Since the Minnesota Timberwolves made it to the Western Conference Finals in 2004, they have had very little to be excited about it. They have not made it to the playoffs since then and have not had a winning season since the 2004-2005 season when they went 44-38.
After trading their long-time franchise player Kevin Garnett after the 2007-2008 season to the Boston Celtics, their hope was that Al Jefferson would help bring them back to respectability. That did not happen. They later looked like they were on their way to a bright future with Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio, but injuries to both players and others played a role in them not being a playoff team. Love got frustrated and forced his way out after the 2013-2014 season. He was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Wolves received no. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins. Wiggins was named Rookie of the Year and is continuing to blossom in year two.
The Wolves finished 16-66 last season, which led them to winning the lottery for the first time in franchise history. Karl-Anthony Towns was the pick and is looking like the real deal. In 13 games, he is averaging 16 points (2nd among rookies) and 10.4 rebounds per game (1st). He is also averaging 2.4 blocks per game (1st). Wiggins is averaging 21.5 points per game.
Both Wiggins and Towns will be counted on the most to help turn their long-suffering franchise around, but they also have other solid pieces on the roster in Rubio, Zach Lavine and Shabazz Muhammad. Rubio has been injury-prone since enter the league in 2011, but makes the team better whenever he is on the floor.
Former head coach and team president Flip Saunders unfortunately passed away last month from Hodgkin’s lymphoma, but he will always get credit for putting this young nucleus together.
This team is not expected to make it to the playoffs this season, but if they can keep Wiggins and Towns together for the long-haul, they should make many playoff appearances and maybe even a trip to the NBA Finals someday. For the moment, fans are enjoying watching this young team and excited to see how far they can go down the road.
Spark Sports NBA Analyst