The day we have all been anxiously awaiting is nearly upon us. The Timberwolves open the season on Wednesday the 20th at home against the Houston Rockets. If Minnesota wants to be taken seriously this season, it all starts with a win over a lesser team in their season opener. From there, it is anyone’s guess as to where the season takes them. In an attempt to forego the typical Wolves record projections for this upcoming season, I will go through 7 predictions for different scenarios that will happen this year.
Preseason basketball is back and that means we get to watch Wolves basketball again! It also means we will feast our eyes on some of the weirdest and most unique lineups that will never see the light of day in the regular season. In preseason game 1, Chris Finch & co. stuck with some generic groups for the rotation players without much experimentation. In the next few preseason games, I would love to see him experiment and get a little weird with it…
The 21–22 NBA season is shaping up to be a pivotal one for the Timberwolves. While I do not necessarily buy the idea that this is a make-or-break year, I do think that if the squad does not show clear signs of improvement and competitiveness in the conference then we could be headed for some significant personnel changes. Because of this, we need to clearly understand how this team will find success. Let’s look at the 5 most important factors affecting the Wolves reaching their goals.
Jarred Vanderbilt and Jordan McLaughlin each have re-signed with the Wolves on team-friendly 3 year contracts which locks in a couple more roster spots and potentially fills out the team’s rotation when the season kicks off. 2020 draftee Leandro Bolmaro also officially signed and was introduced this week. While most fans assumed Vanderbilt would be back, it was nice to officially lock in a 22 year old up-and-comer/fan favorite as training camp nears. Jordan McLaughlin re-signing helps to fill out the guard depth, and Leandro Bolmaro officially inking his deal is icing on the cake. With only a few weeks until preseason games tip off, we can begin to analyze the Wolves rotation and depth to start the year.
It’s Happening! It’s Happening! Ok, nothing has really happened yet, but it seems like the Ben Simmons trade situation is moving closer to a resolution. With recent developments and the Wolves front office seemingly lusting after the Sixers’ star I want to break it all down to analyze how this could work.
While it has not been the offseason that many Wolves fans had envisioned for their favorite team, Gersson Rosas and his front office have managed to pull off a couple of deals to tighten up the margins of the roster. Ricky Rubio, Juancho Hernangomez, and Jarrett Culver have been sent away while Taurean Prince and Patrick Beverley are headed to the Twin Cities. Skeptics can certainly question the moves individually wondering if it was smart to sell low on a trusted team veteran and 2 young players, but further examination shows a plan to change the surroundings of the team’s best players. That’s right, finally your Minnesota Timberwolves have some real 3pt. shooters to insulate their stars.
With the 2021 NBA Offseason quieting down over the next few weeks in the lead up to training camp we can start to form opinions about how certain teams have fared. Some have made legitimate improvements around the margins to strengthen their teams while others have repositioned themselves to gain assets now and better compete several years down the line. For our purposes we want to know how the teams directly in front of the Timberwolves in the 20–21 Western Conference standings have fared this offseason and which way they are trending heading into the 21–22 NBA season. Let’s take a look at the moves made by the Grizzlies, Warriors, Spurs, Pelicans, and Kings to determine if there is a real path to the Wolves making the playoffs.
“Mr. 94 Feet” is coming to Minneapolis! Patrick Beverley, the boisterously tenacious veteran guard is destined for the Wolves in a trade that sees Minnesota send out forwards Juancho Hernangomez and Jarrett Culver. While I assumed the Wolves would find a way to bring in a veteran guard as their backup to D’Angelo Russell, I have to say I did not see a scenario that brought them the former Clipper and Rocket. Let’s look at the trade, and figure out why each team would have made this deal.
After a dizzying first few days of NBA free agency, the rumor mill has slowed down as most of the prominent players have found a home. Some lesser known players vying for smaller contracts may wait weeks to sign as teams fill out their rosters. Unfortunately for Timberwolves fans who have already been waiting to see any semblance of player acquisitions, the waiting game will continue. That does not mean that the Wolves are done and will automatically go into the 21–22 season as-is. They will continue to look for options for signings and trades, but it does not appear they will be willing to break the bank (or draft pick stockpile) for a minor upgrade. With that, let’s examine where the Wolves roster currently stands and offer ideas for potential moves that could be left for Minnesota.
