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Wolves Projected for 37 Wins, 11th in West

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Kevin Pelton’s RPM forecast sees the Wolves out of the playoffs again...but doesn’t factor in Tom Thibodeau.

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Portland Trail Blazers
After the game-winner in Portland: 4/9/16
Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Pelton of ESPN published his projections for team wins based on RPM and playing time estimates today on Insider.

He estimates the Wolves to win 37 games and finish 11th in the Western Conference, just behind the Kings (!) and in front of the Pelicans. Here’s what he has to say:

Remember, RPM projections don't factor in coaching, and the arrival of Tom Thibodeau makes the Timberwolves overwhelmingly likely to outperform their projected ranking of 27th in defensive rating.

This is a key point: We’re hoping (betting?) on Thibs to be a real difference maker for the team defense. If that projected 27th rating becomes, say, 15th, it means a bunch more wins and competing for a playoff spot.

Whether he’s able to have that sort of effect remains to be seen, but it is the wildcard in Pelton’s forecast.

37 wins would be both a significant improvement of eight wins, and still something of a disappointment. They need to shed the loser label and get in the mix. No more “too young” excuses. It’s time for it to come together.

Among other notable projections:

  • The Jazz finishing 3rd in the West (behind a dominant Warriors and the Spurs)
  • The Grizzlies and Mavs both missing out.
  • The Cavs winning the East but with only 52 wins (RPM still dislikes Irving)
  • The Pistons getting home court in the first round (major dropoff from East top 4-Cavs, C’s, Raps, Pistons-to 5th through 12th).
  • The Knicks finishing 13th in the East with 35 wins.

What catches your eye?