When the 2012-2013 season started, many fans of the Timberwolves were brimming with optimism. Chase Budinger, Andre Kirilenko, Alexey Shved, Dante Cunningham, and Greg Stiemsma all looked like quality additions. Brandon Roy was a major gamble, but some felt he could still contribute.
Alas, 'twas injuries that killed the golden season. Serious injuries to Kevin Love and Budinger, no recovery for Roy, multiple minor injuries to Kirilenko and Pekovic, and Ricky Rubio's first half recovery from knee surgery proved too much.
Will the 2013-2014 season be better? Below are ten possible reasons for optimism:
- The team is likely to be healthier. This year's run of injuries was quite unusual, and many were not of the recurring variety.
- Flip Saunders replacing David Kahn means that the Wolves are more likely to make a solid draft pick. Obtaining a good, young player on a rookie contract who actually helps win games would be a nice change of pace.
- Flip is aware of the roster imbalance and need for outside shooting. It is likely he rectifies this issue through trades this summer.
Rick Adelman has given signals of returning. If he decides to return, the Wolves have a coaching advantage many nights.
- Chase Budinger and Nikola Pekovic both sound open to re-signing with the Timberwolves. Bringing back both next season would not only retain quality on the roster but would retain knowledge of how to run Rick's systems. Pekovic's restricted status and Budinger's limited minutes may also help the Wolves in this effort.
- Ricky Rubio appears to be close to fully recovered and has returned as a force at both ends.
- Andre Kirilenko has shown he can still play at a high level. If he decides to return to the Wolves next year, small forward will be a position of strength.
- Kevin Love should be fully recovered from his hand injury. Mentally he will likely be pushing himself very hard to reclaim his status as best power forward in the league.
- Glen Taylor's decision to retain ownership of the Timberwolves means they will not immediately become the fall-back plan for the Seattle ownership group that is seeking a team to relocate.
- If Flip is able to obtain an above average shooting guard in return for Derrick Williams and either Luke Ridnour or JJ Barea, the Wolves healthy depth chart might look like:
- Rubio / Ridnour or Barea / Shved
- New starting shooting guard / Budinger / Shved
- Kirilenko / Budinger
- Love / Cunningham
- Pekovic / Stiemsma