Minnesota Timberwolves: Optimism for Wolves in early 2021 power rankings

D'Angelo Russell of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
D'Angelo Russell of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Various post-Finals power rankings are somewhat optimistic about the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Minnesota Timberwolves tied for the second-least wins in the NBA during the 2019-20 season.

Yet, due to their big trade deadline acquisition and the No. 1 selection in the upcoming NBA draft, various power rankings are somewhat bullish on the Wolves’ prospects for the 2021 campaign.

Minnesota Timberwolves: Post-Finals power rankings optimistic about Wolves

It’s no secret that the Minnesota Timberwolves are going to have a difficult time cracking the playoff field in the stacked and ever-improving Western Conference.

But there’s also an expectation that the Wolves’ roster will be much improved upon the opening night lineup a year ago. And don’t forget, the Wolves jumped out to a 10-8 record in fall of 2019. (Yes, it feels like it was a decade ago, but it happened. Promise.)

In fact, Bleacher Report’s Zach Buckley ranks the Wolves No. 19 in his post-Finals power rankings — which even he identifies as his “Way-Too-Soon” rankings. Here’s an excerpt from his Wolves write-up.

"Not everyone outside of the Gopher State will share this optimism in the new-look Wolves, but color me intrigued in the Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell duo. It might have to win nightly races to 125 points, but it could have the firepower to do so."

Remember, this is a duo of recent All-Stars who will turn just 25 years old this year in Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell. If they retain Malik Beasley in restricted free agency, that’s another potential 20-point-per-game scorer in the fold.

Juancho Hernangomez is another solid rotation piece, although he is also a restricted free agent. Josh Okogie and Jake Layman are both solid rotation pieces. The jury is still out on Jordan McLaughlin, Naz Reid, and Jarrett Culver in terms of their long-term value, but don’t forget that the Wolves will have the top prospect in the 2020 NBA Draft.

Or, if Gersson Rosas has his way, another star acquired by using the No. 1 pick in a trade.

ESPN, on the other hand, has the Wolves ranked way down at No. 25. Considering that they finished with what was essentially the third-worst record in the league this year, that ranking isn’t awful, but it does seem a bit low.

Even if the Wolves are only going to be expected to be better than Sacramento (and maybe Phoenix and New Orleans) in the Western Conference, don’t forget that there are a host of poor teams in the East. It’s not hard to make a case that the Wolves will be better than Charlotte, Atlanta, Detroit, New York, Chicago, and Cleveland.

Somewhere in the No. 20 to 22 range feels about right for the Wolves at this point. But don’t forget: this is a pre-offseason ranking, so it is indeed way too early.

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Elsewhere, it’s notable that there are five teams who actually have worse odds to win the championship in 2021. So, there’s that!