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The First Annual Review of the Canis Hoopus Opening Night Predictions

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Time for an accountability post, in which I review the predictions we made back in late October.

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Golden State Warriors Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

The Canis writing staff sent me a bunch of season predictions back in late October right before the season, one ripe with hope, got underway.

I published the predictions, mine included, anonymously with the title The First Annual Definitely Correct Canis Hoopus Opening Night Predictions. In the comments section of that post, our friend Burpy McFartSmeller planted an idea in my head sort of like something you would see in Inception.

Since I’m a man of my word, here goes nothing! Let the first annual review of our opening night predictions begin.

Thibs will get a technical in the first game of the season. I mean really, you can hear him working the refs in the preseason, even without a broadcast he's so loud. It's good he's engaged and apparently hasn't lost his fastball during his year off. He's gonna get whistled early, probably on purpose. Both to convey a sense of urgency to his players, and because he can't help himself.

0-for-1 at the predictions plate. Tom Thibodeau’s first technical as head coach of the Wolves, if my research is correct, came in the first quarter of the fifth game of the season in Oklahoma City. Thibs drew the tech at the 1:27 mark with the Wolves down 23-30. They ultimately lost the game 112-92 to start the season 1-4.

Kris Dunn will not win rookie of the year. Joel Embiid, Buddy Hield, and Brandon Ingram all seem more likely to win the hardware over Dunn, who received 46.7 percent of the vote in the annual GM Survey on NBA.com. The rookie from Providence will open up the season as the backup point guard in Minneapolis behind Ricky Rubio and will need to shrug off a rough preseason where he's struggled mightily with his shot selection and decision making.

1-for-2. Though getting this one correct isn’t something to get excited about. It’s still unclear who will win ROY but we know Kris Dunn will not be bringing home the hardware. Malcolm Brogdon, who was a second round pick, No. 36 overall out of Virginia, is the frontrunner and gets my fake vote. Sixers teammates Joel Embiid and Dario Saric are also in the mix. The real takeaway here is that everybody’s favorite pick to win the award before the season started, Dunn, did not figure into the race whatsoever. Turns out that Ricky Rubio is a good point guard (shocker) and rookies are general not good or positively impactful players. And Thibs is not the type to wait idly while his prized guard struggles to run an offense, and create points under the bright NBA lights. For what it’s worth, Dunn had one of the best defensive seasons for a rookie guard in the history of the NBA, but he was largely a train wreck on the other end (43.2 true shooting percentage to go with a -3.7 OBPM). The official ballots were turned in by media members last Friday.

Dunn will make a big impact on the defensive end, especially for a rookie. The drop-off from Rubio to the backup point guard, now Dunn, isn’t going to be back-breaking per the usual. Many opposing point guards will speak highly in pre-game and post-game interviews about Dunn’s future in the league.

I’m going to take what we said in the bold and call this a win, though we were partially wrong in our prediction here. So, we are 2-for-3. The drop-off from Rubio to Dunn was backbreaking throughout the early part of the season until Thibs decided to move to the Tyus Jones-Kris Dunn backcourt post All-Star break. But as I touched on above, and the reason I will call this prediction a win, is that Dunn was incredible on the defensive end for a rookie guard.

Only two guards, not even just rookies, ONLY TWO DIFFERENT GUARDS in the history of the NBA that have played over 1000 minutes in a season, Eric Bledsoe and Dwyane Wade (twice), have had seasons with steal percentages over 3.0 and a block percentage greater than 2.0. Dunn finished with a steal percentage of 3.0—an estimate of the percentage of opponent possessions that end with a steal by the player while he was on the floor—and a block percentage of 2.3, putting him an absolutely rare class of guards on the defensive end.

Again, this is among every guard that’s ever played in any season of their career from 1946-47 to 2016-17. Dunn did this is as a rookie. Being down on his offensive ability is more than reasonable, but let’s not undersell his flat out stifling defense. It’s a two-way sport, the Wolves need defenders, and Dunn put himself in a tiny class of guard defenders. Even if you open the list up to all positions and decrease the minutes limit from 1,000, his name still pops up among elite company on the defensive end.

