We’re back! If you’re currently reading this, we at Canis Hoopus want to 1) sincerely thank you for your continued loyalty to the greatest Wolves-related site on the Internet, and 2) congratulate you for surviving what might have been the worst, chaotic, least enjoyable, and ridiculous summer in franchise history. Considering the franchise, that’s definitely saying something.
For the second straight year, the Wolves will open their regular season in San Antonio against Gregg Popovich and the new look Spurs (7:30 pm CT on Fox Sports North). While the home team in this one successfully moved on from their unhappy superstar over the summer months, the Wolves took a different approach, opting for chaos over cooperation and dysfunction over development, which should rarely come as a surprise if you've followed this team over the years.
With that all being said, the past is the past (for now anyway), and being on the cusp of real, live, meaningful basketball gets us all back to focusing on the important things like collecting a bunch of crazy predictions that will definitely, absolutely come true over the next seven months.
Before we get into it, I want to quickly shoutout the entire, revamped team at Canis Hoopus for the upcoming season. In addition to the OG’s John and Eric, we’ve got myself, Anthony Iverson, Drew Mahowald, Josh Clement, Neil Olstad, Scott Olstad, and a slough of new writers including Joe Hulbert, Michael O’Hagan, Jake Paynting, and Kevin F. Love (the other Kevin Love). In other words, we’ve got the #khantent market cornered, and we’re excited to bring it to you all season long.
Without further ado, let’s predict! As he’s done in the past, John will be reviewing these predictions at season’s end, and future compensation/benefits will be tied directly into performance, so hopefully we all shoot better than Andrew Wiggins from the three-point line (33%).
2018-2019 Wolves Predictions
Karl-Anthony Towns will lead the NBA in scoring.
Tom Thibodeau was constantly criticized for not getting KAT the ball enough last season, so you may shake your head at this prediction but hear me out.
With Jimmy Butler presumably out of town (eventually) and Andrew Wiggins known for his tendency to whip out his invisibility cloak from time-to-time, Towns should enjoy a much bigger slice of the pie this season. He averaged 25.1 points two seasons ago — James Harden led the league in ‘17/’18 with 30.4 — and has become a much better three-point shooter and offensive force. Don’t be surprised to see Towns averaging in the high 20’s or perhaps even low 30’s on a Butler-less Wolves squad. ~ Jake
No I.D. necessary: KAT officially joins the 50/40/90 club.
Already one of the most efficient big men in NBA history, Towns will finally add this historic achievement to his resume. Towns finished last season outside the club's velvet ropes, with a modest 58/42/85 split. With that in mind, KAT will need to improve his FT% by about 4% to hit this milestone, which isn’t insignificant but also isn’t that impossible. Based on his previous years of production, Towns’ projections for this upcoming season will likely end up somewhere closer to 55/40/90. Meow! ~ Michael
Luol Deng will play more minutes than both rookies... combined.
Yes, you heard me correctly. Despite flashing promise during both Las Vegas Summer League as well as the preseason, both Josh Okogie and Keita Bates-Diop will defer a majority of their playing time to the veteran Deng when it’s all said and done. Thibs will never change. Search your feelings ... you know it to be true. ~ Scott
Despite his otherworldly athleticism, Andrew Wiggins will once again fail to make the leap.
Listen, I really, truly, want to be wrong about this but nothing in Wiggins’ past indicates the leap is coming. For all the talk about Wiggins having a bad year due to him being an ill-fitting third-banana, he played 2,614 minutes with Butler last year and 3,453 minutes without him. Statistically, he was exactly the same player in both subsets of minutes.
Wiggins has been a maddening player to cover over the years as he will have hot streaks where he looks like he is putting it all together followed by long doldrums of depressing play. Unfortunately for the Wolves, that is likely to continue this year. ~ Josh
The “Tom Thibodeau era” in Minnesota will NOT survive the entire regular season.
Speaking of Thibs, unless the franchise improbably hit a home run with this inevitable Butler trade, the team looks like they will struggle early on. Once the season begins and the losses begin to mount, Papa Glen will finally have the justification to axe his GM/Coach. Thibs is a lame duck. Quack, quack, quack Mr. Taylor. ~ Neil
As a special gift from Glen Taylor to the fans, Ryan Saunders will be promoted to Interim Head Coach before Christmas.
The ousting of Tom Thibodeau is inevitable. As Neil pointed out, the grumpy 60-year tyrant is a lame duck, and the only thing standing in the way of his eventual removal is a strung-together batch of ugly losses. Well, if you watched the Wolves final preseason game against the Milwaukee Bucks, you know they are more than prepared to accomplish that feat.
