If you’re familiar with Canis Hoopus, you know that one of our most sacred annual traditions here is providing a laundry list of definitely correct predictions prior to the start of the upcoming season. While 2020 has flipped many of our lives and routines upside down, what better way to retain a little bit of normalcy than providing a bunch of pre-regular season #takes that undoubtedly will hold up over the next handful of months.
Westbrook Eastbrook says, “why not?”
2020-2021 Wolves Predictions
Mind OVER Matter: Will the Timberwolves exceed Vegas win total (30)?
YES - YoLeo
The Phoenix Suns acquired Ricky Rubio and they nearly made the playoffs after going undefeated in the bubble. The Utah Jazz acquired Rubio and made it to the second round. Although that’s not in chronological order, I am 1,000% positive that the Timberwolves will make the playoffs with a win-loss total of over 30 wins despite their preseason performance.
Yes - Josh
The Ricky, D’lo, Beasley trio will get complicated. I don’t think the Wolves can play all three at once, but it might become very clear that the best closing lineup includes Ricky. If you can’t bench D’lo, that leaves Beasley as the odd man out. But Beasley definitely does not want to sit on the bench. It’s going to cause problems.
Jarrett Culver and Anthony Edwards will give Wolves fans a reason to hope. The wing duo started to develop chemistry together in the preseason and could terrorize bench units with their combination of athleticism and playmaking. One day soon, we are going to be clamoring soon for these two to be in the starting lineup and give Russell and KAT the support they need on offense and defense.
Yes - Tyler
This is a very tentative yes from me. The Timberwolves have plenty of talent to surpass 30 wins, but with little to no time to build chemistry, the on court product may not reflect the quality of talent throughout this roster. Also, this franchise has been plagued by injuries the last few seasons and were near the top of the list of teams who played the most G-League players last season. If this luck (or lack there of) continues, lottery night will yet again be the most exciting night of the year for us.
No - Mike
I hate to be the pessimistic one of the bunch, and this is still very, very tentative from me, but if this has any shot to go over at least one of us has to take the other side. Credit to me for falling on that sword. As far as the basketball aspect of this, I’m still just too concerned about the defense, especially considering the offense might not be ready to carry this team right away. I think we all went into this knowing the Wolves would need the offense to carry the defense, and I’m just not sure it’s going to be ready for that from day one. Between that, and still having a litany of mostly one-way players in a conference that is absolutely LOADED with depth, I’m skeptical. It pains me to be the fun police, but I’m taking the under.
No - John
If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s Always Take The Under in Wolvesdom.
Yes - Jake K
Uhhh yeah that’s gonna be a yes from me dog. Look, I’m dealing with two wolves inside of me on this one.
One wolf, the informed data wolf, tells me that the Wolves are historical underachievers against their expected win totals. Over the past 15 seasons, the Wolves’ average over/under has been 34. During that same stretch, they’ve averaged 28 wins. They’ve only gone over in three of those 15 seasons, seasons in which they won 22, 26, and 29 games. Usually, this is supposed to be about a 50/50 proposition, so, that’s not good!
But the other wolf, the blind optimist wolf, is telling me this: historical outcomes have no impact on future results. Yes, 30 is a lot of wins, especially for a mostly unproven team, in a shortened season, along with all of the other uncertain and unusual factors at play. I simply believe that this year’s team will be better. The blind optimist wolf is telling me they’ll actually be a lot better, so yes, they will obviously win at least 30 games.
No - Kyle
This is easy — hammer the under, and if (when?) the Wolves let us down yet again, enjoy your free money. If the Wolves do exceed expectations and go — lets say 35-37 — then that in and of itself is worth far more than whatever money can buy. In the words of one of the most beloved managers on Earth, betting the under this season is a win/win/win situation.
Kool-Aid Slammers: Wolves shock the world, secure a top-4 seed
Let’s just start with the highest level of optimism we can here — Ricky Rubio or Karl-Anthony Towns will finish top 10 in MVP voting as their team stacks up wins faster than Sam Presti stacks up future first round picks. Minnesota blows away their projected over/under win total, secures a top-4 seed in the ever-challenging Western Conference, and gets a few home playoff games to kick off spring 2021.
Jack of All Trades: Gersson Rosas keeps wheeling and dealing
This is an easy one prediction — since taking over back in spring of 2019, Gersson Rosas has shown that being aggressive is one of his core competencies when it comes to roster building, and that type of thinking won’t be slowing down anytime soon as he continues to rebuild/re-tool/re-whatever going forward.
To be more specific, a moderately significant trade (i.e. a Juancho Hernangomez type deal) will go down before March 25, resulting in a slight upgrade at the 4-spot and opening an additional roster spot for Jordan McLaughlin to sign a (real) contract.
Also, Gers & Co. get just enough out of Ed Davis in the next three or so months that they unload one of their family members to a playoff contender to recoup a future 2nd round pick (in like 2042 or something).
(B)easley Amused: NBA Star continues to show promise as rebounder and scorer
When he was acquired back at the 2020 NBA Trade Deadline, NBA Star Malik Beasley did his best to show his former team (the Denver Nuggets) that they made a mistake shipping him away. Since being acquired by Minnesota, the former Florida State alum has shown a propensity to score (both on and off the court), and that won’t change this season as he proves that his offensive explosion after the trade deadline was no fluke. Beas shot the heck out of the ball in Denver, and showed he could continue that with increased volume since arriving at Target Center.
