The great tanking wars of 2019 are here. The Minnesota Timberwolves have ruled out Derrick Rose, Jeff Teague, and Robert Covington for the season. The facade of playoff contention has finally been broken and the Wolves have little to gain from winning additional games this season.
Thankfully for them, their schedule is perhaps the most difficult in the league. There are few remaining games where the Wolves could pull out a victory. Unfortunately, tonight is one of those nights.
The Hornets face their own challenges in the wastelands of the NBA. Continued rebuilds and failed pivots around an overladen roster have gone nowhere. Now, Kemba Walker, the lone bright star on the team, cannot but help but shop around during the upcoming free agency. One only hopes he does not whisper in Karl-Anthony Towns’ ear during the game about the pratfalls of being the single star on a team that flails about for years until it collapses in upon itself.
So who is excited for some basketball? Not that March Madness stuff, but that late-March NBA ball between who teams who are trying to lock up ping-pong ball percentages.
This is actually an important game for tanking purposes. The Wolves currently have a half-a-game lead on the Hornets and a loss tonight could drop them down a spot in the rankings. This is probably necessary because it sure seems like the Wolves other competitors, such as the Lakers and Pelicans, are being fairly brazen with their tanking.
So what will we be watching for tonight?
1) Karl-Anthony Towns bid for more money (aka an All-NBA spot).
Towns certainly has a few 30 million reasons to continue to try to win games. His offensive explosion can only be stopped by his own foul troubles. Charlotte likely won’t be able to do anything to stop him, but we shall see how many minutes Towns allows himself to play.
2) Tyus Jones vs shooting
There are a lot of things to love about Tyus Jones. The lack of turnovers, the solid team defense, and the passing mentality. However, it is hard to love the 29.3 percent three-point shooting rate. Tyus essentially has free-range until the end of the season to prove he can be part of the Wolves for a long time. Got to make some shots in order to do so.
3) Dario Saric looking happy.
In the abstract, a pairing of Towns and Saric could be an ideal frontcourt of the future. The on-off numbers point to positive results, for the most part, but it does not always look pretty on the court. It would be good to see Dario get in a groove tonight.
4) Andrew Wiggins vs nihilism
That’s all I got. Kudos to those who manage to struggle through this one.
Projected Starting Lineups
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