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Once-lowly Wolves now stacked with talent

No. 1 picks, young athletes and Kevin Garnett could be nice mix

POSTED: Oct 20, 2015 8:16 PM ET

By Shaun Powell

BY Shaun Powell

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Timberwolves Team Preview: Youth And Experience

Dennis Scott and Mike Dunleavy Sr. address what impact NBA champion Kevin Garnett will have on the promising career of Karl-Anthony Towns in the Timberwolves' frontcourt.

Once considered a wasteland for talent, Minnesota is suddenly flush with assets and young players with very high ceilings. In a short amount of time, they've added Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine and Karl-Anthony Towns: three players who could be a Minnesota trio for a very long time. The goal, then, is twofold. The Wolves must give their developing roster plenty of space and time to grow appropriately, and they must keep adding to the mix in order to use some of their assets to pull a major trade. If this roster is properly nurtured, big things are in store in Minnesota.

ICYMI

Coach Flip Saunders has taken an indefinite leave of absence to battle cancer, and there are real indications that he may not return to the team this season, if ever again. ... Minnesota dumped former No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett before camp, but the prize in the Kevin Love trade was Andrew Wiggins anyway. ... The Wolves added 39-year-old Andre Miller to give backcourt stability and leadership. He's almost twice as old as Towns. ... Kevin Garnett was extended by the Wolves, who in the past gave him a pair of $100 million contracts. Garnett is the only NBA player to score two of those, and someday might put a group together to buy the franchise.

THREE POINTS

1. Nik Pekovic saw just 31 games last season because of injuries, and it's clear the Wolves can't rely on his body -- yet another reason why it's good to have Karl-Anthony Towns around.

2. The Wolves would love if Tyus Jones is giving Towns a run for best rookie on the team. If so, they could move Ricky Rubio by the trade deadline.

3. These guys should run, run, run whenever given the chance. Few teams in the league can match their youth, speed and number of open court players.

MAN ON THE SPOT

Sam Mitchell was named interim head coach while Saunders took a medical leave of absence and it's a second chance for the Wolves assistant coach. Just eight years ago he was one of the league's bright young coaches and freshly named Coach of the Year for his work in Toronto. And then, in a flash, he was gone, after rubbing management the wrong way and failing to capitalize on his success. While some thought Mitchell got a raw deal, he wasn't offered another job since, which spoke volumes. Mitchell said he'll be a different coach this time, having learned lessons, and this will be crucial; the Wolves have too many impressionable and important young players to be led astray.

STARTING FIVE

Ricky Rubio | 10.3 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 5.7 apg
Must improve his atrocious shooting (35 percent, 25 from deep).

Zach LaVine | 10.1 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 3.6 apg
Dunk champ has worked hard to improve his shooting.

Gorgui Dieng | 9.7 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 1.73 bpg
Can swing between the power positions on the front line.

Andrew Wiggins | 16.9 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 2.1 apg
Rookie of the Year could be their third legit franchise player ever.

Karl-Anthony Towns* | 10.3 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 2.3 bpg (Kentucky*)
The overall No. 1 pick arrives with plenty of promise and skills.

KEY RESERVES

Nik Pekovic | 12.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 42.4 FG%
Injury-prone center can be effective when healthy.

Kevin Martin | 20.0 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 39.3 3p%
Aging shooter can still bring the 3-point goods.

Kevin Garnett | 7.6 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 1.2 apg
Garnett's main job is to bring leadership and fire.

THE BOTTOM LINE

The Wolves are learning and growing and improving, and how could they not? The last few drafts have brought oodles of teenaged talent and good characters. But the road to respectability isn't always paved. The playoffs are in the future, but maybe not the immediate future.

Veteran NBA writer Shaun Powell has worked for newspapers and other publications for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here or follow him on Twitter.

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