There is a small buzz building around the metropolitan area of the Twin Cities. One team that has been vastly irrelevant in the last 7 years is now slowly becoming the talk of the town. The Minnesota Timberwolves are back on the map after making a couple of moves this offseason that have left the NBA world talking. First, the brilliant, but short lived, season of Ricky Rubio was inspiring. He seemed to be the guy everyone thought he was when he was drafted a couple of years ago. His size, on ball defense, and brilliant passing skill is comparable to few, and his basketball intelligence at such a young age really showed. Although he might be slowed by an ACL injury, he is still at a young enough age to where he can fully recover and be back in no time to help the Wolves compete in the West. Second, the Wolves made a splash this offseason by offering free agent Nicolas Batum a contract of around 4 years and 45-50 million dollars. Batum would be a great offseason pick up for the Wolves and would help them tremendously on the defensive end. Standing at 6’8 and 200 pounds, Batum has the length and athleticism to really provide a spark for the Wolves defensively. Also, he would finally replace either the often lazy Michael Beasley or the flop of a #4 pick Wes Johnson, both of which have failed to provide the Wolves with adequate play in the time they have been there. Lastly was the addition of Chase Budinger. While this move doesn’t make a huge splash, and will be frowned upon by some, I believe it was the right move. Many will point to the draft and say the Wolves could have got someone along the lines of Terrance Jones or Evan Fournier to fill the role Budinger will play, but I feel as though it was a safe play to get a proven player rather than take a chance on an unproven rookie. Also, lets be honest, the Wolves are not the greatest organization when it comes to drafting players… Budinger will add outside shooting for the Wolves and he will give Rubio another outlet when he decides to drive and kick. Not to mention if Ridnour starts, Budinger will be a great role player off the bench.
But they need a little more.
In my opinion, the Wolves are one shooting guard away from contending for the playoffs. What I am thinking is someone along the lines of a OJ Mayo, Courtney Lee, or even a veteran to help spark the team such as Tracy McGrady. Any of these players, and even some others, would provide the Wolves with much needed help on the wing. But don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying they will be anywhere near the championship next year, but I do think that if players stay healthy, the Wolves will make a good run for the playoffs next year. With a potential line up of: Rubio, Ridnour, Batum, Love, Pekovic. The Wolves have a solid starting five. Add the bench of Budinger, Barea, (shooting guard), Derrick Williams and Wes Johnson, the Wolves could really become a deep and powerful team. While they still need help in the front court, and they still need a better shooting guard than Luke, I still believe that that is a good enough roster to make a top eight spot in the West. Promising outlook from a very young team.
Be afraid NBA, be very afraid.