Souhan: Timberwolves as big winners next year? Here are 10 ways to make that happen
Here's how the Wolves can win big next year:
Make Target Center the Ant Hill:
Edwards became an all-star this season, and proved against Denver he's one of the league's best players. If he continues to improve and mature, Edwards will elevate the entire franchise.
Looking for the next Mr. Jones:
The most obvious personnel upgrade should come at backup point guard. Michael Conley fits as a starter. Jordan McLaughlin has become more endearing than effective. The Wolves need a version of Tyus Jones
to complement Conley.
Not too late:
Gobert is 30. Why can't he improve at this stage of his career?
For all of the consternation about the trade the Wolves made for him, Gobert wound up having a representative season and was better at the end than at the beginning.
If he were slightly better at catching passes and making five-foot shots, he'd be a dangerous man.
Towns' illness in training camp set the tone for a team that entered the season with optimism. His injury erased any chance of this team maximizing its win total. Keeping him healthy for the next calendar year is imperative.
There will be calls to trade him, but trading a major talent at low value would be foolish. He remains an exceptional scorer and a willing passer who needs to improve on defense. Let's see what he can do with a healthy season while playing on the best roster he's enjoyed in Minnesota.
Edwards became infamous for homophobic comments. McDaniels punched a wall, and Gobert punched a teammate. Anderson annoyed Gobert enough to get punched. Anderson threw an elbow at the face of an opponent.
This was an immature team that lost too often to lousy opponents.
Opt out of play-in:
If the Wolves had won three
more games against terrible teams, they would have avoided the play-in tournament. If they had avoided the play-in tournament, they would have entered the playoffs rested, and there may have been no reason for McDaniels and Gobert to throw punches in frustration.
If they had won four
more games, they would have hosted a playoff series.
With better health and a little more continuity, the Wolves could easily have the kind of season next season that they'd hoped for this season.
Say goodbye to Nowell:
Jaylen Nowell's lack of defense, size and offensive reliability means he needs to go. Nickeil Alexander-Walker
is better, which he proved during the playoffs.
Too many times this season, Wolves coach Chris Finch lamented a lack of ball movement or poor decision-making, and too many times his team was non-competitive against lesser competition. At some point, Finch has to do more than lament — he needs to engineer results.
Don't even think about it:
Wolves executive Tim Connelly could become a candidate
to run the Washington Wizards, and he has ties to the D.C. area. After leveraging his love of Denver during negotiations with the Wolves, it would be unconscionable for Connelly to leave so quickly after making the Gobert trade.
Believe in cohesion:
The NBA's special sauce is cohesiveness, which requires the right kind of personalities jelling over time.
This year was often an unsightly mess, but a rotation of Conley, Edwards, McDaniels, Towns, Gobert, Anderson, Taurean Prince, Alexander-Walker, Reid (if he can be re-signed) and a couple of developing youngsters should be good enough for the Wolves to produce 50 wins for the first time since 2004.
As disappointing as it was to make another quick playoff exit, the Timberwolves offered hope in the final three games of the series against Denver. Here's how to make something good that much better.