“I like the way he played defensively a lot,” Thibodeau said in his end of season presser at Mayo Clinic Square last Friday. “It’s something that we need desperately, the toughness and defense and discipline. I spoke to him yesterday at length. The one area I want him to cut down is fouling but for the most part I think he had a terrific year defensively and it’s unusual for a rookie to do that. So that was a big positive.”

Zach LaVine will not win the dunk contest this season. Really, he shouldn't participate. Retire with two wins in two attempts, and let the legend grow as the years go by. In 15 years people will talk about it like they talk about Vince Carter's dunks now. If he does go back again, I think he gets beat. Aaron Gordon could have won last year, someone will step up this year.

Hey! We’re on roll now. That’s 3-for-4. Zach LaVine did not take part in the dunk contest this season. He decided to rest his body instead of going back for the three-peat. Unfortunately, LaVine torn his ACL in Detroit to end his season on the first Friday in February and wouldn’t have been able to participate in the dunk contest even if he wanted to. His friend Glenn Robinson III, formerly of the Timberwolves during his rookie season, won the contest. It what was labeled by some as the most boring dunk contest of all-time. But shoutout to our old friend Medium Dog for winning the event. LaVine should rest easy knowing he might have been part of the best dunk contest ever the year before, as him and Aaron Gordon went head-to-head exchanging brilliant slams over and over again until gravity decided LaVine was still the Dunk God. You can’t argue with gravity, man.

Adreian Payne will not finish the season on the roster. They will trade him if they can, but if they can't he will be cut at some point when the Wolves need the roster spot for someone else. Which could happen sooner rather than later given the current roster imbalance. This became clear when they declined his fourth year option. He's not long for the Wolves.

3-for-5. We sure whiffed on this one. Payne survived the season with the Wolves, though he had a brief health scare that kept him out indefinitely while being treated for a condition of low platelet count known as thrombocytopenia. Payne won’t make it through the summer, though one must ask themselves about the passive management of the end of the Wolves’ roster in year one of the Thibs/Layden show. Take a flier on somebody in the D-League or one of the numerous free agent floaters. See if something sticks! Payne is going to be out of the picture soon enough and it felts like a waste of time and opportunity to evaluate another potential role player within the system.

Three players will shoot over 40% from three this season. Nemanja Bjelica was at 38.4 percent last season, and has looked more confident in preseason than at any time last season. Zach LaVine shot 38.9 percent last season and a scorching 43.7 percent after the All-Star Break and his move to full time shooting guard. Brandon Rush is at 40.3 percent for his career, and his 41.4 last season shows no signs of dropping.

3-for-6. I still won’t reveal who made this prediction but man we need have a conversation about setting realistic expectations! Only 32 players shot over 40 percent from deep this season, and nobody on the Wolves accomplished the feat. Zach LaVine led the team at 38.7 while Rush finished at 38.6. As for the rest of the team:

Wiggins and Towns both impressed me with their 3-point shooting this season. That was one of the things I actually felt good about. But let’s keep this thing moving along.

Ricky Rubio will not be traded this season, though rumors will persist. It won't take very long for Thibs to see the light of the Unicorn, and fall in love with his game—if he hasn't already. And besides, Dunn isn't ready to run an NBA offense at this point. It's terribly difficult to imagine Thibs being patient with rookie mistakes. Wolves management will take the season to assess what they have on their hands before making any dramatic changes and that means assessing Rubio in Thibs' system.

We’re above .500 again. Make that 4-for-7. Despite the heavy Derrick Rose for Ricky Rubio rumors that headlined the trade deadline, Rubio was not moved yet again. Can we take a moment real quick, before this entire predictions column goes from sweet to sour, to talk about how on point this entire prediction was! Did Thibs fall in love with the Spanish Unicorn? Maybe not. But he did seem to come around on him very much as the season progressed and Rubio had the best month of his career in March. Also, everything else was 100% accurate. I feel really good about this one. Feel free to stop here if you want and basically think that Canis Hoopus is the greatest thing since slice bread and pretty much knows everything about this team and is almost never wro...

KAT will make the All-Star team. It's a tough go in the West for bigs, but the Wolves will be better and he's obviously The Next Big Thing. This is probably not that much of an out-on-a-limb prediction, but someone has to say it. Towns was voted to the All-NBA Third team as a rookie by a few writers last year and he’s certainly ready to take the next step in his game. What that looks like remains to be seen but it’s probably going to be pretty alarming. He’s also starting to get incredible name recognition and that always helps. The hype around KAT is crazy right now but it’s totally warranted. I think he’s a lock for the All-Star game and one of the All-NBA teams too.

