After missing the NBA Playoffs for 13 consecutive years, the Minnesota Timberwolves are expected to finally make the cut and move on past the regular season. But most basketball analysts believe they are not just making the playoffs – the Wolves are projected to be within striking range of the West’s top three teams: Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, and San Antonio Spurs.

According to ESPN’s projection for the 2017-18 NBA Season in the talent-laden Western Conference, the Wolves are ranked 4th with a projected 50.1 wins. Bleacher Report predicted a win-loss record of 48-34 for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Some oddsmakers even vetted on the team’s chances of becoming the next NBA champions.

From being the league’s perennial cellar-dweller, the Minnesota Timberwolves instantly transformed into giant-killers this past offseason, thanks to a surprise trade deal with the Chicago Bulls and the signings of the right people for the job.

Rebuilding the Wolves

The first major move the Wolves front office did was trading for Chicago Bulls' Jimmy Butler. In return, the Bulls got high-flying Zach LaVine, incoming sophomore Kris Dunn and the 2017 NBA Draft seventh overall pick (Lauri Markkanen).

Next, they sent Ricky Rubio’s $14.1 million to Utah Jazz to clear their cap space and then signed point guard Jeff Teague and Taj Gibson.

A week later, they signed three-time Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford.

With the latest acquisition, the Wolves assembled a solid starting lineup. Based on the current roster, Jeff Teague (PG) and Jimmy Butler (SG) will form the backcourt, holdovers Andrew Wiggins (SF) and Gorgui Dieng (PF) on the wings and Karl-Anthony Towns (C) down the baseline.

Known as a defensive specialist, Wolves head coach Tom Thibodeau now has access to a tall, defense-oriented team with the addition of Jamal Crawford (SG) and Taj Gibson (PF). Once needed, Coach Thibs can add the two along with Butler, Dieng, and Towns to form a solid defensive lineup.

Somebody must give up something

In a recent interview on the Bill Simmons podcast, Kevin Durant said that the current Wolves roster is full of talented players.

He cited Butler, Teague, Wiggins, and Towns as the people who can make the big difference for the team. And with all the big guns, KD suggested that somebody must give up something in order for the team to work out.

The 2017 NBA Finals Most Valuable Player shared his ideal play should he coach the Wolves in an NBA 2K video game: Butler as the facilitator, Wiggins as the finisher and Towns as the guy he’ll get the ball to. In a way, he wanted the Wolves to do what the Golden State Warriors did, that’s why he got his first NBA Championship title.