Minnesota Timberwolves: nba FUTURES & BETTING ODDS
The Minnesota Timberwolves began play in 1989, twenty nine years after the Minneapolis Lakers left town to become the Los Angeles Lakers. The Wolves played their first season in the massive Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome and had over one million fans attend games in their inaugural season. The team struggled to a 22-60 record, and then moved into the smaller, and more basketball friendly, Target Center, where they still play.
Minnesota did win 29 wins games in its second season, but the team got progressively worse, failing to win even 20 games in 1991-92 and 1992-93. Fans bet on the Minnesota Timberwolves to get better via the draft, but their top draft picks like college legend Christian Laettner and J.R. Rider, who were both fine players, but not franchise-saving superstars. Had you bet on the Minnesota Timberwolves to make the playoffs, in any of their first seven seasons you would have lost that bet, as the team never won as many as 30 games in a season.
In 1994, the team was sold to Glen Taylor, who hired Celtics legend Kevin McHale to be GM. The team went 21-61 that year, but that earned them the fifth pick in the 1995 draft, and they used the pick to select Kevin Garnett, a Chicago high school standout, who would change the Minnesota Timberwolves odds forever.
The T-Wolves went 26-56 in Garnett’s rookie season, but the teenager was quickly improving and by his second season, now joined by Ray Allen who was acquired in a trade, he was able to lead the team to their first ever playoff appearance. The Minnesota Timberwolves odds to win their first ever playoff series were long and the team was swept by the Houston Rockets. In 1996-97, the Wolves would experience several firsts, finishing with their first winning record, 45-37, and winning their first ever playoff games, only falling in a decisive Game 5 to Seattle.
All told, had you bet on the Minnesota Timberwolves to win a playoff series in any of the seven seasons between 1997 and 2003, you would have lost all seven times, as the team went 7-22 in those playoff series.
In the 2003-04 season, Kevin Garnett, who was now joined by Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell, had the best season of his career, averaging 24 points and 14 rebounds per game, and he was named NBA MVP for his efforts. In the postseason, the Timberwolves finally won their first playoff series, defeating the Denver Nuggets, then Minnesota knocked off the Sacramento Kings in seven games. Many experts bet on the Minnesota Timberwolves to also defeat the Lakers, but Sam Cassell dealt with injuries during the season, and the Wolves lost in six.
If you had bet on the Minnesota Timberwolves to never again win a playoff series, people would have called you crazy, but you would have been correct, those are the only two playoff series wins in team history.
As his supporting cast left town, Garnett struggled to lead the T-Wolves, missing the 2005 playoffs despite a 44-38 record, and then suffering two losing seasons in a row. In the summer of 2007, Minnesota traded their superstar to the Boston Celtics for a package of players and draft picks.
Having already missed the previous three postseasons, the post-Garnett Timberwolves proceeded to miss the next ten postseasons. Had you bet on the Minnesota Timberwolves to finish .500 or better, that bet would have been unsuccessful in twelve straight seasons.
Despite the constant losing, the Minnesota Timberwolves odds were quietly improving as the team produced back-to-back Rookies of the Year, Andrew Wiggins in 2015 and Karl-Anthony Towns in 2016. Another highlight of this stretch was when they brought back franchise icon Kevin Garnett in 2015. Garnett would play two more seasons with the Wolves before ending his career. Additionally in 2014, the team re-hired old coach Flip Saunders, who had coached the Wolves from 1995-2005. Tragically, in October 2015, Saunders would die at the age of 60 from Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The team would hire Flip’s son Ryan as coach in 2019.
In 2017-18, the team finally broke through and ended their playoff drought after thirteen years, behind Towns and star forward Jimmy Butler. The Minnesota Timberwolves odds were long as the eighth seed, playing the top-seeded Houston Rockets and they lost in five games. Many bet on the Minnesota Timberwolves odds to make it further in the playoffs in 2018-19, but they regressed to a 36-46 record and missed the postseason entirely.
The T-Wolves did not fare any better during the COVID-shortened 2019-20 season, going 19-45. This did ultimately earn them the first overall pick in the 2020 draft, which they used to select Anthony Edwards out of Georgia. Minnesota also traded for D’Angelo Russell in 2020, and with a young trio of Towns, Russell, and Edwards, the Minnesota Timberwolves odds of making the playoffs look stronger than they have in years.
2: Malik Sealy