2018 Minnesota Timberwolves Predictions with Futures Odds and Expert Picks
I have held off on writing this preview for as long as I possibly could, hoping that the Jimmy Butler circus would be played out before I put my words down. But I can't wait any longer than Opening Night. This, of course, means that Butler will be traded and everything here will become irrelevant hours after this is posted. That is how these things seem to work.
We live in a time when reality TV has become reality, so the Timberwolves, and the summer they have had, are really the perfect team for our age. They are what we deserve. Tom Thibodeau takes over the team and begins assembling a recreation of the last time he was a good coach. Jimmy Butler is the centerpiece of that, and when he joined Minnesota from Chicago it seemed like a great move. From the start, though, he wasn't a fit - as a person more than as a player. He didn't get along with the established stars in Minnesota, chemistry was mostly non-existent, and things went off the rails. So, Butler demanded a trade. And then sat out. And then hung out with some guys on the team while ignoring others. Then showed up at practice and completely lost his mind - damaging his value in the process. Then went on TV and showed that the earlier mind-loss was not an isolated incident. Then made up - sort of. Total lunacy, all of it. And now we are entering the season, and he is still on the team and has promised the owner that he will show up, and play, and dutifully wait as a good citizen until he is traded. Meanwhile, the team torpedoed the most legitimate offer they will likely get by demanding more after Miami thought the deal was done. So, a team that was a very good story as recently as last year has become a laughing stock now.
Putting this drama aside is tough, because it will be a massive distraction until the saga is resolved. But beyond that the team has much the same problem they have had up to this point. Andrew Wiggins makes a ton of money. Karl-Anthony Towns just signed a Supermax extension. They are locked into that core, and so far it hasn't been enough. Towns is very good and only getting better. But Wiggins isn't yet worthy of the deal he signed, and it is getting tougher to be patient and believe he will be one day. And adding Butler only made him less effective, so turning this biggish two into a Big Three is not going to be easy. He's still only 23, so Wiggins is not washed up by any means, and he is a reasonably effective scorer. But the team needs him to be a star at or near the level of Towns, and the distance between there and where he is now is galactic.
Derrick Rose, who signed a new contract this summer, just turned 30. I don't really have a point beyond that. I was just stunned when I read that. His best years seem a lifetime ago, so if you had told me he was 36 I wouldn't have batted an eye. He was reasonably effective in the playoffs last year and can be useful off the bench if he stays healthy, but he is not what he was at his prime. And he is part of a very odd trio of point guards along with Jeff Teague and Tyus Jones. That's not the oddest thing about this team, but it's hardly the most impressive group a team has.
If depth matters in the league, then the Wolves are in trouble. They are just a long way behind the best teams on that front, and it's not just at point guard. Luol Deng will be relied upon as a viable backup this year. So will old dudes like Taj Gibson and Anthony Tolliver. Georgoi Dieng plays too much of a role. And it goes on from there. If and when Butler leaves the team, they will have issues, especially if he isn't replaced by a star-caliber player as part of the trade. And at this point it seems unlikely that he will be.
2018 Minnesota Timberwolves Additions and Departures
The draft was reasonably productive given a lack of premium picks. Shooting guard Josh Okogie, taken from Georgia Tech with the 20th pick, is potentially a serious value pick because of his ridiculous athleticism. The guy is a freak. It will take some time, but there is upside. And in taking Keita Bates-Diop, the forward from Ohio State, at 48th, the team pulled off one of the biggest steals in the draft. He plays solid two-way basketball and fits the team like a glove. Strong draft.
Aside from the big deal to Towns, the much smaller deal to Rose, and the additions of Deng and Tolliver, there isn't much to talk about here. It will all come down to the next deal they make and how well that turns out - short and long term.
2018 Minnesota Timberwolves Futures Odds and Trends
NBA title odds ( from Bovada ) : +15000
Western Conference title odds : +8000
Karl-Anthony Towns MVP Odds : +6000
Jimmy Butler MVP Odds : +10000
Season win total: 41.5
The team went 39-45-3 ATS through the regular season and the playoffs, which meant that there was a small profit in betting against them. They went "over" the total 48 times and "under" just 38, though, so the profits were better there.
2018 Minnesota Timberwolves Predictions and Futures Odds Picks
You obviously can't reasonably judge, or bet on, this team as they sit now. It's telling that the win total has fallen from 45 to 41.5 since this drama erupted. If Butler were to behave and play nice all season, then they would certainly be a playoff team. If he leaves and they get good value in return they could be as well. If they traded him away for scraps or futures then it will be a rougher season. If Thibodeau brings back any more Bulls, we should really be worried. Until we know what happens next all we can do is sit down, grab our popcorn, and enjoy the absurdity.
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