Plenty of people argued that KAT was one of the biggest All-Star snubs, but the wins weren’t there and neither was the defense. Towns will have to wait another year before making his first appearance. He could still be named to an All-NBA team, though it seems somewhat doubtful given the previous reasons for him getting left out of the All-Star game (wins and defense). The hype around is still crazy and his name recognition is outstanding but the Wolves were not much better this season and that hurt the odds of this prediction coming true. Back to .500. 4-for-8.

LaVine will finish top three in the league's Most Improved Player Award. Points per game will likely account for his biggest spike in basic stats, but it will be his defense that really leads shows the vast improvement in year three, and ultimately gives him a strong shot at the MIP hardware. LaVine is going to put on some stellar shooting exhibitions, which the Twin Cities have never seen. Don't you know? He's a three-point thriller like that Knick killer, Reggie Miller!

Wrong again. This average is about to hit the fan, folks. 4-for-9 now. LaVine might have been able to finish top three in the MIP Award but his stupid ACL injury ruined that possibility. His defense also only looked slightly improved, but certainly nothing to be excited about. He was still lost off-ball far too often, and his tendency to commit stupid fouls was still there. To end on a positive note, he did put on some stellar shooting exhibitions before going down and remains one of the best shooters in franchise history.

46 wins and the first playoff birth as the 7th seed in the West, officially shocking every basketball fan in Minneapolis and across the galaxy.

Holy mother of Basketball Gods this was not even close. What an idiot. Who would ever predict this many wins for such a young team with a terrible bench and an entirely brand new system? This is like when a power hitter in the MLB accidentally launches his bat into the 12th row above the opposing dugout after whiffing on a third strike to end the game and the closer on the other team points and laughs at the dude while the catcher cruises by and whispers, “helluva swing big fella.” Just a totally embarrassing prediction to look back on. I don’t know WHO in the WORLD would have said such an idiotic thing back in October. 46 wins? OMG. Sweet Mother of Jesus Shuttlesworth this person is stupid.

And, for the record, it was me who wrote this because I was absolutely blinded by hope, desperately wanting this to be true more than anything else. Never again.

4-for-10.

They will finish in the top half of the league in defensive rating. I'm not sure I actually believe that, but what the hell, it's a new season. Thibs will get this team defending in ways we haven't seen in over a decade. This will be the catalyst for their big jump in wins. Optimism prevails.

Another air ball for us here at Canis Hoopus. I bet if you think about it, you would know who wrote this prediction. Look at how indecisive he is. “I'm not sure I actually believe that, but what the hell, it's a new season.” You all must know who this is. Anyways, the Wolves finished 27th out of 30 in defensive rating at 112 points allowed per 100 possessions. The lack of defensive improvement is one of the biggest storylines of the season. Thibodeau is known for being an elite defensive coach and he was unable to get this team to play even average defense over the course of the year. It was the catalyst for their inability to make a big jump. 4-for-11.

First in free throw rate. Last season, they ranked second at .332. Thibs knows damn well that getting to the line is one of the biggest strengths of his team. Wiggins and Towns are going to live at the stripe.

Props for predicting the Wolves to finish first in anything—that takes guts and real courage—but unfortunately this is another miss. They have been among the best in free throw rate (the ratio of foul shots to field goal attempts) over the past couple of seasons, but this year they dropped seven spots, from second to ninth, posting an FTr of .287 (down from .332 in 2015-16). The record continues to get worse. Make that four right answers (still) and 8 bricks.

We’re going to see beautiful transition basketball a lot more often. This will be one of the best up-tempo teams in the league. Far better defense equals more stops which in turn creates more opportunities to run. It’s not exactly rocket science. Wiggins, LaVine, Muhammad, and Towns all have excellent PPPs (points per possession) in transition (see here) and Rubio is the perfect orchestrator. Many Vines and GIFs will be tweeted.

