We’ll take a look at all 30 teams in the next 30 days as they prepare for the 2017-2018 regular season, which is when the real fireworks begin! Today's team: The Minnesota Timberwolves.
The days of being young, on-the-rise Timberpups seem to be giving way to a more experienced, battle-tested group that should be good enough to get the Minnesota Timberwolves in the playoffs this season after more than a decade.
“We knew going into the offseason we had a lot of holes to fill,” Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau, told CSNNE.com. “We were pleased with our young players have developed. We wanted to surround them with the right kind of players.”
Thibodeau, who doubles as the team’s president of basketball operations, made one of the biggest offseason splashes in trading for one of his former players in Chicago, Jimmy Butler.
Not only did Minnesota add one of the best two-way players in the NBA, but a bona fide leader for a team that’s long on talent but painfully shallow when it comes to experience in this league.
“He’s just entering his prime,” Thibodeau said of Butler. “He’s a complete player, plays both sides of the ball. And his veteran leadership … he’s already gone through a lot of the things Karl [Anthony-Towns] and Andrew [Wiggins] are just starting to go through. That’ll be very beneficial to those two guys.”
Indeed, Towns and Wiggins showed great promise last season.
But the lack of experience Thibodeau spoke of really stood out at the absolute worst time – the fourth quarter - in a lot of games.
Of those 14 teams that didn't make the NBA playoffs last season, only Charlotte (14) and Philadelphia (14) blew more leads going into the fourth quarter of games, than Minnesota (12).
“We definitely have to do a better job of finishing games, for sure,” said Thibodeau, a former Celtics assistant coach. “I think having more guys who have been in those situations, found success in those situations, is really going to help us, hopefully, get over the hump this season.”
In addition to Butler, the Timberwolves added point guard Jeff Teague and one of the game’s all-time great sixth men in Jamal Crawford.
It all adds up to a Timberwolves team that’s growing up before our eyes, a team that’s poised to end a 13-year playoff drought.
Key free agent/draft/trade additions: Jimmy Butler (Chicago); Jeff Teague (Indiana); Jamal Crawford (Atlanta); Taj Gibson (Oklahoma City).
Key losses: Ricky Rubio (Utah); Zach LaVine (Chicago); Kris Dunn (Chicago).
Rookies of note: Justin Patton.
Expectations: 50-32 (2nd in the Northwest Division, fifth in the West).