College basketball countdown: No. 27 Minnesota

USA TODAY Sports breaks down the projected NCAA tournament field of 68.

      
 

 

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Minnesota Timberwolves: Don’t miss out on “Dunks After Dark”

An awesome event will be held this Monday by the Minnesota Timberwolves. In honor of the first practices of the season starting up, the Timberwolves will doing a scrimmage and dunk contest at Minnesota State University-Mankato’s Bresnan Arena. The doors to the arena will be open at 11 pm, and the players will take the floor at midnight.
“Dunks After Dark” is free and open to the public, though tickets are limited. This is a great opportunity to see how the new additions to the Timberwolves play, and see how they play with each other. Fans who don’t want to or can’t go to Mankato are also able to watch the event. “Dunks After Dark” will be on NBA TV and Timberwolves fans also can do live streaming through Timberwolves.com.
Fans unfamiliar with the new faces on the Timberwolves will definitely want to tune in. This is a great opportunity to watch the Timberwolves players interact with each other and a great chance to gauge the young talent before the season starts. Andrew Wiggins will definitely b

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Minnesota Timberwolves: The five best trades in Timberwolves history

In honor of the Kevin Love and Andrew Wiggins trade, this past week I looked at the five worst trades in Minnesota Timberwolves history. To finish this theme on a happy note, here are the five best trades the Timberwolves have ever done.
5. Minnesota trades Jonny Flynn and the draft rights to Donatas Motiejunas to the Houston Rockets for Brad Miller, the draft rights to Nikola Mirotic, the draft rights to Chandler Parsons and a first round pick:
This trade, if the Timberwolves had kept the right players from this trade they actually would have recovered from investing a first round pick in Jonny Flynn. Mirotic was a great player in Europe and shows a lot of promise, while Chandler Parsons is a young player who plays good defense and was good enough to get a huge $45 million dollar deal this summer.
4. Minnesota trades Kevin Garnett to the Boston Celtics for Al Jefferson, Gerald Green, Ryan Gomes, two first round picks and cash considerations.
Al Jefferson now leading the Charlotte Bobcats
 
While it always i

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Pros and Cons of Andrew Wiggins Starting Right Away for Minnesota Timberwolves

When the 2014-15 NBA season tips off, there’s still no telling where Andrew Wiggins will be. 

At least we know what team he’ll be playing for, as he’s officially joined the Minnesota Timberwolves following the trade that sent Kevin Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers. But beyond that, everything is up in the air, as Minnesota head coach and president of basketball operations Flip Saunders won’t commit to starting Wiggins. 

According to Andy Greder of the St. Paul Pioneer Press on Twitter (h/t CBS Sports’ Zach Harper), Saunders was “noncommittal on Andrew Wiggins starting” during a radio appearance. 

That’s fine.

There’s plenty of time remaining—as well as training camp and preseason—before the Timberwolves have to make any sort of decision as to Wiggins’ role during the opening salvo of his rookie season. Rushing into a choice would be foolish.

But what’s in the team’s best interest? We can determine that much at this stage, even if that doesn’t lock Wiggins into the starting five or onto the pine. 

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Minnesota Timberwolves: The five worst trades in Timberwolves history

Will Wiggins make up for losing Love?
This whole summer, the main story about the Minnesota Timberwolves was the Kevin Love trade to Cleveland, which ultimately ended with the Timberwolves receiving Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and Thaddeus Young. Time will tell whether the Timberwolves made a good trade or not, but that’s not going to stop me from looking back at the best and worst trades the Timberwolves have made in franchise history. I will start off with the worst first and save the best for next week.
5. Minnesota trades Ty Lawson to the Denver Nuggets for cash considerations:
The Minnesota Timberwolves drafted three point guards in the 2009 NBA draft and got rid of possibly the best one of the bunch. Admittedly the Timberwolves getting three point guards through draft would be hard to put on the roster. However this move looks much worse considering that one of the point guards the Timberwolves drafted and kept over Lawson was Jonny Flynn, who is already out of the NBA while Lawson averages 18 po

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Biggest Hurdles Flip Saunders Faces with Minnesota Timberwolves This Season

Normally, a general manager’s goal is to plan for the future while the head coach focuses on winning now, but things won’t be that simple for Flip Saunders and the Minnesota Timberwolves.

In 2014-15, Saunders will have the almost impossible task of being both a coach and a GM. With these roles comes a plethora of difficult decisions that must be made.  

