Will KG Get His Groove Back?
Possibly the worst development of a terrible Wolves team was Kevin Garnett's body language. He looked miserable all year, fueling more trade speculation than ever. Both team and player say KG will not be traded, but another bad year could force Minnesota to pull the trigger.
New Look Backcourt
As part of the neverending search for a good supporting cast for Garnett, the Wolves will turn to their new acquistions in the backcourt. Mike James will man the point this year after signing a 4 year, $25 million dollar deal in the summer. James is coming off a career year in Toronto, but his contract is reasonable enough that a slight dropoff isn't that big a concern. James is a shoot first point guard, but with Garnett's passing skills that's not that big a problem. James, along with Ricky Davis, give this team more scoring options.
The other major addition in draft pick Randy Foye. Foye will be counted on to drive to the basket and play solid defense. These two should push Jaric, Troy Hudson, and Trenton Hassell to the bench, where they belong.
Frontcourt? What Frontcourt?
In the Garnett era, the Wolves' best center was Rasho Nesterovic. That might be the most damning indicent of Kevin McHale's tenure as GM. Once again, the Wolves have a weak frontcourt. The starting center will be Mark Blount, who can be counted out to not care 75% of the time. However, since KG's stringbean body doesn't have the strength to defend them, it will be up to Blount to defend the big men around the league.
After that, it's not much better, Eddie Griffin has some potential (see: X-Factors), but behind him is Mark Madsen, who can't shoot, rebound, pass, or dance. The team is so desperate for size they signed Vin Baker right before training camp.
Ricky Davis: Davis's maturity has gone up recently, and it appears he has no problem being KG's second banana, but last year those two were the only scoring options. How will Davis handle James and Foye being around taking shots?
Eddie Griffin: Minnesota's other head case, Griffin's age (24) and size (6-11) is tantalizing given this team's lack of size or youth. However, he can't stay out of trouble. This summer he was arrested for DUI while doing something Carl Monday would not approve. On the court, his major problem is taking too many 3 point shots, 82 of them last year despite shooting 19.5% from downtown. If he can stay out of trouble and in the paint, the Wolves might have at least one competent center.
There's some stuff to like about Minnesota this year. Garnett is still Garnett, and Davis and James give the team more scoring options. However, this team still looks like every recent Wolves squad: a jump shooting team with a marshmellow frontcourt. With all the top big men in the West, a playoff berth looks a bit out of reach.
My Prediction: 3rd Northwest Divsion, 9th Western Conference