The Minnesota Timberwolves have been building something special the last few years. They have all of the ingredients to become the next great team: young talented players, savvy veterans, and an insanely dedicated coach. But just how special is this group? How far can they go this postseason?
We can immediately assume that they’re not going to be as good as the Golden State Warriors, at least not any time soon. It’s just simply not possible for a team to be as good as the Warriors right now. All anybody can do right now is prepare for the end of the Warriors reign, and try to win a championship after-the-fact. The Warriors have been historically dominant for the last three seasons and they seem to constantly get better with every offseason. The Timberwolves will need to make tremendous strides before getting close to the Warriors level.
They won’t be as good as the Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder, or the San Antonio Spurs either. These are the elite teams of the Western Conference, proving themselves year after year. We should expect to see these guys in the Western Conference Finals, and maybe even the NBA Finals if they’re lucky. Top notch both offensively and defensively, these teams will most likely best the Timberwolves in the playoffs. But as the Timberwolves young players take their knocks and develop into the stars that they are meant to be, this team could look to be one of the elites of the West.
The next level of the hierarchy consists of teams that will have to work hard to make the playoffs, unfortunately without much hope of making the Finals. This is tier the Timberwolves will belong to this season. Other teams in this tier are the Utah Jazz and the Los Angeles Clippers. Both were very good teams last season, but they have both lost their top player to free agency without adequate replacements. The Clippers lost Chris Paul to the Rockets, and the Jazz lost Gordon Hayward to the Celtics. Both the Jazz and Clippers will take a hit this season in the win column, maybe allowing the Timberwolves to sneak past them in the standings. The Timberwolves don’t have much of a chance to make the finals this year simply because of youth, with many of their key players still a few years away from their prime form.
The Memphis Grizzlies, Portland Trail Blazers and New Orleans Pelicans will have a very difficult time making it to the postseason in the Western Conference. They would all easily qualify for the playoffs in the Eastern Conference, but the West is dense with talented teams. They’ll be hard-pressed to string together consistent wins. The Grizzlies seem like their best years are behind them, the Trail Blazers just don’t have the depth to win, and the Pelicans don’t have enough shooting or any quality wing players on their roster. They also failed to make improvements this offseason, further hurting their playoff chances. With the Timberwolves improved roster, these teams should be easily surpassed.
The Los Angeles Lakers and the Denver Nuggets are both intriguing, young teams on the rise. It’s hard to know what to expect when any of their young players could blossom into franchise stars at any time, but it seems unlikely that they will make the playoffs this year. Their players aren’t quite ready yet, but their time will come. They will be difficult opponents down the line, but they most likely will not be a huge threat come the postseason. The Timberwolves are just a few steps ahead.
The Minnesota Timberwolves will probably not win a championship this year, but no longer will they be one of the whipping boys of the West. They should be a legitimate playoff team this year that other teams will not be able to take for granted, becoming an even greater threat as the years go by.
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