The Timberwolves had a very busy offseason, losing their best player in Kevin Love and gaining three unproven players with very high ceilings.  

Saunders must help develop these young players while also deciding which veterans he wants to keep or trade.

The theme for Saunders and the Timberwolves this year will be the future versus the present.

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Minnesota Timberwolves Must Avoid Paying Ricky Rubio After Losing Kevin Love

They say it’s better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all.

By now, the Minnesota Timberwolves know a thing or two about Love and loss alike. But after being cornered into trading away their disaffected star forward to the Cleveland Cavaliers, there’s a very real danger the franchise could overspend in a bid to avoid more loss.

It flirts with said danger on account of point guard Ricky Rubio, the Spanish would-be star Minnesota selected with the No. 5 overall pick in 2009.

To be sure, Rubio‘s situation shares little in common with Kevin Love’s. The 23-year-old has neither the superstar pedigree nor the requisite leverage to force a trade at this juncture.

Moreover, he’s given no indication that he intends to do such a thing.

“I’m loyal,” Rubio recently told Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski. “I want to give them back what they gave me there: a lot of love.”

Unfortunately, that love—not Love—will come at a steep price by all accounts.

The organization has until the end of October to sign Rubio to an extension, but it appears little progress has been made to that end. The chief culprit seems to be a disconnect between Rubio‘s market valuation and his agent’s ambitious agenda.

Back in April, the Star Tribune‘s Jerry Zgoda speculated as much, writing, “Expect Rubio‘s side to push for a contract closer to a maximum salary than the four-year, $44 million extension Golden State’s Stephen Curry received, which the Wolves just might view as beyond their limits.”

Months later, little has changed.

Timberwolves reporter Darren Wolfson told Sportando’s E. Trapani in August that “Rubio is on notice. The Wolves are trying to sign him to an extension, and so far his agent, Dan Fegan, is balking at the idea of a 4-year, $43 million deal.”

“That’s plenty for a player of Rubio‘s caliber,” Wolfson adds. ”It’s a lot more than Atlanta point guard Jeff Teague makes—maybe a better player—and is what Golden State All-Star guard Stephen Curry makes. But Fegan is seeking the five-year max. That’s not happening. The situation is pointing toward Rubio being a restricted free agent next summer.”

In March, Grantland’s Zach Lowe described Rubio as “among the most divisive players in the league now, in part because of the sense that his agent, Dan Fegan, is going to demand an eight-figure extension that Rubio does not yet deserve.”

Accordingly, restricted free agency wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, especially for the Timberwolves.

Unless Rubio make significant strides this season, it’s unlikely other teams will offer him anywhere near a max deal. Even with the massive deals Chandler Parsons and Gordon Hayward recently signed, the market for a point guard with limited shooting ability is a different story.

The available body of evidence suggests Rubio remains a large step behind someone like Curry. Last season the Spaniard averaged 9.5 points, 8.6 assists and 2.3 steals per contest. There’s a lot to like about the line, but the bigger problem was that 2013-14 was the third consecutive season in which Rubio made well under 40 percent of his field-goal attempts—this time a career-high 38.1 percent.

Zgoda recently tweeted, “[Head coach and team president] Flip [Saunders] also said team will hire a shooting coach for this season. Rubio, [Chase] Budinger & others have been working [with] one based on LA.”

So there’s certainly a chance Rubio emerges as a much-improved shooter at some point this season, but it’s hard to imagine him approximating Curry’s production or efficiency.

The Golden State Warriors floor general averaged 24 points and 8.5 assists per game last season, converting on 47.1 percent of his field-goal attempts in the process. Rubio has a long way to go before putting up those kinds of numbers.

In turn, a deal that pays Rubio somewhere on the order of $10 million annually would seem nothing short of generous.

Exploring the free-agent market next summer may reveal as much.

In the meantime, Minnesota should resist the urge to overpay. Tempting as it may be to lock up a franchise cornerstone (shortly after losing another), Rubio is far more replaceable than Love. 

It’s true that teams like the Timberwolves sometimes have to sweeten deals due to the difficulties they have attracting external talent. Rubio‘s qualified commitment to the franchise may even indicate that now’s the time for such a loyalty bonus.

Until the Timberwolves start winning, money is all they have to offer.

