With a revamped front office and a new roster, Minnesota looks to end a playoff drought that has lasted a decade while bringing excitement back to the Target Center.
The Timberwolves have gotten close to that the past couple of seasons, but injuries have derailed any promise that those squads had. As the team gets ready to open up the year against the Orlando Magic, it's time to look into the crystal ball and see what the upcoming season will hold for a team looking to finally get back to relevance.
The Timberwolves Will Be a Top-Five Offensive Team
Of the additions that the Timberwolves made over the offseason, most of them seemed to scream improvement on the offensive end.
New vice president of basketball operations Flip Saunders hit the free-agent market hard while signing Kevin Martin and re-signing Nikola Pekovic. Both players are expected to play a major role on the offensive end and make their teammates more effective.
There are major questions on the defensive end, but the Timberwolves will not lose games from a lack of scoring.
Ricky Rubio Will Earn His First All-Star Selection
The first two seasons of Rubio's career have been held under unusual circumstances.
In his rookie season, the NBA held a lockout that delayed the beginning of the season by roughly two months. Because of this, the league played a hastened schedule and Rubio didn't have a full training camp to adjust to his new surroundings.
Things would get worse that March as Rubio tore his ACL and missed the first couple months of the following season. Upon his return, he took a while to get back up to speed but showed plenty of promise as the year came to a conclusion.
Now, Rubio is healthy with a full offseason under his belt. The Timberwolves have also placed more offensive weapons around him so his spectacular passes don't go to waste. This, with the return of Kevin Love, will lead to a major impact for Rubio as he earns his first All-Star selection.
Derrick Williams Will Finally Have His Breakout Season
The case can be made that the first two seasons of Williams' career have been a bust. The second overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft has had a tough time fitting into Rick Adelman's system, mainly because his natural power forward position is occupied by the face of the franchise.
With Love shelved last year with a broken hand, Williams was able to get playing time and he showed flashes while averaging 17.5 points per 36 minutes.
As Love returns from his injury, the Timberwolves have asked Williams to move to small forward. He'll need to be quicker defensively and rebound like a machine to stay out of Adelman's doghouse, but he has the talent to eventually take the starting job and run with it.
Kevin Love Will Make His Way Into the MVP Conversation
Does this mean that Love will take home the greatest individual honor in the NBA? Well, that LeBron James guy in Miami might have something to say about that. But, one season after breaking his hand and lashing out against his old boss David Kahn, he has a lot to prove.
Love would like to put himself back on the map as a legitimate superstar. Two seasons ago, he was one of the key catalysts that saw the Timberwolves in the playoff race with a .500 record after 40 games, but things went downhill after Rubio tore his ACL.
One way for Love to get back in the spotlight is by unleashing a furious MVP campaign that can lead the Timberwolves to the playoffs. If the same player that averaged 26 points and 13.3 rebounds per game two seasons ago shows up, there's a good chance that will happen.
The Timberwolves Will Return to the NBA Playoffs
If Love is mentioned as a MVP candidate, the Timberwolves will get back to playing basketball in late-April and possibly early-May. This is the best team Minnesota has had since the 2004-05 season, which ended with a "disappointing" 44 wins.
Since then, the Timberwolves haven't come close to cracking .500, but this is the year where the futility ends.
They have questions on the defensive end of the floor, but the firepower on offense can be enough to carry this team on certain nights. With a quality coach like Adelman on the sidelines, the Timberwolves have all the pieces to get into one of the final spots in the Western Conference.
Chris Schad is a lifelong Timberwolves follower who has seen a plenty of losing efforts during the franchise's history. His work has also been published on Bleacher Report and Pro Football Spot. You can follow him on Twitter @crishad.
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