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A summer of uncertainty for the Timberwolves?

The league’s worst record. A roster full of players stuck in the “potential” category. Life isn’t very good if you are a fan of the Minnesota Timberwolves. But with a number 2 pick in the NBA draft and the prospect (and I use that term loosely) of Ricky Rubio finally coming to the NBA in the summer, can the T’Wolves start climbing towards respectability? Or is it another summer of uncertainty.

Without doubt, Kevin Love confirmed this season that he is the player the Timberwolves need to build their team around. A double-double machine, Love just needs someone in the frontcourt to play next to him. Wes Johnson can be a nice piece going forward, Michael Beasley showed some flashes of what he could be and if Jonny Flynn can rediscover the form of his rookie season, he could be a nice piece off the bench. They’ve got a few young pieces and cap room going forward, so the future doesn’t look that bad for the T’Wolves. I’m not saying they will be challenging for a championship in the next few years, but would a playoff push be too big a challenge?

Let’s start by breaking down the big questions for the Timberwolves this summer. Firstly, this year’s draft. The T’Wolves pick second in what many have described as a terrible draft. Kyrie Irving would be a nice fit for them, as the team needs a point guard to run the team, but as Irving is the consensus number 1 pick and set to go to the Cleveland Cavaliers, he will probably not be available at number 2.

I would probably go for Enes Kanter at number 2. I know the motto for a draft is “best player available” and draft on talent instead of need, but I don’t believe Derrick Williams would be a good fit in Minnesota. Williams is a “tweener” forward, not big enough to play PF and too slow to play SF. And with Mike Beasley, Martell Webster and Wes Johnson all on the roster, Kanter may be the better fit. Also, Williams isn’t a great defender and it’s debatable whether you could have Love, Beasley and Williams and actually be good on defence.

Now I’m sure the T’Wolves would love to trade their pick and get out of this draft, the question is what they could actually get in return without taking on some bad contracts.

The T’Wolves are pinning their hopes on finally being able to get Ricky Rubio over to the NBA , two years after drafting him with the 5th pick in 2009. Now if Rubio actually wanted to play in Minnesota he would be in the NBA, he would be here by now, as it’s believed that the Spanish point guard wants to play in a big market like New York, LA or Miami. If he comes over and wants to play in Minnesota, great, but should the Timberwolves think about trading his rights?

Most teams would be interested in Rubio, as he’s young and there is still that perception that he could be the next Jason Kidd? If Minnesota did want to trade his rights and the number 2 pick from this draft, they could be able to get something special in return? If New Jersey can get Deron Williams for Devin Harris and Derrick Favors, would it be absurd to rule out getting someone like Chris Paul for Rubio and Derrick Williams or Kanter?

The T’Wolves need a good defensive center to pair with Love and a PG if they want to get out of the NBA basement and back to the Kevin Garnett days of respectability. To do that they need to improve through trades and the draft, as none of the superstar free agents of 2012 (Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and Deron Williams), will be going to Minnesota in free agency. This summer? There aren’t many options for the T’Wolves. If they opt for Derrick Williams in the draft, it would be interesting to see if they went for someone like Yao Ming or Greg Oden in free agency. If there isn’t much interest from the league and they can get them quite cheap, they might be worth a go (if they can be persuaded to go to Minnesota that is).

What do you think? What does the next year hold for the Timberwolves?

Rose for MVP? Maybe. But can the Bulls win it all this season?

I think it’s safe to say that the Chicago Bulls have surpassed everyone’s expectations this season. I for one, never thought the Bulls would be leading the Eastern Conference at this point in the season with a 51-19 record and looking favourable to claim that #1 seed.

And that’s all been down to one man – superstar point guard Derrick Rose. The #1 pick in the 2008 draft has shone this year, stepping up his game and leaving opposing guards trailing in his wake, unable to cope with his blistering speed.

Rose has averaged 24.9 points, 4.2 rebounds and 7.8 assists this season, ranking 7th in the NBA in scoring and the highest-scoring PG in the league. Rose’s play has been the catalyst for the Bulls’ success this season, and he was worked on some of the weak elements of his game, such as his outside shot, to make him more polished offensively.

Derrick Rose is my choice for MVP. Without him, the Bulls would not be number 1 in the east. Dwight Howard puts a strong case for MVP, particularly considering his monster February. But the Magic are the fourth seed, behind the Celtics, Heat and of course, the Bulls.

Lebron James has had another strong season, but the fact that he plays with two superstars in Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade will count against King James, as well as the fact that Miami’s record isn’t as good as many predicted (49-22, compared to the 70+ games that many were expecting them to win). Whereas Amar’e Stoudemire, despite a strong start with the Knicks, has struggled recently and the Knicks’ record isn’t exactly good at the moment.

MVP debate out the way, how far can the Bulls go in the playoffs? I’m not sure. But I’m thinking Eastern Conference finals. Ultimately I believe the Celtics will prevail and reach the Finals, as they have been there before and have a wealth of veteran experience.

At this point it looks like the Bulls will get a team like the Pacers, Bucks or Bobcats in the first round, which they will progress from. After that I’m not too sure, as defences will try (“try” being the operative word) to shut down Rose and stop his influence on the game. I just think that the Bulls are a piece short of a title (mainly a two-guard, as Keith Bogans isn’t the answer). By that time, the Celtics will be struggling and the Bulls can challenge the Heat for dominance in the East.

What do you think? Can the Bulls and Rose win it all this year? Let me know what you think in the comments below.