After nine seasons of playoff futility, the Minnesota Timberwolves believe that this is their year. With the deepest roster they have had in years, the expectation is for them to end the longest active playoff drought in the NBA.
The whole core of the team is fully healthy, and the addition of some other key pieces has fans excited for what is to be a very fun team to watch throughout the year.
Kevin Love is fully recovered from breaking his hand twice last season, once during the preseason and once during a game in mid-January. Love was limited to only eighteen games last season averaging over eighteen points and fourteen rebounds a game. The Wolves missed his presence immensely in the paint as well as from three-point land. He is widely regarded as one of the best rebounders in the NBA along with being a power forward who can step out and make threes on a consistent basis.
Ricky Rubio is on track for a breakout season. After tearing his ACL in January of 2012, Rubio came back last year with a vengeance. The Spaniard averaged nearly eleven points, four rebounds, seven assists, and two steals a game in 57 games. Known for his flashy passes; Ricky took a step forward last season contributing more on the offensive of the ball. Perhaps his only downfall last season was his shooting percentage and his ability to make threes. Rubio has worked on both in the offseason and is primed to take the role of floor general for the Timberwolves.
Big man Nikola Pekovic has had some issues staying healthy, but when healthy he and Kevin Love are one of the best frontcourt duos in the NBA. He averaged about sixteen points and nine rebounds a game last season. Nikola set career highs in points and rebounds last season without Kevin Love in the lineup in a good chunk of those games, but he should be to able to come close to those numbers with Love back in the rotation.
Minnesota added quite a few new faces in the offseason while losing some other key pieces. Gone are Luke Ridnour, Andrei Kirilenko, Brandon Roy, and Greg Stiemsma. Ridnour signed with the Milwaukee Bucks after three years with the Wolves. Kirilenko went to the Brooklyn Nets after only one season in Minnesota. Brandon Roy has had a history of knee issues and decided to retire after a failed comeback attempt last season. Stiemsma signed with the New Orleans Pelicans in the offseason after one season in Minneapolis.
Some of the new faces include Kevin Martin, Corey Brewer, Ronny Turiaf, Shabazz Muhammad, Gorgui Dieng, Robbie Hummel, and A.J. Price. Martin was probably the most notable addition to the team. He is reunited with coach Rick Adelman for a third time. Adelman coached when they were both with the Sacramento Kings and Houston Rockets. Kevin gives Minnesota a three-point specialist the Wolves haven’t had in years as well as being an excellent free throw shooter. Corey Brewer returns for his second stint with the Wolves. Brewer was drafted by Minnesota as the seventh overall pick of the 2007 NBA draft, and brings a defensive guard presence that has plagued the Wolves in recent. He won a title with Dallas in 2011, so he will help bringing a winning atmosphere to Minnesota. Turiaf came over from the Los Angeles Clippers to be the backup center to Nikola Pekovic. He is known as a high-energy guy off the bench who can contribute on both sides of the ball. Minnesota added Muhammad and Dieng in the 2013 draft. Shabazz and Gorgui were acquired in a draft night trade with the Utah Jazz out of UCLA and Louisville respectively. Robbie Hummel was drafted in the second round of the 2012 draft out of Purdue. He spent a year playing overseas and made the roster out of training camp this year. A.J. Price was signed as a free agent after spending the last four seasons with the Indiana Pacers and the Washington Wizards.
Minnesota has a very exciting future with the core of Love, Rubio, and Pekovic along with incumbents Derrick Williams, J.J. Barea, and Dante Cunningham among others. Combine those players with the new faces on the team and you have the makings of an exciting and talented team to watch who will definitely be in the mix for a playoff spot in the loaded Western conference.