As it Stands, the Minnesota Timberwolves are a Playoff Team in 2013

By Ryan Heckman


Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

This offseason has been one of surprises for the Minnesota Timberwolves and their fans. With a bit of extra money to do some shopping via free agency, the Wolves have put themselves in excellent position going forward.

The very first move to make all of this possible for Minnesota was when they found out former small forward Andrei Kirilenko decided to opt out of his final year and forfeit the $10 million he was owed. I, for one, was incredibly happy for the Wolves after hearing that. Kirilenko was a decent player last season, but an extra $10 million to invest excited me.

With their core of Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic — who, hopefully, will be brought back after receiving his qualifying offer — the Wolves have done an incredible job adding to their squad throughout the past couple of weeks.

In the 2013 NBA Draft, Minnesota executed a trade which allowed them an extra pick in the first round, in which they selected Shabazz Muhammad out of UCLA and Gorgui Dieng out of Louisville.

Muhammad will contribute right away in the rotation as a wing who can score in a variety of ways, which is something the Wolves desperately needed. Dieng will likely back up Pekovic as a phenomenal defensive prospect who can block shots and rebound the ball very well.

During the first week of free agency, the Wolves made two fantastic signings to address a major need. Bringing back Chase Budinger, first of all, was something that needed to be done. When healthy, Budinger is an athletic wing who can shoot the ball very well — something Minnesota has lacked as of late.

Bringing in former Oklahoma City Thunder guard Kevin Martin was also a move not a lot of people saw coming but fortunately for the Wolves, they were able to make it happen. Martin, like Budinger, brings instant offense into the starting rotation and will give Minnesota an added dimension that like I said earlier, they have been missing.

With Pekovic and Love down low, the Wolves have one of the best front court situations in the league. Love is a guy who will give you 25 points and 12 rebounds night in and night out, while Pekovic is a solid double figure scorer and good for eight rebounds a game as well. It’s tough to compete against a front court like that, especially with such a versatile scorer in Love.

2013 will feature a healthy Rubio, and we know what he can do when he’s at 100 percent. Even last season when he was not up to par, he showed the will to win and still had his incredible court vision, dazzling fans with incredible passes. His will to win is demonstrated by such a tenacious style of play on both ends of the court, and for Minnesota, that’s all you can ask for out of the young guard. He wants to win, and will do whatever he can to do so.

With all of that said, the Wolves could be looking at a seventh or eighth seed in the Western Conference right now. Call me crazy, but the West is wide open especially with free agency going the way it has so far. Minnesota is one of the teams who have kept their core intact while adding legitimate pieces, and are still looking at adding more. Come next spring, don’t be surprised to see Minnesota giving fits to the top teams in the West.

Ryan Heckman is a Senior NBA Writer for Follow him on Twitter  @ryanmheckman, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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