I want to address the New Year’s wish thing right off the bat, because I know what you might be thinking:
Isn’t this meant to be a New Year’s resolution article, and you’re confusing wishes and resolutions? Or are you just too late to submit this as a Christmas wish, so you’re pivoting to a New Year’s wish, even though I don’t think that’s actually a thing?
Neither are the case! And I know there’s a difference! But I’d suggest that resolutions and wishes are closely related, and if you do resolutions the way I do them, the success rate is about the same as your standard wish upon a shooting star.
And yes, I was initially planning to write New Year’s resolutions for every player on the Minnesota Timberwolves. Here are some examples:
D’Angelo Russell averages 8 assists per game, with a 5:1 assist to turnover ratio.
Would be great to see KAT join the 50-40-90 club this year!
What if Jake Layman and Juancho Hernangomez did their scoring every game instead of every other?
I want Jarrett Culver to live his life to the fullest.
But in the midst of writing these, I had a complete shift in perspective. Resolutions are great for staying true to the things you deem important. But it’s difficult to set achievable goals for others, and even more difficult to deduce what those successes would collectively lead to. What if I just focused on one fundamental resolution for this team? One thing that I really want to happen. Actually, what if instead of a resolution, it was a wish. And it had to come true. A guarantee, if you will. This moment of recognition for me was like when the Black Eyed Peas say “switch up” in “Just Can’t Get Enough,” and the beat switches and you’re just transported to a completely different musical universe. I’m no longer thinking about a resolution, but their first cousin, the wish.
If I had one wish for this team, and it was guaranteed to come true, what would it be?
First, there are obvious ways to game the one wish system. If wishing for unlimited wishes is allowed within the official rules and regulations of the granter, you have to do it. Then, you just start firing them off. Maybe something like:
1. I wish the Wolves would finish 9th in the western conference standings, and that
2. The Wolves play their way into the playoffs through the play in tournament, and then
3. The Wolves win the NBA finals, and after that
4. The Wolves win the draft lottery. (I’m not sure if this is possible. Do lower seeded play-in winners actually keep their lottery spot? I’m sure someone here knows. But it doesn’t matter, these are my wishes, so it has to happen that way). Then,
5. The Wolves draft who I want them to draft.
This could go on forever. Instead, I’m going to stick with just getting one wish.
A popular starting point here might be wishing for the Wolves to win every game. We always want them to win! And if they win every game, then they win the championship.
Okay, so you make that wish. A sudden, unexpected breeze passes through your hair, and the ground shakes just a little bit. That’s how you know the wish has been granted. You go on to watch every Timberwolves game knowing the outcome, seeing as your wish has come true. There might be some close games, but they always win, just like you asked. It’s just the same thing over and over again. After a while, is that really even enjoyable? For like a while, of course, but yes, I’m implying a negative marginal utility to winning here.
That’s the catch with wishes: there can be unforeseen, negative consequences. If you wish for Crunch to walk on all four legs like a real wolf, at the end of the day, there’s still a person inside that suit, and that could lead to life-altering back problems for them.
I thought about what I could wish for that would make this team considerably more competitive, maintain the element of the unknown, and not end up harming myself or others. I don’t want to just turn all the sliders up and simulate through a season where Jordan McLaughlin scores 80 points per game and becomes the most famous basketball player named Jordan, only for him to start wearing overly baggy, light-wash jeans. I’m a utilitarian wisher.
So, if I could wish for anything in the world, and it was guaranteed to come true, it would be this: I would wish for the Timberwolves to make 43% of their three pointers.
I’ll plead my case.
1. The Wolves shoot and miss a lot of threes right now. Last year, they were 3rd in the league in three-point attempts, and 3rd-to-last in percentage made. So far this season, they’re headed down that same path. They’re currently 2nd-to-last in the league in percentage made, at 30%. If they could just make 43%, at its simplest, this would result in about an additional 15 points per game. That’s enough to keep this team in almost every game they play, and could even translate to a deep postseason run.
2. The record for 3P% in a season is 42.76%. The Wolves would break that record, and be regarded as the greatest shooting team of all time.
3. I’d get in touch with Gersson Rosas and fill him in on what’s going on. I see on LinkedIn that he’s got DM’s open. With this information, he’d be able to focus on acquiring defensive specialists, for example, with the guarantee that they’ll still be able to stretch and shoot, thus improving ancillary components of the team while completely removing one critical element in scouting.
4. I can’t think of anything significantly bad that could come from this wish. Maybe Arby’s profit margin takes a small hit in the upper Midwest. But what else? Would I regret not wishing for them to make a higher percentage because it doesn’t amount to as much success as I’d like? I think I could live with that. Actually, maybe I’d wish for 45% if it’s not too late. If not that’s cool, too. But maybe Gersson realizes that only shooting threes is their best chance of winning. So the Wolves shoot 100 threes per game, and average 130 points every night. It might not be as fun to watch, but I think that’s right about where we want to be.
I’ve convinced me, if I could wish for anything for this team, it’s that the Wolves shoot 43% from three.
Today, however, my one and only wish is that you all enjoy a happy and healthy new year. I hope your resolutions and wishes all come true as part of my wish also. It’s just one big run on wish. I’d love to see what your one wish for this team would be. And if it’s that they win all of their games, just don’t tell me. I like to think I’d eventually figure it out, but it might take a while for me to admit it.