Another pitiful prediction here. The Wolves didn’t play as fast as a lot of us wanted them to and the rubbish defense played a big part in that. I’ll leave you with a few stats to chew on:

  • 25th in PACE (94.6) — pace factor is used to estimate the number of possessions a team has per game. The more possessions a team accumulates, the quicker the pace of the game.
  • 15th in transition points per game (16.4)
  • 16th in transition possessions per game (14.7)
  • T-12 with Phoenix in PPP (points per possession) in transition (1.12)
  • Zach LaVine only played 47 games and he is A Fantastic Beast in Transition! That hurt. He was basically a lock to finish in the top 5-10 in transition points this season.
  • Among players with more than 150 transition possessions, Andrew Wiggins finished 8th in PPP (1.30) while Shabazz Muhammad and LaVine both were tied at 12th (1.26).

Update: 4-for-13. I’m questioning everything in my life. Our credibility has taken a huge hit at this point. We are going to be sooooooooo pessimistic next season.

Cole Aldrich will have at least 10 games with more stocks (steals + blocks) than points. Although shooting with high efficiency and almost exclusively at the rim, Aldrich will not take more than a handful of shots per game, and will finish a lot of games with numbers in the zero to five range in the scoring column.

The Wolves biggest free agent signing last summer didn’t pan out in year one and questions about his long-term future with the team will linger this summer. Aldrich logged only 531 minutes in 62 games. Thibodeau didn’t seem interested in playing him for the most part, which is somewhat odd when he is one of the best defensive players on the team. But he doesn’t exactly fit next to Towns or Dieng either and isn’t able to play when other teams go small, so it’s understandable. His role is not important right now. What’s important is that Cole had 13 games with more stocks (steals + blocks) than points, and we desperately needed this W here to save somewhat save face.

5-for-14

Andrew Wiggins will lead the team in scoring at 23 points per game. Over his first two seasons, the former Jayhawk has shown he can put up consistent points night in and night out due to his ability to get to the free throw line. Wiggins should have more room to operate when attacking the basket, especially with more deep threats on the roster and Towns garnering so much attention.

Wiggins finished at 23.6 points per game, an increase of 2.9 points from the year before, but he did not lead the Wolves in scoring. The BIG KAT did at 25.1 ppg. I don’t feel too bad about this one. Why would any of us feel down about Mr. Towns increasing his scoring average by 6.8 points? We lose this prediction, but really we win. The best young offensive player on planet earth plays basketball in Minneapolis.

5-for-15. Ugh.

LaVine will win the slam dunk contest and the three-point shootout at All-Star Weekend. I disagree with the prediction that Zach won’t win the dunk contest. Zach lives for dunks. He breathes 360’s. He eats windmills for breakfast. That’s his jam (please, don’t publicly shame me for this). Frankly, I'm not sure if this is even allowed—competing in both—that's how bold this prediction might be. This dude loves the spotlight and jumping is his favorite past time. If he gets an invite to the three-point shootout, there’s zero chance he turns it down.

We’ve already been over LaVine’s absence from All-Star weekend. I don’t have more time to be sad. 5-for-16.

Drake will drop a hit single called Jumpman 2 after LaVine’s epic All-Star Weekend. LaVine, LaVine, LaVine, that boys up to something. I'll see myself out. Yes, you will. Please leave right now.

The Canadian rapper did not drop a hit single called Jumpman 2, and there have been no references to LaVine in any of his latest music, unless you think Can’t Have Everything is actually a track about Bounce Bro B. This was not a serious prediction. I’m not counting this. 5-for-16. Props to Allan Kingdom for giving Zach and Wiggs a shoutout though...

The Wolves will increase their three-point attempts by at least 500 this season. It has been a clear focus in preseason, and should continue. This will be especially pronounced from the corners, where it wouldn't surprise to see them double the number of attempts from last season. Thibs isn't exactly Mike D'Antoni, but it's been clear that he values the three a lot more than his predecessors. "Can't wait," Bart Scott screamed.

Last in the league in three-point attempt rate (3PAr) at .249. Sad! Adding shooters is one of Thibodeau’s biggest priorities this summer. LaVine’s injury was devastating in this regard. Final totals = 601 makes on 1724 attempts from deep (34.9 percent).

Last seasons three-point data under Sam Mitchell: .202 3PAr / 455-for-1347 = 33.8 percent. That’s 377 more attempts from deep under Thibs. Another incorrect prediction. When will the bleeding stop?

