The awards: All-NBA First/Second/Third Team(s), All-Rookie First/Second Team(s), All-Defensive First/Second Team(s), Most Valuable Player, Most Improved Player, Defensive Player of the Year, Sixth Man of the Year and Western Conference All-Star.
We'll go right down the line (alphabetically) and discuss every TWolves player who has a chance at winning one of those awards...
Out of all the players listed here, Chase is likely the longest of longshots to win any kind of NBA award. Bud came over in a trade with the Houston Rockets and is currently penciled in as the team's backup small forward, he'll also play some shooting guard, as well (depending on how Roy plays and if Shved can contribute). So, on to the award talk. Chase could contend for the Most Improved Player of the Year or Sixth Man of the Year. Last year's 6th man was James Harden, I think we can all agree Chase isn't quite as skilled as Mr. Harden, but there will be plenty of opportunities for Chase. He's back with his old coach and will definitely get plenty of court time, I guess we'll just wait and see if he can make the most of it (that's not to say, if Chase doesn't win some sort of award that he didn't capitalize on his opportunities). All in all, don't expect Bud to walk away with any hardware.
Kevin Love is the unquestioned leader and superstar of this squad. K-Love is not only Minnesota's best player, but he's also the best power forward in the NBA. An Olympic Gold medal winner, former-Most Improved Player of the Year, All-NBA Second Team in 2011-12, finished in Top 10 of MVP voting. Mr. Love is the real deal! Kevin Love will challenge for one of the All-NBA teams, once again this season (I would assume either 2nd or 3rd team...unless something happens to LeBron James & Kevin Durant). Kevin will be an All-Star, once again, you can read about why that is (broken hand and all) in this post: Will Kevin Be An All-Star in 2012-13? I expect him to be in talks for MVP, especially if this Wolves team can finally turn the corner and actually start putting up some W's. The success of the team will play large in any Love award talk. Out of all the TWolves listed here, if anyone of them will be competing for an award--it's Kevin Love.
Is there a Comeback Player of the Year Award? Unfortunately not (anymore). If so, Roy would be one of the top candidates. B-Roy is poised for a triumphant return to the NBA. I think we're all pretty thrilled he'll be doing it with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Roy won't be contending for any awards, however if he contributes and can help the TWolves win games, he'll be one of the big headlines this season. I don't doubt Roy will miss some time this season. He's the likely starting shooting guard, so in any absence guys like Chase Budinger, Alexey Shved and Luke Ridnour could see more time at shooting guard. There's an incredibly slim chance that Roy returns to his All-Star form, but in reality the Wolves don't really need that from him (sure they'd take him--but they don't need it, they have K-Love to be their superstar). 10-15 points a night, smart basketball and a clutch performer in the late stages, Roy is a big addition to this squad.
The Timberwolves' only rookie this season, Shved will be in competition for those All-Rookie Teams as well as the Rookie of the Year. These are awards he's eligible to compete for, that being said, do I think he'll win Rookie of the Year? No. Does he have a chance to make an All-Rookie Team? As of now, it seems to be a longshot...but, yes! Shved is penciled in as the second-string shooting guard (behind Brandon Roy) and will also see some (limited) time at point guard with Ricky Rubio out (especially if Ridnour or Barea get hurt). His main competition for the "guard" spots on the All-Rookie Team(s)? Washington's Bradley Beal, Cleveland's Dion Waiters, Portland's Damian Lillard, Toronto's Terrence Ross, New Orleans' Austin Rivers, Houston's Jeremy Lamb and Phoenix's Kendall Marshall. It'll all just depend on how much playing time he earns and what he can do with his time on the floor.
One of Minnesota's big offseason additions, much is expected from AK this season. A great glue guy that doesn't need to score and does all the little things (block shots, steals, rebounds, hustles, energy, etc.). Andrei will be the starting small forward. He should also see a bit of time at power forward (likely with Love at center). Kirilenko is a defensive force and could challenge for a spot on one of those All-Defensive Teams. An All-Defensive team may be a bit of a stretch, so Defensive Player of the Year would be pretty far-fetched, as well. Hopefully his defensive intensity and unselfish play will rub off on the teammates this year. This is an 'award' Kirilenko could actually win. However much of that (like most of the potential TWolves award winners) depends on not only individual success, but additionally the success of the team as a whole.
My favorite Timberwolf: Nikola Pekovic! Pek was a serious candidate for the Most Improved Player of the Year Award, had he not missed the 20+ games he did--there's a very good chance he would've finished first and brought home the hardware. Pek finished third in the voting, behind winner Orlando's Ryan Anderson (now of New Orleans) and Milwaukee's Ersan Ilyasova. With Pek's offseason of very hard work: dropping about 10 pounds as well as cutting his body fat percent, basically in half: from 17% to 8%. No worries about his conditioning this season. Sure, he dropped some weight, BUT he got stronger! I don't know if you've seen any of the preseason games, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. I have a feeling he'll be a name on that list of potential MIP candidates, though it's unlikely that he could actually win it.
Rubio won't be back until mid-December/early-January, however that may not keep him off the Award Watch. Ricky is an elite defender, which could land him an All-Defensive First/Second Team (it may not be this season, but I guarantee he will at some point in his career). Ultimately that's the only 'award' he'll challenge for, there's far too many great point guards in this League (Rose, Westbrook, Williams, Rondo, Paul, etc). I think it's safe to say he won't be winning any awards this year, but he'll collect plenty of hardware over the course of his career.
Most Improved Player of the Year candidate. With Love out for the first 10-15 games of the season, D-Will has a GREAT chance to start the year off strong. From what I've seen from him in the Summer League and the Preseason, he's improved, but he's miles away from living up to the full potential that made him a #2 overall pick. The good news? He's only 20. Plenty of time to turn things around. As we said, with Love out, he's got the greatest 'gift' you could give him: an opportunity! Now, it's up to Derrick to make the most of it, if not don't expect Adelman to continue to hand him unearned minutes, when the 2012-13 TWolves are a much deeper team, with a number of other options.