Tuesday, September 29, 2015

2015-2016 NBA Offseason winners: Minnesota Timberwolves

Karl-Anthony Towns & Andrew Wiggins
Things are looking up
2014-2015 record: 16-66

The Minnesota Timberwolves finished dead last in the league last year, grabbing a mere 16 wins as they failed for the third time in six season to crack the 20-win mark. In all fairness, the Wolves looked as though they might win 30 games, but then injures decimated their roster and the wheels went off the buzz. There was a silver lining to all the losing, however, with the team earning the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft, selecting 6-foot-11 Kentucky big man Karl-Anthony Towns. He joins Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins, last year's No. 1 overall pick, as team president Flip Saunders is piecing together a perennial powerhouse.

The back-to-back top selections join Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio (10.3 PPG, 8.8 APG in 22 games), veteran shooting guard Kevin Martin (20.0 PPG in 39 games), Montenegrin bulldozer Nikola Pekovic (12.5 PPG, 7.5 RPG in 31 games), re-upped Wolves great Kevin Garnett (7.6 PPG, 5.2 RPG in 5 games) and pesky pups Zach LaVine (20 years old), Adreian Payne (24 years old), Lorenzo Brown (25 years old), Shabazz Muhammad (23 years old) and Gorgui Dieng (25 years old) on a roster that has a lot of growing up to do, but with tons of upside and potential at every position. And with Towns joining Pekovic, Payne and Dieng in the frontcourt, their defense in the post is as tough as it comes.

By the way, it doesn't stop with a top pick and a bunch of healthy returnees. The Wolves also acquired No. 24 pick Tyus Jones via trade with trade with the Cavaliers. He was deemed the best pure point guard in the draft and is a nice insurance behind Rubio. The team also reeled in Euroleague MVP Nemanja Bjelica (18.3 PPG, 8.5 RPG for Fenerbaçhe), shipped Chase Budinger to the Pacers for Damjan Rudez and allowed Gary Neal, Anthony Bennett (the 2013 No. 1 overall pick), Justin Hamilton, Robbie Hummel and Arinze Onuaku to walk. Veterans Andre Miller (39 years old) and Tayshaun Prince (35 years old) round out the roster.

2015-2016 prediction:

Slow but steady wins the race. By adding another top pick and some solid pieces to their already-potent core, the Minnesota Timberwolves are slowly building a team that will be scary good down the line. They're not a contender yet, but they should be able to churn out 30+ wins and not roll over and play dead every night.

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