5-for-17

Where do we think the Wolves finish in the Northwest division? The hot take here is better than Oklahoma City and probably third behind Portland and Utah. That's a spicy one. Nuggets twitter is already probably mad at me for counting them out without a second thought, so I'll run with it. While the Nuggets, like the Wolves, have a promising young roster and a high-quality coach in Mike Malone, the drastic improvement under Tom Thibodeau will take Minnesota well above Denver. The Thunder will struggle to adjust in Kevin Durant's absence, and Russell Westbrook will be overworked trying to carry the team alone, possibly leading to injury and definitely fatigue by mid-season. OKC’s time is over. The Wolves' time is just beginning.

Oh, boy ... there’s a lot of wrongness to unpack here. 5-for-18.

Shabazz Muhammad will end the season with a Defensive Box Plus/Minus (DBPM) greater than -2.2. Bazz has a career DBPM of -3.9 (-4.2 last season), which is one of the worst in the entire NBA. A little bit of Thibs Dust and a cumulatively improved and synergistic bench unit will propel the fourth-year player to a much improved game on the defensive end.

Survey says: Bazzy finished with the worst DBPM (-4.3) of his career under Thibs. The bench was terrible as a whole, too. 5-for-19

Nemanja Bjelica will turn heads in his sophomore season.

Belly did not turn heads. If we go by the advanced stats, he was actually worse in year two with the Wolves. This was a swing and a miss by yours truly. I was a huge Bjeliever.

5-for-20...

Towns will be the most consistent scorer, while LaVine will have the biggest single-game explosions, as he tends to do. Zach will have the highest scoring game on the team this season. Book it. There will be one night he comes close to dropping 50.

Hmm ... I suppose this might have to be the first split. Towns was indeed the most consistent scorer but LaVine did not have the highest scoring game of the season. That honor belongs to both Wiggins and Towns, who each scored 47 points once. LaVine’s biggest scoring explosion was a 40 spot against the Sacramento Kings. I bet he would have had one more 40+ game, maybe even 50 once, if his season didn’t end prematurely (stupid ACL) in Detroit. 5.5-for-21

Top 10 scoring games this season:

Get Buckets

Wolf Points Victim
Wolf Points Victim
Towns 47 Knicks
Wiggins 47 Lakers
Wiggins 41 Cavs!
Wiggins 41 Wizards
Wiggins 41 Lakers
Towns 41 Rockets
Towns 40 Lakers
Wiggins 40 Nuggets
LaVine 40 Kings
Towns 39 WIzards

John Lucas III will win the newly created "NBA's Most Enthusiastic Player" (MEP) award for his fine work at the end of the bench.

Lucas was waived on January 7 to avoid guaranteeing the rest of his salary for the year. His quest to win the MEP Award ended that fateful day. Everyone knows the rules. You can’t win the MEP without sticking on a roster for the entire season. But I know for sure we will never forget about John Lucas, The People’s Champ.

5.5-for-22

Brandon Rush will wind up playing a lot more than we expect, until he gets injured (sorry...let me quickly pray to the Basketball Gods). I think Thibs likes him—he's a veteran who can really shoot it, but also looks like he knows what he's doing out there, which can't be said for everyone on the roster. I could see him working his way into being the first wing off the bench role, in front of Muhammad, and playing in both big and small lineups.

Rush played 1,030 minutes in 47 games. Many of those minutes came after LaVine’s injury when Rush was inserted into the starting lineup on the wing next to Wiggins, pushing Andrew to his more natural two-guard spot (at least at this point in his career). I don’t know if we can call this a win or loss because he was getting busy collecting DNP’s all the time before LaVine went down, but then his role changed and he was playing heavy minutes every night with the starters. I don’t know which way to go with this so let’s call it another split.

6-for-23

The Rubio-LaVine-Rush-Bjelica-Towns lineup will make us feel immense joy when it happens. I would like to see that lineup.

I’m not sure this lineup ever actually played together. If they did, it had to be for very few minutes. I can’t find this five-man lineup on basketball reference. The Rubio, Wiggins, Rush, Bjelica, and Towns lineup played almost 51 minutes together and were a net +4.6 per 100 possessions. A lineup that either never played together or almost never did certainly is unable to make us feel anything, much less immense joy. Another bad prediction for the writers here.

