NBA Pretender or Contender: What title favorites have a real chance to win it all?

Looking ahead to the NBA Playoffs, we play pretender or contender with a few of the title favorites.

Milwaukee Bucks v Boston Celtics - Game Five
Milwaukee Bucks v Boston Celtics - Game Five / Maddie Malhotra/GettyImages
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Minnesota Timberwolves (45-21): Pretender

The Minnesota Timberwolves are a very fun team to watch. They have sat in first place in the Western Conference for most of the season but now sit 0.5 games back in third place. Anthony Edwards is a star on the rise. The Karl Anthony-Towns and Rudy Gobert lineup has impressed. The defensive acumen of Jaden McDaniels is incredible.

The calling card for the Timberwolves this year has been defense. They are currently the best defensive team in the NBA, with a defensive rating of 108.3. They rebound well and they have the second-highest player impact estimate at 54.4. Unfortunately, this is about all the team does that's elite.

The Wolves are in the bottom half of the league in offensive rating (114.4), assist/turnover ratio (1.81:1), and pace. What I get from this is that if the team has an off-night defensively, they are going to have a very difficult time keeping up in the scoring department.

Believe me, I want to believe in this team. I want to give them the benefit of the doubt and say, "screw it!" The advanced stats are only half of the story. The other half is the health of Karl Anthony-Towns. He just had successful knee surgery yesterday and they will re-evaluate him in four weeks. That's a tight turnaround window.

Expecting Towns to come back, playoff basketball ready immediately will be tough. The team will need his injection of offense right away if they want to make a run to the Finals. This team is close, but I don't believe it's this season. For those reasons, we're putting the Wolves in with the pretenders.