This is not exactly scientific, but when you look around Target Center and maybe three of 100 spectators are wearing anything to indicate an appreciation for the team or an individual player, it shows the immense brand building that remains for the Timberwolves in this extra-competitive sports market.
The replica jersey or uniform top has become the apparel of choice for fans watching the Vikings in the Metrodome, the Wild at Xcel Energy Center and, now more than ever, the Twins in Target Field.
This show of affection is accompanied by what are mostly expensive tickets to watch these well-supported home teams.
On Tuesday night, the Timberwolves played the last of two exhibitions at Target Center against Indiana. There was a souvenir jersey visible in the front row. Unfortunately, it was replica of Adrian Peterson's No. 28 with the Vikings.
This is not exactly scientific, but when you look around the arena and maybe three of 100 spectators are wearing anything to indicate an appreciation for the team or an individual player, it shows the immense brand building that remains for the Timberwolves in this extra-competitive sports market.
Owner Glen Taylor has allowed basketball president David Kahn to engage in back-to-back roster redos. The first led to 15 victories and created an atmosphere inside Target Center that was stultifying.
There was a season-ticket base of 5,000 in 2009-10 and the Wolves expected to lose 10 to 12 percent of that, as had been the case in recent years.
So, Taylor also approved a slash in prices for a season-ticket campaign over the final six weeks of last season. This was followed by other opportunities to buy season tickets (full and partials) at low prices.
Chris Wright, the president of business operations, said on Tuesday that the Wolves have pushed the base for this season to an equivalent of 7,000 full season tickets.
"The season-ticket revenues will be flat, because of our discounts, but the extra 2,200 fans it will put in our arena is going to make for a much better atmosphere,'' Wright said. "And with a more exciting team, those 2,200 can become our best salespeople.
"We had to get more people invested in us. And, if this team continues to play like it has in the preseason, those extra fans will help us ramp up interest in the Timberwolves."
Wright said there were 10,000 tickets "out'' for Tuesday's game. "That's a number we haven't hit in the preseason in years,'' he said.
It's a certainty the hoops will be more interesting, for this reason alone: There's nothing harder to watch than a basketball team that can't shoot.
Kahn's first team was so brutal in this area that coach Kurt Rambis had to force Corey Brewer into being a jump shooter. There were so many wing players brought to town that Brewer now finds himself in a situation where he will be fighting for minutes -- if he's not traded before the opener.
Michael Beasley is a scorer. Martell Webster and rookie Wesley Johnson are jump shooters. Wayne Ellington was a clutch shooter at North Carolina and should be able to put that 42.4 percent as a rookie behind him.
The Wolves also had making shots in mind when they replaced Ramon Sessions as the backup point guard with Luke Ridnour. Sessions was 1-for-15 on three-pointers last season. Ridnour was 69-for-181 on threes with Milwaukee.
Ridnour has the starting duty until Jonny Flynn returns next month from hip surgery. Sebastian Telfair, a throwback to the Wolves in a trade with Cleveland, will open the season as the No. 2 point guard.
As limited as the Wolves were with shot-makers, the most miserable part of that miserable team was its miserable defense.
There was a conversation with Kahn, late in the season, in which a reporter declared: "This is the worst defensive team in the history of professional sports.''
Kahn thought that might be a stretch, but confessed to horrible defense. His response was to trade Al Jefferson, well-established as a lousy inside defender, and to retain Kevin Love, in the hope he can get better.
The Wolves now have 7-footers Darko Milicic and Kosta Koufos and 6-11 Nikola Pekovic to play in the middle. Forget points. All that size and thickness has to cut the layups allowed in half.
The Wolves have some shooters. They have some inside defenders that might reject a shot. They have to get to 25, 30 victories.
Patrick Reusse can be heard noon-4 weekdays on 1500ESPN. • firstname.lastname@example.org