No. 71: Minnesota Timberwolves

Ultimate Standings 2012

Updated: September 6, 2012, 5:58 PM ET
By Brian Kamenetzky | ESPN The Magazine

Last year's rank: 118
Title track: 102
Ownership: 74
Coaching: 32
Players: 84
Fan relations: 76
Affordability: 17
Stadium experience: 108
Bang for the buck: 61

Progress comes in a variety of forms, and in the case of the Minnesota Timberwolves that even includes a .394 winning percentage. The Wolves won 26 of the (lockout-shortened) 66 available games last season, their highest total since 2006-07 and best winning percentage since 2005-06. Dig a little deeper and the promise grows: Minnesota was actually a .500 team before Ricky Rubio tore an ACL and the team limped (pun intended) to a 5-20 finish. Rubio and the increasingly dominant Kevin Love give fans a reason to take advantage of the NBA's sixth-lowest average ticket price ($31.50). But there are other factors helping fuel a 47-position rise in our rankings. Rick Adelman rates 89 spots better than predecessor Kurt Rambis, who lost 132 games in two seasons on Minnesota's sideline. A proposed $135 million face-lift for the 22-year-old Target Center should add juice to a wildly unpopular game experience. How badly are improvements needed? With city budgets tight, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak denied that the use of public funds in the redo would be "money down a rat hole." So yeah, there's still room for progress.