As competitive as the West is, our early projections not only peg the Timberwolves as a solid playoff team, but also as a contender to land home-court advantage in a potential first-round series. I've got them at 51.2 wins, right behind the Thunder, Spurs and Lakers in the West. That's according to NBAPET, my tracking and projection model. We haven't released the SCHOENE projections that go into our Basketball Prospectus preseason annual yet, but I can report that colleague Kevin Pelton's system is perhaps even a little more optimistic than NBAPET about Kahn's work in the upper Midwest.
Remember that the key pieces in Minnesota are on the upswing, so as the veteran Lakers and Spurs fall off in the seasons ahead, the Timberwolves are perfectly positioned to move ahead of them as the primary challengers to Oklahoma City's perch atop the conference.