Three NBA teams that will make big improvements in 2021-22: Don't sleep on the Timberwolves

Anthony Edwards player props
Photo of Andrew Ortenberg

Andrew Ortenberg

NBA· 2 months ago

Show Bio

I'm an editor here at Pickswise who was raised in a household full of sports fanatics. Since I unfortunately never had LeBron James' jumping ability I wasn't able to make it to the NBA, and chose writing about sports as the next best thing. An avid sports bettor myself, I'm excited to get to write about the industry as it gets set to take off across the country. Buckle up.

One of the best parts of professional sports is watching teams go from ‘worst to first.’ That was on full display for the most recent NBA Finals, as both the Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks were complete dumpster fires at various points over the past decade. There are few things more heartwarming than watching a franchise go from the bottom to the top.

It happens every season, and identifying which teams are next to make the leap can be very profitable. Especially when it comes to futures betting. This past season, I placed a bet on the Suns at 80/1 to win it all cause I liked what they were building. They came up just short (don’t worry I hedged and still made some nice money), but it was a massive hit in terms of value.

Suns 80/1 futures ticket

Today we’re going to be taking a look at who those surprise teams will be for the 2021-22 season. Let’s not waste any more time.

Minnesota Timberwolves (2020 record: 23-49)

Hand up…I’ll admit it: I thought the Timberwolves would be a lot better than they were last season. They turned out to be one of the worst teams in the league. But Minnesota way underachieved relative to its talent level, and there are reasons for optimism this offseason.

For starters, the Timberwolves were without Karl-Anthony Towns for a good chunk of the season. The star center missed 22 of 72 games, and it was during that stretch that they really fell apart. Malik Beasley, who averaged 19.6 points per game, missed half the season. D’Angelo Russell missed 30 games.

Three of their top four scorers missed at least a third of the season. Just based on better injury luck alone, the ‘Wolves should improve significantly. Perhaps the most positive takeaway though is that 2020 first overall pick Anthony Edwards looked like a star in the making. He averaged 19.3 points per game as a 19-year-old rookie, and if he can take the next step this team has real potential. Towns, Beasley, Russell, and Edwards each averaged at least 19 a game.

If their young guys keep progressing and they add a few bench pieces over the summer, this offense can be elite. Their win total is likely to be set very low as they will once again be expected to be one of the worst teams in the league, and as of right now I’m leaning over.

Orlando Magic (2020 record: 21-51)

Like the Timberwolves, the Magic were one of the worst teams in the NBA last season. They also have plenty of reasons for optimism. Their record was only so poor because they blatantly tanked the second half of the season after trading away key veterans like Nikola Vucevic, Evan Fournier, and Aaron Gordon. Quietly, they have a solid young core that is going unnoticed because of injuries.

Jonathan Isaac missed all of last season after tearing his ACL in the bubble, and should be ready to go for the start of this campaign. Markelle Fultz, who was finally starting to deliver on his potential, will be back at some point this season after tearing an ACL after just eight games. Fellow point guard Cole Anthony showed plenty of flashes as a rookie, and they also have guys like Wendell Carter Jr. and Garry Harris thanks to trades.

Orlando made a home run coaching hire by bringing in Mavericks assistant Jamahl Mosley. Every year there’s a scrappy young team that defies all expectations but out-hustling everyone else, and the Magic could be that team next season.

Orlando Magic forward Jonathan Isaac (1) dribbles the ball

Toronto Raptors (2020 record: 27-45)

The Raptors are too good of an organization to be down for too long. They were arguably the league’s biggest disappointment last season, but have a strong chance to bounce back. Unlike the Timberwolves and Magic, Toronto already has a winning culture.

This is a team that won a championship just a couple years ago. They dealt with a ton of injuries, as pretty much all their key players missed significant stretches of time. Kyle Lowry might move on this offseason, but at 35 that’s not the end of the world for the Raptors. If the team can hang on to sharpshooter Gary Trent Jr., who played only 17 games for them last year, there is a lot to like.

Trent alongside Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, and OG Anunoby is a very solid core. Throw in the fact that they’ve got one of the league’s best execs in Masai Ujiri at the helm, and I don’t see how this team isn’t leaps and bounds better. When you dig into the numbers, you will see that Toronto’s point differential was actually only -0.4 last year. As such, they should’ve been around a .500 team, not anywhere near 27-45. They just got really unlucky, and positive regression should be in store for them.

Pickswise is the home of free expert NBA Picks and Predictions, and we offer so much more. Be sure to also check out our daily NBA Prop Bets and NBA Parlays throughout the 2021-22 season.

Virginia Bonuses

See All
FanDuel Sportsbook

$150

Bet $5, Win $150 in cash if the Colts or Titans win!

Bet $5 on the Colts or Titans to win

Win $150 in CASH if your team wins!

Register for a new FanDuel Sportsbook account to claim

Must be 21+ to play. Full terms available at FanDuel Sportsbook.

