It’s not quite clear how good the Minnesota Timberwolves will be this season, but adding Andrew Wiggins to this team to go along with Ricky Rubio, rookie Zach LaVine and generally having a creative and very fast group coming together might be the most fun team to watch in the league this season, although playing against the sad tank job of the Philadelphia 76ers isn’t exactly indicative of anything, especially in the preseason.
The Philadelphia 76ers lost 110-116, playing against Thaddeus Young who scored 12 points to go along with his five assists in a meeting with his former team. Alexey Shved, a former Timerwolves player, starting at point guard for the 76ers, adding 7 points and 6 assists while Michael Carter-Williams is still out with a shoulder injury. The same goes for Nerlens Noel, on a rest, and also Joel Embiid, still recovering from an injury himself.
The key for Minnesota’s success this season will be putting on any kind of defense, which probably falls down to Wiggins, who is a unique athlete and at least in this preseason is showing attempts at doing everything at once. He finished with 11 points on his second game for the team on 5-of-10 from the field, including another 3-pointer to build the trust in him as a shooter as well. He added a couple of steals and the alley oops we’ve already come to expect from him.
But Wiggins alone won’t be enough if this season is going to be about moving forward and not just treading water and waiting for player development in Minnesota. Ricky Rubio finished with 9 assists and 3 steals (also turned the ball over six times) while scoring 8 points. The keys to this offense remain in his hands, and with contract extension negotiations going on, Rubio has to show that this summer has been about finally generating some scoring.
Anthony Bennett is another interesting case to follow. For a moment there during his rookie season he looked like the biggest bust in the history of the league for a number one draft pick, but things might still turn out OK for him. He’ll be coming off the bench and did a good job with 13 points against the Sixers, adding 8 rebounds during his 25 minutes on the court. Another interesting second-year player worth following, Shabazz Muhammad, didn’t play, but he might also be able to turn some perceptions about him this season if he gets the opportunity from Flip Saunders.
Zach LaVine is the last name on the list of worth to watch for the Timberwolves. The rookie point guard scored 15 points on 6-of-11 from the field, including a nice alley oop combination with Mo Williams, which means we’re going to see a lot of double-point guard lineups for the Timberwolves because Wiggins can also play at the small forward. This team is probably inferior to the Kevin Love version of themselves, but not by much, and are harboring a lot more potential for growth and future success if they get on the right path and develop quickly and correctly.