Oct 242010

The Minnesota Timberwolves are about to begin their 22nd season of NBA basketball. That’s 22 years with a single Western Conference Finals appearance to show for countless draft picks, trades, signings and coaches. Will this season be any different? The Wolves likely won’t win the West, but should have a goal of making the playoffs if this season is to be anything more than another complete failure.

The Wolves are putting a playoff caliber starting lineup on the floor as is evident by the following projected starters. The point guard is Luke Ridnour. At 29 the oldest player on the team by 3 years Luke has the task of distributing the ball. Fortunately for him he has a couple of starting forwards by the names of Kevin Love and Michael Beasley to get the ball inside to. Love is coming off a summer spent playing for Coach Krzyzewski of the NCAA champion Duke Blue Devils and was impressive in limited minutes helping Team USA win the gold. Beasley meanwhile might just play like a guy who has a chip on his shoulder after being cast aside in Miami to make room for Chris Bosh and LeBron James. Both Love and Beasley looked serious in preseason. At shooting guard will be the Wolves fourth pick in the 2010 draft from Syracuse Wesley Johnson. Johnson played forward in college and hopefully makes the transition to playing shooting guard in the NBA without forgetting how to rebound. Finally at center will be another former #2 pick (along with Beasley) Darko Milicic. This lineup should easily fill the gap in the stat sheet left by the departure of Al Jefferson, who along with Ryan Gomes being traded, leaves the Wolves with none of the Celtics players that arrived via the Big Trade with Boston. This is debatable though as Sebastian Telfair has recently found his way back to Minnesota.

Bench play wins or loses games in the NBA. Corey Brewer needs to the be the man off the bench. Improving right before our eyes during his NBA career, especially at the end of last season, Brewer need to be Mr. Consistent this season if the Wolves are to succeed. Also the addition of Martell Webster aka The Definition is huge. At 23 and already with four NBA seasons under his belt this could be make or break time for his young career. He is in the right place. Kosta Koufos adds another 7 footer off the bench and Anthony Tolliver should contribute as well. Point guard Jonny Flynn will begin the season on the injury list, but will be expected to log quality minutes upon his return.

Returning at coach is Kurt Rambis who has the Wolves playing the triangle, the same offense that has won the Los Angeles Lakers the last 2 NBA titles. It will be up to him to keep this young team focused on their path to the playoffs but it should help that, unlike the previous guy Kevin McHale, it appears Rambis does want to be a coach in the NBA. This preseason has been impressive, now Rambis needs to roll that 6 and 2 preseason into the next 82 games and earn a playoff berth.

22 seasons later and the Wolves are with a team featuring 2 number 2 picks. The Wolves have never had picks higher than Christian Laettner and O.J. Mayo as number 3’s. Neither of them won the Wolves a title. In fact, Mayo never even played a minute for the Wolves. But 22 wins isn’t going to make the playoffs in the competitive Western Conference. The Wolves need to set their sights higher, much higher. 22 wins higher at least. Unfortunately 44 wins and 38 losses would not guarantee a playoff slot in the West; Oklahoma City had 50 wins last season and that was only good for the eighth playoff seed. The future of the Wolves begins this season with establishing themselves as a playoff team. Will the greatest accomplishment president of basketball operations David Kahn ever achieve being making the Minnesota Timberwolves a contender? It could be. HOWL!

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