The Minnesota Timberwolves from last season could score a lot, but they couldn’t defend. This year, things are going to look and feel very different for the franchise, and adjustments will have to be made. The NBA odds reflect a regular season win total of just 25.5 games.
2014-15 Regular Season Total: 25.5
Why the Timberwolves Will Go Over the Number
The Timberwolves will go over the number because the number is absurdly low for this team. It’s true that Kevin Love is gone and will undeniably hurt the franchise in the short term, lowering the number of games won compared to last year. However, the Timberwolves won 40 games last year in a very tough conference. They were an okay team, not a bad one. Is Minnesota really going to fall 15 games this season? It feels a lot more like 10 than 15. This club should be able to get 30 wins.
Ricky Rubio is still the point guard. Andrew Wiggins, a luminous talent, will be in the backcourt as well to beef up this team’s offense. Thaddeus Young, acquired in the three-way deal with Philadelphia and Cleveland that sent Love to the Cavs, is a quality player who should help minimize the severity of the loss of Love. Mo Williams, arriving from Portland, is late in his career, but he’s still good for 12 minutes a game and some valuable perimeter shooting. Gorgui Dieng is a project at center, but he’s getting better and could average close to 10 rebounds a game this season if he’s able to improve the way the team hopes it will. Minnesota was 23rd in the league in field goal percentage defense last season, but if Dieng – who is long and active in the paint – can make forward strides as a defender, the Timberwolves can become perhaps the 18th-best defensive team in the league, which won’t solve all their problems but will certainly make the team good enough to win 30 to 35 games at the very least. This over-under total is just too low.
Why the Timberwolves Will Stay Under the Number
The Timberwolves might still find a way to finish under the number. First, Dieng is a project, as noted above. It could be that his development this season will be harder with extended minutes, plus the knowledge that Love won’t be able to come into the game to replace him or perhaps play alongside him. Minnesota was 26th in the NBA last season in points allowed per game (104.3), and while guys like Ricky Rubio and Nikola Pekovic (17.4 points per game last season) and Kevin Martin (19.1 points per game last season) are all great offensive players either as passers or scorers, there are hardly any great shutdown defenders on this team. There’s just a huge lack of defense in a conference that has so many excellent offensive teams such as San Antonio, Oklahoma City, the Clippers, Portland, Golden State, Houston, and Dallas. Minnesota could very easily get cleaned out by all the top eight teams in the Western Conference, and that would leave very few win opportunities. The Timberwolves would have to play extremely well against all the bad teams in the league and not have off nights against those kinds of opponents. Is this team good enough to play with that margin of error?
Pick: Over 25.5