It’s finally here. The NBA season is upon us, with two games kicking things off tonight, and of course the Wolves opening tomorrow in San Antonio. Finally real NBA basketball to chew over along with our usual topics of movies, food, and politics.
For the league as a whole, this season feels pre-ordained, with just about everyone expecting another season of dominance from the Golden State Warriors, culminating in their second straight title and third in four years. Frankly, that’s what I’m expecting too.
In our little corner of the NBA universe, however, things are a-changin’. The Wolves are no longer a callow bunch that can’t compete at a high level. The addition of star wing Jimmy Butler changes everything, and other veteran acquisitions signal the intention to win now. It’s time to challenge the better teams in the Western Conference for a playoff spot. To establish relevance for this iteration of the Timberwolves. It’s time to be good.
It’s been a long time, and certainly there have been moments before, particularly when Kevin Love was plying his trade in Minnesota, when we had hopes. But they were, ultimately, false hopes, dashed variously by injuries, lack of real talent especially on the wing, disastrous benches, and brutal failures in close games.
Of course similar things could derail this season as well, but it feels different. Mostly it feels different because in Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns, the Wolves for the first time in recent memory have two potentially All-NBA caliber talents. While it’s far from a perfect roster, if Towns takes even one step forward defensively, having two players of that quality on the floor means a lot more winning.
My fervent hope is that everyone reading this takes pleasure in this season, which will undoubtedly have its ups and downs. Whether the Wolves ever reach the ultimate goal of a championship or not, it really is the journey that matters. If this season goes how I expect it to go, it should be one of the most enjoyable we ever have. There are expectations, but not outsized ones. There are flaws, but nobody expects flawlessness.
I am sure that long-time Warriors fans have thrilled to their dominance, to their titles. But I wonder if that first season out of the wilderness, back in 2012-13, when they won 47 games and made the playoffs for the first time in six years, wasn’t just as satisfying for them.
And that’s the point. Titles are (I assume) fantastic for fans. But ultimately, it’s the end of something. An achievement that cannot be bested. There is great pleasure in watching a team get better. Watching our team emerge from the depths of an unprecedented playoff drought and challenge for a spot.
It’s the nature of sports fans to always talk about what’s next. What trade, what move will allow our team to reach the next level? And of course we’ll do plenty of that, it’s our raison d’etre.
But let’s make sure to enjoy what’s happening right in front of us, right now, as well. It’s gonna be a fun year.
Thank you all for sharing it with us.