'30 Teams in 30 Days' 2015-2016 NBA Season Preview: #25, Minnesota Timberwolves

By Rob Perez
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  • Odds to win the 2015-2016 NBA Championship: 250:1
  • 2014-2015 Record: 16-66 (Missed Playoffs).
    • 2015 Draft Results:
    • Key Offseason Additions: N/A
    • Key Offseason Losses: N/A
  • Projected Starting Lineup:
  • Player Salaries:
  • Season in Review:

The Good: This team is simply LOADED with young talent. With the addition of the potentially franchise-changing big man Rookie: Karl-Anthony Towns, the Minnesota Timberwolves now have the two most-recent first overall NBA draft picks. They’re raw, they’re not extremely efficient yet, nor are they a playoff contender – but, how can you not be excited about the future of this franchise if you’re a fan of a team with three guys who can do this?

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Here’s what the most athletic NBA duo (Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine) have been up to this Summer: dunking on anyone and anything that’s in their way.

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They may not win a whole lot of games this year, but, they arguably have the highest ceiling of any team in the league. In addition, all of these young guys (Ricky Rubio included) now have a fellow player/mentor combo (Kevin Garnett) to teach them everything there is to know about winning in the league. Remember: this is the NBA — everyone who wears a jersey was probably the best high school player in their state and one of the 60 best college and/or foreign players in the world the year they entered the draft … whether they admit or not: EVERY player has an ego and thinks they’re the best player on the court at all times, simply because these guys are that good.

To sum this up: there are only so many guys in the league that can demand the respect and attention of every player when they open their mouths … and KG is one of them. Whatever progress pace Wiggins, Towns, Bennett, Rubio, and LaVine are currently on – expect it to be expedited.

The Bad: Speaking of Kevin Garnett, let’s hope he lives up this high “guidance counselor” pedestal I put him on … because his 2 YR/$16.5 Million contract they have him signed to is an absolute disaster for someone who can’t play 20 minutes per game anymore.

The Ugly: There’s no hiding how bad this team’s defense is. As much praise as I give the young Wolves and their ridiculous team athleticism, it makes the fact that they allowed a league-worst 106.5 points per game and league worst 112.2 Defensive rating even more despicable. Usually, you can just blame these stats on pace – but, even then: they ranked 11th fastest in the NBA. I’m not going to sit here and break down every individual defensive statistic because, honestly, they’re meaningless in this case. Most of these guys have the God-Given ability to defend pretty much anyone in the league, however: until they come together as a unit, treat the defensive end of the court with the same passion they exert when showing off dunks to the world, and/or the system is overhauled completely — the Wolves are going to give up points in droves and lose a lot of games.

No doubt, though, Towns is going to help dramatically.

  • Baseless God Wob

Saved the best for last. All this talk about the Timberwolves’ young potential superstars and I haven’t mentioned the one (on purpose) who I think will be the best of the bunch AND my prediction to be the winner of the NBA’s 2015-2016 “Most Improved Player” Award: Adreian Payne.

Drafted fifteenth by the Atlanta Hawks in the 2014 draft. Adreian couldn’t get a whiff of play time in the ridiculously deep Hawks rotation this past season … so, he got moved to Minneapolis. Within about a month (and only a month or so left in the season), Payne got the opportunity to start at power forward as the Wolves’ starters caught the injury bug/went into full-tank mode.

One game in particular caught my eye, and it was March 9th vs. the Los Angeles Clippers.

He’s got HOPS.

And he’s got RANGE.

That most recent highlight package was his performance at the Summer League in Las Vegas this July, and for me – I had him rated as the third best player at the tournament behind San Antonio’s Jonathan Simmons and Kyle Anderson. (Side note: of course the Spurs had the two best players because they’re the Spurs…)

This hypothesis I’m stuffing down your throat is all only eye-test supported – as his advanced statistics from the 29 games he played in Minneapolis are abysmal (along with everyone else’s on the team).

Not gonna drag this on forever because there’s only a small sample size of Adreian Payne-related things to work with/show you, so, if you’re going to take away anything from this preview and/or the Wolves’ upcoming season: they have the best player who no-one talks about, and it’s not a matter of ‘if’ they’re coming …. it’s when.

  • 2015-2016 Season Projection:
    • 29-53 Record
    • 13th Place in West
    • No Playoffs
    • 2015-2016 NBA’s Most Improved Player: Adreian Payne
    • 2015-2016 NBA Rookie of the Year: Karl-Anthony Towns
  • Fan Mindset, as told by Hollywood:
    • Baby Velociraptor, Jurassic Park
  • Baseless God Wob’s 3 Divine Questions:
  • Realistically, what is Zach LaVine’s ceiling?
  • Is it fair to say that this is the year Ricky Rubio proves to us if he was worth the hype/is a bust?
  • What does Andrew Wiggins need to do to become an all-star?

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OTHER NBA SEASON PREVIEWS/PRESEASON RANKINGS:

#30: Philadelphia 76ers

#29: Portland Trail Blazers

#28: Brooklyn Nets

#27: Denver Nuggets

#26: Orlando Magic

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