NBA Season Preview: Minnesota Timberwolves

Projected Record: 28-54 (14th in West)


Andrew Wiggins
With Kevin Love gone, the Timberwolves turn the page, with #1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins. (AP)

Head coach: Flip Saunders
2013-14 record: 40-42
2013-14 ORtg: 105.6 (10th)
2013-14 DRtg: 104.1 (T-14th)
Players in: Anthony Bennett, Zach LaVine, Glenn Robinson III, Andrew Wiggins, Mo Williams
Players out: Dante Cunningham, Othyus Jeffers, Kevin Love
Projected Starting Lineup: Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin, Andrew Wiggins, Thaddeus Young, Nikola Pekovic

Q&A With Chase, A Young Timberwolves Fan


Reporter: Hi, Chase, we’d like to ask you a few follow-up questions about the Minnesota Timberwolves, do you have a moment?

Chase: Yes. We still have Nikola Pekovic, right?

Reporter: Yes. Now, how do you feel about the news that the Timberwolves traded Kevin Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers?

Chase: Kevin Love was one of my favorites, I had his jersey.

Reporter: Well, you got Andrew Wiggins back in the trade! He was the #1 overall pick in this year’s draft and he’s only 19 years old!

Chase: So we traded a three-time All-Star who averaged 26 points and 12 rebounds for a guy who has never played an NBA game before and is only 9 years older than me?

Reporter: Yeah! Well, when you say it like that… Hey, cheer up! You guys drafted Zach LaVine!

Chase: He throws shoes at dogs. I don’t like him.

Reporter: You’re right. That’s kind of shady. You guys got Thaddeus Young too!

Chase: He doesn’t look really young. I can’t even spell that name.

Reporter: Well, you learned how to spell Nikola Pekovic, how’d you do that?

Chase: Just like learning to tie my shoes or taking a shot of whiskey with no chaser after the Wolves blew another 4th-quarter lead last season: one day at a time.

Reporter: Excuse me?

Chase: Nothing.

Reporter: Anyways, it’s true — the Wolves had more single-digit loses than any team in the NBA. Flip Saunders spent all summer trying to find an adequate replacement for Adelman before appointing himself. Corey Brewer won last year’s award for “Worst Player to Score 50+ Points” and, yes, J.J. Barea wasn’t even part of the Love trade.

Chase: Yeah, those are all pretty awful. Tell me this at least, did Ricky Rubio learn how to shoot a jump shot yet?

Reporter: No.

Chase: Where’d my whiskey go?

It may get a whole lot worse for Minnesota before it gets any better. There’s an argument that the Timberwolves may become one of the NBA’s most exciting teams, but they also went 6-13 in games decided by four points or less last year. Plus, that was with Kevin Love, arguably the league’s best power forward.

The organization is trying as hard as they can to prove that L.A.L. (Life After Love) is bright and happy, even introducing the new trio at the Minnesota State Fair last month, but their glaring weaknesses remain the same, with the exception that they no longer have an All-Star to bail them out. Wiggins, who scored just four points on 1-6 shooting in Kansas’ elimination loss to Stanford in March, will now be asked to contribute on a nightly basis at the much tougher professional level.

Barea, publicly criticized multiple times last year for sulking, remains on the team for some reason. Instead, they traded Alexey Shved, Instagram Superstar. The team’s weapons only exist in plausibility and their athleticism will likely only appear during 20-point blowout losses.

Would you believe me if I said that Minnesota was .8 points per game away from leading the entire NBA in points per game? They tallied 24 assists and 8.8 steals per game, 5th and 3rd best in the NBA, respectively. So where did the Wolves go wrong?

By now you’ve surely seen the article titled: “Kevin Love Has Been The Unluckiest Star In The NBA,” in which a complicated statistic tells the viewer that Tony Parker has played his entire career with Tim Duncan and Love hasn’t. And while such a simple stat seems to undermine the abilities of 90% of the NBA, it rings true, particularly in this day and age of the superteam. LeBron has had Wade and Bosh, Spurs with Duncan, Parker and Manu. Has Kevin Love even ever been part of a duo? And therein lies the probably with the Minnesota Timberwolves: there isn’t another star.

Which isn’t so much a slight on the remaining members of the Timberwolves as it is on the cold state of Minnesota itself. Rubio is a more than serviceable NBA PG, but is a few steps away from true stardom; and Pekovic is a strong, firm above average center, but he will never make an All-Star team. If Kevin Love had stayed in Minnesota and they, somehow, had gotten Carmelo Anthony there, I’d have been ready to write in the Wolves as a top 5 seed in the Western Conference.

However, Love left and an up-and-coming team becomes even more up-and-coming as they rely on Rubio to ascend to greatness next. Life after Love might not be pretty, it might not even be nice, but through all the snow and sleet of Minnesota, there is a silver lining and his name is Andrew Wiggins.

My roommate looked over my shoulder as I wrote this and simply said: “You’re wasting your time. Here you go: ‘Minnesota Timberwolves Season Preview: They had Kevin Love. Now they do not have Kevin Love. End of article.’”

Where’d that whiskey go?