The ingredients for a significant bump in victories from last season to this season are certainly there for the Timberwolves.
Minnesota underachieved last year in winning 31 games (just two more than the previous year despite a young team maturing) and added several key new pieces to this year's roster — the most notable being star Jimmy Butler in a trade with the Bulls.
As such, it shouldn't be too much of a surprise to see that ESPN's panel of 44 analysts has tabbed the Wolves for the biggest victory total increase in the NBA. Votes were tabulated on a first place (five points), second (three) and third (one) system, and Minnesota easily outpaced the second-choice 76ers (134 points to 78).
ESPN's panel also picked Karl-Anthony Towns as the most likely first-time NBA All-Star and had Butler third in the rankings of best player on a new team (behind Chris Paul and Paul George).
Read Michael Rand's blog at startribune.com/randball. firstname.lastname@example.org.