Timberwolves fans finally have a reason to be excited again

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 13: Taj Gibson /

Is it possible that the longest playoff drought in the NBA is coming to an end after an exciting Timberwolves off-season engineered by Tom Thibodeau?

The Timberwolves had the best season in franchise history when they went 58-24 and advanced to the Western Conference Finals back in 2003-04, led by league MVP Kevin Garnett and new additions Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell.

Unfortunately, it has all gone downhill since then. They have not been to the playoffs since that year and have not finished over .500 since going 44-38 in 2004-05.

After saying goodbye to Garnett after the 2006-2007 season, the hope was that Al Jefferson, who was received from Boston in the Garnett trade, will help bring the Wolves back to the playoffs. That did not happen. Then, hope rested on Kevin Love. That didn’t happen, either.

The Wolves had a very good young trio of Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine and Karl-Anthony Towns the past two seasons. LaVine was traded on draft day, but they got two-way star Jimmy Butler in return. They also added Jeff TeagueTaj Gibson and Jamal Crawford over the past couple of weeks via free agency.

Ricky Rubio‘s defense and passing will be missed, but Teague is a much better offensive player and will make teams pay when Towns gets double-teamed down low. Defenses left Rubio open many times and he still had a difficult time making jump shots.

Regardless of who starts between Gibson and Gorgui Dieng (it could very likely be Gibson), the bench will improve with this acquisition. Gibson is a good defender, which will really help the team overall.

More from Dunking with Wolves

Crawford will improve both the Wolves shooting and their reserve unit, but they still could use another piece or two off the bench, which was a huge struggle last season. Cole Aldrich (due $7.3 million this season) needs be moved first, however, in order to create more cap space. Once they add even more talent to the bench, this team will only get better.

In addition to adding more talent to the roster, the Wolves will also have new jerseys, a new court and a renovated arena this season.

I myself have been a huge Timberwolves fan since the 1996-97 season and also went to their first-ever playoff home game that season. That atmosphere was great and I cannot imagine how great it would have been to be at Game Seven of the Western Conference semifinals.

The past 13 years have been rough and the Target Center has been empty for the most part, but the excitement will be back this season and the place will be jumping. This team should not only end their long playoff drought (longest in the league currently), but could even win a series.

Gone are the days of hoping that Rashad McCants, Randy Foye, Corey Brewer, Wes Johnson and Jonny Flynn will come in and save the franchise. Flip Saunders and now Tom Thibodeau have done a great job assembling an up-and-coming roster.

Next: How Does Jamal Crawford Fit With The Timberwolves?

The new era of Timberwolves basketball is going to be very exciting!