The Tom Thibodeau Era in Minnesota began with a modest step forward. While the team finished with over 30 wins for just the third time in the last 10 seasons, the final results failed to match lofty preseason expectations. Never satisfied, Thibodeau devised an aggressive offseason plan that landed the Timberwolves All-Star forward Jimmy Butler and veterans Taj Gibson, Jeff Teague, and Jamal Crawford.
It’s easy to blame last year’s struggles on injuries but Minnesota’s final injury totals were a bit deceptive. Officially the team lost 173 games to injury but 82 of those were attributed to big man Nikola Pekovic. Pekovic, limited for the past two season with foot and Achilles problems, was never expected to contribute. The big man was waived in the offseason with insurance easing the financial burden. Removing his assumed injury totals vaults the Timberwolves into the top-five for fewest total games missed.
Minnesota’s long-time athletic trainer Gregg Farnam enters his 21 season with the team. Farnam will have a crop of new players to work with but does have some familiarity with Butler having served as an athletic trainer for Team USA during the 2016 Rio Olympics. The Wolves will start the season a man down after rookie Justin Patton suffered a foot fracture in the offseason.