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That was the last year that the Timberwolves have been apart of the Western Conference Playoff group. That might not seem like that long ago but let me put it in perspective.
- Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake headlined the 2004 Super Bowl in what turned into television’s worst (or best) wardrobe malfunction of all time.
- Meet the Fockers was one of the most popular movies of the year, and Million Dollar Baby won the Oscar for Best Film. Good movies, now classics.
- Facebook launched in its campaign to take over the internet.
- President Bush campaigned and was re-elected for his second term. Oofta.
- Both Ronald Reagan and Ray Charles passed away. So did Ol’ Dirty Bastard. Pour one out for the homies.
- Livestrong rubber bracelets among others for great causes became popular. Oh, what little did we know back then.
- Usher featuring Lil Jon and Ludacris’ ‘Yeah!’ was the year’s popular anthem.
- Ashlee Simpson was relevant because she was caught lip-syncing on Saturday Night Live.
- Speaking of television, the hit American Idol was adored by millions to top the charts. The winner that year? Fantasia Barrino. Yeah, I was hoping to put a picture of Carrie Underwood up too.
Amongst all that action as well as adapting to the ever-changing technology world, 2004 was a good year to Minnesota Timberwolves fans. But that was when it all ended. Not that life has been awful since but in terms of fandom, well, it kind of has. Between then and now, we’ve seen the franchises only star be traded away to Boston and win a championship for them. We’ve seen 6 different head coaches in that span, none of which have won more then 44 wins with an average of 27 wins per season. There have been botched trades, like the Kevin Garnett deal, the Cassel-for-Jaric swap and even the Antoine Walker fiasco. The NBA Draft, which is typically a great medium to re-tool a struggling franchise, was never all that great minus a few instances. We all know the Jonny Flynn before Stephen Curry pick, as well as the Brandon Roy-for-Randy Foye swap on the 2006 draft day, but with 11 1st round picks since 2004, the Wolves have come up with just two combined All-Star appearances, both of which came from Kevin Love in 2011 and 2012.
So I think you’ve finally caught my drift. It’s been a long, hard and miserable soon-to-be 10 year anniversary since we’ve experienced pay dirt in the playoffs. But another new year means more predictions, more calculations on what’s ahead in the future.
Because I’m trying to sum up the history as well as what others think about the current state of the Wolves and their prospects of finally reaching the playoffs again, here’s a list of what the media thinks is the outlook for the Pups.
- ESPN: Marc Stein’s Power Rankings: 13th in NBA.
- “With Adelman back and Kev Martin/C. Brewer coming in, you’d go ahead and call this a playoff team, too, if you knew the Wolves could finally stay reasonably healthy.”
- ESPN Insider: Kevin Pelton’s Wolves Forecast: 5th in Western Conference.
- “Realistically, Minnesota is looking at a win total in the mid- to high 40s. That should be more than enough for a return to the playoffs, and might just make the Timberwolves the surprise threat to the West’s five championship contenders.”
- Bill and Jalen’s NBA Preview: 17th in NBA.
- Bill: “Do you think some franchises can just become snakebit?”
- Jalen: “I do.”
- Bill: “Because it feels like we’re headed that way with Minnesota.”
- Hoopsworld: 3rd in Northwest Division.
- “On paper, the Timberwolves looked poised to make the leap into the playoffs for the last two seasons.”
Clearly there’s a solid mix of optimism and unadulterated pessimism from that group. There are more NBA previews with inevitable opinions on the Wolves still coming but based simply off of those, the general consensus of a potential playoff finish is positive.
So what’s HTW’s thoughts on this matter? Obviously there are a lot of factors in this prediction. And just like Bill Simmons and Jalen Rose of Grantland, I thought I’d divide this into sections and give you my final prediction once it’s all said and done. Continue reading