The Minnesota Timberwolves will win 40 games in 2019-20

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - OCTOBER 15: Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves dribbles the ball against the Indiana Pacers. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - OCTOBER 15: Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves dribbles the ball against the Indiana Pacers. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Timberwolves enter the season with modest expectations. That said, you heard it here first: the Wolves will win more than 40 games.

The Minnesota Timberwolves won 47 games two seasons ago and still barely made the playoffs.

Then, after the departure of Jimmy Butler and injuries to starters Robert Covington and Jeff Teague that collectively cost them well over half of their potential games played, the Wolves won only 36 games a season ago and finished well back of the eighth and final playoff spot.

Heading into the 2019-20 campaign, the consensus seems to be that the Wolves will more or less tread water.

That’s right. After all that roster churn, healthy versions of Covington and Teague, trading up to the No. 6 pick, and another offseason of growth for superstar Karl-Anthony Towns, and the Wolves’ Las Vegas win total was set at 35.5, courtesy of The Action Network.

The idea that a healthier and deeper Wolves team with a revamped, modern approach will be the same team — nay, half a game worse — is hard to wrap one’s mind around.

The projection models largely suggest that betting the over would be the prudent move, although analysts such as ESPN’s Zach Lowe state that the Wolves are in the ‘Netherworld’.

So, why call for 40 or more wins? Put simply, this is a more talented roster than what the Wolves had for much of last season.

Towns is still in the midst of ascending the ladder of NBA superstars, and combined with a healthy Covington, the Wolves will be dangerous on offense, to put it lightly. If Towns makes another micro-step on defense, they should be decent on that end of the floor, too, with an improving Josh Okogie and the length of rookie Jarrett Culver, among other additions.

But nope, former Twin Cities scribe and current and NBA TV personality Steve Aschburner sees the “ceiling” at 30 wins for this Wolves squad. I’m not quite sure how that’s possible, unless there are catastrophic injuries to Towns or Covington.

ESPN’s preview pegs the Wolves for 38 wins and has them ranked No. 21 in the league — a reasonable expectation. Unsurprisingly, awards projections don’t mention the Wolves at all.

Even without Covington, this squad was only a few games under the .500 mark last year and the drop-off from the departed Taj Gibson, Derrick Rose, and Tyus Jones to Noah Vonleh/Jordan Bell, Jake Layman, and Shabazz Napier is hardly significant.

Now, let’s not get carried away with ourselves; this probably isn’t a playoff team. Were the Wolves in the Eastern Conference, maybe it would be. But in the rough-and-tumble West, it may take north of 45 wins once again to earn a postseason berth.

The Wolves, however, will manage to hit the over, and the prediction here is that they manage at least 40 wins. A Towns-Covington duo with a healthy point guard pairing in Teague and Napier and a bevy of wings will be enough to beat up on the bad teams and steal wins against a few legitimately good teams here and there over the course of a long season.

And that, my friends, will equal a 40-win season. Maybe more.

Go ahead and bookmark this article, folks. We’ll see you back here in late April, when the Wolves have crested the 40-mark and hope springs eternal for a playoff berth and more as we look ahead to 2020-21.

Wolves player rivalries in 2019-20. dark. Next

Because that’s what Wolves fans do: look ahead. But while you’re gazing into the future, don’t look too far beyond what should be a solid professional basketball team at Target Center this season.