Wolves coach and basketball boss Tom Thibodeau has outlined several important factors that will help determine the team's success this season, but three that stand out are:

• Minnesota needs to increase the number of three-pointers it makes while cutting down on the threes it allows. That gap last season accounted for about a 10-points-per-game difference between the Wolves and opponents.

• The Wolves need to stay focused on steady improvement instead of dwelling on the past or looking too far into the future, Thibodeau said. "Looking backward or looking ahead does you no good," he said.

• Thibodeau said he likes the team's work ethic and mentioned Nemanja Bjelica as a key cog on the Wolves' second unit because of his ability as a "stretch four" who can pass over players and run the pick-and-roll with other bigs. Indeed, Bjelica could play a major role.

Read Michael Rand's blog at startribune.com/randball. michael.rand@startribune.com.