“I like Minnesota,” Rubio explained to NBA.com’s Scott Howard-Cooper in June. “But I want to win too. Of course when a big guy like [Love] leaves you’re thinking about what’s going to be happening with the team. Are we going to lose a lot?”

“Before I came to Minnesota, the season before they won like 17 games,” Rubio continued. “I was a little scared when I went there. I’m coming from Europe, where I was playing in Barcelona. I think we lost six games or seven games in two seasons, and every loss was a disaster. I don’t want to go through a process like every win is something special.” 

Wins may indeed be special this season, which could certainly lead Rubio‘s eyes to begin wandering.

There haven’t been any ultimatums thus far, though. In fact, Rubio has attempted to distance himself from the contract process.

“It’s something I’m not worried about,” Rubio told reporters in April. “It’s something my agent is going to talk [about] with Flip. It’s something I don’t have to be worried [about]. I just worry about playing.”

Soon enough, however, he may be worried about playing for a raise over the $5,070,686 he’s scheduled to make this season, according to Basketball-Reference.com. Unless his camp reaches an understanding with Minnesota, the campaign ahead reasons to be something of a league-wide audition.

An audition Saunders and Co. will watch closely.

In the event Rubio discovers a jump shot and transforms himself into a well-rounded scoring threat, the organization will happily reward him financially. But the Timberwolves would be well-served by allowing the market to make that determination.

They’ll have the right to match any offer Rubio receives next summer, so there’s little need to pre-empt that process with a potentially inflated extension.

This is no time for impulse buys.

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Minnesota Timberwolves: Four reasons Kevin Martin steps up his game

It may seem odd to predict a significant improvement in play from a 31 year old player like Kevin Martin, but I think that there are a lot of differences from this year to last for Martin and the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Reason number one: As a shooting guard, Martin’s main job on the basketball court is to put the ball in the hoop. Martin did pretty well at that last year, scoring around 19 points a game and shooting 43 percent from the field and above 38 percent from beyond the arc. However, for much of the season last year, Martin was dealing with a lacerated pinky finger, and while that is certainly an injury that Martin could play through, you could tell by watching Martin play that the injury was throwing off his shot, even if it was off only slightly so.

Reason number two: Another reason I think Martin will improve is the fact that he will be the main outside shooting threat for the Timberwolves, which will lead to him getting more chances to shoot and more chances to get into a groove. Even before K

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Minnesota Timberwolves: Should the rookies start?

This past offseason, the Minnesota Timberwolves got two rookies with a lot of potential and extreme athletic ability. Andrew Wiggins is the big name that the Timberwolves got in the Kevin Love trade, and was one of the most hyped prospects to come out of college. Zach LaVine was the Timberwolves 1st round draft pick in the 2014 NBA Draft and was an electric player for UCLA last year.
Wiggins dunks over TCU while playing at Kansas (Photo Credit: Brandon Wade/AP)
Both Wiggins and LaVine are set to be key players in the Timberwolves future. The question is what happens in the present? Wiggins and LaVine are extremely raw players with a lot of fundamentals to work on before becoming complete players in the NBA. The Timberwolves will surely give both LaVine and Wiggins a lot of playing time, but it remains to be seen how Saunders will construct the lineups, especially if Saunders is trying to create a team that will be in the playoff hunt.
With Wiggins, I believe he will be starting opening day. Although Corey Bre

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Predicting the Roles/Impact of Each Minnesota Timberwolves Newcomer This Season

With Kevin Love gone, the Minnesota Timberwolves must begin a new era with a new identity.  

This team is filled with unproven players with very high ceilings, such as Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine and Anthony Bennett. 

They also drafted Glenn Robinson III in the second round of the 2014 NBA draft.

Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders spoke optimistically about the Timberwolves when asked which “rebuilding unit’s core” would he prefer:

I like what the Wolves have… I like Orlando… 76ers have some promise that needs to be shown… not sure the Bucks have anything yet.

I think Minnesota could make the playoffs this year if things break their way. Orlando could win 40 games this year too… Not sure the 76ers or Bucks win 40 games combined in the next two years — I am joking of course. They are both in the early stages of a rebuild, so Wolves & Magic within five years… in seven or eight… Philly gets in the mix for me.

In addition to the youth, the Wolves added veteran leadership by bringing in Thaddeus Young and Mo Williams. 

Fans in Minnesota may be excited for the future, but it’s time to focus on the now.  What impact will these new additions have on the team this season? 

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