The international leg of the Minnesota Timberwolves’ 2023 preseason is now complete. After two impressive outings against the Mavericks, the Wolves looked every bit as composed as fans could have hoped for.
As Minnesota heads back to the western hemisphere to finish out their preseason, they are already looking like a team that could shock outsiders in the Western Conference this year. While the Timberwolves have not always gotten their due credit from the national media, ESPN appears to have high hopes for the team from the Twin Cities.
In an NBA season preview published by ESPN senior writer Kevin Pelton, the Wolves are projected as the second-highest in average wins at 47.7 for the coming season, behind only the Memphis Grizzlies. This is sure to excite fans who have high hopes after the first two preseason games.
ESPN projects the Timberwolves as one of the top teams in the West
Now, many of you are probably wondering where ESPN came up with this seemingly arbitrary number of 47.7 from. After all, that seems a bit low for a team that won 42 games last year. The formula used to come up with the rankings is explained in the article.
Pelton details his precise, stat-based win projections. The numbers were generated by combining player projections for box score stats with regularized adjusted plus-minus. Clearly, these numbers were heavily influenced by advanced statistics. With that being said, the 2022 iteration of these projections correctly predicted 60% of over/under win totals in the NBA last season.
No matter how confusing this metric may seem, it clearly has some credence in predicting which teams will finish where. Pelton acknowledges how significant it was that the Timberwolves were without Karl-Anthony Towns for over 50 games last year. He also says that Anthony Edwards’ expected development plays a big part in Minnesota ranking so high.
These projections from ESPN are also expected to skew closer to .500 than the actual results. With that in mind, the Timberwolves seem like a lock to win 50 or more games this season, injury luck permitting.