The Minnesota Timberwolves have gained body all over the Internet for their exaggerated celebration after surviving and moving past the Kawhi-loose Clippers team in their play-in game. And rightly so, for the Timberwolves have not done anything yet. Their reward will be a match against the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference.
Memphis has the same penchant for being overwhelmed by worldly victories in the regular season. However, they get a pass because of their early core led by players who are young enough to still be super-seniors at their respective schools.
Since Flip Saunders’ death in 2015, the Timberwolves have cycled through a number of general managers, team presidents, coaches and cornerstone players. But Minnesota is finally on the right track after enduring a trial and error era through KAT’s first few seasons in the league. The Grizzlies are the rare team that got it right the first time. Desmond Bane was the 30th choice in the 2020 Draft. After being drafted by Houston in the second round of the 2018 Draft, Dillon Brooks was traded to the Grizzlies minutes. Former No. 3 overall pick Jaren Jackson Jr. is the versatile candidate for Defender of the Year. Minnesota believed that Karl-Anthony Towns would develop into after having an average of 2.3 blocks per game. match in Kentucky in 21.1 minutes a night.
They do not even have a burning vet to infuse the toughness needed to thrive in the off-season. The match was lit early for Memphis. They are shed fat with opponents all match long, they are the No. 2 team in the West, and their superstar guard looks like a future MVP.
Zach LaVine, Andrew Wiggins, and Anthony-Town’s trio feels as if they were intertwined a generation ago. They were about the same age as these Young Grizz are now. Minnesota just lacked patience.
LaVine began to establish itself as a multidimensional scoring threat as a 22-year-old when the Timberwolves swapped him, Kris Dunn and number 7 out with Jimmy Butler in an attempt to speed up their rebuilding. For one season, it worked, and Butler helped trigger a 16-game increase in the winning column. But just like with Mose Tom Thibodeau’s trained teams, the success was fleeting.
Minnesota rose into 2018 after the season with an 8-seed, where they were deftly beaten by the Houston Rockets in five games. Butler tried and failed to inject that energy into the Timberwolves, but it backfired in a disastrous way. The Timberwolves sent the disgruntled Butler to the 76ers and started over.
At the 2020 trade deadline, Minnesota traded Andrew Wiggins on Draft Day to D’Angelo Russell as the next shifting block in the Timberwolves’ Rubik’s dice list. A year earlier, Russell was thrown out of LA, where he was originally a member of a young core, including Julius Randle and Brandon Ingram, who expected to compete for championships now.
Russell is not the game-changing lead guard he was projected as, but he has been an asset on the offensive and a consistent playmaker for other goal scorers. After the pandemic shortened his debut campaign in Minnesota, Russell’s first full season in Minnesota ended as so many. The Timberwolves recorded a record of 19-45 and faced a future without a high pick in the first round of their disorder because the Warriors owned the rights to their first round pick via the Russell acquisition. The Warriors turned this election into Jonathan Kumingas. If this season ended without a trip to the off-season, Kuminga’s thriving in the Golden State would have been a focal point of the Timberwolves era.
It took more snatches than it should have, but the Timberwolves have finally matured into a playoff squad. Much of the credit goes to the head coach Chris Finch, but the growth of Anthony Edwards has also played a significant role. It remains to be seen whether this core has championship potential in it, and it may depend on Edwards’ rise over the next two seasons before Anthony-Towns can explore free agency.
This is probably the last core group Anthony-Towns will play with before his contract year. Reaching the off-season is a hell of a big deal for the Timberwolves. Once Minnesota’s celebration and play-off championship parade is over, it will be crucial that they are competitive against Memphis. One thing we do know about the Timberwolves is that they will not hesitate to break the core around Anthony Towns’ core if they do not like what they see.