Timberwolves’ ranking in the Western Conference – Part Three

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Mar 15, 2015; San Antonio, TX, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves center Gorgui Dieng (5) shoots the ball over San Antonio Spurs power forward Tim Duncan (21) during the second half at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

This is Part Three of a three-part Western Conference preview. The Timberwolves were ranked in Part One and Part Two can be found here, so be sure to check out each of those posts.

We kick off Part Three of the West preview with the league’s most recent (and technically ongoing) dynasty and proceed with the top-four teams in the conference and who I expect to land home court advantage open next spring’s playoffs.

5. San Antonio Spurs

You’d think that the San Antonio Spurs, with the addition of superstar free agent LaMarcus Aldridge, would be much higher on this list. Adding Aldridge to a team that also boasts Gregg Popovich, Tim Duncan, and Defensive Player of the Year, Kawhi Leonard, among others, should propel them to a top three position in the Western Conference standings next season like they had been in the previous two years, right?

Not quite. The finally showed their age last year (relatively speaking, of course) with an above-average regular season that won them a match-up with the third-seeded Los Angeles Clippers. It wasn’t until the playoffs where the Spurs looked like the Spurs and seemed headed to the Western Conference Semifinals until Chris Paul saved the day for the Clippers and sent the Spurs packing.

The Spurs aren’t exactly a great regular season team, in all honesty, and they certainly don’t try to be. Sure, they’ve had great records in the “Duncan Era,” but where they’ve really been phenomenal has been in the playoffs.

The addition of LaMarcus Aldridge looks like a home run on the outside, but internally, it could cost Coach Pop more than expected. With Aldridge’s signing, San Antonio had to trade Tiago Splitter, the former starting center, and let Marco Belinelli and Cory Joseph both walk. Those three not only played a huge factor in last season’s success, but were an integral part of the championship team two years prior.

The Spurs will be great next season, don’t get me wrong. But don’t expect immediate success in the regular season; it takes time to build chemistry, especially with the acquisition of a superstar power forward (does Kevin Love‘s most-recent season ring a bell?). San Antonio won’t have a perfect or even near-perfect regular season, but they’ll be a nightmare come the playoffs.

Next: #4 - CP3 and Blake Aren't Going Anywhere