NBA bettors can expect the Minnesota Timberwolves to be better this season. Although the Wolves fell to the basement of the Western Conference Northwest Division at 26-40, they were hampered by injuries. Their nucleus comes back intact in 2012-13.
Betting shops aren't giving the Wolves much of a chance to win the NBA Championship as they're currently listed at +9500.
The love of basketball
His grizzly appearance notwithstanding, Kevin Love is one of the best basketball players in all of the NBA. Not considered for the MVP last season on account of the Timberwolves record, it's fair to say that Kevin Love is one of the most underrated players in the league.
In fantasy leagues, however, Love is regarded as one of the top players thanks to the massive numbers he puts up. Last season Love averaged 26 points and 13.3 rebounds per game. Those numbers even overshadow Dwight Howard's.
Center Nikola Pekovic (13.9 ppg, 7.4 rpg) and Love combine to make the Timberwolves very strong in the middle as both players are highly skilled and very active.
We can only be talking about point guard Ricky Rubio. The Spainard can do it all: shoot, pass, rebound; plus, he hustles every second he's on the court. Rubio was really starting to come into his own as a player last season when he was sidelined with an injury. This season he looks to improve upon his 10.6 points, 8.2 assists, and 4.2 rebounds per game. This is a player with a major upside.
Barea could start on a lot of teams; he will get a lot of playing time with the Wolves. A member of the Mavericks championship team, he has great experience. And, Barea came up big when Rubio was hurt last season. Since he came off the bench a good deal last season, numbers don't tell the whole story where Barea is concerned. He provides a solid 12 points and 6 assists per game in 25 minutes of play. Barea is also capable of providing a jolt of energy, making him exactly the type of complimentary player that Minnesota needs.
Forward Derrick Williams had both good and bad moments last season. It was evident that he was not on the same level as Kyrie Irving. Cleveland obviously made the right call grabbing Irving as the top choice in the 2011 NBA Draft while Williams was selected second.
For a team that was otherwise injury-plagued, Williams didn't miss a single game the entire season; durability is a major plus to his game.
Minnesota is stacked at forward as former Rocket Chase Budinger is now on the squad. Budinger is a very athletic player who will give Minnesota instant offense and solid shooting from the outside.
Back from the dead
We all know what guard/foward Brandon Roy brings to the table when healthy, but microfracture surgery is no joke; just ask Greg Oden.
It's yet to be determined what Roy can give the Wolves, but if he could be even half the player he was for Portland, the Timberwolves would gladly take it. At the height of his career, Roy was a 22.6 points, 5.1 assist and 4.7 rebounds player. And, if Roy can make a complete comeback, Minnesota will skyrocket in their division.
If Minnesota stays healthy, there's no reason why this couldn't be an above .500 team. NBA bettors should keep an eye on Derrick Williams and Brandon Roy and look for another MVP-like season out of the unstoppable Kevin Love.