Why it might be time to take the Timberwolves seriously: taking the temperature of Minnesota’s 2021-22 campaign

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The easiest thing to do is fire the Timberwolves from Minnesota. Historically speaking, firing them is the smart thing to do. They’ve only made the playoffs once since Kevin Garnett played point guard in the Western Conference Finals in 2004, and that playoff appearance in 2018 was the product of the partnership. doomed to franchise failure with Tom Thibodeau and Jimmy Butler.

Karl-Anthony Towns is the only wolf left from this iteration of the team. Reserve winger Josh Okogie is the only other vestige of the Thibodeau era. Last season, team president Gersson Rosas fired coach Ryan Saunders 31 games in the season and replaced him with Chris Finch, hired away from the Toronto Raptors. A few days before this season’s Media Day, the Timberwolves fired Rosas and promoted Sachin Gupta to first place. Rosas allegedly had an inappropriate relationship with an employee. Towns said you can “just add it to the list.”

If you’re looking for reasons to take wolves seriously, start with Towns. After going through hell, he seems poised to recover as an All-NBA player, with the help of a coach who will give him as much freedom as possible offensively and is in the process of reshuffling the defense to meet his demands. strong points. .

There is also Anthony Edwards. No one has improved as much over the past season as the 2020 No.1 pick, and he’s apparently 6ft 6in tall now. There is D’Angelo Russell, in good health and with a lot to prove. There’s Jaden McDaniels, and all the possibility he represents. Patrick Beverley has arrived to make saves, Malik Beasley has returned for buckets and there’s a good chance Jarred Vanderbilt is the best actor you didn’t know.

And then there’s the Ben Simmons stuff. The threat of Rosas sacking and the season that’s about to begin is an inevitable truth: Towns and Simmons are perfect for each other, and Minnesota’s reported interest in the disgruntled Sixers star takes it all. its meaning.

One of the many reasons an exchange hasn’t materialized yet, however, is that Gupta’s front office has an intriguing list as is. External expectations are low, but Wolves have the talent to be one of the best attacking teams in the league. It may finally be the start of something.

List of Minnesota Timberwolves

  • Malik beasley
  • Patrick Beverley
  • Leandro Bolmaro
  • Brian Bowen II
  • Ed davis
  • Anthony edwards
  • Nathan Chevalier
  • Jake layman
  • Matt Lewis
  • Jaden mcdaniels
  • Jordan mclaughlin
  • Isaiah Miller
  • Jaylen nowell
  • Josh Okogie
  • Prince Taurus
  • Naz reid
  • D’Angelo Russell
  • Chris Silva
  • Karl-Anthony towns
  • Potted vanderbilt
  • McKinley Wright IV

To take the temperature

Timberwolves believer: I’ve been ready for Wolves to show everyone what they’re building for a while. It’s been clouded by injuries and drama, but they’ve done a lot of good things since pairing up KAT with his buddy D-Lo: picking Edwards, picking McDaniels, hiring Finch, and now the Beverley trade. People are going to be shocked when it comes to just a competent team.

Skeptical timberwolves: I admit they could be quite good offensively. But we say that to each other every year, and obviously everything is bad. This time around, we didn’t even have to wait until the start of the season for things to start falling apart! Rosas was supposed to be the guy who brought stability to the franchise.

Timberwolves believer: I do not see what the departure of Rosas has to do with what will happen on the court. If anything, I’m excited Sachin Gupta is in charge now – he looks like both a genius and a good guy. You know Wolves scored 120.9 points per 100 possessions with KAT, D-Lo and Ant on the pitch last season, right?

Skeptical timberwolves: I am aware. But I don’t think this particular sample, almost entirely towards the end of a miserable season, is particularly meaningful. It’s good that the team were better when their three most important players played together I guess, but you forget that their defense was horrible during those minutes. At some point one or two of these guys have to become a decent defender, or there has to be a trade. (Heard there’s a guy in Philly who wants to hang out.)

Timberwolves believer: I mean, I saw Towns play some decent defense. I’ve seen flashes of Edwards as well, and he definitely has the physical attributes to be a high level defender. The last time Russell was healthy for a full season was his senior year in Brooklyn, and these Nets were mid-defense and better than that with him on the pitch. He’s not a stopper, but he can get away with it. I like that Finch goes for a more aggressive, Denver-like pick-and-roll cover, and, between McDaniels, Beverley, Vanderbilt and Okogie, there should always be enough support for weaker defenders.

Skeptical timberwolves: If Wolves are to follow the Nuggets’ plan, they need Towns to play like an MVP. In fact, I think he could flaunt Jokic-style numbers, but I highly doubt he can lift his team to similar heights. The supporting cast is just weird! I don’t expect anything from Russell, Edwards or Beasley defensively. I don’t expect much from McDaniels, Vanderbilt or Okogie offensively. Do you think Taurean Prince will suddenly start defending like he did when he entered the league? Do you think Naz Reid, Jake Layman, and Jordan McLaughlin are reliable spinners? I wish there was more depth here.

Timberwolves believer: There will be some defensive shooting decisions to be made, of course, but McDaniels made 41 percent of his 3 corners last year. Reid is also somewhat stretchy, and Finch can experiment with large, physical and versatile queues. Wolves might not have the most comprehensive roster in the league, but if the end of last season is any indication, they have a coach who knows what he’s doing. Playoffs, play-ins, whatever – I haven’t felt so good with the team since they traded to Jimmy Butler.

Skeptical timberwolves: And it worked extremely well for everyone, didn’t it? But seriously, while I can’t say I share your faith in Finch, I think he’s an important variable. It has no obvious starting line-up or closing. He doesn’t have an abundance of two-way players. The kind of problem-solving that usually isn’t that important until the playoffs are an everyday thing. If Wolves are going to sneak into the play-in, we’ll talk about Finchy.

Eye on: Jaden McDaniels

McDaniels should have been named All-Rookie last year, and it’s easy to see why everyone in Minnesota is so in love with him. He already has good anticipation as a weak side blocker and he glides across the pitch like a wing. Despite being 6-foot-10, he played 58 percent of his minutes on the little forward last season, according to Cleaning The Glass, and he could start there in year two.

Regardless of whether he is starting out or not and what position he plays in, he is expected to defend star players of all sizes, wreak havoc in transition, and generally do player-winning stuff by the age of. 21 years old. We know he will find some scoring chances just by cutting hard when Towns has the ball. We know it will take at least 3 turns when they open. I want to see him shoot more 3s and shoot more accurately over the break (he made 33% of his 3s out of corners last season), if only because I want to see him play when the defenders close.

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