The offseason moves have accompanied with them concern about how many games the Wolves can be expected to win this season. This concern is legitimate, as the team has to this point given significant roles to at least 2 rookies and traded one of their top win shares guys (Miller) and top scorers (Foye). That's not even mentioning that Jefferson is coming back from an ACL injury.
But can this team, talent-wise and experience-wise, be any worse than the first team of the post-KG era?
On opening night, the team fielded this roster: Rashad McCants, Sebastian Telfair, Randy Foye (injured), Craig Smith, Greg Buckner, Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, Corey Brewer, Antoine Walker, Al Jefferson, Chris Richard, Mark Madsen, Theo Ratliff, Michael Doleac, and Marko Jaric.
Of those players, only one was certain to be a capable contributor: Jefferson. Foye missed more than half of the season. Gomes and Smith had been rotation players for losing teams, which showed a glimpse of what they could do but also implied that they'd be riding the bench on a playoff team. Green and McCants had shown flashes of being good players but were unproven, and both had been backups until the trade of Ricky Davis late in camp bumped McCants into the starting lineup. Brewer and Richard were rookies.
The vets brought mostly experience and not much on-court production. Jaric was probably the most capable of the bunch, but previous seasons had established him as a role player at best. Ratliff was injured for most of the season and then was bought out when healthy. Walker had come off a below-average season for him and was showing signs of decline. Buckner, Doleac, and Madsen weren't regular rotation players on their teams in the previous season.
It's not certain who will be on this season's team, but I'm going to assume that Brewer won't be traded because his value is lower coming off of an injury and that Rubio won't be here (though I think there's a decent chance he will be). That means that Brewer, Ellington, Flynn, Jefferson, and Love are all good bets to be on the opening-night roster. Though it's not sure how much better he is, Brewer is better than he was as a rookie. I also think Jefferson is at least a little bit better than he was back then. Comparing Ellington with his fellow Tar Heel, I think he has less offensive skill than McCants but has the potential to be as productive if he's more efficient. Because Foye was injured most of the year, the best comparison for Flynn is Telfair. I give Flynn the edge because I think he'll be more productive offensively and possibly defensively. As the first big off the bench, I think it's safe to say Love was better than Smith last year and will be significantly better this year than the Rhino was in 07-08 if he's healthy.
I'm not going to speculate on which of the current vets will be on the team, so it's tough to say whether they'll be better than the vets in 07-08. This makes a full comparison difficult. I do think, however, that the vets on that team were below-average and that it's possible that Kahn signs a free agent or two to balance any roster deficiencies (scoring, shooting, defense, shot-blocking) and/or mentor the young players.
My opinion is that as long as Kahn doesn't make any bad moves (Jaric-for-Cassell/1st-rounder bad), this team will start the season with a roster more likely to be successful than the one that started the 07-08 season. What do you think?