The regular season comes to a close tonight at Target Center against the Thunder.
What's at stake? Oklahoma City must win to keep their playoff hopes alive. They also need New Orleans to lose at home tonight against San Antonio to sneak into the final spot ahead of the Pelicans, who own the tie breaker. A loss for the Wolves guarantees them the best odds in the lottery at 25 percent and ensures a selection no lower than No. 4 come the NBA Draft on June 25.
The top five prospects according to most draft sites are: Karl Towns, Jahlil Okafor, D'Angelo Russell, Emmanuel Mudiay, and Justise Winslow. I know next to nothing about Mudiay's game, because watching the Guangdong Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association hasn't been a high-priority on my to-do list, but the other four players would be welcome additions this summer. Towns is the ideal pick, a two-way big man the Wolves desperately need to control the paint.
Enters Emmanuel Mudiay YouTube rabbit hole.
The highlight video of Mudiay below is cool if you watch it on mute. It's even cooler if you're in love with instrumentals that sound fit for DMX's next album.
Okay back to the Thunder, and specifically Russell Westbrook.
Reporter to Westbrook on Monday: "Do you call yourself a Spurs fan... maybe Wednesday night? You gotta root for the Spurs don't you?"
"I ain't gotta root for nobody," Westbrook answered. "I ain't no Spurs fan. What type of question is that? You see my hat?"
Plenty of people might not like Westbrook's attitude towards the media or some of the tactics he's employed this season, but I thought his response here was pretty excellent.
Outside of the playoff and lottery implications, Andrew Wiggins will start his 82nd game of the season tonight. He's been a workhorse all year, and the only player on the Wolves that's played in every game during another injury ravaged season in Minneapolis. Unless Flip finds a way to play him 69 minutes, Wiggins will end the year slightly below 3,000 minutes played over his rookie campaign (2931 total entering the game). Only James Harden (2953) has logged more playing time this season.
That's an unreal amount of mileage to put on your cornerstone over the course of a lost season, and certainly something I've harped on throughout the year. I'll just leave it at this: I'm glad "Sleepy" will be able to kick back, relax, and get some much needed rest this summer. The last few times I've been in the locker room, after home games, Wiggins has looked, and sounded, absolutely drained.
Zach LaVine is the next closest in terms of games played. He will suit up and play for the 77th time this season. The next three players, entering the night, include: Gorgui Dieng (73), Chase Budinger (67), and Anthony Bennett (56). Now that's a list I didn't expect to type out back in October.
Kevin Garnett isn't expected to play in the season finale. Saunders said Monday he believes KG will return for a 21st NBA season next year and also added that if Garnett played against OKC it would be an indication that he would be retiring.
Patrick Reusse wrote an article in the Star Tribune yesterday titled: Garnett trade a hoax in Wolves' latest losing season. Here's a blurb:
And then there's Garnett, who could play, except that Flip says that would make it look like he's not going to play next season, so it's a good thing if he doesn't play, because that means he'll probably come back next season.
OK, Flip, we'll buy anything, as long as Wiggins, Zach LaVine and the strangers get the message before Wednesday's tipoff that has carried the Wolves for weeks:
"Just lose, baby."
What about Ricky Rubio? Our prized Spanish Unicorn underwent successful diagnostic arthroscopic surgery on his left ankle Monday. He's expected to make a full recovery this summer, but you have to imagine this makes it highly unlikely that Rubio will be playing for Spain in the European championships.
Ricky's been keeping us up-to-date via Instagram:
Surgery went well. Thanks for all the well wishes. Time for recovery and get healthy. You gotta take advantage of any situation and look for the bright side. Another challenge. And I have no doubt I will come back stronger than ever. #StayPositive #RR // La operacion ha ido muy bien. Gracias a todos por vuestros mensajes de animo. Ahora es tiempo para la recuperacion. Has de mirar siempre el lado positivo de las cosas. Otro reto. Estoy seguro que voy a volver mas fuerte que nunca.
"Day 1 after surgery. 24 hours in bed. I have too much energy... "Good Morning Vietnam!" #StayPositive"
...Ricky is the best.
Music: One Man Can Change The World
(Side note: I can't stop watching the Vine below)