If we can define insanity as doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different outcome, it is insane to believe this is the year the Timberwolves finally get better.

That said, even the most pessimistic prognostication when it comes to the Wolves this season seems to be that they will be respectable. And in one case, there is downright optimism for big things. Here is a look at some of what we found:

Improved, but still doubting

• Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose put together power rankings for all 30 NBA teams on Grantland.com, and they pegged the Wolves at No. 17. When Simmons — an ardent Wolves critic in past seasons, though much of that was directed at the now-departed David Kahn — is at least on board with mediocre, that's the baseline.

• Las Vegas is sold on the Wolves being perfectly average. Per R.J. Bell at Pregame.com, the over-under on Wolves victories in Sin City is 41 — exactly half of 82, the number of games in a season.

Better than average

• Two major online previews — SI.com and Yahoo.com — have the Wolves No. 14 and No. 13, respectively, in their preseason power rankings. Yahoo sums it up by saying that if Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio and Nikola Pekovic stay healthy and Kevin Martin produces, the Wolves will make the playoffs for the first time in a decade.

The computer believes

• The SCHOENE projection system at ESPN.com uses a series of calculations to determine win probabilities. It has Wolves at 52 victories and a 96 percent chance of making the playoffs this season. Not only that, it gives Minnesota a 37 percent chance of winning its division, a 10 percent chance of reaching the NBA finals and a 5 percent chance of winning it all.

Considering the Wolves never have won more than 31 games — their total last season — without Kevin Garnett on their team, that might be ambitious. Or the computer might be the least crazy of us all.

michael rand