A Place on the Lower End of History

(Note: When not discussing failure here, Jon Marthaler can be found living it at TNABACG.)

The Timberwolves have just eight games to play in what is certainly their worst season in quite some time.  The team sits at 19-55 for the year, thus guaranteeing that for the first time since 1996 (and not counting the shortened lockout year), Minnesota will finish with fewer than 30 wins.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at Minnesota’s goals for the end of the season – and just where in team history this team could end up ranking.

More after the jump… 

If the team wins all eight games…

… they’ll finish only two games worse (27-55) than the 1990-91 Wolves, a team that finished 29-53.  It was the second year of the franchise, and somehow coach Bill Musselman had turned a motley crew of journeymen into a marginally-decent basketball team. Tony Campbell led the Wolves with 21.8 PPG, and the team actually finished on a tear, winning six of its final eight games and losing another in double overtime.  Despite all of this, Musselman was fired the day after the season ended, and the hateable Jimmy Rodgers became coach.  (Jimmy is famous mostly for being involved in the two worst teams in Wolves history, an impressive showing.)

If the team wins seven of eight…

…they’ll be exactly as bad as the 1995-96 Wolves, the last of the truly awful Minnesota teams.  It was a year of change for the Timberwolves: Isaiah Rider and Christian Laettner were the team’s two best players at the beginning of the year, but by the start of 1996-97, both were gone.  Minnesota dealt Laettner to Atlanta midway through the year, and after Rider kicked the manager of a sports bar, the Wolves finally got sick of him and dumped him on Portland as well as soon as the year was up.  Meanwhile, Tom Gugliotta averaged 16.2 PPG in his first full season in Minnesota – and a young man by the name of Kevin Garnett, who had spent the first part of his rookie season mostly learning from the bench, started the final 42 games of the season, averaging 14.1 points per game, scoring more than 20 six times – and of course, putting up 11 double-doubles. 

If the team wins anywhere between three and six of eight…

…they’ll be just as good as – or slightly better than! – the 1989-90 Wolves, that expansion team that played at the Metrodome and finished 22-60, the best record of the four new NBA teams that season.  That team was another typical Bill Musselman venture – slow the ball down (they averaged fewer possessions than any other NBA team), play good defense, try to stady in games and give yourself a chance to win.  It worked, in that the Wolves were blown out by 20 or more only twice all year, buut they just didn’t have the talent to quite get over the hump.  (This sounding familiar at all?) 

If the team wins twice…

…they’ll be as good as the 1994-95 Wolves, a team that lost 13 of its first 14 games and then 12 of its final 14.  In between, it was merely bad – which is to be expected from a team that rolls out a regular starting lineup of Rider, Laettner, Doug West, Sean Rooks, and Winston Garland.  The team also managed to trade its lottery draft pick, Donyell Marshall, just 40 games into the season – but, in probably the highlight of the year, they got back Tom Gugliotta.

If the team wins just once…

…they’ll finish tied with the 1993-94 Wolves, a truly awful team that was trying to dig out from the Jimmy Rodgers era with Sidney Lowe at the helm, which is something like trying to flood the Grand Canyon with a garden hose.  This was a team that finally united Laettner and Rider together to form a two-headed Trouble Monster, a team that had to rely on 16 minutes a night from the badly-aging Thurl Bailey at center because Luc Longley was such a stiff, a team that had no choice but to start Chuck "Clank" Person half the time.  That’s a bad basketball team.  

If the team loses all eight…

…they’ll be right there tied with the 1992-93 Wolves, the second-worst team in Minnesota team history.   This was a team so terrible that Sidney Lowe was its savior.  Its highest-paid player was Person.  The highlight of the year was Micheal Williams breaking the NBA record for consecutive free throws.  It had three seven-footers – Longley, Felton Spencer, and Brad Sellers – not ONE of which averaged even five rebounds a game.

Though none of the teams on this list were good, the 92-93 team was truly appalling. It’s not company that this year’s edition of the Wolves would do well to keep. 

TWolves Blog Staff

About TWolves Blog Staff

Former writers for TwolvesBlog.com

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