Tha Sports Junkies 101

Can The Timberwolves Make A Run At The Playoffs?


Things are changing in Minnesota.  After a long playoff drought, the Timberwolves are looking like a team that is poised to make a big jump this season.  Tom Thibodeau was given his walking papers in Chicago, and the brass in Minnesota made a move to acquire one of the best coaches in the NBA today.

The Wolves are loaded with  some of the best young talent in the league.  Karl Towns, Andrew Wiggins, and now Kris Dunn, comprise one of the best young cores in the NBA today.  Solid young players Zach Levine and Shabazz Mohammad are both good enough to be rotation players on a handful of other teams.  Under the tutelage of Thibodeau, the Wolves could be one of the most improved teams in the league next season.

The last time Minnesota made it to the postseason was the 2003-2004 season.  Think about all the things that have happened since the ’03-’04 season.  Facebook had just became a thing.  Justin Beiber was an unknown pre-teen living in Canada.  There was no Twitter.  Or Instagram.  LeBron James was a fresh faced rookie without a ring.  In other words, it’s been a long time. A very long time.

But now, the Wolves have one of the rising young stars in the NBAKarl Towns was the Rookie of the Year last season.  With a stat line of 18.3 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks, Towns put up numbers that have only been matched by Hall of Fame players like Shaquille O’Neal.  It seems like a formality that Towns will be a perennial AllStar.  Within the next 5 seasons I would be shocked if Towns is not a top ten player in the NBASports Illustrated publishes a top 100 player list at the beginning of every season.  Coming into his second season, Towns came in at number 23 on this year’s list.

Most teams in the midst of a rebuild only are afforded one star at a time.  Teams like the Phoenix Suns and LA Lakers would be thrilled to have a cornerstone like Towns.  Lucky enough for the Wolves, Towns has a Robin to his Bat-Man, in the form of Andrew Wiggins.

Wiggins was the Rookie Of The Year in the ’14-’15 season.  During the ’15-’16 campaign Wiggins put up over 20 points per contest on 46% shooting.  Wiggins  is one of the most athletic young wings in the league, with tremendous slashing ability.  Once Wiggins develops a solid 3 point shot, like Towns, Wiggins will be a perennial AllStar.

Add Kris Dunn to the one-two punch of Towns and Wiggins, and you have a solid foundation for years to come.  Dunn was considered one of the top players coming out of Providence in this summer’s draft.  With a stat line of 16.4 points, 6.2 assists, and 5.3 rebounds, Dunn was dominant during his final year of college ball.  His quick lateral movement and timely hands would produce 2.5 steals a contest.  By all appearances, Dunn looks to be the perfect floor general for Towns and Wiggins.

What will Thibodeau be able to accomplish with this young, super talented roster?

The Western Conference is top heavy coming in to next season.  There are a handful of teams that appear to be locks for the playoffs, barring serious injury or a team making a blockbuster trade.  The Warriors, Spurs, Clippers, Blazers, Rockets, and Thunder should all be preparing for the postseason come mid April next year.  That leaves a spot or two for a team to slip into the postseason.  Who will those teams be?

There has been a buzz around the Utah Jazz.  They had a solid year last year, and with another year under their belt, they could be a team that claims a #6 or #7 seed.  Some pundits have them higher than the bottom three playoff spots in their prognostications for next season.

What about Dallas?  Mark Cuban is a very aggressive owner, and Rick Carlisle is one of the top coaches in today’s game.  Will Dirk make one more postseason run before his career comes to an end?

Will there be a wild card team?  Will a young team other than the Wolves make a tremendous jump in the standings and sneak into the playoffs?  Will the Pelicans realize their potential and make a playoff run?

Any of these things could happen.  If we have learned anything from the postseason and NBA Finals this summer, it’s that the NBA isn’t always predictable, and anything is possible.

I feel like Minnesota is the dark horse in this race.

New coach.

Copious amounts of young talent.

Can they piece it all together? What will it take to make the postseason when we talk about number of wins?  Last year, the Rockets were the #8 seed and finished the year with 41 W’s.  For the Wolves to make it to 41 W’s, they would need to make a 12 win improvement over last season’s total of 29.

How does this team of young dynamos embrace Thibodeau?  If they buy in to Thib’s coaching and schematics, I am predicting now that Minnesota will be lining up opposite of the Warriors in mid April in the First Round of the Western Conference Playoffs.