On Kevin Pelton on the Wolves’ upcoming season


We’ve already spent a little bit of time dedicated to the Wolves’ ultimate win total in the upcoming 2015-16 season, although there are certainly some variables to be ironed out before we make an all-out projection.

The final roster isn’t set and we have no idea how much (or little) players like Nikola Pekovic will play early on or what sort of impact European rookie Nemanja Bjelica will have in his first year in the NBA. Throw in the large role that unknown Karl-Anthony Towns will play, and we’re essentially making an educated guess.

ESPN’s Kevin Pelton is the four-letter’s top statistical mind, and his chat on ESPN.com is always a good read. He answered a number of questions about the Wolves a few days ago, so I thought we’d break his comments down a bit.

"Mike (Detroit)If the Minnesota Timberwolves were in the Eastern Conference, do you think they would make the playoffs? Rubio, Martin, Wiggins, Towns, LaVine, Dieng…Could that group win enough to at least get the 8 seed in the East?Kevin PeltonNo, probably not. I think the Timberwolves’ upside this year is around 30 wins, and I think the eighth seed in the East will be fairly close to .500 if not above it this season."

This seems to be a pretty good response. I would agree that the Wolves would not make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference in 2015-16, but I also think that capping the Wolves’ ceiling at 30 wins might be a slight undersell.

While I don’t think they’ll win 30 games, I also think that the ceiling (definition being the best-case scenario if everything breaks right — read: minimal injuries to key players) is closer to 35 wins.

A rough breakdown on the core mentioned by Mike in Detroit: Zach LaVine is likely still a net-minus player in his sophomore season in the NBA, Kevin Martin and Gorgui Dieng are only slight positives at best, Karl-Anthony Towns is likely a positive but also technically an unknown, Andrew Wiggins is a decent positive but his improvement is a huge wild card.

Ricky Rubio is the best player on the team, but he needs to take a leap of his own if he’s going to drag this squad north of 30 wins.

"Kevin PeltonI have a hard time seeing a scenario where the Timberwolves are one of the 10 best teams in the West.Wilson ( Camden)Outside of Philly and NY, which teams do you see as being top 5 or 6 worst team in the league next year?Kevin PeltonMinnesota and the Lakers still figure to be in that group, which I’d round out with Brooklyn."

Yeah, I’m not arguing with either of these. While it’s not too hard to look at the Wolves roster and feel decently about the upcoming season, it’s also difficult to find more than five teams that will definitely finish below Minnesota.

"dre (toronto) [via mobile]With Drake, Corey Jo, do the raps have a chance at signing Wiggins whens hes a free agent. Or another superstar, like KD. Or will Toronto never have a superstar again unless we draft him ?Kevin PeltonAll things are possible, but remember that Wiggins won’t likely be an unrestricted free agent until 2022. So I wouldn’t start planning for him just now."

Thought we’d finish with a laugher. Unfortunately, we’re going to be stuck hearing a trickle of longing coming from north of the border.

There are some Raptors fans that apparently don’t understand that a lot needs to happen before Wiggins would end up in Toronto. Not only does he have three years remaining on his rookie deal, but the Wolves will be able to pay him more money than any other team when that contract is up.

Oh well. That’s life as a Wolves’ fan.

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