Wolves All Star Break Check-In

Before the start of the 21–22 NBA season I made some predictions for certain things I thought would or would not happen for the Timberwolves. Some were positive yet realistic, some were negative, and some were way out in left field. Either way, the All Star break seems like a good time to check in on each of those predictions and see how I did!

 

So far, this prediction is technically wrong but not completely baseless. The Wolves’ rookie has appeared in 6 of Iowa’s 15 real regular season games and has acquitted himself admirably averaging 12 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists in 29 minutes per game.

 

The supporting theory around this prediction was that the NBA club would not have any need for his services with their guard depth and desire to be competitive this year. Well, Bolmaro was forced into action earlier than expected due to injuries/illnesses and appeared in 14 straight NBA games at one point, including 2 starts!

 

With the Timberwolves entering a final push for the playoffs, it is doubtful that they would want to carve out any minutes in Chris Finch’s rotation for Bolmaro. I could certainly see the young Argentinian sticking down in Iowa for a little while to receive consistent playing time. If that happens, my prediction should turn out to be correct!

 

Ha! An amazing miss. This prediction lasted as far as early November when the Wolves lost a 6th straight game in their 10th game of the season.

 

At the time of the prediction, I didn’t even think this was a controversial opinion and felt pretty good about getting it right. I am such a dummy. On the bright side, they haven’t lost more than 5 games in a row AGAIN. Also they have amassed 2 separate 5 game winning streaks, and 2 streaks of 4 wins as well.

 

I was correct in thinking this team WOULD be different than last season’s, of course. So maybe next year they’ll be able to keep the losing streaks to no more than 4 games!

 

This was my boldest positive prediction before the season. I thought Ant’s momentum exiting his rookie year would carry over into a monster start to his sophomore campaign and lead to an appearance in the All Star game.

 

Unfortunately, this one was incorrect, but it was much closer than I realistically anticipated! The guard depth in the Western Conference made it incredibly difficult for Ant to get the call despite averaging 22 points, 5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. So with only 1 injury replacement needed in the West it just did not work out as Dejounte Murray was selected to replace Draymond Green.

 

Another thing working against the young phenom is the fact that the Wolves already have an All Star in Karl-Anthony Towns. A 7th seeded team typically is going to be hard-pressed to send 2 All Stars, and KAT was clearly deserving.

 

Despite another ridiculously stacked guard position in the West next year, Ant should be firmly in the running for the 2023 All Star game. If the Wolves take another step forward along with Ant’s development, it will be difficult to justify keeping Edwards out of the exhibition. Especially with how perfectly his electrifying style of basketball would come off in that game.

 

My prediction fell short this season, but I’ll comfortably make *at least* the same bet next season.

 

Most of my preseason predictions were positive, so I tried to mix in a bit of objectivity into the proceedings. It turns out I may have actually undersold the season KAT would have!

 

At this point in the 21–22 NBA season, the top 2 center spots on All NBA teams are likely sewn up with the 2 current frontrunners for MVP — Nikola Jokić and Joel Embiid. That leaves the 3rd All NBA center spot for Towns, Rudy Gobert, and possibly Jarrett Allen. Right now I would say it is essentially a dual between Karl and Rudy.

 

Prior to the season, my bet was that the Utah Jazz were going to be a top 3–5 team in the NBA with Gobert leading a staunch defense. It would be difficult to argue against him earning the All NBA nod if that were the case. But it isn’t.

 

Gobert is having a very good season averaging 15 points, 15 rebounds, and over 2 blocks per game. The issue his that his Jazz are not necessarily the dominant juggernaut they were last year. Yes, they have the league’s 6th most wins, but many teams are within 1 or two wins of them and they rank 4th in the West. Even the Wolves have only 5 less wins most of the way through the season.

 

To me, that opens the door for KAT who is having a magnificent year. His per game averages of 24/10/4 while shooting 40% from 3 have done wonders for this Timberwolves team. He has also played 8 more games than Gobert, which may not be enough to matter by season’s end but is worth mentioning.

 

While I am obviously biased towards Towns here, it does feel like the voting could go either way. Do the Wolves need a strong push into the 6th seed to get Towns over the edge? Possibly as that would mostly take “team success” out of the equation. To me, KAT has been the 3rd best center this season. Let’s just hope the voters make my preseason prediction wrong.

 

Ooooof, tough one for me and the Josh Okogie Fan Club out there. I believe this prediction came on the heels of the 1st preseason game where Okogie started and was an absolutely hellacious defender. With the offensive firepower on this team, I thought Okogie was going to be the “skeleton key” needed to unlock a gnarly defense.

 

Enter Jarred Vanderbilt. Vando has been everything this team needed and more on the defensive end, rendering Okogie a bit obsolete. He has played the 12th most minutes on the team and only appeared in 33 of the 59 games. In his 4th season and final year of his rookie contract, he is seeing the least amount of minutes of his career.

 

With the emergence of Vanderbilt, solid play from Beverley, and scoring juice needed from the bench unit it seems Josh Okogie is not going to be in the team’s plans down the final stretch of the season. If the Wolves make the playoffs there may still be a part to play for the defensive stud, but as of now this prediction looks foolish.

 

I made this prediction trying to sound smart… And it seems to have worked! The rationale was that we all thought there would be a high-powered offense coming and a terrible defense, so I took the “under” on the offense and “over” on the defense.

 

Well, I’m almost exactly right! According to Basketball Reference the Wolves sport the league’s 10th ranked offense and 17th ranked defense. I’m a genius!

 

However, I did not predict the path they’ve taken to get to these rankings. The offense was abhorrent to start the season and the defense was maniacal. A completely opposite showing from what every reasonable basketball expert would have predicted.

 

As he does, the ole head coach got the offense moving eventually as the guys learned to play together. The defense has slipped recently likely due to the effort and focus this defensive scheme demands, but the team has continued winning as the offense takes off.

Great prediction, me.

 

Another pretty good one! In my opinion, getting the Wolves into the top 7 in the Western Conference is worthy of some Coach of the Year votes!

 

Unfortunately for Coach Finch it looks like it could be a pretty crowded COY race this season. A couple of young upstart teams in Memphis and Cleveland are going to get Taylor Jenkins and J.B. Bickerstaff some deserved heavy consideration. The top 2–3 teams in each conference also earn some votes for their coaches, so add Monty Williams, Steve Kerr, Erik Spoelstra, and Billy Donovan to the mix. That’s 6 deserving coaches already!

 

In my opinion it all hinges on the Wolves either getting the 6th seed or at least pushing VERY heavily on the Nuggets and Mavericks to move up. If they finish with 43–44 wins after Vegas set their win total around 34, that deserves plenty of consideration for Chris Finch. If they stumble a bit and end at or below .500, then there are probably more deserving guys to be in that Top 5 for COY voting.

 

Either way, the Wolves have a keeper on the bench in Finch. If he doesn’t quite get the national credit this year, I would bet it will happen soon enough.

 

-Jerry W.