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Monday Musings: Managing Expectations

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The Timberwolves have faltered in their first two games compared to the expectations for the young team.

NBA: Preseason-Charlotte Hornets at Minnesota Timberwolves Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

This Timberwolves team was always destined to fail. The expectations had grown too big and the promises too large coming from sources such as national writers like Zach Lowe, beat writers like Britt Robson, and even ourselves here at Canis Hoopus.

The new and improved Timberwolves were supposed to take the league by the storm, led by the “it” player of the moment, Karl-Anthony Towns, and fearless leader Tom Thibodeau, barking away with his marching orders.

The team has only played two games so far, losing both to Memphis Grizzlies by four points and the Sacramento Kings by three points. This hasn’t been overly disappointing, but the results have not lived up to the wild dreams conjured by the offensive barrages of the preseason in which the Timberwolves’ starters could blow open 40 point leads.

Instead, we have seen a familiar movie to long-time fans. The team builds up a huge early lead, squanders it away in the third quarter, then fails to close. There is even a Ricky Rubio injury now that will potentially result in on-the-court turmoil for a few weeks as the Timberwolves may have to try to survive with a rookie point guard thrust into starting duties.

This may, in fact, be good for the long-term health of the team and their success this season. This team was not likely to reach the wild expectations that had been developing over the summer that reached a fever pitch immediately before the season began. As is often the case in life, the excitement is in the anticipation, the imagined, rather than what is right in front of our faces.

We have seen this narrative play out across the NBA for several teams over the last few years, most notably with the Utah Jazz and the Milwaukee Bucks. These are teams that everyone expects to make the leap but they fall short, falter out of the gate, and never reach the heightened expectations.

The Timberwolves may be that team this year and that’s alright. They are still starting three 21-year-olds who are learning an entirely new offense and defensive system and now the veteran point guard who was running the show might miss a few games. The season is long, and the Timberwolves’ timeline for success is even longer. It might be beneficial for the spotlight to drift away for a little while.

Rookie Extensions Deadline

Today is the deadline for rookie extensions for the draft class of 2013. The Timberwolves have two players who would qualify for such an extension in Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng. Woj has tweeted that the Timberwolves are in discussion with both players about an extension.

It’s unclear what type of contracts both players could receive. The market on Dieng could be extremely high judging upon how big men were paid in the last off-season, but Dieng also occupies a weird role between power forward and center and also lacks the three point shooting ability that would bump his contract even higher. Shabazz’s value is also unclear, as his scoring off the bench is certainly a skill in demand but his game also has several well-defined warts with his defensive skills and single-mindfulness towards scoring on offense.

Other teams across the NBA are also potentially rushing to meet this deadline. Woj has also reported that the Thunder are in talks with Steven Adams and Victor Oladipo on their potential extensions at figures around $100 million for Adams and $80 million for Oladipo.

This Week in... Things that are Great!!!

Black Mirror’s season 3 has recently been released on Netflix. The show is a sort of modern Twilight Zone anthology series, with each episode featuring a different cast of characters and plot, that dives into an often bleak view of our future, taking to the logical extreme many of the recent developments of the Internet Age.

The show began in the UK, with the first two seasons that are available on Netflix, and each season is only three episodes long and featuring a British cast. The most recently released season is a bit longer at six episodes and was produced with an American cast.

Black Mirror is, at different times, moving, unsettling, darkly comic, and above all else, thought-provoking.

Happy Monday!