It must be hard being a Minnesota Timberwolves fan.
Last year, the Wolves were finally going to make the leap. Then, every player on the roster seemed to go down with an injury. Just 31 wins later, the season was over.
This year, Minnesota was supposed to make that same leap—except this one had a foreboding "if the team can stay healthy" asterisk stamped next to it. And it just hasn't happened.
Seven games away from the halfway marker, Minnesota is treading water in the West with a 17-17 record. This wasn't the plan, especially not after a 7-4 start. But the Wolves may actually be a better team than their wins and losses show.
Maybe, just maybe, there's a run coming in the second half of the season.
Eight teams rank in the top 13 in the NBA in both offensive and defensive rating: the Oklahoma City Thunder, Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat, Phoenix Suns, Atlanta Hawks and Minnesota.
What do all those teams have in common? They would all be in the playoffs if the season ended on Jan. 8.
Except for Minnesota.
It's been that kind of season for the Wolves—one that the overall stats say should be better than it has actually been. That makes sense when they're sitting at .500 with a depressing 0-9 record in games decided by four points or less. If the Wolves went just 4-5 in those games, things would seem dramatically different at 21-13.
Those stats project some sort of progression in the second half of the year. The Wolves won't go the whole season without winning a four-point game. Eventually, they'll win some close ones.
Some breaks have to go their way, right?
Somehow, Minnesota has managed both to improve and disappoint through 34 games. Here's a look at how each individual on the roster has progressed throughout the season, ranked from worst to best.
Note: All statistics valid as of Jan. 8.