I was asked by my employer for a brief write-up on why the Wolves were a worthwhile investment for advertisers this year. Well, brevity and excitement don't go well together. My write-up went a little long and I thought I'd share it with a bigger audience.
Last season, excitement returned to the Target Center as Ricky Rubio energized the franchise, Kevin Love continued his ascent to superstardom and Coach Rick Adelman brought one of the greatest coaching resumes in NBA history to Minnesota.
Now, the Timberwolves are returning to My29, and will be bringing many happy returns with them.
- THE RETURN OF RUBIO- Originally scheduled to return to action around Christmas time, reports are now surfacing that it could be as early as late November. Already one of the most popular players in the NBA (with both fans and his fellow players), Rubio’s creative playmaking was a mainstay in the SportsCenter Top 10 highlights last season. His undefeatable optimism and irresistible personality have won over even the most cynical of Minnesota sports fans and drawn former supporters of the team back into the fold.
- THE RETURN OF THE GOLD MEDALIST- Last season, Kevin Love went from a surprise All-Star to a certified Top 10 player. This summer, he traveled to London, playing a critical role for Team USA. During crunch time of the final game, Love was on the court helping to secure the second straight gold medal for the Redeem Team.
- THE RETURN OF THE COACH- After struggling to cement the position after the departure of Flip Saunders in 2005, the Timberwolves landed Rick Adelman, who ranks in the top 10 for all-time NBA coaching wins. Coach Adelman’s steady hand and innovative offense lead to one of the biggest winning percentage turnarounds in the league last year. Now, he returns to a team that has his fingerprints much more firmly on it, as he played a prominent role in personnel decisions this past off-season as well.
- THE RETURN OF THE “MOST IMPROVED PLAYER”- While he finished third in voting for “Most Improved Player”, many of the smarter pundits claimed that Nikola Pekovic was robbed of the award- http://wagesofwins.com/2012/05/09/ryan-anderson-is-not-the-most-improved-player-of-the-year/ The gentle giant lovingly dubbed “The Godfather” by the Target Center faithful turned in the best performance ever by a Timberwolves center, cementing a position that has historically been the weakest for the franchise. Pekovic is in line to receive even more minutes this season, and an All-Star nod isn’t out of the question.
- THE RETURN OF ROY- As one of the most likeable stars in the NBA, it was especially hard to see chronic knee pain force Brandon Roy into pre-mature retirement. However, an experimental surgery has revived his career, leaving him feeling healthier than he has in years. In a surprise to many, Roy chose the team that drafted him (and promptly traded him) to make his return with. It is another sign of the Timberwolves return to prominence in the NBA. Roy’s comeback attempt will have fans across the league pulling for him, making him one of the “Top 10 Players to Root For”- http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1311157-nba-brandon-roy-and-the-top-10-players-to-root-for-next-season/page/9
- THE RETURN FROM RUSSIA- While most NBA players spent the lock-out on their couches, waiting for it to end, former All-Star Andrei Kirilenko returned to his native Russia and played the entire season with CSKA Moscow, being named MVP of the Euroleague. Now, he returns to the NBA, bringing his up-and-coming Russian teammate Alexy Shved (who some have called the “Russian Rubio) with him. Kirilenko and Shved helped Team Russia win an unexpected bronze medal in the Olympics, alternately carrying the squad during crucial moments. Their entertaining style of basketball won over both the TwinCities and International media, and is sure to have the same effect on Timberwolves fans.
- THE RETURN TO THE PLAYOFFS- It would have sounded ludicrous one year ago, but many experts are predicting a return to the playoffs for the Timberwolves this season. Statistics-based prediction models even have them winning as many as 57 games (the 2nd most in team history) and tab GM David Kahn as an early front-runner for Executive of the Year- http://www.thenbageek.com/articles/the-kahn-supremacy
- THE RETURN TO MY29- All of these happy returns coincide with the team’s return to broadcast television as they partner with My29 to televise 25 games. After a fan outcry last season when no games were shown on broadcast television, the anticipation and excitement for games that are FREE FOR EVERYONE TO SEE is building to a crescendo. The reinvigorated popularity of the team along with last year’s local TV blackout projects towards the strongest viewership levels in the past 8 years. As Brett Favre famously said about the magical 2009-2010 Vikings: the pieces are in place. The team is poised for a breakthrough season, and you can get in on the ground floor. The time to hop on the bandwagon is now, before it’s filled to capacity and heading to the playoffs.