Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving, and King James. That is all anyone has been talking about since the rumored deal was heard about. Now, with the deal official, let the title favorite picks begin.
Well, I am not hear to talk to you about the new look, already champion Cavaliers. No. I am here for a different, less exciting but much more interesting topic. The new look Timberwolves.
Flip Saunders was fighting for the right package in any deal that would mean he sent Kevin Love off. And he finally got it. The additions of Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett, and Thaddeus Young while also ridding themselves of Luc Richard Mbah Mah a Moute and Alexey Shved should make the Wolves better than last season.
That sounds crazy, how could a team lose Kevin Love and be better next season?
Well, losing an entitled ball hog is one way. Love was never fully committed to Minnesota, making public comments about his dissatisfaction in Minneapolis quite frequently. Love always had bigger and brighter ideas in mind, mistreating and mishandling the love that Minnesota and it’s fans game to him. Now, having players committed to the team and the mini-rebuild that the organization is about to go through, the team is ready for a new look.
Another way that they could be better this season is the new guys they are bringing in are extremely talented.
I don’t have to tell you how good Andrew Wiggins may be. But I do have to tell you that he will be as good as he can. He will live up to his lofty expectations. He will be this team’s number one option by the end of the season. He was the main pull in this trade. Not much else to say about him.
The additions of veteran Thaddeus Young and sophomore Anthony Bennett also change the mindset of this team. Young has been a great forward on the 76ers his whole career, both during their success and their failure. He has the experience and motivation to try and blaze the trail for the Wolves to get back to the playoffs. Look for Young to be a leader on this team.
Bennett has looked great this offseason, shedding weight and fixing various issues from his abysmal rookie year last season. He even looked like a new man during his summer league showing with Cleveland.
The Wolves bring in those three guys, get rid of the eyesores Alexey Shved and Luch Richard Mbah Mah A Moute, and get a new start. But, just because they get a new start, that does not mean that they won’t be any good next season. Just look at their depth chart (my prediction version).
PG: Rubio / Williams / LaVine / Barea
SG: Wiggins / Martin / Jeffers
SF: Young / Brewer / Budinger / Muhammed
PF: Dieng / Bennett
C: Pekovic / Turiaf
So, a few notes here.
-This is likely Rubio’s last season as a T-wolf if he does not make some huge leap in production. He is a free agent after this season, and I doubt the Wolves would bring him back on a massive contract if he keeps his 11-9-4 production up, especially with LaVine waiting on the wings. LaVine truly is this team’s point guard of the future, and I wouldn’t be shocked if he was getting big minutes towards the end of the season. Mo Williams is on a one year deal and is an excellent backup point guard, but nothing more.
-Wiggins is a lock to start, but it may not be at SG. Wiggins could play at small forward, moving Young to his more natural position of power forward and Dieng to the bench. Still, Wiggins was listed as a SG for the draft and has the speed and quickness to better fit Rubio at SG as well as defend opposing shooting guards.
-Again, Young will start but possibly not at SF.
– I say Dieng will start after his hugely productive end of last season, but Bennett could wow coaches in training camp. This one is a toss up.
– Having swingmen Corey Brewer and Kevin Martin coming off your bench means you are deep. I mean really deep. These guys could be dangled in trade talks, but would strongly contribute to a playoff run if that is what the Wolves shoot for.
– fun fact: 3 of the bench players have Finals rings, while zero starters do (Brewer, Turiaf, Barea).
– Pekovic is the only starter from last season who has absolutely zero competition for his job.
So, with this roster, it is obvious that they are deep with talent, however misplaced and poorly fitted the talent may be. The team is no longer Kevin Love and company, but now Andrew Wiggins and partners. This team honestly has the talent, leadership, and star power to be a playoff team.
WHAT DID HE JUST SAY? A PLAYOFF TEAM? IN THE WESTERN CONFERENCE?!
Alright, alright, chill out caps lock and listen. I am not saying this team is a 5,6, or even 7 seed. But with Memphis and Phoenix taking steps back this offseason, the 8 seed in the West us up for grabs. And I, in complete seriousness, think that this team, if they want to, can grab that spot.
It will take a lot of heart from this squad, but most of all it will take a lot of guts from the coaching staff. This team has to brush aside all the poor attention they have gotten and try their best to avoid being the “team that traded their superstar and sucks now” this season. If the coaches can convince the players to break down that barrier, there is a real chance we could see the Wolves playing in May.
It won’t be pretty, and by god it won’t be easy, but my prediction for this Wolves team? 47-35, 8 seed out West.
What do you think? Can the Wolves make the playoffs? Leave your response in the comments section or tweet at me @danZman25.