Ahh, the heady the days before the NBA season tips off, when unbridled optimism runs high from Los Angeles to New York and everywhere in between.
Including in Minnesota, where Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor told Chris Hine Star Tribune he expects his team to make the playoffs this season.
“I think I expect playoffs,” said Taylor, who also owns the Star Tribune. “We’re in a really tough division, but I think we really have a good team. By that I mean, what we have done is we aren’t relying on four or five players. I just think the way that we have put this team together that the first unit or second unit should go in and be very competitive with the groups that they need to compete against.”
The Timberwolves have made the playoffs once in the last 16 seasons, and most pundits have them missing out again this season.
There is talent on the Minnesota roster. Karl-Anthony Towns is an All-NBA level talent and is arguably the best offensive center in the game. Around Towns there are quality role players: D'Angelo Russell is Towns’ pick-and-roll partner and forms a solid backcourt with Ricky Rubio, while Josh Okogie and Juancho Hernangomez are the forwards. There is No. 1 pick Anthony Edwards plus Malik Beasley, Jarrett Culver, and Jake Layman on the bench. This is a deeper Minnesota team than we have seen in years.
Still, most pundits have the Timberwolves missing out on even the play-in games (myself included), mostly because their defense is expected to be dreadful and the offense is not going to make up for it. Combine that with a deep Western conference and it’s going to be a challenging season in Minnesota.
Team president Gersson Rosas has aggressively built out this — and even he said it’s not likely they are a playoff team this season. It is possible the Timberwolves stay healthy, defend better than expected, and are in the mix for a playoff spot, but it’s not likely
Unfortunately, this team does not appear to be as good as Glen Taylor expects.