- Nov 11, 2008
- Reaction score
The Ringer has a list of 20 Bold Predictions for this year's NBA Season. Here is one of them.
15. The Timberwolves will finish with a top-three record.Here’s how I see the Timberwolves: Thanks to the leg injury that sidelined Karl-Anthony Towns for four months last season, this year will be what 2022-23 should’ve been. Remove everything that’s on the periphery of actual basketball—the lopsided Rudy Gobert trade, ego-based questions about whose team it is, an über-expensive payroll and a need for draft capital that puts Towns’s name in trade rumors—and it’s not hard, even in a brutal Western Conference, to like what Minnesota has cooking. The pieces are in place for it to dominate regular-season competition: All-NBA talent, so much size, depth, veteran guile, youth, shooting, inventive coaches, some of the best defenders, and explosive athletes who can take over a game.
Anthony Edwards is an ascending star. Towns has a 50-40-90 season in him. Gobert’s defense still changes offensive strategies. Jaden McDaniels can legitimately shut down the world’s top offensive players and is primed to mature with the ball in his hands. Everything about Mike Conley, including his 36 years of wisdom, was designed in a lab to make him this roster’s ideal point guard. They’re bringing Kyle Anderson, Naz Reid, and (the underrated) Nickeil Alexander-Walker off the bench.
The offense isn’t without cause for concern. It really struggled to score even when its best players were on the floor last year. Whether Edwards ran pick-and-rolls with Gobert or Towns, both partnerships were a mess when the other big shared the floor. But their new starting five played only 75 minutes in seven games. Complementary talent, spacing, and creative coaches will help carve a path for Minnesota to be more efficient this season.
Edwards will get even more reps as a playmaker and will have more opportunities to launch catch-and-shoot 3s. The Timberwolves will ultimately go as far as his development takes them. (One big-picture takeaway from this preseason that may ultimately be meaningless: The Timberwolves rank first in location effective field goal percentage, mostly because they’ve abandoned long 2-point jumpers.)
Most of my own optimism, though, springs from the other end. Gobert is still an elite, floor-raising paint protector who did more to lift Minnesota into the top 10 than anyone else on the roster last year. Opponents took 35 percent of their shots at the rim—not a great number—but Gobert’s on-off differential defending the basket was the league best.
More importantly, in 360 minutes, lineups that featured Gobert, Edwards, McDaniels, and Towns held opponents to just 102.9 points per 100 possessions—the third lowest out of 150 four-player combos that logged at least 350 minutes. When Towns and Gobert shared the court, their defensive rating was 105.6, the same as Brook Lopez and Jrue Holiday. They didn’t foul, took care of the glass, and got back in transition.
This roster may not be ideal for postseason basketball, but it’ll be a problem through the winter, against teams that aren’t comfortable handling such a singular, explosive, humongous group that can win in several different ways. The more time they have together, the better they’ll be.
From a relatively tame MVP pick to a downright jarring trade proposal, here are 20 predictions to get you ready for the new NBA seasonwww.theringer.com
Love this! If we stay healthy, certainly a top 4 seed in the West should be in play and a deep run in the playoffs.