Friday, September 13, 2013

2013 Offseaon winners: Minnesota Timberwolves

Healthy Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love are the key cogs for the Minnesota Timberwolves this season

2012-2013 record: 31-51

When the 2013-2014 season gets underway, Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio will be nearly 20 months removed from ACL surgery and two-time All-Star power forward Kevin Love, who has been working out with Team USA this summer, will benefit greatly from playing with a fully recovered hand. The duo combines for 171 games played out of a possible 296 (.578) over the past two seasons. Their health is crucial for the Timberwolves.

Houston import Chase Budinger (re-signed), who played just 23 games in 2012-2013 because of a torn meniscus, gets a chance for redemption. Montenegrin bulldozer Nikola Pekovic (re-signed) averaged 16.3 PPG and 8.8 RPG last season and should bring more of the same. Former No. 2 pick Derrick Williams, Mavericks championship cog Jose Barea, Sexy Alexey Shved, forward Dante Cunningham, and lanky center Chris Johnson also remain on the roster.

Former Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko politely declined the final year of his contract, worth $10 million, to sign with the Mikhail Prokhorov-owned Brooklyn Nets for a modest $3.1 million deal. Guard Luke Ridnour was sent to the Bucks in a three-team deal for Thunder sharpshooter Kevin Martin. Wing defender Corey Brewer and high-motor big man Ronny Turiaf join the team as a free agents. Wing scorer Shabazz Muhammad, the No. 14 pick in the NBA Draft, underwhelmed at the Summer League, but he should fit right in. Center Gorgui Dieng (the No. 21 pick) adds some welcome size.

2013-2014 prediction:

Coach Rick Adelman and new President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders have a healthy and potent squad at their disposal for next season. With Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio, Nikola Pekovic, and a talented and youthful supporting cast, the Timberwolves should be able to win more than 31 games.

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