Wolves come in at No. 17 in ESPN's final NBA power rankings
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A blend between heightened expectations and mediocre results have made for a disappointing season for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
After a constant struggle to break out of their average state, the Wolves will end their season Wednesday night against the Utah Jazz having not been more than three games above .500 or more than four games below it. While this year's squad has made strides not seen from the Wolves in nearly a decade, the fact remains that Minnesota's playoff drought has now hit 10 straight seasons.
The Wolves' frustrating mediocrity was reflected in ESPN NBA analyst Marc Stein's final power rankings of the season. Stein ranked Minnesota at No .17 -- 10th in the Western Conference.
According to Stein, a margin of victory average of +3.1 has typically netted a 50-win season. However, the Wolves have proven to be the exception. They hold +2.9 average, which stands as the highest for a non-playoff team since the 16-team format was introduced in the 1983-84 season.
The Wolves (40-40), who have held a .500 record on 24 different occasions this season, need wins in their final two games in order to secure their first winning season in nine years.
The San Antonio Spurs ranked as Stein's top team, followed by the Thunder, Heat, Clippers and Rockets.
ProBasketballTalk also slotted Minnesota at No. 17 in its final regular season power rankings, citing the Wolves' inability to consistently win close games.
CBSSports.com moved the Wolves up to No. 16.