As of the first week of 2018, the Minnesota Timberwolves are the most improved team in the NBA.
Minnesota’s 12-game improvement from last year at this time is the largest win increase in the NBA: pic.twitter.com/PZgPhb6DTU
— Timberwolves PR (@Twolves_PR) January 2, 2018
It’s like the 2017 Minnesota Twins all over again! The Wolves’ 24th victory came Monday afternoon with a 114-96 defeat over the undermanned Lakers. Their New Years Day game was the second consecutive sellout at Target Center. That hasn’t occurred since Kevin Garnett’s return in February, 2015.
build it (ok..) renovate it (fine..) win games, they will come. The 2017-2018 Timberwolves are a prime example of this adage. In years prior, the ticket sales were brutal. At times, it was almost as ugly as Tampa Bay Rays’ home game.
Fast forwarding to the 2017-18, Glen Taylor’s franchise already has a handful of sellouts this season.
Take notes, Coach Fleck. I’m already all-in on the Row the Boat process. However, as for being able to sell out TCF Bank, once that vessel starts moving in the right direction on the field, like it is off, asses will be in the seats.
Monday’s ruckus Target Center crowd supported, yet another superstar performance, from Jimmy Butler with “MVP” chants. The ex-Bull, along with his teammates, had what many considered a slow start to the season. Regardless of those headaches, if the playoffs started today, Tom Thibodeau’s squad would be the 4 seed in the West… and climbing?
Just FYI: Wolves are closer to 3rd-place Spurs (1.5 games away) than they are fifth-place Thunder (3.5 games)
— Jerry Zgoda (@JerryZgoda) January 2, 2018
The difference between the 3 and a 4/5 seed is night and day. If it’s the 4/5 seed, you’d anticipate a showdown with a warrior (NOT “The Warriors”), in Russel Westbrook. And, if you can avoid Russell Westbrook, you avoid Russell Westbrook. Whichever team finishes 3rd in the West shouldn’t have troubles advancing past the first round, playing the 6th seed (likely NOT OKC). In the event Minnesota continues to roll, hopping the Spurs in the standings, and taking that coveted 3rd spot, is more than possible.
Never reach for a dog’s bone pic.twitter.com/cN6ukVEewA
— Johnny Minnesota (@TheJohnnyMN) December 28, 2017
As for other teams trending in the right direction, entering Tuesday, Pat Riley and his Miami Mafia finished runner-up. That’s just like they did during those two Finals losses with LeBron. In my opinion, the most glaring franchise on the improvement side of things outside of the Timberwolves, is the Celtics.
Like Minnesota, they bolstered their roster in the off-season. Unlike Minnesota, one of their newly acquired All-Stars is out for the year. Despite losing Gordon Hayward to a gruesome leg/ankle injury, Brad Steven’s club is 5 games better through their first 40 contests than a season ago.
I know, I know. Boston didn’t have Kryie Irving during the 2016-2017 campaign. He has been near MVP caliber all season long. However, to acquire Uncle Drew, Danny Ainge had to part ways with Isaiah Thomas. Last season, the 5’9″ guard averaged 28.9 PPG and had a PER of 26.59. In the grand scheme of things, the difference between the two’s performance isn’t that significant.
Hey, speaking of Thomas:
REPORT: Isaiah Thomas could return Tuesday against the Portland Trail Blazers with minutes restrictions. pic.twitter.com/ns27ftaTgu
— Cavaliers Nation (@WeAreCavsNation) January 1, 2018