Are the Minnesota Timberwolves a fun team? Amidst the bellowing and barking, the grinding, the post-ups, the lackadaisical defense, and the isolation sets on offense stagnating into molasses, it can be hard to find joy at all times on our first playoff team in over a decade.
After all, instead of the high-octane antics of Zach LaVine and Ricky Rubio, we were treated to the grindhouse of the Minnesota Timberbulls. Fun does not seem to a concern of Tom Thibodeau.
But who cares. We can still have fun with this team has seemed to become less approachable under the new regime. The NBA has essentially become a glorified soap opera that we get to pay attention to during the regular season while we await the eventual Golden State Warriors Championship celebration. We are, after all, fans of the league where one of the best players in the world defends himself against fans on Instagram.
KD out here beefing a high schooler in the DMs.— theScore (@theScore) July 11, 2018
[Via Instagram/bucketscenter] pic.twitter.com/vnTdCJLlzu
I know that I am going to try to have a little more fun with next season. The stakes are even higher than last, as although the Wolves finally made the playoffs, this upcoming season is likely the make-or-break moment for the Timberbulls. If things go well, the Wolves could be a real contender for years to come. If not, well, at least we will still have KAT and a few other young pieces.
I am trying to anticipate the angst I will feel mid-December when the Wolves somehow let a game slip away to the Sacramento Kings when Nemanja Bjelica hits five threes while he is being guarded by Anthony Tolliver. Or perhaps when Frank Kaminsky pulls Taj Gibson out of the paint and drops 25 on the Wolves and the Hornets win even when Kemba Walker is out with a high-ankle sprain and Malik Monk is subbing in at point guard. Or even when the ragtag Clippers led by a full bench-unit make a game much too interesting for their own good.
At those times I will try to remember the fun that I find in:
- Karl-Anthony Towns and his faux earnestness butting heads against Jimmy Butler and Tom Thibodeau. I wonder what the very first film room session must have been like when KAT walked in 15 minutes late with his smoothie and avocado toast and was told to sit the f’ down by Jimmy Butler. Does KAT even like smoothies? I don’t know but there is a 100 percent chance he gets coconut water.
- A Jimmy Butler and Tyus Jones bromance that we should have seen coming from the start. Does Wiggins see their burgeoning relationship and feel a little sad?
- That the Wolves are part of the not-so-secret NBA Gamer league. We know Wiggins and Towns used to game hard with Zach LaVine and Wiggins and Towns still play with their fellow young stars. At some point, Towns must have tried to explain Fortnite to a very confused Jamal Crawford.
- Josh Okogie is going to be a wild mess on the court but he is going to be a joy to watch on defense. Watching Kris Dunn was conflicting, because he was a terror on defense but imagining him running the Wolves offense long-term just produced anxiety. Watching Okogie envelope opposing bench wings will simply be fun. He is also going to posterize someone out there.
- Speaking of poster dunks, maybe this is the year that Wiggins breaks out and we start seeing him posterize people all year.
- Jim Peterson getting excited as Taj Gibson “puts ‘em in the torture chamber.”
- Everything Gorgui Dieng does. Dieng just seems like a rock solid dude and while the modern NBA exposes every one of his weaknesses, I can’t help but root for the guy. Trebuchet threes from the corner? Awesome. Year-long pump fakes (please no traveling calls) followed by lumbering crossovers en route to a thundering dunk? Even better.
- A healthy Jimmy Butler pissed off. After returning from his injury, Butler never seemed to quite get back to his groove that he found in the Winter. Watching him, it seemed pretty clear that he was injured in the playoff run. But a good Jimmy Butler taking over the game, like against the Denver Nuggets in December, now that is something to watch.
We still have a few months to go before the NBA season really heats up and we are about to enter the NBA dead-zone of August. For now, what are you excited about with the upcoming season?