Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports
New front office. New culture. New season. What can you expect from the Wolves and the rest of the league? It’s time for some predictions!
We’ve been doing these Definitely Correct Canis Hoopus Opening Night Predictions for a while now. Maybe we’re wrong pretty often, but what’s a new season without some predictions, both realistic and half-baked. Yeah, we’re back again. As Russell Westbrook says, why not?
2019-2020 Wolves Predictions
Mind OVER Matter: Will the Timberwolves exceed Vegas win total (35.5)?
ANONYMOUS: After predicting both the Toronto Raptors as Eastern Conference Champions and the Greek Freak as MVP in last year’s predictions, our gambling advice has never been stronger. With that in mind, it’s time to ignore all the haters (bye, Thibs) and get an advance on your next paycheck, because the Wolves are definitely hitting the OVER.
Is this team going to look bad at times? Absolutely. Could they give up a few 130-point nights? I wouldn’t put it past them. But if you’re Gersson Rosas and Ryan Saunders, you don’t spend all summer preaching “culture” and then start tanking and selling assets in early January during what’s sure to be an awful winter if you believe farmers and what not. While the New Wolves Order may still decide to shop a player or two at the deadline if things go south, this team has too many young players in contract years to just start punting on games as the snow begins to melt. It may not always be pretty, but few teams will still be playing as hard as the Wolves come February and March, regardless of their position in the West. You may have to sweat it all the way to the end, but they should finish at least 37-45. I believe that’s the first prediction.
Others chiming in: UNDER, UNDER, OVER, UNDER, UNDER, OVER.
Canis commenters say: Always bet the under, you fools.
Final count: 4-3, UNDER.
Will the Wolves prove Vegas wrong?
ANONYMOUS: They aren’t ready to contend for a playoff spot quite yet, partly because doing so in the West requires at least 45 wins or so, but I think they’ll be better than they were last year. I expect the defense to eventually be around league-average with Robert Covington back in the fold. The offense will be fine as long as Karl-Anthony Towns is around. KAT is a scoring beast and that will never change. The offseason additions, while not flashy, are genuinely useful players. Jeff Teague has been a net-positive and he’s in a contract year and that should push him. There’s plenty of incentive for this group to try to win and being slightly below average isn’t unreasonable. I bet the Wolves “surprise” and hit the over.
Winded Wiggins: Andrew leads the team in minutes played (even though he shouldn’t)
James Harden is the only player who has logged more NBA minutes than Wiggins since Andy’s rookie year. There’s one thing Flip Saunders, Sam Mitchell, Tom Thibodeau, and Ryan Saunders all have in common: The compulsive need to give Andrew ALL THE MINUTES. Expect the sixth year rookie to lead the team in minutes and rank within the top ten in the league. Some will talk about Wiggins Island while others will counter with points about how other wings like Josh Okogie, Jarrett Culver, and Treveon Graham should get PT instead. Wolves leadership will continue to invest and believe in Wiggins no matter what the results are because Money Talks.
Jarrett Culver Impresses
There are a multitude of reasons to believe in Culver, but most of it comes down to talent and opportunity. Although he slid to 6th overall in the draft, there are plenty of people who believe Culver could be the third best player in the 2019 draft class. The creation abilities looked promising in the preseason and he should be able to contribute immediately defensively. His shooting will likely be inconsistent, but that’s the case for nearly all rookies. While the Wolves aren’t ready to contend, it would seem logical to feed Culver a hefty portion of playing time, allowing him to learn on the fly. We believe the Wolves’ premier rookie proves to be a building block and makes us proud.
Let me rephrase that: JARRETT CULVER MAKES ALL-ROOKIE FIRST TEAM
The Second Coming (JC) will make the All-Rookie First Team. All-Rookie teams are often determined as much by skill as opportunity. Culver may have more of an opportunity to shine than many other high draft picks if the Wolves start slow. Darius Garland and Coby White have complicated backcourts and De’Andre Hunter may have limited shot opportunities. Beyond Ja Morant and Zion Williamson (unfortunately hurt), the other three slots are open for debate. Culver is clearly ready to contribute as a driving guard and skilled wing — he has a real shot of being an impact player this season and could be rewarded with prized those rookie honors.
