If you’re a Wolves fan, you’ve heard this before. They are on the right track. On the way up. About to be contenders again. Until this year, all of that has been nonsense. Now, it’s for real.
NBA franchises that are successful all have something in common. They have great front office personnel and good coaching, period. Stability in the front office trickles all the way down to the active twelve man roster. Don’t buy that? Take a look at the Playoff teams from the past decade.
Flip Saunders is the reason Timberwolves fans can take a collective sigh of relief. After a decade of frustration, and some would say two decades before that, they finally have the leader the franchise needs to move forward in a very tough Western Conference.
Winning the NBA Draft lottery is awesome. For Wolves Nation, they were hesitant, and rightfully so. Up until the moment Commissioner Silver read Karl-Anthony Towns name, they feared the dreaded surprise no-name selection. I know I was holding my breath. No worries. Flip is at the helm, and he took the right guy.
Instead of taking a shot in the dark, a blind home run swing, the Wolves drafted the most versatile, NBA ready player in the draft. Coming from what is essentially the NBA’s minor league team, Kentucky, he will be ready to contribute big numbers right away. Later in the first round, Flip then parlayed two second-round picks into drafting Apple Valley’s own, and recent National Champion with Duke, Tyus Jones.
Towns is a game changing player. If Flip helped make Kevin Garnett into an NBA Hall of Fame player, think of what he can do with this kid. He is by all accounts light years ahead of where KG was when entering the league. He can shoot from the perimeter, post up, rebound, and we all know he can block shots and protect the rim on defense, something Minnesota has sorely needed.
Jones can help put a bit of pressure on Wolves point guard Ricky Rubio to perform. In his fifth season, Rubio needs to put up better shooting numbers if he is going to take the next step in his development. Jones is a proven winner. I can’t think of a commodity the Wolves would want more.
Wolves also have second year standout Zach LaVine on one wing and Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins on the other. Wiggins potential is unlimited. We all know that. Maple Jordan, Canada’s Finest Import. This is a guy who can change an entire franchise around almost overnight; A once a generation kind of talent. He will undoubtedly keep developing, and rapidly. Being an All-Star this season is not out of the question at all. He is that talented. It’s a lofty comparison, but his abilities, swagger, and attitude remind me of a teenage Kobe Bryant. You can see glimpses of greatness, and once he gets it, watch out. With Flip coaching and mentoring he should explode in his second year.
LaVine has proven to be an athletic freak. With more talent around him, he can focus on getting to the rim and shooting free throws. Few two guards in this league can keep up with his first step. Few guards in general can, in fact.
Flip also brought back veteran Kevin Garnett. The franchise’s all time leader in every category. Although his on court contributions will likely be minimal, his mentoring and knowledge will be invaluable. He is almost like a player-coach on the bench. He will be able to help guide this team of young talent into a cohesive, winning unit. He will instill in them the attitude it takes to win at this level. The NBA Playoffs are not an easily attainable goal, especially in the highly competitive Western Conference. KG can help them navigate their way through the inevitable ups-and-downs of an NBA season.
If there has ever been a real reason for optimism in Minnesota, now is the time. They have the talent necessary to compete now. They have competence in the front office and on behind the bench. Can they get to 50 wins this season, which will likely be necessary to even make the Playoffs? Maybe. But even if they fall short this season, winning basketball is not far off in downtown Minneapolis. It’s finally a great time again to be a Minnesota Timberwolves fan.
Josh is an experienced sports writer, with over 3,000 published articles for Bleacher Report under his belt. We at Studiiyo23 are proud to have him as part of our sports coverage team. Josh will be bringing us updates and insider information on all your favorite Minnesota sports teams and more! Follow him on twitter here! -Josh Moeschl
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