Ranking the 15 Greatest Timberwolves: #5-1

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3. Sam Cassell

Timberwolves fans were only able to see two seasons from Sam Cassell, but those two seasons are enough to put him at number-three overall. With the Big Three of Cassell, Latrell Sprewell, and Kevin Garnett, the Wolves looked poised for an NBA Finals run in 2003-04.

Cassell was superb in his first season with the Wolves, averaging 19.8 points and 7.3 assists per game as well as making his first and only All-Star appearance. Cassell was known for his elite shooting ability, in that 2003-04 season Cassell shot 49 percent from the field, an unbelievably efficient number for a jump-shooting point guard.

The Wolves were riding high heading into the playoffs in 2004. When they met Sacramento in the second0round, it turned out to be one of the best second-round playoff series in recent memory. Cassell’s 40 point assault in Game 2 (seen above) gave the Wolves momentum in the series, which ultimately the Wolves would win in an exciting Game Seven at Target Center.

On the other hand,  Wolves lore tells us that Cassell could partly be responsible for the Timberwolves not winning a championship. As I’m sure many of you recall, Cassell had a questionable celebration (the “Big Balls Dance”, if you will) that he enjoyed displaying after hitting big shots. At one point during the Sacramento series, Cassell did the dance and allegedly messed up his hip pretty badly.

In the ensuing series against the Lakers, Cassell was unable to perform at his normal level because of the hip injury. The Wolves would end up losing that series to the Lakers in six games. Flip Saunders has gone on record and said that Cassell’s dance and injury was the reason the Timberwolves did not win a championship that season.

Cassell would only play one more season in Minnesota before he was traded to the Clippers (along with what became a future unprotected first-round draft pick) for Lionel Chalmers and the immortal Marko Jaric.

Next: Number 2: The Double-Double Machine