The Minnesota Timberwolves had one of their most successful seasons in recent memory in 2011-12. While the end record of 26-40 didn't reflect it, the Timberwolves were competing for a playoff spot until Ricky Rubio tore his ACL on March 11.
For the first time in a long time, the Timberwolves have exciting players to build around such as Rubio, emerging center Nikola Pekovic and superstar forward Kevin Love.
The Timberwolves are still a long way from appearing in the NBA Finals, but they do have the foundation set to become a competitive team in the future. If the Wolves could make the playoffs in 2012-13, it would be a huge accomplishment for a franchise that hasn't seen the playoffs since 2004.
For that to happen, several things must go down for the team that has been a laughing stock of the NBA for the past decade.
David Kahn has received a lot of credit for building the Timberwolves from the bottom of the NBA, but what really has he done to deserve that praise?
Out of the three cornerstones on the roster (Love, Pekovic and Rubio), Kahn has drafted just one of them. Kahn also gave Darko Milicic a three-year contract and took Wes Johnson over Demarcus Cousins in the 2010 NBA draft.
The Timberwolves need another voice when it comes to their roster, and Rick Adelman is a perfect guy to help him.
It seemed like the 'Wolves had a playoff roster until Rubio's knee injury. Once that happened, the lack of team depth reared its ugly head. If Adelman gets some of the guys he wants, the 'Wolves could be a better team sooner than later.
One of Kahn's first moves as the team's vice president of basketball operations was acquiring Michael Beasley from the Miami Heat for a pair of second-round draft picks.
The trade has actually worked well as Beasley has shown the capability to add instant offense and carry a team on his back if necessary.
However, then there's those other times when it looks like Beasley's biggest concern is where he can grab a bag of Cheetos after the game.
Since Adelman has come into the fold, Beasley has looked disinterested and hasn't been giving 100 percent effort on most nights.
The Timberwolves can't afford for Beasley to have any more of a negative impact on the team, and now is the time to get rid of him (he's a restricted free agent) before it's too late.
Over the course of last season I came up with a nickname for Wes Johnson: Holy @#$%!
That's because every time Johnson lined up for a shot, it usually clanked off the rim. On the other hand, if one of Johnson's flat jump shots went in I would say, "Holy @#$%!" and see Johnson smile at the bench like "Look, guys! I made one!"
Unfortunately in the NBA, you have to make a couple of open looks rather than just one every three games. This is where the Timberwolves' number one need comes into play.
There are several options as to where to get a shooting guard, and the easiest one could be to tap into a deep free-agent class.
The Timberwolves were interested in Jamal Crawford at the trade deadline last season, and they could target him as they head into July. Crawford is known to be a streaky shooter, but at least he has a tendency to have a couple fall in, unlike Holy @#$%!
The 'Wolves could also decide to acquire a shooting guard via trade, but it doesn't look like that market is shaping up.
If that's the case, the 'Wolves could look at drafting a shooting guard with the 18th overall pick in the NBA draft, but it doesn't look like there will be a name that could help immediately that late.
Whatever option the 'Wolves take, it has to be solved before they begin the season in November.
As mentioned earlier, the Timberwolves were shaping up for an exciting stretch run until Ricky Rubio blew his knee out.
After Rubio's injury, the 'Wolves didn't have the horses to stay in the playoff race. It also didn't help that Nikola Pekovic suffered bone spurs in his ankle and Kevin Love suffered a concussion late in the season.
When you have guys like Darko on the bench, things are going to get ugly quickly. That's why the 'Wolves need to make some under the radar moves to get somebody who can step in if somebody goes down.
This point is similar to the one I made with Adelman, but it's something that needs to be a priority heading into the offseason.
Here is the biggest key to the 'Wolves offseason. As I mentioned, Rubio was the catalyst for the team and they need him back at 100 percent to make the playoffs next season.
When Rubio was healthy, he was setting up his teammates with wide open looks that Wes Johnson and company couldn't knock down.
If the Timberwolves are able to get a couple of guys to hit an open jumper and add a little bit of depth to the team, they will have a team that could sneak into the back end of the Western Conference playoffs next season.