This last week or so has probably been the most confusing phase of the Minnesota Timberwolves’ season so far..
Phase one: Wow, look at the Wolves go!
Phase two: Wow, the Timberwolves are the worst team in the NBA.
Phase three: This is going to be a long season...wait a minute..?
Can you imagine being a fan that attended both games of the back-to-back? What are you thinking about on the plane ride home? Have you rightfully fallen victim to Recency bias after what you just saw, and have seen for most of the year, or carry optimism over from the shellacking you saw on Friday night?
At the end of the day, this is simply the on-court product that everyone has to get used to until a trade is made for the team to get bigger.
Locker room and leadership questions aside, the Timberwolves are entirely reliant on shooting, off-ball movement, and defense in order to win games. One of those three things is incredibly volatile, the other two are not consistently happening.
A dead giveaway in lack of effort. One example stuck out the most.
I don’t care what the score says. This is pretty brutal from KAT.— Jack Borman (@jrborman13) November 14, 2021
Call it leadership, call it checking out, whatever you feel is necessary.
It’s downright quitting on a play being executed by a teammate who has proven to be both more invested than you, and better than you this season. And in a game where nothing is going anyone’s way, you walk away from the play, and in this case, any sort of pride.
THAT is concerning. It’s not often we get glimpses into a locker room, a given player’s mentality, or how they interact on a night in and night out basis. But that ten-second clip showed me all I need to see to arrive to one conclusion:
What we are seeing on a night-in and night-out basis is not a team. It’s a collection of some really good, good, and not-so good players acting as hired guns in a freeform offense. A devastating path to nowhere (and 80-100 points on a nightly basis).
The game last night against the Suns illustrates this perfectly. Towns played extremely well offensively. Russell and Edwards did not. Phoenix left the door open, and then decided to close it themselves. While gut-wrenching, games like that are easy to live with, if the winnable ones (Magic, Grizzlies, Pelicans) are closed out effectively.
Oh well, at least maybe some practice and team-bonding can iron that out.
NBA has fined Timberwolves $250K for organizing offseason practice outside of team market. Minnesota had team activities in Miami in early September.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) November 15, 2021
The last thing I want this to come across as is a pessimistic hit piece.
I went into this season as optimistic as the next person. High hopes of a play-in berth and a shining opportunity for Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell to show in greater sample that they are the duo that can empower Anthony Edwards into being a superstar, and take a huge step forward for a franchise that needs it desperately. But troubling trends continue to reveal themselves, in the worst ways, in the worst spots.
However, the aforementioned goal is not out of the question, and much of the season remains. The rest of this week will be incredibly telling as to what this team is made of. Wednesday will be the start, with a big tilt against the very beatable Sacramento Kings at home on Wednesday, a game won by the post all-star break Wolves last year. The team that had everyone so excited about the prospects of this year’s incoming squad.
If the team can parlay THAT type of energy and defense into a blowout win on Wednesday against the Kings, then tonight can be viewed as glass half-full.— Kyle Theige (@KyleTheige) November 16, 2021
If they, a bad team, take another bad team for granted (again), then it’s same old Minnesota Timberwolves.
All to say — at some point very soon, I hope this team can buck the trend and give fans something to root for on the court, as opposed to going back-and-forth about hypotheticals off of it (like this type of stuff below):