The Trail Blazers are going to have their work cut out for them.
I tried so hard to convince myself that the most improved team wasn’t in the Northwest Division. Maybe it would be some overlooked team in the East, like the Magic? (Spoiler: Not likely.) Or perhaps some scrappy young team finally pulling it together under new management like the Lakers? Probably not yet.
Nope, in my mind the team this is going to improve the most this year is the Minnesota Timberwolves. Why the Wolves?
To start, they were pretty bad last season, tallying just 31 wins. So that leaves a lot of room for improvement.
However, their offense was 10th in the league, and looks to be getting even better. They acquired Jimmy Butler, who gave the Bulls 23.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game last season, as well as Taj Gibson, who added 10.8 points and 6.2 rebounds. And if that wasn’t enough help for the hyper-talented Karl Anthony Townes and Andrew Wiggins, they also gained veteran leadership. Even at 37 years old, Jamal Crawford poured in 12+ points a game; more importantly the 17-year-veteran “J Crossover” adds wisdom and experience to a young team eager to get better.
Last year their defensive rating was puzzlingly-bad for a Thibodeau team: They finished with an awful 112.0 Defensive Rating, ranked 27th of the 30 teams. But both Butler (DRtg of 106) and Gibson (107) will likely help them improve, as will another year of Thibodeau’s schemes under their belts.
Who do you think is going to improve the most? Will our own Trail Blazers show a lot of internal growth? Or will some other team make a giant leap? Weigh in in the comments below.