Those two words haven’t been associated with the Minnesota Timberwolves since their run to the Western Conference Finals in the 2003-04 season.
But with Kevin Love now signed to a four-year maximum contract extension, the emergence of rookie point guard Ricky Rubio, the promising play of number two overall pick Derrick Williams, and the sheer brilliance of head coach Rick Adelman, considering the Wolves to be at least a fringe playoff team is quite an upgrade over the putrid past seven seasons.
The question needs to be asked, what are the odds this Timberwolves team makes the playoffs THIS season?
One has to look no further than ESPN’s advanced metric guru John Hollinger.
Hollinger has a computer system in play that every day runs 5,000 different simulations based off of his power rankings. The results from the most recent simulation would appear to come as somewhat of a delight to fans of the Minnesota Timberwolves.
According to Hollinger, as of today– January 25th– the Minnesota Timberwolves have a 19.1 percent chance of making the playoffs this season. While that number isn’t too admirable, it speaks volumes to the growth this franchise has shown over the first 17 games of this season.
If someone would’ve said last June that the Wolves would have a 19.1 percent chance of making the playoffs this season they would’ve been lambasted by local and national media members.
Even at the beginning of season with Rubio on the roster to go along with the addition of J.J. Barea, I would’ve predicted the odds for them to make the playoffs to be near 5 percent. But 19.1 percent? Impressive.
The majority of that can be attributed to the coaching of one Rick Adelman. His system is exciting to watch on the offensive end, yet you also respect the effort of his players on the defensive end of the floor.
The worst of the 5,000 simulations had the Wolves with a 17-49 record. Meaning they would finish 10-39 in their last 49 games.
On the other end of the spectrum, though, their best simulation had them finishing the season 39-10 with a final record of 49-17. Which would place them in the upper echelon of the Western Conference.
Both those records are the absolute extreme. I would highly advise to stay from putting stock in the Tmberwolves finishing either 17-49 or 49-17.
In the simulations the Wolves finished with a .2 percent chance of winning the NBA championship, a .7 percent chance of winning the Western Conference, and a .4 percent chance of beating out the Oklahoma City Thunder, Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz, and Portland Trail Blazers for the top spot in the Northwest Division.
The most interesting part of Hollinger’s most recent simulation was the projected final record for the Timberwolves. 31 wins and 35 losses.
It is rare that a team or a fan base would be impressed with a sub .500 record. But I believe if the Wolves finished with that record of four wins below .500, that they would have every right to be impressed with what they accomplished in the 2011-12 season.
That speaks volumes to the atrocity that has been this franchise over the past seven seasons.
Brett is a contributor to The Sports Bank. He covers all things Minnesota sports. He is the co-host of ‘The Backdoor Cut’ on KFAN.com. You can follow Brett on Twitter @brettcloutier