FanDuel Sportsbook

$150

Bet $5, Win $150 in cash if the Broncos or Jets win!

Bet $5 on the Broncos or Jets to win

Win $150 in CASH if your team wins!

Register for a new FanDuel Sportsbook account to claim

Must be 21+ to play. Full terms available at FanDuel Sportsbook.

DraftKings

$150

Bet $1 on UFC 266, Win $150 INSTANTLY!

Register for a new account at DraftKings Sportsbook and make a deposit.

Place a bet of $1+ on ANY fight on the card for UFC 266.

INSTANTLY win $150! Your initial bet does not need to win!

Bonus paid out as six (6) $25 Free Bets. Free Bets must be used within 7 days of receipt or else they will expire. Must be located in AZ, CO, IA, IL, IN, MI, NJ, PA, TN, VA, WV, or WY to participate. Offer valid for new players ages 21 and up only. Full terms available at DraftKings Sportsbook.

DraftKings

$200

Bet $1 On Any NFL Football Game & Get $150 In Free Bets Instantly!

Register for a new DraftKings Sportsbook account

Bet $1 on any Pro Football game

Instantly get $150 in free bets

BetMGM

$200

Bet $10, Get $200 If Your Team Scores A Touchdown!

Register for a new BetMGM account & deposit $20+

Bet $10 on your team to win Money Line

Win $200 in free bets if your team scores a touchdown

21+. Terms & conditions apply.

PointsBet

$200

Bet $20, Get $200 If Your Team Scores A Touchdown!

Register for a new PointsBet account & deposit $20+

Bet $20 on your team to win Money Line (NFL or NCAAF)

Win $200 in free bets if your team scores a touchdown

FanDuel Sportsbook

$150

Bet $5, Win $150 in cash if the Cowboys or Eagles win!

Bet $5 on the Cowboys or Eagles to win

Win $150 in CASH if your team wins!

Register for a new FanDuel Sportsbook account to claim

Must be 21+ to play. Full terms available at FanDuel Sportsbook.

Caesars Sportsbook

$5,000

Get a $5,000 Risk Free Bet + a free NFL Jersey!

Register for a new Caesars Sportsbook account & make a deposit

Place your first bet up to $5,000 risk-free!

Get refunded up if you lose up to $5,000 + a free NFL Jersey

21+. Terms & conditions apply.

BetRivers

$250

Get a $250 Deposit Bonus!

Sign up for a new BetRivers account using promo code PICKSWISE

Make a deposit & get it doubled up to $250 total

To get a $100 bonus, deposit $100

Must be 21+. Play in IA Only. Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-BETS OFF

BetMGM

$1,000

Get a $1,000 Risk Free Bet!

Register for a new BetMGM & deposit

Place your first bet up to $1,000 risk-free!

Get refunded up if you lose up to $1,000

21+. Terms & conditions apply.

FanDuel Sportsbook

$1,000

Get a $1,000 Risk Free Bet!

Register for a new FanDuel Sportsbook account & deposit

Place your first bet up to $1,000 risk-free!

Get refunded up if you lose up to $1,000

21+. Terms & conditions apply.

DraftKings

$1,000

Get a $1,000 Deposit Bonus!

Register for a new DraftKings Sportsbook account & deposit

DraftKings will match 20% of your deposit up to $1,000 total

To get a $100 bonus, deposit $500

21+. Terms & conditions apply.

Monkey Knife Fight

$100

Claim 100% Instant Deposit Match up to $100!

Register for a Monkey Knife Fight account & deposit using promo code PICKSWISE100

Monkey Knife Fight will match your first deposit up to $100

Deposit $100 and you'll get $100 bonus + a free $5 game

18+. Terms and conditions apply. You must live in one of the states where real money DFS is legal.

TVG

$300

Get a $300 Risk-Free Bet with TVG Racebook!

Register for a new TVG account and make a deposit

Place your first single horse win-type bet up to $300

If your horse doesn't win you'll get a refund up to $300

21+. T&C's apply. Please gamble responsibly.

BetAmerica Racing

$200

$200 Sign Up Bonus!

Fast, reliable and fast payouts - you'll have your money in 72 hours, if not sooner!

Proud history of providing safe, secure, and fun betting to American patrons

BetAmerica is owned by the iconic Churchill Downs Incorporated, home of 150 years of wagering history and the world-famous Kentucky Derby

Players who sign up using ‘BET200’ code will get a $200 sign up bonus. Offer valid for 7 days after registering on BetAmerica Racing product only. 21+. T&C's apply. Please gamble responsibly.

TwinSpires

$200

Get a $200 Sign Up Bonus with TwinSpires Racebook!

Register for a new Twinspires account using offer code BET200

Make a deposit and start wagering on horse racing

Earn $100 in bonus cash for every $400 wagered!

21+. T&C's apply. Please gamble responsibly.