Are the Timberwolves better off now than they were a year ago? It’s an interesting question, and one that came to me as I re-watched Parks and Recreation for the 8th time, as Leslie Knope asks the citizens of Pawnee, Indiana if they’re better off than they were a year ago, before she was city councilor.
Gersson Rosas is sort of our Leslie Knope in this situation (who would be Jerry, er, um Gary, Larry?) , as he’s the person in charge, and the person who’s been responsible for the multitude of change that’s taken place over the last 365 days.
While not every move he’s made has been perfect, I’m inclined to say that yes, the Wolves are in a better place than they were a year ago.
For one, there’s a legitimate vision and direction in the front office for the first time in a while, or at least one that goes beyond pretending that archaic mid-2000s schemes still work in today’s NBA.
Talking about a vision and direction is one thing, but implementing that is much more difficult. Minnesota truly went all in on Rosas’ “Pace and Space” philosophy, even when they didn’t have the personnel to fit that style in the beginning of the season. I’m sure it pained the front office to watch Treveon Graham brick threes just as much as it pained all of us.
In the early part of the season, I’ll admit, I was very skeptical that Rosas idea didn’t make sense because of the players they had on the roster. Then, the trade deadline hit.
You can argue all you want about the net outcome of all of the trades, but one thing is for certain: Rosas brought in guys who fit his style of play. Losing Robert Covington hurt, but Minnesota did well to pick up an extra first round pick as well as young, promising players such as D’Angelo Russell and Malik Beasley, as well as the new adult-in-the-room, James Johnson.
Considering the team was likely never going to be good enough to compete while Covington was on his current deal without major reconstruction, I think you can make the argument that the Wolves came out ahead at the deadline.
We also learned that Minnesota is going to make sure that every roster spot has a purpose. In the past, the G-League and two-way roster spots were wasted. Rosas and company made good use of those roster spots with players like Kelan Martin, Naz Reid, and Jordan McLaughlin.
The decision to move up for Jarrett Culver will ultimately be one of the bigger marks on Rosas report card, one way or the other. At the moment, it looks like Minnesota would’ve been better served to stay put at pick 11 and take one of P.J. Washington (PKP) or Brandon Clarke (how did he fall to pick 21?). Players improve though, and while I’m skeptical he ever becomes as good as Clarke, there’s still hope Culver can turn into a starting-caliber wing.
This upcoming draft will also be a monster data point on Rosas. He’s equipped with two first round picks, as well as a third top-35 pick. It’s doubtful that Minnesota keeps all of those selections, but it leaves them with plenty of opportunity to theoretically fill a litany of needs. There’s been plenty of speculation that the Wolves may try to package a few picks to trade up, but giving themselves three shots at a difference-maker is also a solid place to be.
What Gersson Rosas ultimately decides to do at head coach will also be a major factor in how his tenure is remembered. He’s shown faith and loyalty to Ryan Saunders thus far. Players seem to love him, but there’s little evidence that he’s been a difference maker (in a positive way) on the sideline.
Is it all going to work out in the end? That depends on what your definition of success is. Heck, Leslie Knope was the most competent city councilor in Pawnee and she got recalled because of it. Sometimes, you can do a good job and get fired anyways.
I guess what I’m trying to get at here is, the job is not done, not even close. But there’s at least some reason for optimism, which is mainly due to the shrewd moves Rosas has made to partially remove the Wolves from salary cap hell while improving the roster. I guess that Karl-Anthony Towns guy helps, too.
With that being said, yes, I do think we are in a better place today than we were a year ago. Will that be good enough? Who’s to say, but the progress is encouraging.
What do you think? Are the Wolves in a better position today than they were a year ago?