Tom Thibodeau and the Minnesota Timberwolves have made the biggest splash thus far this summer by making roster moves to put the T’wolves back on the map for playoff contention. The active off-season started by moving high-flyer Zac LaVine and former fifth overall pick Kris Dunn to Chicago for All-Star Guard/Forward Jimmy Butler. Not only did this give the Wolves another scorer and defender, but also a veteran presence to guide rising stars, Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins into raising their game to the next level. Thibs and Co. also kept their foot on the gas pedal by trading Ricky Rubio to Utah for a 2018 first-round draft pick (originally OKC’s Pick), then signing veteran point guard Jeff Teague, a point guard who can play hard on both sides of the ball, and can fit Thibodeau’s hard-nose style of play. Then, just when you think Minnesota is done throwing haymakers this off-season, the signing of power forward and ex-Bull Taj Gibson might be the knockout punch. Re-Uniting two former Bulls with the dynamic duo of KAT and Wiggins could finally end the 13 year playoff drought (longest in the NBA) that fans have been anxiously waiting for.
Thibs and his “Timber-Bulls” could be one of the top turn around teams this season
Here are my predictions of the new look T’Wolves in 2017-2018 season…
AT BEST: 50-32, ending their playoff drought
The Sky is the limit for Minnesota, having a lineup that features Jeff Teague, Andrew Wiggins, Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, and Karl-Anthony Towns can do some serious damage out in the Wild West, Expect two players (KAT/Wiggins/Butler) to average over 20 PPG and with Thibs calling shots, defense and rebounding will be heightened to the maximum. The Wolves will finish as one of the top defensive units in the league and the progression of Wiggins/Towns will be on display all season long. If Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson bring the toughness and grit that made the Bulls so successful from 2010-2014, and if Teague plays like the former All-Star that he was in Atlanta, that will translate easily into W’s for the T’Wolves.
AT WORST: 40-42, fighting for the 8th seed/missing playoffs
Now with all the talent in the world, everybody is on board for the “Timber-Bulls” but many fail to realize that Minnesota is NOT in the Eastern Conference, I repeat they are NOT in the East. The West has definitely seen a major power shift this off-season as well, many stars who played in the East such as Paul George and Paul Millsap have changed teams, and are going to make an instant impact on their new team. Since every team is trying to create a “Superteam” to take down Golden State, does Minnesota have enough fire power to even pose a threat to not only GSW, but to San Antonio, Houston, Oklahoma city, and Portland? Defense and maximum effort will be there but the shooting aspect might not be enough to slow these other teams down. The T’Wolves have strengths in slashers, big men who can play physical, and mid-range shooting, but the league has drastically changed to a stretch format. Teams need to be able to knock down anywhere from 9 to 12 threes on any given night in order to stand a chance vs sharp-shooting Golden State. Outside the paint is where Minnesota will struggle this upcoming season, not one player on their current roster finished last season shooting 38% or higher from three. Ouch. Expect the T’Wolves to play hard and show improvement, while potentially missing out on a playoff berth.
Written By Daniel Malakismail