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Wolves vs Kings: Heavyweight Battle

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Two of the best teams in the NBA face off tonight.

Minnesota Timberwolves v Oklahoma City Thunder Photo by J Pat Carter/Getty Images

Wolves (30-44) vs Kings (29-47)
7:00 CST
FS North

Tonight, the Wolves fans have another treat ahead of them. It was no surprise in the recent GM/Management Rankings from ESPN that the Timberwolves and the Kings were both in the top five of best-managed organizations. Both teams have had exceptional runs of success in the last few years and their bright future is only matched by the incredible level of professionalism and responsible management of their pasts.

While the Wolves have previously found success with their “country club” method of hiring only those who had worked with the organization, they finally broke out of their mold with the hiring of Tom Thibodeau, whose previous connections to the franchise only included working for Bill Musselman when the Wolves were but an expansion team. The country club is dead. Long live the country club!

For the Wolves, no season prior has brought such excitement as this one. The innovation of the current Wolves roster has taken the team far beyond what many have seen as the evolution of the NBA. As teams are becoming more focused on offensive proficiency, the Wolves have taken it a step further and decided to solely focus on developing talent that is offense first, second, and third.

While Tom Thibodeau was supposedly brought on to shore up the other end of the court, during his Eat, Pray, Watch Film sojourn across the NBA last year, Thibs found that really no one cared about defense anymore. Why focus on ICE when you can raise the crowd to their feet with rim-rattling dunks or step-back fadeways from just inside the arc?

Ricky Rubio has recently acclimated to this new system and is finally being embraced by the organization now that he can score 20 points in a game too. Bazzy Buckets is excited by this bright future.

As we close in on the end of the season, the Wolves should be focusing on giving playing time to the players and lineups that will be most important for the future. I know I don’t speak for just myself when I say that hopefully we can start seeing some more of the potential Karl-Anthony Towns and Adreian Payne lineup, or perhaps Towns and Cole Aldrich as it would be great to see how Towns plays next to another towering center. That could be an awesome blueprint for the summer where the Wolves could go after a Roy Hibbert type.

As for the Kings, after flirting with openly with the “no-superstar” strategy for the last few years, always threatening to potentially trade their embattled star DeMarcus Cousins, they finally pulled the trigger on a deal that has netted them Buddy Hield and parts. Always the forward thinking franchise, the Kings had decided they should make things harder on themselves when they traded an unprotected draft pick and pick-swap rights so that they could clear cap-space to sign Wesley Mathews. Mathews ended up in Dallas, but at least the Kings had that sweet sweet cap space.

It was a move that seemed straight from the Timberwolves playbook when the Wolves sent Wes Johnson and a future first round pick to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for three second round picks.

Of course, the Kings have not unleashed their new strategy they have been developing to terrorize the league, which is to play 4-on-5 on defense, permanently having one player stay on offense. It’s possible the Kings owner thought of this strategy after watching Corey Brewer leak out at every opportunity during the Kevin Love era. Cousins was likely too plodding for this type of strategy and hopefully the Kings can rework their roster to accommodate their long-term plans.

There are only a few games left before the regular season ends and the playoffs begin. While both teams are mysteriously out of the playoff hunt, these two rival franchises are certainly guaranteed to be contending in the finals for years to come.

Expected Starting Lineups

Wolves

Not-Derrick Rose aka Ricky Rubio
Cooked Brandon “The ghost of Tayshaun Prince, but with less defense“ Rush
Am I Rudy Gay, DeMar DeRozan, or Paul George? Let’s find out for $100 million plus
Gorgui (still good, but why does no one want me to start?) Dieng
Karl-Anthony Towns

Kings

Darren (I’m too unimportant too even have a relevant joke about) Collison
Steph Curry V2
Black Boy Fly (I used to be jealous of Aaron Afflalo)
Skal “I might be good” Labissiere
I made KAT work hard in Practice-Cauley-Stein

Injury Report

Wolves - Pek (Running Eastern Europe), Bjelica (confidence restoration classes), LaVine (I jumped too high so God tried to make me mortal again)

Kings - Rudy Gay (my Achilles listened when I said I didn’t want to be here), Aaron Afflalo (questionable for personal reasons editor note - this is real), Malachi Richardson (my name sounds like I should have been a villain to King Arthur)

Four Factors

As we always do in game previews, let’s take a look at how the Wolves and Kings match up using the Four Factors. Reminder, the Four Factors are unicorns to team (U2T), possible poster slams (PPS), irrational confidence percentage (IRP%), and tanking to winning ratio (TTW).

Factor / Wolves / Kings

U2T / 2 / 0

PPS / 5 / 2

IRP% / 10% / 30%

TTW / .43 / .25

The Wolves win handily in U2T with two unicorns in Rubio and KAT, while the Kings have zero. Since LaVine has been injured, the Wolves have slightly dropped off in possible poster slams, but Wiggins and Towns certainly bolster the team’s ability to launch a poster dunk at any time. LaVine has also really impacted the team’s IRP%, as no one wants Rubio to be a team’s leader in IRP, even if he has been shooting well this past month.

The TTW is pretty interesting, as the Kings really don’t have a ton to play for as they will be pick-swapping with the Sixers due to their aforementioned organizational foresight. One would think that the Wolves would be winning the TTW battle, but the Thibs bump has pushed up the Wolves’ number. The Kings win this one as they pursue their radical zero superstar strategy.

Prediction - Wolves 132, Kings 130. Triple Overtime. Adreian Payne sinks the game-winning three as time expires.

Happy April’s First.