How good will Hornets, Wolves be?

Both are poised to become West powers, but what about this season?

Updated: August 9, 2012, 1:43 PM ET
By Bradford Doolittle | Basketball Prospectus
Kevin LoveNoah Graham/Getty ImagesKevin Love and the Wolves will contend for a top-four spot in the West this season.

Most of the offseason attention in the NBA is focused at the top of the league, where elite squads jockey for championship position. That's why so much ink was spilled when Steve Nash, Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis, Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan changed teams or stayed where they were. We paid plenty of attention to the Knicks and Nets because they're in New York and were active in the offseason. However, for the most interesting summer vacations, you have to look to the middle of the country.

The Minnesota Timberwolves and New Orleans Hornets were lottery-level teams in June, though the Wolves had traded their pick away. While both teams missed the playoffs last spring, they began the summer at different junctures in their rebuilding plans. Nevertheless, after a furious few weeks of activity, the teams are primed to become powers in the Western Conference.

Both teams are built to last. When we ranked future big threes earlier this summer, the Hornets (third) and Timberwolves (fifth) looked like franchises that have exciting cores in place. But what about this season?