Minnesota loves the Timberwolves: Time for attendance to increase


The Timberwolves open up the 2015-16 season at Los Angeles — just 47 days from now. We are slowly inching forward to the regular season.

The Timberwolves fan base seems rejuvenated. Is it because the Wolves have a young, talented and exciting roster? Is it because the Wolves future looks bright with Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns at the helm? Is it because the Wolves have two recognizable faces that are loved in Minnesota in Kevin Garnett and Tyus Jones?

It’s probably a combination of all of the above.

It will be extremely difficult for the Timberwolves to make the playoffs during the 2015-16 season because the Western Conference is loaded, but it is very likely that they will be an entertaining squad and well-liked in the state of Minnesota.

I receive a lot of flack from friends for being a die-hard Timberwolves fan because, well, you know. The Timberwolves are thought of by many as the laughing stock of the four major sports teams in Minnesota, and those folks wouldn’t be mistaken.

I have a different opinion, however. Perhaps it’s just me defending my favorite team, but when the Timberwolves give us something to cheer for, the fans show up.

When Kevin Love returned to Minnesota for the first time with the Cavaliers, the Target Center was sold-out. When Kevin Garnett returned to Minnesota, it was a sell-out and must-watch television. Sure, those are the only two instances that I can recall from last season, but it does show that Minnesotans love their basketball when the Timberwolves give them a reason to show that love.

This is love.

During Kevin Garnett’s MVP season in 2003-04, the Timberwolves ranked 11th in the NBA in attendance. In the 2004-05 season, on the heels of a Western Conference Finals appearance, they ranked 15th and failed to make the playoffs that year.

Attendance saw a steep drop-off after the 2004-05 season because the Wolves weren’t very good. But when Ricky Rubio arrived for the 2011-12 campaign attendance increased — the Timberwolves were worth watching again. Ricky gave a huge spark to the team and it sparked the fans, too. And as we all know, the Wolves were actually on pace to make the playoffs during Ricky’s first season before he went down with his knee injury.

On the other hand, attendance was surprisingly low during the 2013-14 season. The Wolves had a record of 40-42 that season.

It wouldn’t be a shock if Minnesota ranked in the top-15 in the league in attendance next season due to all the factors that are playing out in Minnesota. If Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine take a leap next season, attendance will increase. If Ricky Rubio can stay on the court, attendance will increase. Kevin Garnett alone will increase attendance. People will come out and watch number-one overall pick Karl-Anthony Towns, too.

Although the Minnesota Wild and the Minnesota Vikings are the most popular fall and winter entertainment in Minnesota, the Timberwolves should not be forgotten.

During the 2015-16 season, I predict the Target Center to have an average attendance of 16,700 which will rank 17th in the NBA. How cool would it be for the Timberwolves’ to have an actual home court advantage?

Wiggins soaring. KG yelling expletives. Ricky delivering passes on a string. LaVine skying to the rim. The Target Center rockin’ again.

Man, I can’t wait!

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