If you're a Minnesota Timberwolves fan, you've put up with a lot these last seven years. During this time Minnesota has lost Kevin Garnett, watched five different coaches come and go and carried on the longest playoff drought in the NBA.
Now the team is coming off of a 17-win season to top it all off.
Despite all of this, the future looks bright for the young wolves. Here are eight reasons to now have hope for the future of the Minnesota Timberwolves.
It is almost certain that Kurt Rambis is not going to be the coach for the Timberwolves in 2011-2012. Sources say that David Kahn intends to fire him, and he is already looking for new candidates.
Speculation as to who will replace Rambis is wide spread. A few of the names that have been mentioned are University of Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar, former Toronto Rapters coach Sam Mitchell, former Indiana University coach Kelvin Samson and the most unlikely candidate, current Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski.
Whoever the coach ends up being, I'm sure he can do better than 32-132 over two seasons.
Michael Beasley ended the season averaging 19 PPG, and that was after he dealt with ankle injuries. He started the season red hot averaging 23 PPG from November to December and finished the season back in the same rhythm.
Beasley may have to compete for minutes in the new Timberwolves lineup, but if he stays healthy, he will be one of the best scorers in the NBA.
Anthony Randolph is a guy who never seems to get enough attention. He had trouble finding a role as a rookie in Golden State, got placed at the end of the bench in New York and is in a rotation of what seems to be a million forwards at Minnesota.
This season, the Timberwolves will find minutes for Randolph, even if that means putting him at center. Speculation says that he has already put on 10 pounds this offseason and is poised to contest Darko for the starting spot.
When he is given the chance, Randolph really shines. In the first two games he replaced the injured Kevin Love last season, Randolph averaged 27.5 PPG and 13 RPG. Not too shabby.
While I doubt he will be able to get 53 straight double-doubles like he did last year, Kevin Love remains one of the hardest working rebounders in the game.
Say what you want about his athleticism, natural ability, etc., Love is the blue collar player that a talented, inexperienced team needs.
Last year he was Minnesota's spark of hope becoming the first All-Star for the Timberwolves since Kevin Garnett. This year he will be the glue that holds together this powerful young offense.
If you watched the NBA Finals, you should have realized that the Mavericks beat the Heat with their team depth. Every player played a part throughout the postseason (including Peja Stojakovic, nailing threes against the Lakers).
Despite how great Dirk is, he needed the support of his teammates and bench to win it all.
Next year's Minnesota Timberwolves will have the depth to rival those Mavericks, just not the experience yet. They are a solid two-deep at every position, with maybe four-deep at the point. Here's a look at the possible first unit and second unit for 2012.
PG Ricky Rubio, Luke Ridnour
SG Wesley Johnson, Martell Webster
SF Michael Beasley, Derrick Williams
PF Kevin Love, Anthony Randolph
C Darko Milicic, Brad Miller
The second unit actually has more experience than the first and could probably switch places pretty easily. This many quality role players will help Minnesota win a lot more than they have recently.
Some people do not think Rubio will be a good NBA player because of low stats in the Spanish league.
What most of them don't realize is that the Spanish league is not the NBA. Rubio only played about 20 minutes a game overseas.
During that limited role, he managed to lead the league in assists, be second in steals and win the defensive player of the year award. Oh yeah, that was all in the same year, when he was 19.
Derrick Williams will be a great NBA player, I am sure of that. He may have to start out behind Michael Beasley to do it. While coming off the bench is not ideal for immediate impact, it may be the best option for his development.
Unless a trade happens, Williams will have to compete with Michael Beasley for minutes. This will mean that the Timberwolves have two dynamic scorers both competing to be the best player.
From what we've seen of Williams so far, he has a knack for self improvement. He brought himself up in nearly every statistical category from his freshman to his sophomore year at Arizona.
Williams is the highest draft pick the Timberwolves have ever had, and he will bring excitement and wins to Minnesota next season.
Anthony Randolph as a Warrior
Possibly the main reason the T-Wolves have been so bad lately is the lack of defense. Minnesota was actually 10th in the league in scoring last year with 101.07 PPG. Unfortunately they were first in the league in opposing scoring allowing 107.71 PPG.
Kurt Rambis was brought in because he was thought to be a defensive minded coach, but I guess that wasn't so. Michael Beasley will continue to be an offense-first player, and Kevin Love will probably never be a great shot-blocker.
So why do I say defense will give us hope? Because of Minnesota's fresh faces. Ricky Rubio was actually defensive player of the year in 2009 for the Spanish league and was second that year in steals per game.
Derrick Williams will also provide some defensive help, but his will be closer to the paint. Many believe that defense is an area Williams needs to improve on, including me. Luckily for the T-Wolves, he most likely will improve a lot.
Williams was a good rebounder in college, and his 7'1.5" wingspan will help him defend almost anyone in the paint. He is constantly improving himself and last year took his vertical from 32 inches to 38 inches while dropping four percent body fat.
Anthony Randolph has apparently gained 10 pounds this offseason, and if so, he would be a huge defensive presence. Randolph could be put anywhere from small forward to center and is always a threat to block shots. Any guy who can block eight shots in one game needs to be taken seriously.