to the Wolves success.
3. The Wolves were lowkey one of the most active teams in the waiver wires this off-season. If you watched FIBA this summer and saw the Russian team play you know that Andrei Kirilenko is back to how good he was in Utah. And better yet, he’s back with his other Russian teammate Alexey Shved. These two should be great additions to the Wolves depth. Perhaps more importantly Brandon Roy has come out of retirement with healthy knees and is at the young-ish age of 28. He was one of the most prolific scorers in the NBA a couple seasons ago and of course a multiple time All-Star, if Roy can stay healthy their offense could be especially dangerous. Lastly, Chase Budinger and Greg Stiesma are two solid players in the frontcourt who can supply adequate minutes and hold their own.
The Wolves team will finish with a record of 47-35. Their success completely hinges on the health of their players. If they can stay healthy and keep building around their young core players they will be a dangerous team to play against.