The NBA lockout is still holding back the start of the 2011-12 season, which would mark the 10th anniversary of the Minnesota Timberwolves first 50-win season in franchise history. This achievement may be laughed at by most NBA fans and experts, but at the time it was a significant achievement for a franchise on the rise. Franchise savior Kevin Garnett had only arrived in 1995, and was about to lead the Timberwolves to their 6th straight playoff appearance. However, the Timberwolves had failed to crack the 50-win plateau that is typically used as signifying an elite team around the league. The Timberwolves would go on to win 50 games for three straight seasons, but have yet to come close since. Another first round exit was the team’s fate in 2001-02, a trend that would not be broken until the 2003-04 season.
Let’s look back at some of the interesting notes from ’01-’02:
Kevin Garnett: 1st team All-Defensive, 2nd team All-NBA, 5th straight All-Star appearance, 3rd in Rebounds/game. 21.2 points/game, 12.1 rebounds/game, 5.2 assists/game (3rd straight year of 20-10-5).
Wally Szczerbiak: All Star (his only appearance). 18.7 points/game, 4.8 rebounds/game, 3.1 assists/game, 51%. He also led the team in high-fives (especially when he did something good).
Sam Mitchell: Hit 95% of his 15-foot baseline jump shots (unofficial).
Chauncey Billups: This was actually the year he revived his career. Starting Point Guard Terrell Brandon went down with an injury that would prove to end his career. Billups stepped in and started to show what he could do for the first time in his NBA career. He averaged 12.5 points/game, 5.5 assists/game, and hit 124 three pointers for the year. Billups would sign with Detroit in the offseason, and eventually lead them to the NBA title in 2003-04. He also has been an All-Star 5 times. Another name in the list of point guard manuevers that Kevin McHale failed at!
3 seperate winning streaks of 6 games or more, including 9 straight from 12/30/01-1/15/02.
Michael Jordan, age 38, in his first season back from his second retirement….scored 35 points versus the Timberwolves on 1/12/02.