And they have certainly exceeded even the wildest prognostications so far this season.
We could have been talking about the Timberwolves just now ... right up to the point, unfortunately, when we started talking about exceeding expectations.
Instead, we're talking about the Portland Trail Blazers, who are having the breakout season, so far, that many Wolves fans hoped their team would enjoy.
Minnesota's season has hardly been a failure to date. The Wolves are just one game under .500 and their schedule eases up considerably in January and February. That said, as they welcome Portland into Target Center tonight, we are offered a reminder that they have certainly not taken any sort of leap. Indeed, we dare say they have underachieved through 25 games.
Portland, on the other hand, has the NBA's best record at 22-4 after winning just 33 games all of last season. Their power forward (LaMarcus Aldridge) and point guard (Damian Lillard) are far different than the Wolves' Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio, as outlined nicely today by Wolves beat writer Jerry Zgoda.
It's too early to say which construction is the better one, though we have our suspicions. But it's not too early to say this is a very important game for the Wolves -- one that could get them back to .500 and perhaps launch them forward with confidence or one that could further underscore just how much work remains to be done, particularly in relation to another team that came into this year with a similar outlook.