Shabazz Napier is the most valuable role player
Point guard is the most shallow position in Minneapolis, meaning the unheralded but talented Napier has serious opportunity to shine. Many fans will come to wish the former Connecticut star was inked to a long-term deal after early returns prove his worth. In fact, Napier will be the best point guard on team and they will play measurably better defense when he’s on the floor.
Jordan Bell and Noah Vonleh will both flash great skills that complement KAT and everyone will argue about who fits better long-term
Enough said, right? We hope one of them fits and truly sticks. Though this might become a game of Spider-Man pointing at Spider-Man.
Keita Bates-Diop will get lost in translation
A sad, likely truth for the sophomore tweener from The Ohio State University.
Warm up the Trade Machine: Wolves wheel-and-deal
The new front office will participate in a trade or two this season. We must let the executive chef of the trade machine stay true to his recipes. Maybe they will move some of the guys on 1-year deals, or perhaps be the third team in other major moves, using the flexibility as a necessary spice to other league trade dishes to nab second round picks or future assets. Whatever the case, expect the stove to be hot.
Which leads us to…
RoCo on the Go? Covington gets traded
We really don’t want to speak this into existence, as most trades involving Covington won’t return a player with All-Defensive, three-point shooting value. RoCo is one of the best contracts in the league, too. But this might be a point of high leverage for the Wolves and his name came up during offseason trade discussions. With a wide-open league, a player like Covington is easily the missing piece for a team that believes they can make the Finals, similarly to how Marc Gasol tipped the scales for the Raptors. If the Wolves can extract monster assets from a team like Boston, Denver, Golden State or someone else, Covington could find himself in the middle of a deep playoff run. We might predict this move, but our Canis feelings should be clear:
Josh Okogie will continue to be the Defensive Red Bull Energy Stopper but we’ll still question his shot and ability to create
We love JO here at Canis Hoopus. We hope he plays with more poise and control. We hope he continues to be a good father to James Harden, though we’re also a bit worried about his future in Wolvesdom. Maybe we should shut up and enjoy the good stuff. Yeah, let’s do that.
Josh Okogie is all over James Harden right now, strip and a block on these two possessions pic.twitter.com/YGz3pVcpLy
— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) February 14, 2019
Layman’s Work: Jake starts…A LOT!
Jake Layman starts more games than every Wolf except Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns. Ryan won’t commit to him as the fifth starter, but we predict that by the end of the season, he will have started more games than most Wolves.
Wiggins Island experiences another recession
Andrew Wiggins is bad. This is, unfortunately, not so much a prediction but an expectation that the status quo remains true. No matter what variables change, Wiggins has remained the same. We have seen the same thing this preseason and there is no rational explanation for Wiggins to change in the slightest. Like every season, he will have his tantalizing moments and his shooting percentages might move up a couple of percentage points, but his impact will remain the same.
Wolves become the real-life version of the “Dumpster Fire” GIF
Why are we like this? An awful start leads the organization to shifting from Stealth Tank to Full Tank Mode. Nobody will be happy. The good cultural vibes will fade into a cold snowy alleyway behind Cuzzy’s.
Not a cold snowy alleyway behind Cuzzy’s but you get the point.
Sleeve Me Alone: Jarrett Culver comes to his senses and ditches the undershirt
This is more of a wish than a prediction. While we have so much hope and optimism for Culver becoming the necessary star alongside Karl-Anthony Towns, we’re not 100% sure any of it will matter if the rook continues to wear that hideous sleeved spandex undershirt as his career takes off. Maybe he’s still acclimating to colder climates, or maybe he’s waiting to meet up with the Sleeve Monster until Drip Saunders promotes him to the starting lineup, but either way, Gersson Rosas simply cannot promote a new and improved franchise culture if Culver is allowed to continue his wretched fashion sense.
Saved by the Bell: Jordan shows promise on the court, resulting in an extended stay
Alright, time to take a Eurostep past what we said earlier about Spider-Man. This is a total heat check! We can’t ditch the feeling that Jordan Bell is going to be unleashed this season. After being fairly grounded in Steve Kerr’s dog house during his first couple of seasons in the NBA, Bell will maximize his opportunities in Minnesota as the team increases their pace and looks for more athletic bodies to sure up the defensive side of things.
