Skip to content

ProBasketballTalk 2013-14 Preview: Minnesota Timberwolves

Oct 9, 2013, 8:45 AM EST

Kevin Love, Nikola Pekovic, Ricky Rubio AP

Last season: The Timberwolves never had much of a chance to finish better than their 31-51 record, thanks to a rash of injuries to the team’s top players. Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio, Chase Budinger and Nikola Pekovic all missed substantial time due to injury, rendering the season an unforced failure in the process.

Signature highlight from last season: Rough year in Minnesota, so how about we spread the wealth a little? Here are the top 10 plays as determined by the NBA, and notice there’s a lot of Ricky Rubio, a little Derrick Williams, and not much else — indicative of the kind of season it was.

Key player changes: The biggest improvement in Minnesota will come from its healthy star players, but there were a few free agent additions that the team hopes will complement the talent it already has in place on the roster.

  • IN: Corey Brewer, coming off of a huge season in Denver, was signed as a free agent to complete his second tour of duty with the Timberwolves. Minnesota also decided that Kevin Martin was worth four years and more than $27 million, and they signed veteran Ronny Turiaf to a small two-year deal to add another big man to the frontcourt rotation. Shabazz Muhammad is a rookie who was selected with the 14th overall pick in this summer’s draft.
  • OUT: Andrei Kirilenko signed with the Nets in free agency. Greg Stiemsma was signed by the Pelicans in free agency. Luke Ridnour was traded to the Bucks.

Keys to the Timberwolves’ season:

1) Stay Healthy: The Timberwolves have done an excellent job of assembling talent through the draft, signing existing quality players to long-term deals, and adding role players in free agency. Now, if they can only stay healthy.

Give us anywhere close to 82 games from the combination of Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love, Nikola Pekovic and the rest of the team’s role players, and along with a tenured and proven head coach in Rick Adelman guiding the ship, it’s tough to envision Minnesota finishing out of the postseason once again. The talent is there; it simply needs to materialize on the court for more than twenty-something games in a single season.

2) Don’t slip defensively: As troubled as the Timberwolves were a season ago with their high volume of injuries, they managed to finish 14th in defensive efficiency. The offense was brutal, of course, but that’s to be expected when your star players are sidelined. Defense is about individual effort and team scheme more than anything else, and if Minnesota can replicate last year’s defensive output with this year’s talent, substantial improvement should not only be expected, it should be evident very early in the season.

3) Can the offense catch up? Theoretically, having a full complement of talented players would fix any team’s offensive woes. In Minnesota’s case, that would mean a necessary improvement in a category where the team ranked near the bottom of the league (25th) last season.

Three-point shooting has become a critical component of successful NBA teams in recent years, and the Timberwolves ranked dead last in that category by shooting 30.5 percent from beyond the arc as a team last season. The presence of Love and the return of Brewer should help in that area, and it better if Minnesota wants to increase its offensive efficiency — a statistic that (normally, unless you’re the Bulls) directly translates into wins and losses.

Why you should watch: It’s easy to follow the favorites, but it’s more fun to join the journey of a good team on the rise. Rubio and Love are two of the more fun players in the game to watch, and they’re going to be in the mix for a playoff spot all season long.

Prediction: Minnesota has too much going for them (when healthy) not to make the playoffs. The mere presence of Love and Rubio, along with the additions of Martin and Brewer should be enough to show dramatic improvement offensively. That should in turn result in enough wins — in the 45-48 range — to secure the Timberwolves a postseason spot.

Latest Posts
  1. Hawks guard Thabo Sefolosha out six to eight weeks

    Feb 1, 2015, 8:00 AM EST

    Brooklyn Nets v Atlanta Hawks Getty Images

    Kent Bazemore moves into starting lineup with DeMarre Carroll also out

  2. Timberwolves short Kevin Love an All-Star appearance in tribute video

    Jan 31, 2015, 9:30 PM EST

    Kevin Love Kevin Love

    Minnesota fans boo Love during pregame intros, cheer him during tribute video

  3. Enes Kanter talks trash before, gloats after Utah’s win over Warriors

    Jan 31, 2015, 6:30 PM EST

    Utah Jazz v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

    Kanter was dismissive of both Klay Thompson and Andrew Bogut before Friday night’s win.

  4. Kevin Love expecting boos when he returns to Minnesota with Cavaliers

    Jan 31, 2015, 5:00 PM EST

    Cleveland Cavaliers Media Day Getty Images

    Cleveland plays the Timberwolves in Minnesota on Saturday.

  5. Report: Timberwolves’ Ricky Rubio set to return Monday vs. Dallas

    Jan 31, 2015, 3:21 PM EST

    Minnesota Timberwolves v Orlando Magic Getty Images

    With Ricky Rubio, Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin back in the rotation the Timberwolves will not be such a pushover.

  6. Gerald Green receives first DNP in two seasons with Suns, team shoots down trade rumors

    Jan 31, 2015, 2:00 PM EST

    Phoenix Suns v Charlotte Bobcats Getty Images

    Green being unexpectedly held out led some to speculate that he might be dealt.

  7. Derrick Rose half-court alley-oop to Jimmy Butler (VIDEO)

    Jan 31, 2015, 12:30 PM EST

    Jimmy Butler, Alex Len Jimmy Butler, Alex Len

    They’re not winning, but they still produce some highlight plays.

  8. Nike unveils latest signature shoe for Kobe Bryant, the Kobe X (PHOTOS)

    Jan 31, 2015, 11:00 AM EST

    150114_KOBE_X_0093_v5-xlr_37350

    The tenth in Bryant’s signature line returns to a low-top silhouette, and the first colorway is inspired by Kobe’s early morning high dive as he recovered from Achilles surgery.

  9. Report: Nuggets trying to trade for Brook Lopez

    Jan 31, 2015, 9:30 AM EST

    Brooklyn Nets V Memphis Grizzlies Getty Images

    Denver’s offer of J.J. Hickson and JaVale McGee isn’t enough for Brooklyn to pull the trigger — especially with Lopez coming off of a 35-point, 12-rebound performance against the Raptors.

  10. Last summer Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant talked, decided it wouldn’t work together

    Jan 31, 2015, 8:00 AM EST

    New York Knicks v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

    Those two together at this stage of their careers are a poor fit together.

  11. DeMarcus Cousins says he ‘didn’t expect’ to make the All-Star team

    Jan 30, 2015, 10:59 PM EST

    Toronto Raptors v Sacramento Kings Getty Images

    It took Kobe Bryant being injured for Cousins to make the squad.

Featured video

Who should be All-Star Game reserves?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Durant (8049)
  2. L. James (7023)
  3. D. Howard (6933)
  4. C. Anthony (6761)
  5. M. Conley (6753)
  1. R. Rubio (6640)
  2. J. Butler (6340)
  3. K. Bryant (6326)
  4. N. Young (6111)
  5. D. Wade (5915)