6-for-24

Here's a non-Wolves prediction: The Finals will not feature both the Cavs and Warriors. I don't know what will happen to prevent it, but something will. Have we ever seen the same Finals matchup three times in a row? I can't remember it happening, and while that doesn't mean it can't happen, I would bet against it. I wonder what the odds are? Can you bet on that?

Yes, you can bet on that. And you would get "+" money on that bet. Vegas has it at over 50 percent chance of happening. I also kind of disagree. I think it will happen. Cavs vs. Warriors is -175 according to sportsbook.ag

Inconclusive. We are still in the first round of the playoffs. I bet the Finals will feature the Cavs and Warriors in a rematch, and my money is the Dubs getting their revenge. Still at 6-for-24.

Rush will lead the team in three-pointers made. If the preseason is any indication, Rush will have the green light to rip triples this season. Shooting 60 percent from deep in the preseason—with three attempts per game—Rush displayed a smooth stroke and even smoother transition from his old role with the Warriors to his new, yet similar, role in Minnesota. Hmm...actually LaVine will.

Brandon Rush finished 7th with only 44 treys. My comment in the italics was accurate though...I remembering feeling the need to respond to this prediction. I don’t see how anyone but LaVine could have been predicted here. Zach led the squad with 120 triples in only 47 games. Again, he’s far and away the best shooter and floor spacer on the team right now.

OK, we are 6-for-25 now and I am officially overcome with disappointment for how bad this turned out. It’s probably my fault for how optimistic I was being with the entire writing group here before the season started. I really should know better at this point.

If there is a change in the starting lineup, it’s most likely going to be Bjelica swapping in for Dieng at the 4. That said, it’s doubtful, presuming no injury. Some might think Dunn starting at point guard instead of Rubio is the most likely change but that won’t happen without a trade, and we already predicted there won’t be a deal this season. This appears to primarily be a move to avoid guaranteeing the rest of his salary for this year, which would have happened had he remained on the roster past today.

I need to say this one is right. I think it is in general, given the “it’s doubtful, presuming no injury” point that turned out be accurate. And for what it’s worth, Thibodeau was going with Bjelica more in crunch time with the starters, over Gorgui Dieng, until Belly hurt his foot and was ruled out for the season. The only major change was Rush in for LaVine, and that was caused by an injury. The Rubio-Dunn bit was accurate, as well.

7-for-26

Neither Dieng or Muhammad will be given a rookie extension prior to the October 31 deadline. This could be a risky move in both cases, but it seems rather unlikely. The long play here is probably the smart play. Additional time to evaluate both players in Thibs’ system before handing out long-term contracts is valuable. There should be no rush in these negotiations.

WRONG AGAIN. Gorgui Dieng signed a new 4-year, $64 million extension before the deadline. Muhammad, rightfully so, was not extended and is set to test free agency this summer as a restricted free agent.

7-for-27

The iron man, Gorgui Dieng, will have an excellent fourth NBA season and Thibs will love him. He will play on the Wolves for years to come.

More right than wrong here. We will call this prediction correct. 8-for-28. I wouldn’t label Dieng’s season as excellent, but I do think he played well as the do-everything big man who cleans up plenty of messes every night and does all the dirty work (Jim Peterson constantly talks about this and rightfully praises G for it). Should we call him the Diengitor? Like Dieng the janitor. We already had the custodian play in a Wolves uniform.

The Cubs will win the world series. Isn’t this a Bucks blog? Why are we talking about baseball now?

You thought we were a Bucks blog? The joke’s on you. We’re actually a Cubs blog. Now let’s celebrate our championship once more. 9-for-29

Wiggins will be much better defensively, as defined by our eyes and his DRPM here (-1.17). Thibs will challenge him on a nightly basis by tasking him with guarding the opponents team wing threat.

Nope. Wiggins failed this task with flying colors. Much like Muhammad, his -2.9 DBPM was the worst mark of his career and his DRPM dropped miraculously to -3.17 (only Muhammad and Doug McDermott finished behind him among small forwards). He dropped two full points this season. Thibs did ask him to guard the best opposing wing scorers every night, which was necessary, but his defense looked more or less the same and sometimes even worse. While Wiggins appeared to be more engaged off-ball as the season went on, he had a steal streak at one point, his advanced defensive metrics were also the worst they have ever been. 9-for-30!