If things truly do work out, expect the New Wolves Order to place an emphasis next summer on retaining the RFA, making Bell a cheaper complimentary piece alongside Towns and Culver.
Shot clock winding down!
- Wolves finish in the bottom five of the league in defensive rebound percentage and top five in the league in opponent turnovers
- Everyone will talk about more minutes for Vonleh/Bell to help clean up the glass
- Top five in pace and top ten in three-point attempts
- No practices ruined by drama queens
- KAT finishes top ten in scoring and MVP voting (hell, maybe even top 5! Hi, Kat.)
- Towns also goes absolutely crazy statistically and sniffs 50/40/90, shifting the distorted perception of him
- Covington comes ALL the way back from injury and wins DPOY (hopefully still on the team)
- Jeff Teague (JFT) is moved for penny’s on the dollar around the trade deadline
- Culver struggles to find his feet early but shows star potential after the break
- Okogie doesn’t take a leap offensively, finding himself playing under 20 mpg
- Rookies Jaylen Nowell and Naz Reid won’t do much until the team pivots to losing but will have at least one nice dinner together in Des Moines, Iowa where they “become closer.”
- There will be a two-week stretch where Ryan goes back to playing Gorgui Dieng and everyone will remember that G is still an objectively good player
- Treveon Graham will hustle and grind his way into a new contract
- Jimmy B’s teammates will be miserable before Christmas
- Yeah, crazy enough, it’s possible to still be miserable in South Beach when Jimmy’s around
General NBA Predictions
Bull Steam Ahead: The Chicago Bulls will make the playoffs
You know what never gets old? Watching workout videos of gym rat Zach LaVine during the summer. The former Wolf has a pure passion for hoops and has gone from a late lottery pick to one of the game’s most lethal offensive players. A backcourt of LaVine and dark horse ROY candidate Coby White is worth the price of League Pass alone, even if the two of them give up twice as many points as they score. Mix in a healthy Wendell Carter, Jr., sneaky free agent signing Thaddeus Young, and a second-year leap from The Finnisher, and you have all the makings of a young, frisky 7-seed in the lowly Eastern Conference.
The 2019-20 NBA Champion resides in Los Angeles
We have no idea if it will be the Lakers or Clippers, but we’d be willing to bet one of these teams ends up up on top of the West. The rosters have elite talent. If we had to guess, we’ll go LAC assuming health for both Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. Where is Andre Igoudala eventually headed? He seems destined to be bought out by the Memphis Grizzlies at some point and reports are that he will choose between these two teams. Iggy would fill a big need for the Lakers, as they could trot out LeBron-Green-Iggy-Kuzma-AD, which keeps LeBron from having to chase around…anyone. If Iggy heads to the Clippers, well, good luck to any team scoring from the perimeter against a four man unit of Beverly-PG-Iggy-Kawhi. In a star-studded league, a 35-year-old Iguodala might be the determining factor.
Klaw & Order: Special Victory Unit
While the Lakers continue to be the most popular pick to make (and win) this season’s NBA Finals, we’re going with the OTHER team from the city of angels. Yes, the Clippers will be without Paul George for at least the first month or so, and yes, the Clippers are a tad thin in the front court, but this team is going to be a MONSTER on the defensive end of the ball, and similar to last year’s Toronto Raptors, should have enough depth to grind out victories when Kawhi manages his load.
With a full, healthy roster entering the playoffs (plus the addition of at least one proven veteran – maybe Andre Iguodala or Marc Gasol), the Clippers should have no problem klawing their way to the NBA Finals, where they will meet (and beat) the Philadelphia 76ers.
3… 2… 1…
The Golden State Warriors fail to make the playoffs.
Andre Iguodala finally gets waived, signing with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Houston Rockets finish with the most regular season wins in the NBA, but fail to get out of the second round.
Charlotte Hornets will lead the league in losses and crying Jordan memes.
Zion Williamson will Olympic Vince Carter at least one opposing player upon his return.
…let’s hear your predictions!