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NBA Team Previews: #13 Minnesota Timberwolves

13) Minnesota Timberwolves 31-51 in the 2012-2013 season. 12th in the West. 5th in the Northwest.

The Timberwolves haven't made the playoffs since the 2003-2004 season. 10 years later, it might finally be time to see their return. After plenty of injury ridden years in Minnesota, it seems the stars of the T-Wolves are finally all healthy, and fans are praying they can all stay that way and make a run in the playoffs. Kevin Love is still considered possibly the top Power Forward in the league, and with stud Point Guard Ricky Rubio and under-the-radar Center Nikola Pekovic, this team could do some damage and possibly even upset a team in the playoffs. Is it finally time to watch this team come playoffs?

Acquired: Kevin Martin, Chase Budinger, Corey Brewer

Drafted: Shabazz Muhammad (#14), Gorgui Dieng (#21)

Lost: Andrei Kirilenko, Brandon Roy, Greg Stiemsma, Luke Ridnour

Depth Chart:

Starters: Ricky Rubio (PG), Kevin Martin (SG), Corey Brewer (SF), Kevin Love (PF), Nikola Pekovic (C)

Bench: Chase Budinger (injury- eventual starting SF), Alexey Shved (SG), Derrick Williams (PF), Shabazz Muhammad (SF), J.J. Barea (PG)

Team Stock: 

Up: Nikola Pekovic - Talk about sneaking up on the scene with Kevin Love's injuries. Pekovic became one of the best solid Centers in the game, putting up nearly a double-double nightly and giving him quite the presence inside the paint for Minnesota. People are thinking that Pek and Love could be quite the power combo inside. Now that Love should be back and healthy, this could be an even bigger year for Nikola, though he might not be so much under-the-radar anymore.

Down: Kevin Martin - It's been a rough road for Kevin Martin. His time in Houston was just begging for him to be traded, but when he was dealt in the James Harden deal, the expectations just seemed way too high for him in Oklahoma City. Now coming to the T-Wolves, Martin might feel like he's been forgotten about. While his scoring from outside is still solid, people question his overall skill set. Minnesota gives him a fresh chance to prove to his critics that he can be an all-around solid player for a contending team.

X-Factor: Kevin Love - This team is and has been Kevin Love's for a few years now. While some consider Kevin Love the best Power Forward of the game, others worry about his continuing injury issues. This is another situation of no matter what happens to Kevin Love, he will be the key to this team. Whether he is traded for longer-term assets or whether he puts up big numbers. This team is only going as far as Kevin Love will take them.

Question to Ponder...What if Love and Rubio can't stay healthy?

Okay so there is an assumption Love has a big possibility of getting traded this year due to frustrations over the T-Wolves lack of playoff appearances. However Love and Rubio haven't been able to stay on the court for that to happen. Yet even if the T-Wolves' plan is to trade him, it's difficult to trade an injury-prone player. So the question is what can the Wolves do if Love and Rubio just keep getting injured? Rubio is their Point Guard of the future, yet he's had issues last year with keeping healthy. The same for Kevin Love. If those guys can't get to the point where they can play at least 70 games a year, it could be a tricky situation for Minnesota to deal with.

Bold Prediction for the Minnesota Timberwolves: Kevin Love will make the 2nd Team All-NBA and lead the T-Wolves to the playoffs!

It's going to be the year. I can "Feel the Love" (I love my puns!) on this team. I have a feeling Kevin Love is going to be an absolute beast this year too. If he's looking for a trade, he's going to make teams fall head over heels over him, and if he wants to stay he's obviously going to play real hard for this team. With Pekovic to help give him space inside, Martin to make threes and Rubio to dish the ball, I "Love" the value of Love this year. I am expecting him to put up huge numbers, sneak into the 2nd Team All-NBA, and for the T-Wolves to make their first playoffs in 10 years. Get ready Minny, this year might be one to remember.

Projected Record: 45-37 7th in the West, 2nd in the Northwest.

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