Minnesota Timberwolves: 10 Reasons They Will Make the Playoffs
There’s this new thing in the state of Minnesota called optimism, and Minnesotans can find some for most of their teams. The Wild just signed the two biggest free agents. The Vikings are getting a new stadium. The Twins…well, Target Field is still pretty new. There’s even optimism about the Wolves.
Last year the Wolves showed the fans the light at the end of the tunnel, and then Ricky Rubio’s knee blew out. It looked like the Wolves could sneak in the playoffs last year before Rubio went down, and it looks like they will in the 2012-2013 season.
Ricky Rubio's Back
One knee kept the Wolves from making the playoffs last year for the first time since 2003-2004, and that knee belongs to the Spanish sensation Ricky Rubio. Last year, Rubio came in and lived up to the hype that surrounded him when he was first drafted. The hype escalated to Beatle-mania level with his big welcoming at Minneapolis/St. Paul International.
Rubio may not be ready to go for the season opener, but he will be back during the year. If Rubio is absent, the Wolves have the capable Luke Ridnour and J.J. Barea to fill in at the point. Rubio’s presence on the roster greatly improves the Wolves playoff chances.
Rick Adelman's Team
It has been made evident this offseason that it looks like Rick Adelman is calling all of the shots (which may be a good thing dependening on your opinion of David Kahn, but I digress). This was shown when the Wolves traded the 18th pick in this year’s draft to Houston for Chase Budinger. Budinger was in Houston when Adelman was the coach there a couple of years ago.
Adelman making personnel moves means he is tooling up to win. He is 66 years old and wants to win now; winning now includes making the playoffs. If Adelman has the guys he wants, there’s a very good chance he'll lead the Wolves to the playoffs.
Brandon Roy's Arrival
It is all but official that Brandon Roy will be wearing a Timberwolves jersey this upcoming season. Roy retired for one year due to his troubled knees but is now making a comeback with the team that originally selected him in the 2006 Draft.
Now, Roy may fall apart three games into the season, nobody really knows, but he’s worth the risk. The Wolves signed him for his leadership and to be a sharp-shooter off the bench for 15-20 minutes a game. If Roy’s knees allow him to return to his All-Star form it would be quite the bonus for the Wolves and make them an even scarier team.
Kevin Love's Still Here
Kevin Love is quickly making Wolves fans forget about that other Kevin that used to play in Minnesota. There’s not much to say about Kevin Love other than that he’s phenomenal. A big man with solid low post game, outstanding rebounding and way above-average accuracy from three point land.
If Love played in a bigger market or just for a team that was noticed more, he’d be up for MVP consideration every single year. He gives you a double-double every night while still being small for an NBA big man. Not to mention, Kevin Love’s uncle is a Beach Boy. With Love on the roster, the Wolves might be picking up good playoff vibrations.
Wes Johnson's Burial
I don’t like saying it, but not too many people are huge fans of Wesley Johnson. He just isn’t doing what he should be doing: playing good basketball. The Wolves are quickly burying him down deep into the depths of Rick Adelman’s bench.
The Wolves brought in Brandon Roy and Chase Budinger who will take some of Johnson’s playing time. Luke Rindour, J.J. Barea and Wayne Ellington are already on the roster and are very capable of taking his minutes. If the Wolves get Nicolas Batum, he’ll take minutes away, and if Derrick Williams finds a way to stay a T-Wolf, he’d also take minutes away. So it’s easy to see that Johnson doesn’t have many minutes going for him right now and that might be best for the team.
Championships are important, but professional sports are still a business that need to make money. The Minnesota Wild stepped up the game in the Minnesota market on the Fourth of July. On that day, the Wild signed the two biggest free agents on the market by bringing in homeboy Zach Parise and friend Ryan Suter which made Wild season ticket sales go through the Xcel Energy Center roof.
The Wolves will have to compete with the Wild head on during the winter for patrons’ ticket money, and the only way to do that will be putting out a playoff caliber team on to the court at Target Center. The Wild are being heralded as Stanley Cup contenders, and the Wolves have to be at least playoff contenders if they want to survive.
I hope the Miami Heat send the Timberwolves a championship ring. The Wolves took on Michael Beasley when Miami needed to create cap space to sign the big three. Beasley’s just never fit in real well around here. He was phenomenal at Kansas State, but that game really hasn’t translated into great success in the NBA.
It’s just best that Beasley is gone. He never really found a solid role on the Wolves. Now that he’s gone it gives Derrick Williams room to grow, if the Wolves decide to keep him around. Even if they don’t, Beasley would have been coming off the bench in Minnesota which may have created a riff. Best of luck in Phoenix, Mike.
Time’s On the Wolves Side
How quickly we forget that there was an NBA lockout last year. The season didn’t start until Christmas which resulted in nobody having a full training camp. That’s tough for a team with a new coach and a new system in which the Wolves had with Rick Adelman. Now throw in the fact that the schedule was so condensed that not a whole lot of teaching and coaching could be done mid-season.
This year is different. The Wolves will have a full camp and legitimate practice time during the season which will allow them to fully install Adelman’s system. This will also be the second year for the core group playing in the system. The time is adding up to equal playoff time in Minnesota.
David Kahn has never been afraid to make a move. Like him or not, he usually makes moves and this off-season is no different. The trade for Chase Budinger is looked upon favorably, and people are starting to see the logic behind his moves. The huge offer sheet the Wolves have given Nicolas Batum shows their commitment to win.
Even if Batum doesn’t end up a T-Wolf, it’s great to see the Wolves putting their money towards people they want. Moves to become winners instead of getting worse before getting better…it’s quite the change, but it’s a good one. It might just lead to a playoff berth.
“I want to win. All the players on the Timberwolves feel the same way, as well. The coaching staff is awesome. They want to win and win now.
Hopefully, we can make some stuff happen. I would say it's coming down to it for sure (next season). It's no secret I was willing to commit to Minnesota for five years. I'm very happy with my contract. I'd love to be in Minnesota. But like anybody else, I want to win."
Love told these comments (and more) to Yahoo! Sports. The Wolves better start winning if they want to keep Kevin Love around.