With the Northwest Division part of my NBA 2009 Season Prediction Series coming to a close, I end this chapter with the Minnesota Timberwolves. First, a brief history of the team.
The Minnesota Timberwolves entered the league in 1989 as one of the NBA's four expansion teams, along with the Orlando Magic, Miami Heat, and Charlotte Hornets. The Timberwolves haven't won any Conference or NBA Titles, but have won their division once, in 2004.
In the offseason following the 2006-07 season, the Timberwolves sent their lone franchise player, Kevin Garnett, to the Boston Celtics for five players. These included: injury prone center Theo Ratliff, upcoming power forward Al Jefferson, flashy youngsters Rashad McCants and Gerald Green, and point guard Sebastian Telfair.
Since the trade, Ratliff and Green are no longer on the team.
The franchise is currently in a rebuilding stage, looking to advance out of the bottom half of the Northwest Division. The previous two drafts for Minnesota have been considered successful.
In the 2007 Draft the T-Wolves selected Corey Brewer and Chris Richard from the NCAA Champion Florida Gators. In the 2008 Draft they selected UCLA freshman PF Kevin Love.
Here is my projected starting lineup for the 2008-09 Minnesota Timberwolves:
PG: Randy Foye
Note: With Garnett gone, Foye is in place to become the Timberwolves' franchise player alongside Al Jefferson. With time and patience, he can become the NBA's next huge point guard.
SG: Rashad McCants
Note: Not exactly the best shooting guard in the league, but that's what everyone said about Martell Webster, and he's progressing nicely.
SF: Mike Miller
Note: One of the few veterans on this very young team. He provides stability to this shaky roster.
PF: Al Jefferson
Note: Even though he played mostly center last year, Jefferson could not compete with Jarron Collins of Utah or Greg Oden of Portland. Jefferson is like a duplicate of Zach Randolph.
He may be the go-to-guy in the post at the moment for Minnesota, but Minnesota can definitely find someone better for the long haul.
Also, if you are wondering why I didn't put Kevin Love in here, it's because he is not fast enough to compete with the veteran big men of the NBA.
C. Jason Collins
Note: The only true center on this team. It will be very interesting watching double doses of Stanford brother vs. brother games, with the Collins brothers playing in the same division, and the Lopez brothers with New Jersey and Phoenix.
Here is my projected second team:
PG: Sebastian Telfair
Note: Never going to be anything but a backup point guard. All his talent and potential died in Portland when bad coaching staffs couldn't make players better.
SG: Kirk Snyder
SF: Corey Brewer
Note: Currently injured, this is why I put him on the second team. In a couple of years he will be starting.
PF: Kevin Love
Note: Kevin Love should have stayed at UCLA longer. He was good in college, but that success made him think way too highly of himself, and propelled him into the draft. I cannot wait for him to be a bust.
C: Michael Doleac
Note: Another of the few veterans on the team.
So now that we've looked at the roster, and I've made my projected starting lineups, I can get to the prediction section of my article. For the most part, I believe the Timberwolves are well on their way to finish rebuilding their franchise.
I believe that it would have been better for the team to not have traded OJ Mayo because of the lack of point guards on the team, but it is what it is. I still think the front office has more work to do before the team can really start taking shape.
For this season I predict that the Timberwolves will do slightly better than last year, but this team is not quite ready to be a playoff contender this year.