Thursday marked the fall equinox and Monday is the Timberwolves' media day … which means we're inching toward NBA season … which means it's time for me to start writing things about how I think the Wolves will be good this year … and for you to laugh at me because I'm always wrong.
Except: This year, I'm not alone. If the running joke started years ago is that my annual optimistic Wolves post is a good reminder to check your smoke alarm batteries, it should be noted that this season there are positive vibes about Minnesota coming from fans and pundits, both local and national.
Two notable projections merely mean the Wolves would be average — more on that in a minute — but one that was really eye-catching was a ranking by Yahoo.com of the 30 NBA rosters when it comes to "depth and continuity."
This list should not be mistaken for a pure power ranking. Instead, as the piece says, "rather than rank teams by overall talent — an exercise you can read everywhere a thousand times over — we opted to sort them by the balance of their rosters and the stability of their franchises."
Just a few short years ago, when Minnesota was being run by noted point guard collector David Kahn, the notions of roster balance and franchise stability were laughable.
But now? The mix of young and old, bigs and smalls, role players and stars … well, it's enough for Yahoo to rank the Timberwolves fifth in the NBA when it comes to their roster and stability.
If you're in the market for a more traditional look, ESPN's Marc Stein has the Timberwolves No. 16 in his preseason power poll released Friday. Writes Stein:
"The season begins with only three West teams you'd confidently classify as 50-win material, which is the lowest number we can remember for ages. The flip side: Portland, Utah and these Wolves have pundits everywhere gushing about how big a jump they're about to make. New boss Tom Thibodeau will naturally try to temper expectations, but who's going to stay rational about Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins?"
Very true. The Wolves, as a reminder, were 29-53 last season. So any jump would have to be pretty large. That said, they were 15-17 in their last 32 games last season. And they jumped from 16 to 29 wins from two season ago to last year.
Las Vegas oddsmakers think the Wolves are due for a pretty significant jump. The season over-unders were released recently by the Westgate Superbook, and they set the Wolves number at a pretty robust 41.5. Maybe that sounds a little high, but it's also not crazy to think Minnesota could hit the over even at 41.5 (and relatively comfortably if things go really well).
If they did go over 41.5, that would mean the Wolves had their first winning season since 2004-05. And it might mean their first playoff season since 2003-04.
Check those smoke detector batteries, everyone.