To take it one step further, Beasley will lead the team in 3PA’s this season, but it will be his supersized friend Karl-Anthony Towns who will finish the season with the most makes.
Marvelous Debut? Ant-Man stumbles early, finishes strong
With early games against Blake Griffin, Anthony Davis, and Rudy Gobert, our beloved Georgia Bulldog re-confirms what he’s already noticed about the transition from college to the pros — them dudes big.
Well, Anthony Edwards is the best quote on the Timberwolves...— Dane Moore (@DaneMooreNBA) December 16, 2020
"Man, it's hard to guard screens in the NBA. Them dudes big. Them dudes setting them screens, they be big. Once I watch enough film on that, it'll become easy for me because I'm pretty big also."
In short — Anthony Edwards starts the season slow and inefficiently, experiencing severe ups-and-downs as a 19-year old rookie, before closing the last month-or-so of the regular season extremely strong, showing why he was worthy of being the top selection in the 2020 NBA Draft.
Another quick Ant prediction: the rook will have a top-5 poster dunk that Wolves fans will reference for no less than five years to come in any discussion that involves the former no. 1 overall pick.
Layman’s Work: Jake leads the team in PF minutes
While the power forward position will remain in flux for the entire 2020-2021 season, Jake Layman grabs the starting spot early on and never looks back, logging the most minutes at PF. And while he has a pretty strong bounce back season overall, the Wolves are once again among the league’s worst defensive rebounding teams.
“Shot clock winding down!”
- Ashton Hagans will emerge as an interesting player to think about ala Naz Reid last season.
- Speaking of Naz...Ed Davis won’t have much of a role this season and the Wolves will trade him as they did with Noah Vonleh and Jordan Bell.
- The Wolves will begin the 1⁄3 of the season near the bottom of the NBA standings, but rocket up in the final 2⁄3.
- Josh Okogie averages north of 35 percent from 3 and combines with the new-and-improved Jarrett Culver as one of the more valuable, young two-way duos in the NBA.
- Karl-Anthony Towns averages 28, 14, and 6 on 50/40/85 shooting splits and is the All-NBA First Team Center.
- Jarrett Culver is in the conversation for Most Improved Player and a spot on an All-NBA Defense team.
The next chapter begins tomorrow pic.twitter.com/NA4vi3j4Iw— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) December 23, 2020
General 2020-2021 NBA Predictions
Burst Bubble? NBA experiences COVID-19 outbreaks
While we all remain very optimistic for the upcoming season — not only for the Timberwolves, but the NBA in general — the realities of our current situation is that the COVID-19 pandemic is still VERY real and affecting all aspects of our day-to-day life.
With that said, the NBA will suspend play for at least three consecutive weeks due to a COVID-19 outbreak, but eventually return to play once the vaccine is officially rolled out to teams. The season will finish as 60 games total per team.
(Whether or not this prediction holds true, just a timely reminder to mask up, be well, and take care of you and your loved ones (especially during this very challenging holiday season).
Gripe with the Hype: Young teams show growing pains throughout the season
The hype surrounding a lot of young teams like the Atlanta Hawks, New Orleans Pelicans, Memphis Grizzlies, and even the Phoenix Suns won’t be lived up to. In a strange season, continuity and experience are going to win out and we’ll see young teams who made a lot of roster moves struggle more than those with veteran leaders.
The Ides of March: NBA trade activity reaches a record level
From what I can vaguely remember from back in high school, the “ides of March” was notable for many reasons, including the Romans using it as a deadline for settling debts (please fact check).
For fans of the NBA, March will also bring another type of deadline — the trade deadline — and with many front offices being essentially shut down for most of 2020 due to the pandemic, expect a lot of transaction action leading up to the March 25 deadline. James Harden? Yup. Aaron Gordon? Sure. Buddy Hield? Why not. Ben Simmons? Now we’re talking! Steph Curry? YOU HAVE MY ATTENTION!
3... 2... 1...
- Despite their opening night performance, the Brooklyn Nets will struggle mightily (6th-12th in the East) and eventually overpay to get James Harden by the March deadline.
- The Spurs finally embrace the tank and end up a bottom 5 team in the league, successfully targeting Cade Cunningham in the draft.
- The surprise team of the league this year will be the Utah Jazz. They will have a Denver Nuggets-esque run in the playoffs, capitalizing on year 2 of Mike Conley Jr. and a healthy Bojan Bogdanovic.
- Facundo Campazzo will be this year’s Milos Teodosic. #FreeFacundo
- Andrew Wiggins will make his return to Mi...chigan, as the Pistons send Blake Griffin to Golden State.
- The Warriors fail to make the playoffs and rumors being swirling about a potential Steph Curry trade.
- Luka misses more than 20 games and the Mavericks miss the playoffs altogether.
- The Lakers will barely be a top four seed as they coast through the regular season just trying to stay fresh and healthy for the playoffs.
- The Philadelphia 76ers will represent the East in the NBA Finals, against...
- The Los Angeles Clippers, from the West. The gap between the two LA teams has been overblown.... JUST KIDDING! Until I’m proven wrong, I will always think of the Clippers in the way that we last saw them. Give me the Lakers over the Sixers for the title. (h/t Mike)
Did we miss anything? Leave your predictions below (both for the Timberwolves and the NBA in general) and we’ll revisit this post (and the comments) once the season concludes next spring/summer.