The Timberwolves Summer League officially tips off on August 9th against the San Antonio Spurs. After a few months off we finally get to watch some sort of high level basketball played by some of the guys who will be on the Wolves roster next season. For the hardcore degenerate Wolves fans like myself, August 9th will basically be Christmas. Even though the games count for very little, there are still some things I would like to see during these games from some of the guys under contract with the Wolves. Let’s check it out!
A trade! A real life Timberwolves offseason move finally happened for us diehard fans and bloggers to have something to write about. It certainly was not the deal that many fans hoped for as the Wolves moved off of Ricky Rubio’s bloated contract with 1 year remaining for a player who is not as good as Ricky but is slightly less expensive and plays a position of need. Let’s try to make some sense of the draft night swap!
Jaden McDaniels has been thrown into trade rumors surrounding Ben Simmons and other NBA stars this offseason. The 6’9″ wing/forward is coming off of a stellar rookie campaign where he rose through the ranks to become a full time starter after beginning the season firmly planted at the end of the bench. His value as a defender and floor-spacing shooter mixed with his size and length became too much to ignore as he blossomed into a 2-way force at just 20 years old. We do not yet know what he could be, but he has the outline of one of the most important player archetypes in the league. The Wolves should not be so keen to send him away.
When was the last time a Timberwolves rookie made you jump out of your seat at least once a game? When was the last time a Timberwolves rookie was a feared defender instead of shark bait for opposing stars? When was the last time you felt this strongly about a pair of Timberwolves rookies reaching stardom together?
Malik Beasley’s fit on the 2021–2022 Timberwolves and beyond is a bit of a hot-button topic for fans across Wolves nation. Many believe the flame throwing scorer is the key component to an elite offense next season, while others believe he could be traded right away to fetch a player that better fits the core of Anthony Edwards, D’Angelo Russell, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Jaden McDaniels. Regardless of what you think about his future with the team, the fact is Malik Beasley is a good young offensive player and is on a solid contract. He could be a target of other teams around the league that are in need of 3 point firepower who may sense a “buy low” opportunity with Malik. So who are the teams that could potentially make a call on Malik, and what could they offer that would tempt the Wolves to pull the trigger? Let’s find out!
The NBA Draft Lottery has come and gone and like so many lotteries of the past our Minnesota Timberwolves were not lucky enough to hit the jackpot. This year’s drawing was different in that it carried an extra level of drama with the likely outcome of losing the pick versus the small chance of landing a highly regarded prospect. In the end it seems Wolves fans are moderately disappointed in the result of sending the 7th pick to the Warriors, but are not discouraged and continue to carry the good vibes fostered by the team to end the season. With the draft order set, the offseason becomes much more clear for Minnesota. It is time to hit the gas pedal on the “Post-Thibs” rebuild.
The 2020–2021 Minnesota Timberwolves are finished. We hope to look back on this past disjointed season as the start of a run of fun and competitive basketball here in the North, but for now we must move forward. Heading into the 2021–2022 season the Wolves absolutely need to improve in many areas, but have little in the way of cap space and (likely) draft assets to do so. The most significant improvement will need to happen internally in the development of their current roster. So, we will take a look at the top priority for each Wolves player’s positive development through the 2021 offseason. Each player under contract for 21–22 will be included, and we will add Jarred Vanderbilt as I believe he is likely to be resigned. Here we go!
The end of the 20-21 NBA regular season has arrived and so begins the annual anxiety and nervousness as Wolves fans await the NBA Draft Lottery on June 22nd. This season’s lottery carries additional weight with the Wolves owing their pick to the Golden State Warriors if it lands anywhere outside the top 3 slots. Timberwolves games are completed for the year, so it is time to examine the 3 major scenarios that could occur for the Wolves, their odds of happening, and how Wolves fans may feel about them.
