When asked to name contenders for the NBA title, no one says the Timberwolves anymore. It’s been a long time since their glory days, rather that be Kevin Garnett’s first run there, or Kevin Love establishing himself as a superstar there. The Wolves have been rebuilding and missing the playoffs, having last making the playoffs 12 years ago. But their present isn’t an indicator of the future.
The Timberwolves have a young core that keeps getting younger. Their oldest player is Kevin Garnett who’s taking on more of a mentor role and is not a starter. They’ve had 2 straight Rookie of the Years, Andrew Wiggins who continues to impress and Karl Anthony Towns who averaged a double-double in his rookie year joining players such Blake Griffen, Shaquille O’Neal and more NBA greats to achieve the feat. They’ve drafted Kris Dunn who can compete for Rookie of the Year with his natural talent. Ricky Rubio is still fairly young as well and can distribute the ball. He still has tims to improve on critisized shooting ability.
The Timberwolves have also hired Tom Thibodeau to set a strong physical defensive precedent for the team. This new system could benefit the team, especially with Towns, who was drafted over Jahlil Okafor primarily for his defense. Dunn impressed in the Summer League as well, as second year player Tyus Jones won Summer League MVP. The Wolves also made the Summer League Finals before losing to the Bulls. While the Summer League means nothing, this shows that Minnesota has one of, if not the strongest young core in the league.
While I definitely don’t see the Timberwolves being a serious contender this upcoming season, I expect them to contend within 3 to 5 years, as long as they keep this young core. Towns has Garnett to mentor him at least one more year while Dunn has Rubio. If Thibodeau’s system works with this talent, they’ll become a defensive powerhouse. The Timberwolves have set themselves up to be a team to watch in the future.