Okay, it’s Monday morning. So no pussy-footing this question: Can the Minnesota Timberwolves meet the challenge of earning a berth in the 2024 NBA Playoffs?
While that is the goal of every NBA team at this stage of the season, there are those who are almost certain to arrive at the playoffs, those who have a pretty good shot of doing so, those that are about a 50/50 chance of earning a berth, and finally those who are still a year or two away.
But that really doesn’t matter right now. Buoyed by the eternal optimism of another NBA Draft class, all 30 teams believe that this is their year. So what must the Minnesota Timberwolves do this season? Well, the simple answer is to win games. And that is true, but it is as accurate as instructing novices on how to prepare a glorious Thanksgiving Day feast by telling them:
While true, it offers none of the details needed to actually perform the task. So let’s try to flesh out the skeleton of what it will take the Minnesota Timberwolves to not only return to the NBA Playoffs once more but to get there with enough ‘oomph’ to advance to Round 2 or beyond. Can this team do that? We’re about to find out.
But to advance to Round 2 in the 2024 NBA Playoffs, the Timberwolves will need to do better in the regular season. Can the team do that?
Some would argue that the team can do that simply by remaining relatively healthy. After all, the team did upgrade to two postseason starters at the 2023 NBA Trade Deadline by exchanging a disgruntled D’Angelo Russell for veteran PG Mike Conley Jr. and SG Nickeil Alexander-Walker.
Both veterans will be back this season. With a maturing young roster and fewer injuries, the Timberwolves should be able to get 47-50 wins this season. Of course, other teams have improved in the NBA Western Conference as well.
Timberwolves quick and dirty 2024 Playoffs projections
You can expect better performances out of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Dallas Mavericks, and Phoenix Suns this season. The jury is out on the Los Angeles Lakers, the LA Clippers, and the New Orleans Pelicans. Improved, but not there yet, you will find the Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs, and Portland Trail Blazers.
So where does that leave the Timberwolves? Well, I look for this team to average around 116 points per game this season while allowing an average of no better than 113 points per game. With a projected three-point differential, that ought to propel to a record of 47-49 wins, and 35-33 losses. That should get the Wolves a berth in the 2024 NBA Playoffs as the third, fourth, or fifth-seeded team in the NBA Western Conference.
Seeded that highly, the Timberwolves could advance to Round 2 or better. But will even a Round 2 finish be enough to persuade the team to stay the course? The greatest concern for me is not whether putting all of their eggs into one basket was worth the risk (it was). The greatest concern is: What level of success is deemed necessary from this team in order to stay the course for another season?