Tha Sports Junkies 101

Minnesota Timberwolves – Sleepers in the Wild, Wild West

Minnesota Timberwolves Photo via Flickr


In an offseason, filled with high-profile signings and story lines, there is one team that has quietly been prepping to make a splash in the 2016-17 NBA season; The Minnesota Timberwolves, yes those Timberwolves. It has been a long, long time since we last had a discussion about the team up north being serious contenders in a hostile western conference, but this may be the year that the club gives their fans something to root for during those cold Minnesota winters.

Last night the 24th seeded Minnesota Timberwolves took on the second–seeded Chicago Bulls for the NBA Summer League Championship which  aired live on ESPN2 and turned into the perfect end to an exciting Summer League. The Timberwolves were led by the surprising break through player, and summer league MVP, Tyus Jones. The second year point guard out of Duke was drafted 24th last year by Cleveland before being traded to Minnesota and averaged 19.4 ppg on 45.7 percent shooting to go along with 6.3 assists and 4 boards a game going into last nights finally.  Jones finished the championship game with 27 points and 10 assists and the Timberwolves were 3.6 seconds and two Denzel Valentine heroic buzzer beaters from being named the Summer League champions.

Jones seems to have worked himself into a lineup full of young potential stars currently on the Timberwolves roster. Jones alongside reigning NBA Rookie of the Year Karl-Anthony Towns, on the verge star Andrew Wiggins, the high-flying two-time slam dunk champion Zach Lavine, and the 5th pick in this year’s draft Kris Dunn, figure to round out a nice young core group for this Wolves squad.

The catalyst that will prove to be the key in any of the franchises future success will lie on new head coach and president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau. The hardnosed, no-nonsense, coach is renowned around the league as one of the best basketball minds in the game who has the ability to get the most out of his players.

The big question, with Thibodeau, will be if he can run an NBA offensive scheme that will get the most out of his young group, without wearing them to the point of injuries. So, let’s run down the Western Conference from last season and what to look for in the upcoming year.

Golden State and San Antonio, aka David and Goliath, figure to be duking it out for the one and two spots this season. Oklahoma City could drop of dramatically with the departure of Kevin Durant and the trading of Serge Ibaka, which in turn opens the door for the Clippers to slide into the third slot.

The Portland Trail Blazers were a great Cinderella story from last season, but even the tremendously talented Damian Lillard seemed to over perform. The Dallas Mavericks are an old team and the addition of Harrison Barnes and Andrew Boguet won’t seriously solve their long-term problems. The wild cards are The Houston Rockets, Memphis Grizzlies and New Orleans Pelicans. Each of them have the potential to be in the mix of the playoff hunt next year, but with a setback or injury to a select few players, these teams could find themselves at the bottom of the conference.

And then we have those Timberwolves. Yes they are young, but the core part of the team has a ton of potential and they have a coach who is going to push them to succeed. The opportunity is there, now we wait and see if they take it.