Looking at the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Impressive Season Thus Far
In my preseason NBA rankings, I wrote that the Minnesota Timberwolves would finish as the 15th seed in the Western Conference. It’s safe to say that they have proved me wrong. It’s been a rollercoaster ride for the Wolves, to say the least, but they have shown that they can compete with some of the top teams in the NBA when everything is working perfectly for them.
Minnesota’s Impressive Season So Far
Beginnings: Franchise in Poverty Past Few Seasons
Over the last few years, the franchise has gone through a lot with coaching changes and front-office changes as well. In the 2019-20 season, the Wolves suffered through numerous losing streaks including losing 12 of 14 games and a 13 game losing streak. After the trip to the playoffs in 2018, it has been a struggle for this team trying to gain the momentum back. But once the franchise drafted Anthony Edwards in 2020, optimism began to revolve around the franchise again.
So far, it’s been good signs for the Timberwolves compared to the past few seasons. Not only do they have phenomenal scorers on their roster but role players who love to compete. Some things may not show on the stat sheet but the effort has been there all season. This season, the Wolves are ranked in the top 20 in defensive rankings, compared to being ranked 25th a season ago. Once again, it’s not impressive compared to other young rising teams but it’s a step in the right direction.
Who Has Made a Difference So Far?
We first have to discuss the Timberwolves’ recent number one pick, Anthony Edwards. Edwards continues to improve as an elite scorer who can carry this team on certain nights. He has already displayed big performances against some of the top contenders in the NBA. Edwards is averaging 22 points on the season while shooting 43 percent from the floor. Although he does have his occasions where he can take unnecessary shots, Edwards shows to have no filter and plays the gam fearless. His competitive drive along with the way he has fun has fueled the Wolves to a respectable start.
How about the other two stars, Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell? When Russell was traded from the Golden State Warriors, the expectations for the two as a duo were pretty high. But injuries have gotten in the way of the two succeeding together. According to Stat Muse, the Wolves are below .500 since the trade for Russell. It almost began to be a laughing stock that the two were not a top-five duo in the league.
Let’s also not discredit the Wolves’ supporting cast either because they play a huge role in their early-season success. Minnesota has players who can check-in and immediately set the tone on both ends. Malik Beasley leads the second unit as he averages 10.6 points per game. But it is other impressive young players in Naz Reid, Jalen McDaniels, Jarred Vanderbilt, and Josh Okogie who have been sensational for Minnesota.
With all of the pieces clicking for Minnesota, they’ve had some great showings against some of the top teams in the NBA. For instance, in Friday night’s game against the Brooklyn Nets, the team was phenomenal with their ball movement and communication on the defensive end. At one point, Minnesota had the momentum on their side as they had an 11 point lead. But as a young team on the rise matching up against a contender, the Nets were able to close the deal. The dynamic of Kevin Durant and his team was too much for the Wolves to contain.
Despite the loss to a championship contender, the ability to compete down the stretch shows the resiliency in the Timberwolves. There’s a competitive edge that this team has brought into their locker room and they are giving 100 percent during the game. Because of that, the Timberwolves have come out with a victory against tough opponents like the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, and others. Being early in December, the Wolves sitting in a play-in slot as the ninth seed is a phenomenal turnaround for the franchise.
The question is can the Minnesota Timberwolves continue to keep momentum on their side? So far, they have been impressive to begin the season. But only one-quarter of the season has passed and the road will only get more difficult. One of the biggest reasons why the Timberwolves have been successful is because nobody expects them to make noise. They should continue to keep that behind their heads for motivation to finish the season strong.
Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images