Fans of the Minnesota Timberwolves probably haven't thought much about the playoffs since Kevin Garnett was on the team. But the 2012 version has little in common with the struggling teams of the past.
They have the best power forward in the NBA in Kevin Love. They have a rising superstar at point guard in Ricky Rubio, who may be among the best passers in the league already. Derrick Williams had a promising rookie season after being selected as the second overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft.
And perhaps the most intriguing storyline is the return of Brandon Roy, who retired from the Portland Trailblazers after his career was derailed by injuries.
Despite the regular season being more than a week away, things aren't off to a swell start. The Timberwolves announced that Love suffered a hand injury earlier this week and would miss 6-8 weeks.
And Rubio, who was injured last season, may not be back until early January, according to an interview with USA Today.
Even with two of their stars out of the lineup to begin the season, the Timberwolves are a contender in the West. Here are five reasons why they'll find themselves playing playoff basketball.