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You don't have to go back that far in history to find a long stretch of time during which the Timberwolves were a national joke and a local punchline.

You don't even have to go back a year to find a franchise at a potential crossroads, with plenty of questions about the viability of a plan to pair Rudy Gobert with Karl-Anthony Towns after a clunky first season and early first-round playoff exit during the 2022-23 season.

The rehabilitation, then, of the Wolves' image — whether you want to go back one year, several years or a few decades — over the last several months has been nothing short of remarkable.

The Wolves are coming off a 56-26 season plus a trip to the Western Conference finals and following that up with a productive offseason that saw them land two highly regarded players in the first round of the draft to pair with a star-studded returning nucleus of players.

They have a roster that can win now and win later, setting up a window of contention. And a recent ranking, however arbitrary it might be, reinforced both the opportunity the Wolves have as well as the recent shift in franchise perception — something Chip Scoggins and I talked about on Wednesday's Daily Delivery podcast.

Of the 36 franchises across the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL that have never won a championship, the Wolves are deemed to have the No. 1 chance of breaking that drought next.

They are followed by the Texans, Bills and Bengals, all from the NFL, while the NHL's Canucks round out the top five. The Wild are at No. 15, by the way, while the Vikings settle in at No. 22 (more on both of them in a minute).

And you know what? It's hard to argue with the Wolves being at the top of the list, or at least with them being in the top five.

The NBA's Western Conference is stacked with good teams, including a rising Thunder team that has a similarly bright future (but doesn't show up on the list because the franchise won a title previously in Seattle before relocating to Oklahoma City). But if you told me the Wolves will reach at least one NBA Finals in the next five years, I wouldn't be surprised. And once you're there, it's just four more wins.

That the Wild rank ahead of the Vikings is a testament to three factors: NHL teams historically make surprising playoff runs, so just getting into the playoffs would give the Wild a chance; their prospect pool is highly regarded and should pay off soon, while the punitive Zach Parise and Ryan Suter buyouts are just a year away from being over; and the Vikings, for all their optimism, have a complete unknown at quarterback. Until we know more about J.J. McCarthy's development, it's hard to have too much faith in the next 3-5 years.

Both of those franchises are years behind the Wolves in their trajectories, something that would have been absurd to say at so many other points in history.

Here are four more things to know today:

*Chip and I also talked about his recent column on the ongoing Twins TV mess. It's been more than two months since Comcast dropped Bally Sports North, and there's no immediate relief in sight.

*The Yankees are in a tailspin, which probably delights a lot of you.

*The Twins and White Sox play a doubleheader today after Tuesday's rainout. Then the Twins don't play again until late Friday, a nice 48-hour break.

*The Lynx won their second straight game without injured star Napheesa Collier. I'll talk more about the Lynx and their upcoming game Sunday against Caitlin Clark's Indiana Fever on Thursday's podcast with Star Tribune beat writer Kent Youngblood.