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5 bold predictions for the 2023-24 Minnesota Timberwolves

Buckle in for a long season, because these Timberwolves will be playing all the way to the end.
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The NBA season has arrived and the Minnesota Timberwolves, despite getting very little respect from the national media, have a roster talented enough to bring the franchise its most success since Kevin Garnett led the team to the 2003-04 Western Conference Finals.

Here are five bold predictions for the season... 

1. Earn the No. 1 seed in the West

Last year, our bold predictions missed the mark thanks to Karl-Anthony Towns missing more than 50 games with a serious calf injury. Still, it was crazy to put them on 60 wins. But this is Year 2 with Rudy Gobert, Anthony Edwards is poised to enter the MVP conversation, Mike Conley provides stability at point guard, Towns isn't entering the season fresh off a serious illness and Jaden McDaniels, if his calf isn't a problem, is a defensive player of the year candidate. 

Minnesota won 42 games last season and it could've been a lot more had they not lost 18 games in which they held double-digit leads. 

The West is good and deep, which will make things challenging. Phoenix has star power with Durant, Booker and Beal; the Lakers have star power and depth; the Warriors are the Warriors; the Nuggets are the champs; and the Pelicans have a healthy Zion Williamson. But as good as the West is, the Timberwolves should be just as good as any team and if they stay healthy they could be the No. 1 seed thanks to a powerful starting five, solid depth and a defense that could be elite. 

Remember, Bruce Brown admitted after the Nuggets won the title that Minnesota was their toughest playoff opponent, and those Wolves were missing Naz Reid and McDaniels. 

Apr 4, 2023; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards (1) grabs a rebound in the fourth quarter against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center.

Apr 4, 2023; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards (1) grabs a rebound in the fourth quarter against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center.

2. Top 5 defensive team

Minnesota was 10th in defensive rating last season and they're poised to be even better with Gobert vowing to return to the level that earned him three of the last six defensive player of the year awards. 

McDaniels should've been a finalist for DPOY last year and Edwards can lock down on defense when he wants to. Look no further than last season when he and McDaniels bottled up Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving shortly after Irving was traded to the Mavericks. 

What's more, Minnesota's role players can play defense. Nickeil Alexander-Walker is a tremendous perimeter defender and Troy Brown Jr. can guard the 2 through the 4. Last year, Lakers head coach Darvin Ham raved about his defensive performances against Klay Thompson and the Warriors. 

Shake Milton also proved capable of holding his own on defense, but typically when he had Joel Embiid backing him up. He had a 110.2 defensive rating when on the court with Embiid but a 116.2 d-rating when Embiid was off the floor. In Minnesota, he'll get Gobert backing him up. 

If the Wolves play 10 guys most nights and those guys are Conley, Edwards, McDaniels, Towns, Gobert, Reid, Kyle Anderson, Milton, Brown Jr. and Jordan McLaughlin, they should be pretty stout on defense. 

Don't be surprised if Gobert and McDaniels are DPOY finalists. 

3. Naz Reid wins Sixth Man of the Year

This doesn't feel like a bold prediction, it's more common sense that the scoring big man will be the firepower off the bench that makes Minnesota dangerous from start to finish every night. Reid is arguably a Karl-Anthony Towns clone with his ability to put the ball on the floor and shoot from deep. Reid is a better ball-handler than Towns while Towns is the better long-range shooter. 

Don't believe the hype? Check out the per 36-minute stats last season:  

  • Towns: 22.6 points, 8.9 rebounds. 5.3 assists, 36.6% 3-point shooting
  • Reid: 22.5 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 34.6% 3-point shooting

Towns is a better 3-point shooter than his numbers showed last season, which can be blamed on him missing 53 games with the calf injury. 

4. Karl-Anthony Towns is traded after the season

This could be KAT's last run with the Timberwolves, but it would be crazy to expect him to be traded before the February deadline if the Wolves are rolling and looking like a true contender. But they can't hide the fact that they paid Reid good money and after signing McDaniels to a $131 million contract they have way too much money tied up in five players in 2024-25. 

Conley's contract comes off the books in 2024-25 but the top five players on the roster are due to earn a combined $165.5 million. 

  • Towns: $49.7 million
  • Gobert: $43.8 million
  • Edwards: $35.5 million
  • McDaniels: $22.5 million
  • Reid: $13.9 million

With the luxury tax threshold at an estimated $172 million in 2024-25, the Timberwolves would have less than $8 million to fill the rest of the roster without paying the luxury tax. Something has to change and Reid's versatility, age and contract make him a perfect replacement for Towns in the starting lineup.  

Minnesota also drafted Leonard Miller this past summer. He's an elite rebounder who could play big minutes in the future. And because the franchise is light on first-round picks due to the Gobert trade, recouping picks for Towns makes sense – after the season. 

5. Timberwolves over Bucks in NBA Finals

Laugh all you want, these are bold predictions that come with a little bit of realistic weight. Minnesota's roster is very talented and if they can stay healthy and put it all together, they could be extremely good. 

In the East, the Bucks and Celtics look like the cream of the crop and we're predicting a big year with Giannis Antetokounmpo paired with Damian Lillard. They still have Khris Middleton and an elite defensive center in Brook Lopez, not to mention experienced depth with Jae Crowder, Bobby Portis and Cameron Payne. 

The end result is a border battle in the NBA Finals, Minnesota versus Milwaukee and it'll be the Timberwolves coming out on top, led by Finals MVP Anthony Edwards.