There’s no doubt that the Minnesota Timberwolves had their most interesting off-season in recent memory. Whether it turns out to be as successful as the hype remains to be seen.
Do I even need to mention the phrase “high-turnover.” The Timberwolves gave new meaning to the term getting rid of most of their coaching staff and over half of the players from last year’s team. Hopefully this turnover doesn’t translate into record turnovers of the ball when the season starts, but all signs are pointing to a difficult year for the talented but inexperienced Timberwolves. Gone are Mike Miller, Randy Foye, Craig Smith, Sebastian Telfair and a number of other players from last year’s team.
In their place The Wolves have brought in a glut of young talent at the guard positions to go along with their version of the twin towers. Not only did the Wolves choose three guards in the first round of the draft this year, they also managed to add a highly talented young point guard from Milwaukee out of free agency in Ramon Sessions. If Kevin Love and Al Jefferson can find the right group of young guards to play with the Wolves could surprise some teams, but it’s likely that the Wolves will find themselves picking in the lottery again next year unless guys like Johnny Flynn and Wayne Ellington can excel in their rookie seasons. The Wolves also added savvy veteran guards Antonio Daniels and Damien Wilkins to help mentor the young guys. Johnny Flynn has shown some very promising signs in the preseason, so the competition at shooting guard will largely determine how competitive the Timberwolves are this year.
Ricky Rubio was the other point guard selected just before Flynn, but after an extended buyout battle Rubio has decided to stay in Europe until the 2011 season. This is not a horrible thing for the Timberwolves. With their logjam of talented youth at the guard spots, Rubio will be able to start and possibly contend for a championship in Europe, while the Timberwolves develop their other young guards here in the NBA.
Not only did the players change dramatically this off-season, the coaching staff also has some new faces this year. Led by Kurt Rambis, the coaching staff now sports two other high-profile former players in Bill Laimbeer and Reggie Theus. This will be crucial for the young Wolves development in the long-term.
With so many changes it’s unlikely that the Timberwolves will be competitive this season. A slight improvement over last year’s club is not out of the question at this point. The preseason will be highly competitive and depending largely on Flynn and Ellington to learn quickly is the name of the game. If they can’t step up look for Ramon Sessions to have a big year leading the way.