FanShot

Hollinger: Timberwolves Forecast

6

This season the Wolves are replacing a lot of that performance with real basketball players: Kirilenko, Budinger, Shved, Cunningham and Stiemsma all should be improvements on the players they replaced. The new wing players provide particularly massive upgrades, while also allowing the Wolves to play a more traditional backcourt. (They started two point guards for most of last season because the wings were so bad.) ... A few negatives linger. Pekovic had the biggest one-year PER jump in the history of my database, and we can't just bank on him repeating that effort. Rubio will be out for the first two months or so and probably won't hit the ground running when he returns. Bigger picture, Adelman doesn't have a history of coaching elite defensive teams, so if this team is going to win big, it will do it offensively. Yet the outside shooting still looks like a bit of a weakness. Finally, this team's management has built up quite a file of head-scratching moves; despite a largely solid summer, Roy might be the latest for that manila folder. One can't just assume it will be the last. Nonetheless, Minnesota was a playoff team before Rubio got hurt, and it has made major upgrades at several positions that were negatives last season. Even with Rubio diminished, chances are the Timberwolves will bust through into the West's top eight.

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