2017-18 Minnesota Timberwolves Predictions and NBA Futures Odds Picks
The number of teams that have missed the playoffs for as long or longer than Minnesota has? Zero. In fact, if Minnesota were to miss the playoffs again this year they would be just one year short of the all-time NBA record for futility. Last year they thought they were poised to break the streak. And they won just 31 games in a bit of a disaster of a season. They could have tweaked slightly and hoped for the best. Instead, they blew things up. It was aggressive, and there was a lot to like - especially if you have been a Bulls fan in recent years. But have they done enough? Can they make the playoffs? And can they be any kind of a viable threat once they get there?
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2017 Minnesota Timberwolves Betting Storylines
Hiring Tom Thibodeau last year was a brilliant move for the team even if his first season wasn't a success. Now they have obviously let Thibodeau influence how the team is going to look. Thibs was successful at Chicago, so he has brought a lot of Chicago here. Adding Jimmy Butler is obviously the headline move, and we'll touch on that plenty in a minute. But they also added former Bulls Jamal Crawford and Taj Gibson. Being comfortable as a coach, and knowing that your vision can become reality, is crucial. There is a real risk, though, when a guy becomes committed to what worked in the past above all else - just ask Phil Jackson how his triangle obsession is going for him lately. I'm not saying that what Thibodeau has influenced here is a bad thing - it's not necessarily so, and especially on the Butler front. We just need to pay attention to make sure that he keeps looking forward and not back in time.
Three-point shooting is such a massive part of today's NBA. The Warriors have proven that it can be more than a little bit successful to build an offense around bombing from deep. The Timberwolves have gone almost to an extreme to create an offense that isn't going to be about three pointers. It's an interesting approach. Zach LaVine was their best shooter last year - though he was far from elite himself. He's gone. Jamal Crawford is viewed as a shooter in the minds of many, but in recent years he hasn't exactly been a sharpshooter - he's been below 36 percent from beyond the arc over the last four years. The team doesn't have a go-to threat from deep. Again, not a fatal situation, but a concerning one.
I'm a Canadian, so I am inherently an Andrew Wiggins fan. The Wolves obviously are, too - he has a very fat new extension, so they are married to him. There is no denying, though, that last year was disappointing for him. He did not take a step forward from the season before. The potential is just massive for him, but he isn't taking the final step. Not yet, anyway. And now there is a concern about the role he has to fit into. Ricky Rubio was a point guard who looked to pass all the time, so getting the ball enough was never a concern for him or for Karl-Anthony Towns. Now Rubio is gone, and Jeff Teague is the point guard. He's not the creative passer that Rubio is, and Butler needs the ball plenty, too. Wiggins seemed to be passive last year, waiting for improvement to come to him. This year that can't be the case. He needs to get aggressive, to grow his game and maximize the effectiveness of his role on this team. As much as anything, Wiggins' improvement this year will determine how well this season goes.
Karl-Anthony Towns is the best young big in the league, and this year he is going to show that to a whole new level. The offense is there, and the defense is an area with plenty of room for growth. Towns says he will be more responsible playing without the ball, and Butler will demand accountability there. If Towns can grow defensively then the sky is the limit - for him and for his team.
2017 Minnesota Timberwolves Additions and Departures
The team gambled very heavily to win the race for Jimmy Butler. He's a star, he's an elite defender, and he has carried a team. His acquisition was a no-brainer, and there is no real worry about his addition. He will improve the team defensively, and a team that had two defensively-inept stars last year could certainly use that help. And he brings swagger to a couple of guys still trying to figure out who they are and what they can be. This team really struggled under pressure and couldn't close out a game last year to save their lives. Butler will help on that front in a big way. Great addition.
I'm not entirely in love with Jeff Teague as a point guard, but it's not like the squad had all the answers at the position before - they had quantity without real quality. Teague is at least proven - you know what you are getting.
The additions of Crawford and Gibson are harder for me to get excited about, but they have their roles to play, and if they can fulfill those roles then it will work out okay. And it's not like they are taking the spaces of guys who will be sorely missed. Rubio and LaVine had real positives but were far from complete, and they aren't significant losses. And Kris Dunn wasn't able to capture anywhere near the magic he had in college.
2017 Minnesota Timberwolves Futures Odds and Trends
Minnesota Timberwolves Futures Odds
NBA title odds ( from BetOnline ) : +3300
Western Conference title odds : +2000
Karl-Anthony Towns MVP Odds ( from Bovada ) : +3300
Andrew Wiggins MVP Odds : +8000
Jimmy Butler MVP Odds : +10000
Season win total (from BetOnline): 46.5 ("over" is favored at -145)
Last year's different-looking team was a much better team to bet against than on - they were 37-44-1 ATS. And the defensive woes made the over the way to go most often - they went over 44 times and "under" 38.
2017 Minnesota Timberwolves Predictions and Futures Odds Picks
It all comes down to three things - how well the old and new players can mesh under Thibodeau's vision; whether Butler, Towns and Wiggins can find a way to coexist and become more than the sum of their parts as superstars; and whether Wiggins can get back on track on the road to true superstardom. Getting to the playoffs is the primary goal for this team, but I don't think that that is enough. The team is capable of winning a playoff round, and doing that would make this season a true success. I like the moves, I like the two youngsters a lot, and I am an optimist when it comes to this team. I like the over on the season win total, though there will be much better value in other spots given the price.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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