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A Thanksgiving of Gratitude for the Minnesota Timberwolves

More than any year in recent memory it appears that fans of the Minnesota Timberwolves have a lot to be thankful for this holiday season. As we digest our turkey and stuffing, and try to recover from family political discussions and football, let's try to take a moment to reflect on some of the many reasons we have to feel gratitude for the current condition of our favorite NBA team.

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Thanksgiving is the time of year when all American's come together, put aside their differences, and agree that for this one day, pie is better than cake. It truly is a spectacular holiday. In addition to the aforementioned feat of gastronomical gymnastics, Thanksgiving is also widely considered a time in which we can reflect upon the things in our lives for which we are thankful. Be it the little things, like when the garbage company takes everything you set out, or the bigger things such as friends and family, it is always worthwhile to take a some time to show a gratitude for that which brings joy and meaning into our lives. We Timberwolves fans are no exception and, as such, would do well to take stock of the team and look at the many things we can feel thankful for as we consider the current and future state of the franchise. It is with this in mind that I write these words (an opportunity for which I am personally grateful) in order to get us started.

Ricky Rubio and the Joy of Basketball

At this point it seems clear that Ricky Rubio is excellent at basketball. His presence for this team has been a well documented positive on both ends of the court. Beyond just wins and losses however, Rubio plays with an exciting blend of competitiveness and joy that reverberates from the stadium to the living room whenever he is in the game. Some have noticed that his flare for the dramatic pass seems to be down some this season, and that could be true, but I personally see no diminishing affect in his entertainment value. Unfortunately, it does seem that Ricky Rubio is a player who will miss time due to injury. I'm not sure if this is lingering affects or if his aggressive play lends itself to new maladies on a regular basis. Either way, I'm going to approach this thing from the perspective of gratitude and be thankful every time I get to see Rubio play.

Wolves Score the Building Blocks of the Future.

So far this season Timberwolves fans have been witnessing a marvelous blend of the present and future in the form of Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns. You want to have a fun conversation about Wolves basketball? Have this one: "which of these two youngsters is going to have a better NBA career? What a breath of fresh air considering the talking points we have had to work with in the past. After a rocky start to the season, Wiggins has been awoken and seems to be attacking the basket with aggressive confidence and is averaging better than 20 points per game. For his part, Towns, still a rookie less than 20 games into his career, has hit the ground running and looks like he is able to contribute to a winning NBA team right out of the gate. Particularly exciting for many Wolves fans is Towns' ability to protect the rim, something the team has had precious little of in recent years. Currently Towns is averaging 2.27 blocks per game which puts him at seventh on the leader board in that category. Even more impressive is the fact that the rookie is accomplishing this in just 28 minutes per contest.

As long as we fans are reveling in our gratitude at having these two players on the Timberwolves, let's take a moment to reflect on the fact that they are each only 20 years old. When I was 20 years old my greatest accomplishment was the time I got onto my hands and knees to sneak past the bouncer while my slightly older friends swarmed him with IDs at the door. Now, I'll admit that this was pretty sweet, especially when I took advantage of my entrance to to secure a pool table for us, but any inkling towards my professional career was still nearly 10 years away when I was the age of these two budding NBA stars. Gratitude indeed friends, gratitude indeed.

Shifting Conversation Around Zach Lavine

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Zach LaVine has a tendency to be a pretty polarizing player in the NBA. His unique physical abilities and shooting make him an electrifying player at times while other times his decision making seems to be holding him back (see the above discussion about 20 year olds). Still, there has been a refreshing shift in the discussion around Zach LaVine from "can he be an NBA player" to "what kind of NBA player can he be"? At this point I think it's clear to nearly everyone that Zach belongs in the NBA and I personally find the ongoing discussion around how to best develop his skills an interesting one. In the meantime, Zach has helped the team win some games and tallied up some spectacular highlights along the way.

Last Dance with Kevin Garnett

Astute internet historians may be able to track down comments that I have made in the past being skeptical about the now infamous "second" Kevin Garnett trade. Don't bother, I fully admit to having been skeptical. Despite this, I have to say that I have thoroughly enjoyed having Kevin Garnett on the Minnesota Timberwolves this season. There is no reason to remind long time fans of this team of the importance Garnett has had for the franchise. The run to the Western Conference Finals in 2004 remains the team's highest highlight and that younger version of Garnett, you will recall, introduced us fans to the qualities of competitiveness and joy I wrote about above regarding Ricky Rubio. So far this season Garnett has looked pretty good in his limited role and it remains unclear if this will be his last NBA season so I for one intend to enjoy him as much as possible.

The Opportunity to Actively Participate in the Greatest Sports League in the World.

One of the most interesting aspects of our current sports culture, at least to me, is the extent to which fans are allowed to participate. This plays out in the comment sections, fan posts and twitter conversations that occur seemingly around the clock. Beyond this even fans have an opportunity to consume and create content through blogs which range from  professionally supported to well established to anything and everything else fans want to take the time to create. Hell, any bozo with a tape recorder can even start his or her own podcast these days. What a wonderful world we live in.

Finally I'll end with a hopeful tweet and a favorite song. Have a happy Thanksgiving and don't forget to share what you are thankful for in the comment section.