The “Searching for the Ceiling” series will examine Timberwolves young players one at a time analyzing what their best case outcome could be as they continue to develop in the league. Each player’s “ceiling” will be compared to a current veteran in the league, and if they reach the level of that current player they will have reached what I believe to be their best case outcome. Each Timberwolves player will have “ceiling” comparison on offense and on defense. The first and second installments in the series covered Jaylen Nowell and Naz Reid. Next up we have the rookie defensive ace, Jaden McDaniels.
That’s what they call a winning streak. It has not been seen around here in a few months, but it appears the Wolves remembered how to do it! If only they could play the Jazz every night. In all seriousness, there is something real going on with this Wolves team right now. Little micro-improvements are happening all over the roster, and the catalyst for all of it may be the new head coach who is finally able to get his feet under him in this unprecedented season. We are not ready to proclaim the Wolves as the “next big thing” in the NBA, but if any of these good vibes sustain through the end of the season it may portend big things for the coming years. Here are 3 thoughts on what it all means for the Wolves in the future:
The “Searching for the Ceiling” series will examine Timberwolves young players one at a time analyzing what their best case outcome could be as they continue to develop in the league. Each player’s “ceiling” will be compared to a current veteran in the league, and if they reach the level of that current player they will have reached what I believe to be their best case outcome. Each Timberwolves player will have “ceiling” comparison on offense and on defense. The first installment in the series was about Jaylen Nowell. Next up we have 2nd year center Naz Reid.
The 2020–21 season has been a frustrating journey for the Timberwolves as they have struggled through injuries, illness, suspension, and a coaching change. As a fan, it has been difficult to get a sense for what really needs to be done to blast the team out of the league’s cellar because until recently they have not been able to play with a consistent lineup or scheme. Since the All Star break however, things have began to take shape. The Wolves are still struggling through injuries, but the playing style and core pieces have become solidified. Because of this, it is fair to start drawing conclusions regarding the team’s most important players moving forward, and how the front office can maximize the current players in their personnel decisions.
What a difference a year makes. The 2020 NBA trade deadline was a flurry of action as Gersson Rosas and his front office razed the Wolves sinking roster and brought in nearly an entire new roster. With that precedent set in his first deadline, fans expected at least some moves in 2021, but the deadline has quietly passed by the Wolves with no moves made. And for a team with a 10–34 record, that is just fine.
The trading deadline is one of the most fun times of year for NBA fans! It is especially fun for fans of losing teams with active general managers. Timberwolves fans happen to fall into both of those categories with their team sporting a 10–33 record and Gersson Rosas at the controls. The Wolves have seemingly been linked to every trade target available, and because of the front office’s activity it seems everything is on the table. Let’s have some fun with the trade machine and try to explain the rationale for each deal!
The “Searching for the Ceiling” series will examine Timberwolves young players one at a time analyzing what their best case outcome could be as they continue to develop in the league. Each player’s “ceiling” will be a current veteran in the league, and if they reach the level of that current player they will have reached what I believe to be their best case outcome. Each Timberwolves player will have “ceiling” comparison on offense and on defense. First up in the series is bench spark plug and microwave scorer, Jaylen Nowell.
A complete drubbing by the Charlotte Hornets mercifully sent the Wolves into the All Star break. After the Hornets played carelessly and sloppily in the first half, they tightened the screws in the second half en route to a mauling of the undermanned and lifeless Wolves. If it was not already clear to the front office, everything needs to be on the table for the Wolves to clear a path forward.
Have you ever been bored and thought about your favorite athletes and how great it would be to snap your fingers to add a skill or trait to their game? No? That’s just me? Great! I spend too much of my time thinking about the Timberwolves, and often find myself wanting to grant one wish to improve an important part of each player’s game. As an example, my one wish for Andrew Wiggins was that he would magically become an amazing playmaker to go along with his scoring capabilities.
It is time to present the Minnesota Timberwolves players with their awards now that we are 1/4 of the way through this weird 20–21 NBA season. Instead of offering the traditional awards such as MVP, Rookie of the Year, Coach of the Year, etc, we will give awards that fit the current team’s situation a little better. We need to get creative to reward players on a 4–14 team in the midst of a pandemic, so without further ado here are the Made-Up Quarter Season Award winners:
Now that we are 12 games into the Timberwolves regular season, we have a large enough sample size to start making some fair analysis. Fans spent the offseason wondering if the team was going to address certain weak points and speculating what the rotations would like like, so it is now time to judge our accuracy on some offseason takes.
