Minnesota Timberwolves: Wolves should hit the over in wins this year

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MARCH 29: Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MARCH 29: Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Timberwolves have been a tough team to peg for Las Vegas the past few years, and the 2019-20 campaign will be no different.

Could the Minnesota Timberwolves finally prove Las Vegas wrong this season?

Perusing the Vegas odds for the upcoming NBA season is a favorite pastime of yours truly. It’s an annual tradition to laugh at how optimistic the odds are for the Knicks and the Lakers, and it’s typically a fair bet that the well-coached, smart teams (Spurs, Mavericks) are undervalued.

That said, Vegas is typically pretty close on most of the lines. That’s why they’re Vegas, after all.

The early win/loss totals for the 2019-20 season have been released, and the Timberwolves are once again in middle-of-the-pack range. But unlike the last couple of years, when the team entered the season with consensus top-15 player Jimmy Butler on the roster, the Wolves are down to just Karl-Anthony Towns in the All-Star category.

Bovada has set the Wolves’ win/loss total at 35.5 wins for the 2019-20 season. Last year, the team won 36 games.

If you’re about to take the under, then consider this: the team went 4-9 with Butler on the roster last year. They also got just 42 games out of starting point guard Jeff Teague, and underwent a coaching change in early January. Robert Covington, the main return in the Butler trade, only appeared in 22 games in a Wolves uniform.

This year’s team will begin the season without the Butler distraction, a healthy Covington, and a head coach that seems to be in lock-step with the front office, not to mention a favorite of the players.

Gone is starter Taj Gibson, but the combination of Noah Vonleh and Jordan Bell should adequately fill in at the 4 and provide more upside on offense. Also gone is sixth-man Derrick Rose, but his production had tailed off late in the season and should be replaced by a second unit predicated more on ball movement than the Rose-led bench was last year.

The team overall has more shooting, and Towns is coming off the best year of his career and heading into his prime.

While the Western Conference has undoubtedly gotten even tougher than it was a year ago, it’s hard to see how the team is worse than the one that won 36 games a year ago. Any progression from Wiggins (on both ends of the floor) or Towns (on defense) plus a shored up bench should equal at least a couple more wins.

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The super-early projection here is 40-42 wins. And a lot can change between now and October — not to mention at February’s trade deadline…