Few teams this coming season will be more intriguing than the Minnesota Timberwolves. After a phenomenal rookie season from Karl-Anthony Towns and the hiring of Tom Thibodeau as head coach, they’re looking like they could be the next Oklahoma City Thunder — a small-market team with once-in-a-generation talent in Towns and Andrew Wiggins, and a smartly drafted core including Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and Gorgui Dieng. When they’ll make the playoffs is an open question, but Wiggins tells Sports Illustrated‘s Omari Sankofa that he thinks it could happen this year.
I think we’re going to have a way better season than we had this year. We just had a lot going on. We’ve got some new pieces. I think last year we could’ve beat any team on any given day. This year we need to be more consistent with it. We can make the playoffs. Nothing is easy, we gotta work and our coach is going to make us work.
It’s not going to be easy for the Timberwolves to break into the playoff picture, but it’s possible. The Warriors (obviously), Spurs and Clippers are locks, with the Blazers and Grizzlies in position to keep their spots. Now that Russell Westbrook is staying in town, the Thunder have a good shot, and the Rockets will be a factor if their new signees Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon stay healthy. The Jazz are a popular pick to make a leap into the postseason, and they got a lot better in the offseason. The Mavericks could still sneak in, as they usually do. But this Timberwolves group is promising, and Thibodeau knows how to get the most out of any group. It isn’t a given by any means, but it’s completely within the realm of possibility that the Timberwolves are back in the postseason for the first time since 2004.