Fans would love to see the Charlotte Bobcats grow up to be a team such as the Los Angeles Clippers. But the Clippers have Chris Paul, who was about to become an elite free agent. The trend in the NBA is for elite free agents to sign with a glamour team or a team in a major market. When was the last time somebody else signed one? The Clippers probably are an unrealistic role model.
Tonight's opponent is more realistic. Minneapolis is neither glamorous nor major. There's not an elite free agent on the roster. They did add free agent Jose Barea this season. He offers value, but doesn't start.
Until this season the Wolves were consistenly terrible, which gave them an opportunity to collect high draft picks. Last season they were the NBA's worst team. They won 17 games, half as many as the Bobcats. They were the Bobcats.
They're still in last place in the Northwest Division at 13-16. But they're up and coming and entertaining and are on the cusp of being good.
They acquired their best player, Kevin Love, in a draft day exchange with Memphis. Love was taken with the fifth pick in the first round. Point guard Ricky Rubio was selected with the fifth pick. Rookie Derrick Williams was taken with the second pick. Wesley Johnson was taken with the fourth pick. Big man Nikola Pekovic was a second-round steal. Michael Beasley came in a trade. Veteran guard Luke Ridenour is a free agent.
Being bad has benefits, if you take advantage of them. The Timberwolves have.
The Bobcats will get another opportunity in the 2012 draft.