We’re currently in a phase where the orange round-ball league’s rich are getting richer. As the start of the 2017-18 NBA season looms ever closer, let’s deflect some of the talks about NBA super teams and instead focus on a Western Conference franchise truly on the rise.
The Minnesota Timberwolves aren’t a super team just yet, but they certainly did some dirty work this offseason which will allow them to compete and contend in the NBA’s rough and rugged West. With Karl-Anthony Towns (who’s so awesome that he needs two first names) and Andrew Wiggins already on this young and extremely talented roster, why not make some room for a pure scorer. That’s exactly what the Timberwolves did with the addition of former Chicago Bull, Jimmy Butler. Can we officially “knight” them as a Big 3? Not yet. But these three studs can certainly become just that on their path to the 2017-18 NBA Playoffs.
Towns’ 7’0” and 244-pound frame make him a man-child at the ripe young age of 21 – after being picked No. 1 overall in the 2015 NBA draft, he subsequently went on to be the 2015-16 NBA Rookie of the Year. Now, he’s already a double-double machine (and I’m not talking 20 and 10 per night). In his second season in the league this past year, Towns simply dominated with 25.1 points per game and 12.3 rebounds per game. . . Perhaps the biggest All-Star snub we’ve seen in a very long time — Ludacris!
Shelter all men, women and children to escape this vicious slam.
Wiggins, listed at 6’8” and a meager 199-pounds surprisingly doesn’t lack strength on the floor. We have a theme going here – Andrew was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft as well as touting 2014-15 NBA Rookie of the Year Honors himself. This young buck (Wolf) is just 22-years-old. Like Towns, Andrew didn’t play like a youngster last season while averaging 23.6 ppg, 4.0 rpg and 2.3 apg. The 1-2 punch that Towns and Wiggins provide (barely in their twenties) for Minnesota can’t be matched by any other team in the league. . . Period.
Showing his entire arsenal with a scoring festival at Target Center against the Cavs.
What about Mr. Butler? Selected No. 30 overall in the 2011 NBA draft, nobody anticipated that the 6’7” and 231-pound slasher out of Marquette would become a perennial three-time All-Star (2015-17). Jimmy boasted big numbers last season as well, averaging 23.9 ppg, 6.2 rpg and 5.5 apg. And this 27-year-old young pup can get it done at the end of games on the offensive end of the floor. Additionally, he’s an elite wing defender – a three-time NBA All-Defensive Second Team player (2014-16). So, now you can see how these three ballers could easily form their own Big 3 in the Twin Cities.
Bringing the noise and the funk on the road in the playoffs — TD Garden in Boston.
Don’t let the Wolves’ dreadful 31-51 record last season fool you – with Tom Thibodeau now at the helm in Minnesota, look for a defensive-minded squad to scratch and claw their way into the Western Conference playoff picture. Don’t get me wrong, the West is loaded with both good and great teams, but it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility for Minnesota to snatch either the No. 6, 7 or 8-seed in the Western Conference when the NBA Playoffs roll around in the Spring of 2017-18.
Other key players on this mysteriously loaded roster include sharpshooter Jamal Crawford, Jeff Teague, Brandon Rush, Tyus Jones and Taj Gibson. Crawford can shoot the lights out on any given night, Teague is magnificent in the open court with the orange in his hands, Rush has a high ceiling, Jones is a versatile scorer and ball handler and Gibson can flat out get it done around the rim. Taj and Towns combine for a frightening frontcourt, and Butler gives the Wolves a go-to, crunch time scorer. Let’s not forget that Coach Thibs has had the privilege of coaching both Gibson and Butler during his tenure in Chicago – the chemistry between these three will certainly help Minnesota’s cause.
Not only do they have the right ingredients on the floor to make this a reality, they now have a new logo that could help with a little mojo.
Here’s a reminder of a changed logo and ultimate success – the Denver Broncos switched-up their logo prior to the 1997-98 NFL season. Consequently, they went on to win back-to-back Super Bowls with John Elway, Terrell Davis & Co.
Could the Timberwolves do the same thing 20-years-later in the NBA? Not likely with the teams ahead of them in the stacked West – but you can’t blame me for trying. Look for Minnesota to turn heads a few months down the road when a new NBA season tips-off.