Skip to content

ProBasketballTalk 2013-14 Preview: Minnesota Timberwolves

Oct 9, 2013, 8:45 AM EDT

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. Report: Sacramento consultant Chris Mullin to take St. John’s head coaching job

    Mar 30, 2015, 6:14 PM EDT

    Chris Mullin AP

    There were rumors he wanted the Sacramento GM job, but George Karl has the power there now.

  2. PBT’s NBA Power Rankings: Cream rising to top as playoffs near

    Mar 30, 2015, 3:15 PM EDT

    Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Marco Belinelli, Manu Ginobili Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Marco Belinelli, Manu Ginobili

    The top three are Golden State, Cleveland and San Antonio. Would you be shocked if any of them won the title?

  3. Knicks are bad everywhere, fire D-League coach

    Mar 30, 2015, 1:27 PM EDT

    Foot Locker Three-Point Contest Getty Images

    Phil Jackson disciple Craig Hodges now coaching Westchester Knicks

  4. Michael Jordan played first Bulls "home" game at a high school (video)

    Mar 30, 2015, 12:49 PM EDT

    Michael Jordan, Dean Smith Michael Jordan, Dean Smith

    Jordan made preseason debut at Washington High School, but at one point, it seemed Washington High alum Junior Bridgeman would be the big draw

  5. Russell Westbrook dunks on teammate Enes Kanter

    Mar 30, 2015, 12:11 PM EDT

    Russell Westbtook, Enes Kanter Russell Westbtook, Enes Kanter

    D.J. Augustin throws the alley-oop, and two Thunder players go for it. Westbrook won.

  6. Texas’ Myles Turner, a likely lottery pick, declares for NBA draft with YouTube video

    Mar 30, 2015, 11:33 AM EDT

    Texas v Butler Getty Images

    Good decision to go pro, poor decision to end video how he did

  7. Blake Griffin makes 180 block (video)

    Mar 30, 2015, 10:22 AM EDT

    Blake Griffin, Kelly Olynyk, Jae Crowder Blake Griffin, Kelly Olynyk, Jae Crowder

    Jonas Jerebko thought his pump fake worked, but…

  8. Report: Georgia State’s R.J. Hunter declaring for NBA draft

    Mar 30, 2015, 9:45 AM EDT

    R.J. Hunter R.J. Hunter

    Hunter hit biggest shot of NCAA tournament, backed it up with strong junior season

  9. Report: Kings advisor Chris Mullin expected to become St. John’s coach

    Mar 30, 2015, 9:08 AM EDT

    New York Knicks v Sacramento Kings Getty Images

    Mullin has played prominent role in Vivek Ranadivé’s organization

  10. Breaking down Western Conference playoff chase with two weeks left in season

    Mar 30, 2015, 8:30 AM EDT

    Detroit Pistons v Golden State Warriors Detroit Pistons v Golden State Warriors

    The first and eight seeds are fairly set, after that the West is a jumbled mess.

  11. Breaking down Eastern Conference playoff chase with two weeks left in season

    Mar 30, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    Cleveland Cavaliers v Atlanta Hawks Getty Images

    The race for the eighth seed could go down to the final night.

  12. Report: Magic plan to give GM Rob Hennigan a contract extension

    Mar 30, 2015, 12:01 AM EDT

    Orlando Magic fire head coach Jacque Vaughn Orlando Magic fire head coach Jacque Vaughn

    Hennigan has done a solid job with the rebuild in his first three seasons.

Featured video

Where does Steve Nash rank all-time?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Durant (6273)
  2. K. Lowry (6160)
  3. H. Whiteside (6051)
  4. K. Martin (6041)
  5. G. Monroe (5704)
  1. R. Rubio (5490)
  2. B. Knight (5447)
  3. D. Rose (5444)
  4. P. George (5267)
  5. L. Aldridge (5216)