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Nuggets 109, Wolves 100: KAT’s Absence Too Much To Overcome

Minnesota showed signs of life, but the absence of their superstar was too much to overcome

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Denver Nuggets Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Yeah, the Timberwolves lost again, making nine losses in a row for Minnesota. This one felt a little bit different though, as the Wolves mostly hung around with a vastly superior opponent on the road without Karl-Anthony Towns.

We could take the time to dig through the box score, but I’m not sure that’s what would really provide a whole lot of information from tonight’s game. Instead, we’ll rely on the handy dandy eye test tonight.

First things first, let’s make one thing clear, Denver is the vastly superior team in terms of talent and coaching. Nikola Jokic is the superstar, but the Nuggets have maybe the deepest collection of good NBA players in the league.

That might sound crazy, but I think it’s true. They have really solid rotation players that are glued to the bench because of the players ahead of them. They make for a really interesting test case in the postseason, because they don’t have a true second star outside Jokic but have a plethora of good players. They’re a solid candidate to look at around the trade deadline to try to consolidate some of their talent into a star player.

Anyways, the final score is ugly, but I’m not sure it’s really indicative of the way Minnesota competed. They seemed to run out of gas in the fourth quarter, but they played really hard the entire night, sparked by an inspiring second quarter. As hard as they played, without Towns the talent gap was just too wide.

In terms of Wolves personnel, a few things stood out to me tonight:

  • There’s a reason Jaylen Nowell has struggled to see the floor. He was fine at times, and looked like he could help on offense, but the defense was bad. When you get beat trailing the play on the weakside off a SLOB, that’s not a great look. I still like him and hope they let him learn through NBA minutes, but it’s clear the defense is what was keeping him off the floor.
  • Can someone tell me why Keita Bates-Diop doesn’t play more? It feels like every time he’s in the game he does something positive. He was a bright spot tonight. Seeing him play against Jerami Grant and Paul Millsap felt like watching him against his best possible future outcomes. Those are two really good players, but KBD has shown real potential in my opinion.
  • Andrew Wiggins played really well tonight, I thought. The box score doesn’t quite paint the perfect picture of Wiggs game. He was assertive, which he absolutely needed to be. He was aggressive attacking the rim, and his pick-and-roll game looked good when paired with Gorgui Dieng. He didn’t complete it, but his attempted dunk on Michael Porter, Jr. was a welcome sight. More of that, please!
  • I might be dreaming, but I thought there were some positive Jarrett Culver signs tonight. The shot is still really bad, though. To me, he feels like a legitimate Swiss Army Knife type guy, except he’s missing a key piece, say, the scissors? Yeah, that feels right.
  • Can the Timberwolves make a call on Malik Beasley? He’s a talented wing who can really shoot the heck out of the ball, but is glued to the bench in Denver. I can’t imagine the acquisition cost would be that high, and he’d immediately be Minnesota’s best shooter outside of Karl-Anthony Towns.