Will Kandi be sweet or sour?

For the new and improved Wolves to meet their high expectations, Michael Olowokandi must live up to his potential.

Updated: October 20, 2003, 10:04 AM ET
By Marc Stein |
Editor's note: Here's a glimpse of the good -- and the bad -- that could happen to the 2003-04 Minnesota Timberwolves.

Michael Olowokandi
A change of scenery may do wonders for Michael Olowokandi.
Best Case Scenario
Three things need to happen for the Wolves to make a run at the Midwest Division crown and, more important, finally reach the second round of the playoffs.

1. Michael Olowokandi plays to his potential. Failing to do so with the Clippers cost Olowokandi millions on the free-agent market over the summer, but there has always been a belief that the second team to get 1998's No. 1 overall draft pick would be the one to really get something from Kandi. He could miss the start of the season after undergoing arthroscopic surgery shortly before camp opened, but coach Flip Saunders already sees Olowokandi as arguably the biggest key to a breakout season besides Kevin Garnett. That's because no one will benefit more than Garnett, especially defensively, if Olowokandi can be a presence at both ends. With veterans like Garnett and Sam Cassell riding him, and low-post tutoring from Wolves general manager Kevin McHale, Olowokandi will certainly have no excuse. "The difference to be what I consider a championship-caliber team is Olowokandi," Saunders said. "He's going to be an afterthought (publicity-wise), but he has the ability to really rebound, defend and score on the low block."

Marc Stein | email

ESPN Senior Writer
• Senior NBA writer for
• Began covering the NBA in 1993-94
• Also covered soccer, tennis and the Olympics