The Minnesota Timberwolves were fighting for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference in 2012 until star point guard Ricky Rubio tore his ACL, and ESPN projects that the Wolves will be in the same position this coming season.
Unfortunately for Wolves fans, ESPN still sees Minnesota as being on the outside looking in come playoff time. In their preseason projection of the Western Conference, 100 of ESPN's basketball contributors see the Wolves going 41-and-41 and missing out on the playoffs in a tiebreaker to the Utah Jazz.
That 41-and-41 record would represent Minnesota's best record since the Kevin Garnett era; just approaching a winning record is a good sign for the franchise. But the team -- and star power forward Kevin Love -- are ready to compete in the playoffs now, and ninth place won't cut it.