While Glen Taylor has shown over the years that he is a logical and successful businessman, his talents in the board room have not necessarily translated to the locker room. However, the one characteristic that has emulated through time and time again when it comes to his beloved basketball franchise is loyalty. After the PR circus of #ButlerGate, don’t be surprised if Papa Glen immediately promotes Ryan Saunders to Thibs’ old office in a move to rejuvenate the franchise and “attempt” to smooth things over with season-ticket holders.
After all, I don’t think the brilliant minds at Korn Ferry “consult” during the season anyway, and would prefer to wait to steal more of Glen’s money next summer. ~ Kyle
Glass half-full: the Wolves will not finish last in 3PA this season.
Coming off back-to-back seasons with the fewest number of attempted threes per game (last season, the Wolves attempted a meager 22.5 threes per game, compared to 41.9 for the Houston Rockets), this team is finally poised to make the leap to second-to-last or, hell, maybe even third-to-last in three-point attempts this season.
Despite the loss of Nemanja Bjelica during the offseason, the addition of Anthony Tolliver combined with Karl-Anthony Towns’ evolving ability beyond the arc will help inch this team out of the basketball stone age. That plus two capable rookies looking for an opening and the ostensible shift away from Jimmy Butler iso ball bodes well for the Wolves in this department. Expect the wolves to collectively shoot at least 2,000 threes during this upcoming season, which would (easily) set a new franchise record. See the three, be the three. ~ Anthony
Glass half-empty: the Wolves will successfully defend their 30th ranked 3PA “title.”
In my opinion, this really depends on the type of return the Wolves get in an eventual Jimmy Butler trade. However, while the Wolves did bring in more wings, most of the playing time is still destined to go to the same players (at least under the current regime). It seems unlikely anyone will have a big uptick in the three-point attempts this year, particularly since Derrick Rose looks to be the teams 6th man off the bench. See the three, be the three, but then take an extra step in. ~ Josh
Speaking of hoisting threes, Karl-Anthony Towns will finally lead the team in 3PA.
I threw out this projection last year and came oh-so-close, with Towns finishing third with 3.5 three’s attempted per game, behind only Jamal Crawford (3.9) and Andrew Wiggins (4.1). With Jamal now in Phoenix and Wiggins clearly more comfortable taking long, Kobe-like two-pointers, there’s no reason Towns can’t blow his teammates out of the water with something like five or more 3PA’s per game.
Towns was their best shooter from beyond the arc last season (42.1%), and with Belly now in Sacramento, there’s very few players on the roster who deserve to shoot more bombs than Towns (well except for you, Anthony Tolliver. Feel free to let it rip like a drunk t-shirt cannon).
Towns finally says something that makes the news.
Entering his fourth year in the Association, KAT has already mastered the art of “giving a good sound bite to reporters without actually saying anything.” If you want a peek into Karl’s true personality, you’ll need to drop in on his Twitch livestreams where he candidly drops jokes and insights during games of Fortnite.
Last year, Ben Simmons made headlines when he told KAT that he had “plenty of time” to play PUBG with him because KAT was only going to play the lowly Hawks the next day. I predict that something KAT says during a livestream this year that will make headlines. After all, nobody’s purr-fect. ~ Scott
Defend your honor: the Wolves will break top-20 in defensive rating.
Losing Jimmy Butler will hurt, but this is more so a prediction that Jamal Crawford playing major minutes likely sunk the entire team’s defensive rating. Derrick Rose is going to have a similar impact, but the Wolves should have more solid bench players that can fill in the void this year. ~ Josh
Tyus Jones will continue his side gig of producing print materials.
Last season, Tyus taught us all the importance of never giving up, creating the beautiful video below that was easily one of the best highlights of the Wolves’ season. With LeBron James moving over to Tyus’s Western Conference full-time, I think it’s safe to say that more posters are on the way. ~Kyle
Josh Okogie will take home MVP honors at the Rising Stars game during All-Star Weekend.
With his combination of length, speed, and athleticism, Josh Okogie is precisely the type of player who could turn unexpected heads this season, particularly during a showcase like the Rising Stars game that features the league’s top rookie and sophomore talent. Based on his preseason performance thus far, there’s little question about his inevitable participation in this game, but the thought of him taking top honors isn’t that farfetched either – especially considering Bogdan Bogdanovic took home the prize last season. ~ Anthony
Speaking of the young rook, Josh Okogie will permanently embarrass at least two opponents this season.
As it currently stands, very few people in the NBA know that Josh Okogie’s elevator goes a few floors higher than nearly everyone else. That fact will no longer be a secret come this season, when Okogie rides his pogo stick legs to dunk all over the National Basketball Association. Think of Andrew Wiggins, but at a severely discounted price. ~ Kyle
Josh Richardson will tell local Minnesota reporters “it’s actually not as cold here as everyone was telling me.”
