Just how good is Jimmy Butler?
Well, really, really good, as his three All-Star Game appearances attest. But you may not have seen anything yet now that he’s entering his prime at age 28 and he has gifted future All-Stars Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins alongside him. “There’s nothing that he can’t do, and I think he’s better than he was last year,” Wolves coach and basketball boss Tom Thibodeau said. “And he was pretty darn good then.”
Will Towns and Wiggins defend?
They’d better show a newfound interest because even if their offense hums even better, the Wolves probably will rise only if their two young stars improve significantly on defense. “To me, the whole development of the Timberwolves is based around the ability of Wiggins and Towns to commit to doing the hard things with much greater consistency,” said ESPN/ABC analyst Jeff Van Gundy, fast friends with Thibodeau.
Will Teague make fans forget Rubio?
Some Wolves fans already have reminded Jeff Teague how much they loved Ricky Rubio and how much the Wolves just might regret trading him if Rubio uses his play from last season’s final two months as a launching pad. But Teague’s speed getting into the lane and his ability to finish at the rim and hit the open three felt like something of a revelation during the Wolves’ brief preseason play.
Will a better bench be good enough?
No question it will be better for many reasons — Jamal Crawford’s arrival, Gorgui Dieng’s move from starter to reserve, Nemanja Bjelica’s development and a lean Shabazz Muhammad — but can that second unit defend well enough? “We feel like we can do a little bit of both,” said second-unit point guard Tyus Jones when asked if they can stop opponents or just outscore them. “We want to buckle down and get stops, but we also want to get out and run and put up a lot of points.”
Will the Wolves finally make the playoffs?