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Vegas Win Total Projection: 25.5
The Minnesota Timberwolves are going to be a lot better than last season. With additions like Karl Towns, Kevin Garnett, Andre Miller, and Ricky Rubio coming back, this team is built with depth. They have one of the best young players in the NBA in Andrew Wiggins. He is going to certainly grow and I see him being their go-to-guy. In a worsened Northwest Division, I see the Timberwolves getting 30-35 wins this upcoming season. Added experience and "teachers" like Garnett and Miller will help the younger guys on this team mesh and come together.
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There is no question Andrew Wiggins is your number one pick for this T-Wolves team. Wiggins averaged 16.6 points per game at a 43.7 percent clip while averaging 36.2 minutes per game. He is clearly their future and will be the one who ultimately leads this team to the playoffs, whenever that is. I can see Wiggins be a guy who will average 20 points, 5 assists, and 8-9 boards this season. Andrew has the skills to be an all-star this year if he puts it all together, on the defensive and offensive end.
Zach LaVine is this player. While LaVine, athletic as can be, played tremendous towards the end of the season, people forget that Rubio was injured in that period. Ricky Rubio is the starting point-guard for the Wolves and while LaVine may play himself into the starting 5, I think it's too soon for that. Last year, LaVine was only averaging a little over 3 assists a game and to counter that, 3 turnovers per game. I think Rubio will come in and play with a chip on his shoulder, so I don't think LaVine gets the playing time people are expecting him to get.
Two Words: Andrew Wiggins. While he is the top fantasy option, he also makes a case as a gem, because people around the league still don't give him the benefit of the doubt yet. I love Wiggins and what he brings offensively and defensively. He just needs to put it together and continue to make plays. With Rubio coming back, that will certainly give him more opportunities for better shots. I look to see Wiggins explode onto the scene this season, a perenial fantasy play against any small forward other than LeBron (even then I may play him).
Another guy I have as a GPP gem is Rubio. Ricky Rubio, while being riddled with injuries is still one of the best past-first point guards in the league. He has created with no talent around him and now with the likes of Towns, Garnett, Wiggins, and Martin, he's bound to be an even better player. For his career Rubio has been with the best as far as assists, averaging 8.8 per game, and just less than 11 points per game. A double-double machine, he has been working this off-season on improving his shot. "Rubio (ankle) has been working on improving his jump shot and upper body strength in the four months since ankle surgery" SI.com's Ben Golliver said. Ricky told Ben Golliver "I try to get 100-200 shots a day up without jumping. For the first three months [after surgery], I was doing low-impact work in the gym, working out my upper body, working on my core strength."
The team is going to be one of the most improved with Rubio back, additions like Karl Towns, Kevin Garnett, and Andre Miller. I expect this team's offense to go up from the 97 per game it had, to around 99. The biggest change I see in this team is the defense. Last season? It was 30th at 106.5 points per game. With the additions of rim-blocking, rebounding, big men like Towns and Garnett, we should certainly see them drop 3-4 points off this total. The T-Wolves should be in the hunt for 2nd place in the Northwest Division, around 30-35 wins, and we should see their young players like Towns, Wiggins, Dieng, make huge strides in their games. I expect this team to be greatly improved with the leadership of players like Kevin Garnett, Andre Miller, and a coach like Flip Sanders.