John Lucas III receives more minutes at point guard than Tyus Jones through the first twenty games. Lucas III has been confident about his place on this team since training camp opened and Thibodeau has only reaffirmed that confidence in training camp and throughout the preseason games. Lucas III's veteran allure gets him spot minutes in real situations, a la Andre Miller in 2015-16.

We were off the mark once again. Lucas played like 10 minutes in his first 20 games, while Tyus played almost 19 minutes in a blowout win over the JV Grizzlies in the third game of the season. This wasn’t even relatively close. The lesson here, and in all of this, is to take almost nothing meaningful away from preseason basketball. It’s just a bunch of mirages, I tell you. There’s more to learn at Summer League if you ask me. #TeamTyus #9FOR31

Tyus Jones will be traded. There’s too much evidence to suggest otherwise at this point.

Huh? What evidence was there? Tyus Jones was not traded. His shot against the Raptors was one of my favorite moments of his sophomore season. TYUS STONES JONES FOR THE WIN.

Jordan Hill’s hair will get in the way of fans sitting behind him. Have you seen his hair? That’s...something. At least his DBPM was 0.9 last season. He will help when called upon.

We will call this a win, though he didn’t “help when called upon” for his 47 minutes this season. His hair practically got in the way of my view and I sit multiple rows up about 10 feet to the left of him. 10-for-32

On January 31, the Wolves will file for Pekovic's "medical retirement." At that point, Pek will be subjected to a third-party doctor to determine if the injury is career-ending. If this is ruled in a timely manner, there is a possibility that he will be off the roster and his salary off the books by the trade deadline. For the Wolves, waiving Pekovic prior to January 31 eliminates this possibility and therefore is an illogical move, since the only benefit is an additional roster spot.

The Wolves have NOT filed for Pekovic’s medical retirement yet, as of today. It will happen later this summer at some point. 10-for-33

The player who makes the biggest leap this year is Rubio. We are about to see what a fully realized Rubio looks like, unless they do the wrong thing and move him, and it’s going to be scary. Everything points in his favor this year, again, other than the persistent trade rumors. He’s been healthy over the summer for the first time in forever, he will be playing in an uptempo offense full of scorers and incredible athletes, and he will now play for the best defensive coach in the NBA. His basic stats might not fully reflect his improvements, but he’s going to have his best season ever.

It’s hard to say who exactly made the biggest leap without looking deeply at it but my gut tells me Towns is the right answer here given how incredible he was offensively. There are obviously questions about his defensive abilities that are well warranted, but nobody has ever done what he did this past season at his age. Wait, tell me you didn’t already forget? KAT became the youngest player ever to score 2,000+ points and grabs 1,000+ rebounds in a season. Sorry, Shaq. You’ll have to settle for second youngest. Special K also became the first player ever to go for 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, and 100 three-pointers made in a season. That’s simply amazing. Yes, Rubio made a leap offensively and looked for his shot more than ever before, but overall his improvement was more mild. His defense was batter last season, which makes some of his analytics look better from the prior year. I have to call this is another whiff, sending our total to 10-for-34.

Shabazz will not play for the team next year. Currently, the Wolves have three wings who we are relying on the magical Thibsdust to improve. It's hard to imagine all three dramatically improving on the defensive end. Muhammad will be the odd man out between LaVine, Wiggins, and himself and the Wolves will go in a different direction to punch up their bench scoring. This also takes into account Shabazz's next contract. Bazzy, by every account, believes in himself and there is going to be some team out there that takes a chance on his next deal, which could end up being more than the Wolves feel like matching.

TBD. I can see it going both ways, though I’ll go on record and throw out another prediction that I don’t think Muhammad will be back next season. Given our overall success in the preseason predictions article, I’m sure you will take my word as truth. Our horrible 10-for-34 record stays the same.

Minneapolis is going to adore Tom Thibodeau.

I have tweeted plenty of times about my belief in Thibodeau. I always say, “Thibodeau is a lifestyle.” Minneapolis definitely doesn’t adore him yet, and there’s tons of work that has to be done before everyone starts to buy into his leadership, but I’m still 99% sure that will eventually happen given his commitment and dedication to turning this franchise around. This is still to be determined but for now it’s another L in the prediction column, since there seems to be more questions than answers.

Final record: 10-for-35

Closing statement: