Breaking Down The 2014-15 Timberwolves

With the Wolves season right around corner, our web team (Kyle Ratke and Dane Mizutani) put together a season preview looking at some dynamics that will be important for the Wolves during the 2014-15 season. Enjoy!


DM: Minnesota was known last season as an older team that plodded up and down the floor. It started to shed that identity after it selected Zach LaVine and Glenn Robinson III in the 2014 NBA Draft. That was only the beginning, though, and on August 23 the Wolves completely shifted toward a youth movement. They traded away Kevin Love and a few other pieces and got Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett, and Thaddeus Young in return. That trade all of a sudden shifted the identity of the Wolves from a team content with walking up the floor and setting up the halfcourt offense to a team that wanted to get out a run. Minnesota definitely got more athletic this offseason. It also got much younger. It now has seven players with one or less year of NBA experience — a group of young talent that if things go according to plan in terms of development could make the Wolves a scary team in a few years.


KR: Head coach flip Saunders has told us time-after-time: this team isn’t as young as you think it is. And he’s right. There are plenty of veteran leaders on this team. In Training Camp, Corey Brewer was giving tips to LaVine and Wiggins – of course with a smile on his face. There’s Mo Williams, there’s Chase Budinger, there’s Ronny Turiaf. Even though Rubio looks like he’s 14 when he shaves, he’s still entering his fourth year in the league. This is more of a mix than anything else. While mentoring is important, it’s nice to have some proven players on this team. Martin is still one of the league’s best pure scorers. Nikola Pekovic is a beast inside. Brewer is a pest on defense. Young might be one of the most underrated players in the NBA.

And for all of those out there who believe this is an up-and-coming team, you’re somewhat right. This team has a bright future, but don’t rule out this team for the 2014-15 season.

Fun fact: 


DM: Saunders has preached mentorship since the start of Training Camp in Mankato and because of that, it’s not hard to see the young guys and the veterans mixing well this season. It appears that nearly every veteran on the team has already made it a point of emphasis to teach at least one of the younger guys the ropes of the NBA. That, coupled with the way Saunders has fortified team chemistry on and off the court, and this team feels different than it has in previous years. There hasn’t been a time in the past month and a half where it doesn’t look like this team is having fun on the floor. These guys even look like they’re having a good time running sprints at the end of practices. Though they’re tired, they’re always smiling thanks to guys like Brewer cracking jokes. This team is different this year, and while wins might not come in bunches this season, it’s clear it has a strong foundation for the future. It’s evident what team chemistry can do for a team. Minnesota appears to be on the right track.


KR: The Wolves had the challenge of moving on from a future Hall of Fame head coach in Rick Adelman. With the new roster and new energy around the organization, it was fitting that the new head coach has tons of energy himself. Due to the Kevin Love rumors and uncertainty of the team’s future, Saunders hired himself to fill in at coach. And honestly, it’s been a pretty good move so far. Saunders had the players engaged in Training Camp and can relate to both the younger players on the team and the veterans.

Saunders might also have two future head coaches on his staff with Ryan Saunders and David Adelman. Ryan comes from Washington and got some playoff experience when the team advanced to the second-round of the NBA playoffs last season. Adelman has coached the team’s Summer League team for two years now and although he’s quiet, he understands spacing and like his father, is very smart offensively.

Sam Mitchell is the team’s main assistant coach. Mitchell’s best quality as a coach is pushing his players to be the best. This has been evident throughout Training Camp and the preseason. And then there’s Sidney Lowe, who like Saunders and Mitchell, have a history with the Timberwolves. Lowe played for the Wolves in 1990.

Saunders also brought in shooting guru Mike Penberthy. That move has already been paying off as Penberthy has put in long hours with pretty much everyone on the team, including Rubio.

Most importantly, these coaches are all on the same page. 


DM: It’s going to be a season of ups and downs for the Wolves. There will be flashes where they’ll be one of the more exciting teams in the NBA, and other times where they’ll be really tough to watch. This season the team will go as Rubio goes. If he develops and can be an impact player on both ends of the floor, Minnesota could turn some heads. There are also a few other pieces that could lead the team to a better finish than many expect. Pekovic will still be a beast down low, Young is a legitimate role player, and Wiggins has the ability to be one of the best two-way players in the league down the road. Minnesota also has a host of other players that will contribute at a high level this year. Though Saunders has emphasized that this team isn’t as young as it seems, it’s still young at its core, and that could be its downfall this season. Flirting with .500 mark is a possibility. Unfortunately if they were in the East, the would almost guarantee them a playoff spot.

KR: I was supposed to write a prediction as well, but Dane pretty much covered off on things. I’ll say this: This team has a very 2013-14 Phoenix vibe to it. Don’t be surprised if the Wolves are playing in meaningful games in March and April.