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Can the Wolves be a playoff contender next year?

If so, the Celtics stand to gain from that.

Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

In case you've missed it, the Minnesota Timberwolves won the lottery and will be selecting first in the NBA Draft.  Why does that matter to the Celtics?  Well, if they get good in a hurry, the Celtics could get a pick out of it.

Nothing to chance: Celtics simply lottery observers - Boston Celtics Blog - ESPN

The Celtics stand to collect Minnesota's 2016 first-round pick if it's outside the top 12 (otherwise it becomes a pair of second-round picks). The protection means that the Timberwolves have to at least compete for a playoff spot this season, no easy task in the Western Conference, but also not impossible considering a roster that should add a quality talent alongside a young core that features Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins.

If memory serves, this was the conditional pick that we got in exchange for Brandan Wright.  Here's the full detail from RealGM:

2016 first round draft pick from Minnesota
Minnesota's 2016 1st round pick to Boston (via Phoenix) protected for selections 1-12; if this pick falls within its protected range and is therefore not conveyed, then Minnesota will instead convey its 2016 2nd round pick and 2017 2nd round pick to Boston [Minnesota-New Orleans-Phoenix, 7/27/2012; Boston-Phoenix, 1/9/2015]

So ideally we want the Timberwolves to be the 13th worst team in the league.  For perspective, the team with the 13th pick this year is the Phoenix Suns who had a record of 39 - 43.

All of which begs the question: Can the 16 - 66 Wolves make enough progress next year to add 20+ wins to their record?  The glib answer is "don't hold your breath."  But let's look at their roster briefly, shall we?

They have the reigning Rookie of the Year in Andrew Wiggins, a 2nd team All Rookie in Zach LaVine, and a promising young center in Gorgui Dieng.  They also have Ricky Rubio for now (though there are some rumblings recently that he might want a trade).  On the other end of the age spectrum they have Kevin Garnett and Kevin Martin playing mentor roles.  Also, when they are healthy, Nikola Pekovic and Chase Budinger have some value.

Does adding either Anthony-Towns or Okafor push that squad over the top?  Probably not.  But there are more moves to be made for every team and the Wolves will be looking to upgrade their roster like everyone else.

At the end of the day, they'll probably be a "fun" team to watch from time to time, but unless a lot of their young players take a step forward they might not be all that closer to being a "good" team as early as next year.

So while it will be fun to root for KG and the young Wolves next year, we'll probably have to settle for 2 second rounders.

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