COACH: Randy Wittman | 2007-08: 22-60
Minnesota Timberwolves

Al Jefferson proved to be a force for the Wolves in the paint and on the glass.
Joe Murphy/NBAE/Getty Images
They have new threads, a new sharpshooter and a new power forward of the future.

Despite the new paint job and a late Draft-night deal that brought in new faces such as former Rookie of the Year Mike Miller and current ROY candidate Kevin Love to the Twin Cities, the Timberwolves will more than likely follow an old pattern of missing the postseason in a stacked and rugged Western Conference. After making the postseason eight straight seasons, the Wolves (as their uniforms now call them) have been behind the postseason's velvet rope for the past four. Then if you throw in the fact the former face of the franchise (Ah, ah, ah - KG! Gesundheit!) nabbed a title for the team Wolves' GM Kevin McHale spent his entire 13-year career, that four season drought stings even more.

And that sting may linger. While the Wolves see a brighter future, they must make their way through the murky present, which grew a little darker when on Sept. 18 the Wolves' best player, Al Jefferson, sprained his knee in a pickup game with teammates and may cause him to miss most of training camp. Assistant GM Fred Hoiberg, who saw Jefferson hit the deck, showed he still has a quick release and got off one of the best quips of the preseason: "'When you have a heart condition and your heart stops for a minute, it's not a good thing,' said Hoiberg, who had to retire from the NBA because of an aorta problem. 'It was a relief when we found out that it was just a mild sprain.'"

Missing Jefferson for any amount of time would give any Wolves fan palpitations and could slow the progress the Wolves made at the end of the 2007-08 season. After losing 34 of their first 39 games, Minnesota went 17-26 to close out the season and Jefferson led the team in scoring 26 times and rebounding 33 times in those last 43 games. He was the only player in the NBA to average at least 21 points and 11 boards per game.

As Jefferson gets his knee correct, Love will get a chance to stretch his legs in the post. The heralded rookie out of UCLA, known for his deft passing and thought of as kind of doughy, has shaped up and has been strong in the paint. Just ask his teammate, Mark Madsen, who's no slouch himself when it comes to passionate post pugilism:

"This past monday we had a bunch of the Timberwolves players in town all together to finally play some pickup ball together with a lot of the new guys. Yes, this was the first time that I got to meet Kevin Love. The man who used to terrorize my Stanford Cardinal basketball team in his one year at UCLA. Well, on the last play of the day, Kevin Love went up for a dunk. I tried to block it and the next thing I knew I was making two unexpected trips after practice.

"1) To team physician Sheldon Burns (he is also the USA Basketball head physician) to get 12 stitches in my chin,

"2) To visit Matthew Alm of Brookside Dental (Minneapolis), to get my front tooth popped back into place.

Thanks Kev. :)"

If he rearranges his teammates' faces, it's not hard for Wolves fans to smile (toothless or not) when imagining Love and Jefferson bringing the pain to opponents around the league.

-- Rob Peterson

Go to Timberwolves.com's Ticket Central for single-game and season ticket packages.

Brewer
Expectations come with being a Lottery pick. While no one expected Corey Brewer to immediately reverse the direction of a franchise that had missed the playoffs for three straight seasons and had just shipped Kevin Garnett east to Boston, they certainly thought Brewer would be able to bring defensive intensity and see a bit of improvement on offense.

Brewer had moments of brilliance his rookie season (as noted here by Britt Robson in The Rake), but Brewer had troubles as the season wore on. As for his offense, Timberwolvespress.com had one modifier and one word for it: "so horrible".

A quick check of the numbers will confirm this. Brewer shot .347 from the field, including a gaunt .194 from three-point range. Another check of NBA.com's Hot Spots shows the irony of calling it Hot Spots for some players. Brewer was better than 40 percent from only four of the 14 spots on the floor, and even then, Brewer shot only .460 from seven feet in. Yikes.

It's clear Brewer needs to improve his offensive game if he wants to make the impact he needs to on both ends of the floor. This interview may be music to Wolves' fans ears as Brewer has noted how the addition of Kevin Love has led to "easy layups" for Brewer in pickup games. Like any good shooting coach will tell you, start close and then move back.

Maybe then, Brewer and the Wolves can take the next step forward.

THE STAT
10 Number of games in which Jefferson grabbed 16-plus rebounds in a game last season
The Minnesota fans deserve better than they’ve received the last few years but with KG gone this franchise is years away from getting back to the playoffs. Only George W would probably do worse. There’s not much here.
Al Jefferson is a nice player but when he’s your best one your team isn't going anywhere.
Unfortunately the blame is going to be put on Randy Wittman and when the team struggles on the court
The roster is made up of guys who filled out the roster for many other teams.
The question is, how many 12th men can you have on one roster?
Kevin Love is said to be the future but it’s not completely clear whether he is the real deal.
-- NBA Scout
The Timberwolves took some PR damage for letting Kevin Garnett go to Boston, but Jefferson is the real deal. For the second straight year, Big Al averaged a double-double despite getting little help from an inconsistent supporting cast.

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NBA.com Fantasy Index

Record: 28-54, 14th in Western Conf.
Playoffs: No postseason
Scoring Leader: R. Foye, 19.0 PPG
Rebounding Leader: A. Jefferson, 8.7 RPG
Assist Leader: S. Telfair, 7.2 APG

Simulated Season Details
PLAYER/2007-08 STATS PPG RPG APG
PG Randy Foye 13.1 3.3 4.2
SG Mike Miller 16.4 6.7 3.4
SF Corey Brewer 5.8 3.7 1.4
PF Al Jefferson 21.0 11.1 1.4
C Kevin Love -- -- --

G Sebastian Telfair 9.3 2.3 5.9
G Rashad McCants 14.9 2.7 2.2
F Rodney Carney 5.0 1.2 0.8
F Ryan Gomes 12.6 5.8 1.8
C Kevin Love Draft
C-F Brian Cardinal Trade
F Jason Collins Trade
G-F Mike Miller Trade
F Calvin Booth Trade
G-F Rodney Carney Trade
G Marko Jaric Trade
G Antoine Walker Trade
PPG Al Jefferson 21.1
RPG Al Jefferson 11.1
SPG Marko Jaric 1.3
BPG Al Jefferson 1.5
Points Scored 95.59 (26th)
Points Allowed 102.37 (21st)
Field-Goal Percentage .451 (18th)
Opponents' FG% .472 (27th)
Rebounding Diff. -0.29 (19th)
TV: KSTC.TV Ch. 45, FSN North
Radio: KFAN-AM 1130
Web: Official site
Local Coverage: Minneapolis Star-Tribune | St. Paul Pioneer-Press