Record last season: (29-53, 13th place in West)
Projected 2016-2017 Win total: (41.5)
Odds to win NW Division: (5/1)
Don’t let last season’s record fool you. This young team is looking to make big strides this season, and they think they have found the coach to lead the charge. Tom Thibodeau, one of the best defensive minds in basketball today, is hoping to bring a new attitude to this franchise. The T-Wolves have an exceptional young core of talent in Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Zach LaVine, along with rookie point guard Kris Dunn from Providence (the #5 pick in this year’s NBA Draft). The development of Towns will be something to watch for this year (18.3 PPG and 10.5 RPG last season), he has all the pieces to be a dominant post presence for years to come.
The Blazers matchup well with the T-Wolves on paper, but to quell this young group, you must first stop Towns. Slowing him down in the paint and forcing the perimeter players to shoulder the scoring load would be a wise approach. The T-Wolves ranked 25th in 3P% last season at 33.8% and 29th in 3PM at only 5.5 per game. A major reason the Minnesota brass brought in Thibeddeau as head coach is to bring a defensive mindset to the team. The T-Wolves ranked 23rd on opponent PPG at 106.0 and 28th in opponent FG% at 47.1% – Portland will look to attack the T-Wolves and exploit their defensive inefficiencies (stats via NBA.com).