Just trying to speak this into existence. *crosses fingers* ~ Kyle
Dark Prediction of the Year: Tom Thibodeau will be the Wolves head coach on the last day of the season.
Special shoutout to our friend Eric for this hot (yet sadly and simultaneously uber realistic) prediction. Eric’s shooting percentage in the prediction game ranks near the top (Ed. Note: No it doesn’t), but for everyone’s sake let’s hope this heat check misses the mark.
2018-2019 General NBA Predictions
The Utah Jazz will fail to hit all the right notes.
After a spectacular finish to the 2017/18 season, the Jazz are predicted to finish as high as the second seed by multiple outlets. I believe they will fall well short.
While sophomore phenom Donovan Mitchell and Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert are a more-than-solid foundation, their lack of a consistent second scorer will lower their ceiling. Houston, Golden State, Toronto and Boston all had at least two players who averaged over 16 points per game, the Jazz second scorer behind Mitchell was Gobert with just 13.5 per night. Throw in the fact Gobert, Ricky Rubio and Derrick Favors have all dealt with the injury bug throughout their careers, and I would wager that the Jazz come nowhere near the Western Conference’s top three. ~ Jake
The Los Angeles Lakers make the playoffs... barely.
This isn’t necessarily a bold take, but it is almost always a terrible idea to bet against LeBron. However, the way this season is shaping up, there is absolutely no incentive for the Lakers to go for it this year. LeBron has played in 8 straight NBA Finals, while leading the league in minutes per game for two years in a row. It’s time for a break. Deep down, LeBron knows it is smarter to let the Warriors ride the wave out this year and try to get an additional superstar in free agency next year. Regular season victories can wait. ~ Josh
The Toronto Raptors will make the NBA Finals.
With LeBron out of the East, everyone and their uncle is purchasing tickets for the Boston Celtics bandwagon (well, everyone except Tristan Thompson). Pairing the deepest roster with the best head coach is obviously a masterful way to contend, but for me personally, I’m all-in on the current experiment taking place up north (although technically less north than Minneapolis, MN).
While the Celtics are a damn near shoe-in to lead the Eastern Conference in regular season wins, it’ll be the combination of Kyle Lowry and Kawhi Leonard (Kywhi Lownard?) that finally pushes the Raptors over the top and into their first trip to the NBA Finals. ~ Kyle
...And they will inevitably lose to the Golden State Warriors in 5 games.
I badly, badly want to throw another team into the Finals, but let’s be honest: the Rockets don’t have enough defense, the Jazz don’t have enough offense, and the Lakers have too much Michael Beasley/Lance Stephenson/JaVale McGee.
The Warriors are like that person in your fantasy league who dominates the draft, crushes the regular season, and has an injured All-Star sitting on their bench just waiting for the playoffs to begin. That’s what this version of Golden State looks like with the addition of DeMarcus Cousins. Adding in Boogie’s ... um ... personality is just what this team needs to avoid a championship hangover. ~ Kyle
The Utah Jazz will continue to make sweet, sweet music.
Contrary to my new teammate Jake’s scorching hot take, I actually believe the Jazz have all the right instruments to earn a top-3 seed in the Western Conference. Assuming health, they’ll boast one of the best defenses in the NBA, if not the very best. Add in another year of continuity and development with Donovan Mitchell, and they could be the surprise top seed in the West. ~ Michael
Greek Freak? He now goes by the name Giannis AntetokounMVPo.
Here’s the comprehensive list of head coaches who have overseen the development of Giannis since he entered the league in 2013: Larry Drew, Jason Kidd, and Joe Prunty.
That’s um ... not great. The arrival of Mike Budenholzer (who is a super talented coach who got a raw deal towards the end of his tenure in Atlanta) will be the best thing to happen to the Greek Freak since he was first introduced to smoothies. At 4/1 odds, throw all of the money under your mattress at Giannis winning MVP. ~ Kyle
Tom Thibodeau will be joined in the unemployment line by Franklin the Dog.
Spurred on by the success of wide-eyed, wild mascots like Gritty (Flyers) and Phanatic (Phillies) in the Philadelphia market, the Philadelphia 76ers will replace Franklin with a new character named “Barbie.” This twisted, smartphone-wielding creature will be a self deprecating nod to disgraced former GM Brian Colangelo’s wife Barbara Bottini. ~ Neil
Did we miss anything? Add your predictions in the comment section below so we can revisit this next April and see who gets a raise and who gets the Tom Thibodeau treatment.