The Timberwolves & Lakers start their season on Wednesday night. Neither team is expected to make the playoffs, but this is an important building year, one which can serve as a bridge to 2016-17.
Neither team can really claim any sort of momentum, given that this is a season opening game. The added point to note about playing well or poorly in the latter stages of the previous regular season is that with the incentive to tank in order to get a higher draft pick, one shouldn’t really evaluate end-of-season performance too closely, at least not in relationship to the current season that’s about to start. This game should be evaluated on its own terms, and bettors would probably appreciate that kind of perspective.
With this matchup, a prime confrontation in the paint takes center stage: Roy Hibbert of the Lakers against Kevin Garnett of the Timberwolves. Hibbert might have more upside at this point in his career, and he might also relish the chance to be on a new team after his years in Indiana seemed to wear on both him and the Pacers organization. Yet, Hibbert is still a very hard-to-pin-down player. He can be great one night and then absolutely horrible the next. He is a very erratic and enigmatic player, and that’s not an easy player to bet on. Garnett is getting old, and in many ways, his most important role on the Minnesota roster is to teach Karl-Anthony Towns how to play. He is mentoring the next great Minnesota big man, or at least the big man the Timberwolves hope will become the new franchise player in Minneapolis.
Elsewhere on the court, the other two players who will take center stage are Kobe and Andrew Wiggins. It’s true that Wiggins plays small forward and not shooting guard, but both he and Kobe will occupy a lot of attention from both fans and players on the wings. Kobe will play on a minutes restriction, so in that sense, how he measures up against Wiggins can’t be easily compared. Yet, Wiggins is supposed to enter a higher level this season as a budding star, so analysts will want to see if he’s ready to take the next step in his career.
All in all, these starting fives blend age and experience. Minnesota’s concern is to get Zach LaVine involved at shooting guard. He’s a weak link in the starting five. The Lakers have to protect D’Angelo Russell at point guard against Minnesota’s Ricky Rubio. That’s a matchup the Wolves should like.
What’s The Pick?
The Lakers have Kobe Bryant in the twilight of his career, and it might be felt by some players that it is still very desirable to want to play with a living legend of the game. The Timberwolves have a lot of attractive young talent and could be a really special team in three seasons, provided that the talent pans out and other pieces are added in time.
The Lakers started as 4.5-point favorites but now the NBA odds show 3.5. Bettors like the Timberwolves with this betting line, and they should. It’s a mystery as to why the Lakers are favored, actually. Minnesota has better talent at most positions, and Kobe’s current level of energy and stamina is not that high. Take the Timberwolves here with your NBA picks.
NBA Pick: Minnesota +3.5 at Pinnacle