Since the Timberwolves star center injured his wrist in a win against the Utah Jazz, the team’s performance has completely cratered into nearly unrecognizable form. The offense and defense were both dreadful without Towns in blowout losses to the Lakers and Clippers, and the Wolves will need much more out of their supporting cast to keep their heads above water awaiting his return.
This will not be a traditional season preview. There will be no predictions or prognostications about how the Wolves’ season goes or which players will play well. This is simply an expression of feelings now that the Minnesota Timberwolves will play regular season basketball for the first time in nearly 10 months. The NBA is back, and the Timberwolves are 0–0 with a wave of basketball-starved fans behind them.
Preseason games are often used for experimentation by coaches, and for players to adjust back to NBA game speed. Analyzing player performances from these games can be a foolish task, but we can still use the context of their performances to change our expectations as we head into the 20–21 season. We will use the three Timberwolves preseason games to determine which players’ stock have improved or declined during exhibition play.
In past years the Timberwolves made a habit out of using cap space and roster spots on older veterans and young players who failed on other teams. The goal was merely to try to be competitive with no true path to a championship. Under the new regime, they now have a clear plan on their journey to become a great team and model franchise.
Timberwolves basketball is upon us! While the games won’t technically matter until the regular season opener on December 23rd, we can still learn from the lineups and strategies that the coaching staff plays during the three preseason games. Here are four lineups that I want to see them experiment with during these exhibition games.
During the 20–21 NBA season teams will almost certainly be affected by COVID related absences of their players. The teams that are able to be most successful this season are the teams that are prepared by stocking the end of their roster with versatile depth pieces. The Timberwolves are one of those teams using their roster spots wisely to account for an unpredictable season.
Anthony Edwards is a mystery. The Timberwolves chose him to be the 1st overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft and hang their hopes for a decade of competitive basketball squarely on his broad shoulders. Unlike so many other past top picks in the NBA draft, fans do not seem to have an idea of what to expect from Edwards this season, or what his game will look like when he gets to his second contract.
Two of the largest contracts in the NBA in terms of average annual value were dealt for one another in a trade late Wednesday night sending perennial All Star Russell Westbrook of the Houston Rockets to Washington for John Wall and a lottery protected first round pick in 2023. Talks between the two front offices reportedly stalled around the recent draft after both guards had asked to be traded, but apparently the conversation heated up earlier today and an agreement was struck. Both Wall and Westbrook will earn over $41 million this season with two more years left on their contracts after this year, so it made perfect sense that they were swapped for one another. The trade still seemed unlikely before today however because of the way it seems to affect each team’s direction forward.
The hottest debate topic for Timberwolves fans leading into the 20–21 season training camp seems to be the power forward position. The team did relatively little to address a position that was a perceived hole in the lineup, but the front office seems content going into the season with their current options on the roster. Below we will analyze the different power forward archetypes from around the NBA discussing how this type of player would fit with the Wolves closing lineup, and whether the roster currently has any options that fit the archetype.
The whirlwind that is the 2020 NBA offseason is unbelievably nearly complete with training camp beginning on December 1st, just twelve days after the draft and ten days after the start of free agency. Typically front offices have had plenty of time to round out the edges of the roster by the start of training camp, but this season many teams, including the Timberwolves, are still finalizing those last roster spots and camp invitees. In an unprecedented offseason, this Timberwolves team has questions to answer during the rushed training camp. We will examine five of the under-the-radar questions that will hopefully have answers by the season opener.
Prior to the 19–20 NBA season, Timberwolves fans were left wondering who would start in the backcourt next to Jeff Teague and Andrew Wiggins. If that wasn’t bad enough, the thought of who would sub in for those guys was even worse. Veterans Shabazz Napier, Treveon Graham, and Josh Okogie were all options along with rookies Jarrett Culver and Jaylen Nowell. While we were optimistic, these choices were not ideal. Teague and Wiggins were average 3pt. shooters at best, and the rest of the options were worse shooters.