I 100 percent expect to see the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 2012-13 NBA Playoffs. They have retained key pieces like Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic. They added significant players over the offseason, and Ricky Rubio looks to come back healthy this winter.
Minnesota held onto reliable guard Luke Ridnour, which will definitely pay off. Although he's not the typical superstar, Ridnour brings a sense of consistency and leadership that would have been missed had he been used as a bargaining tool.
In addition to Ridnour returning, big men Love and Pekovic will continue to deliver huge rebounding numbers for Minny.
Extending Love's contract proved a major success for Minnesota, but the All-Star forward hasn't been shy about his goals and desires for the team—and his impatience if that doesn't happen. Love made it clear that he won't wait around the Twin Cities forever in hopes of a postseason presence.
Whether taking Love's "threats" to heart or possibly being concerned about his own job security, David Kahn spent an incredibly productive offseason bringing in what he could. Granted, the Wolves don't hold much weight in attracting a top free-agent or large-market player, but snagging Brandon Roy, Chase Budinger and Andrei Kirilenko will certainly benefit the young team.
While Roy probably won't provide huge minutes, he'll immediately improve the Wolves' shooting if he can stay healthy. Roy wants to play in Minnesota, and that enthusiasm in itself will improve the roster. Kirilenko and Budinger both bring a level of experience that has been missing from the Timberwolves' lineup over the past couple seasons.
The 31-year-old Kirilenko returns to the NBA after taking a hiatus during the lockout. Fans shoudn't be discouraged by his absence, however, as he showed during the London Olympics that he still has plenty to bring to the table.
During his last season with Utah, Kirilenko averaged 12.4 points per game. His 6'9", 235-lb frame will also be a much-needed asset for the Wolves.
Buddinger comes with a familiarity with Coach Adelman's coaching style and offensive schemes, and his impressive three-point percentage will improve Minnesota's perimeter shooting.
In all reality, the Timberwolves showed potential to make the playoffs in 2011-12 before they were attacked by the injury bug. If players stay healthy this season and all the new pieces come together, there's no reason to underestimate Minnesota.