The last time I wrote this piece was November 28.
What has changed since then? The Minnesota Timberwolves went from beating the Philadelphia 76ers in Philadelphia and taking care of the Indiana Pacers at home, to lulling into a five-game losing streak, to snapping said steak on the road in Portland.
What a roller coaster of a season so far. Back to the losing streak very quickly:
Tonight was the Timberwolves 5th straight loss, including losing all three on this 3-game homestand.— Dane Moore (@DaneMooreNBA) December 11, 2021
"The last 3 games we gettin spanked. We not losing, we gettin spanked."
I didn’t want a trade at the beginning of the season.
Would I have welcomed Ben Simmons with open arms? Of course, for the right price. However, I really wanted to see the current group play together and if winning was a legitimate possibility with the smaller-caliber moves made. I think that phase has run its course.
This team needs more height. Fast. The Wolves actually are one of the top teams in the league on the offensive glass, and in scoring second chance points. Why need more height? They’ve been conversely putrid on the defensive rebounding side of things, and are bottom-ten in allowing second chance points.
A couple ideas of a prototype that would be ideal?
Myles Turner - Shocking, I know. His name has been mentioned once or twice. Ideal defensive compliment to the lineup and can rebound the ball well. In addition, Turner’s athleticism doesn’t bring me many concerns in the team still being able to play with pace and run the floor. I would think two ball handlers would always need to be on the floor with him and KAT playing together.
Marvin Bagley - He doesn’t even consistently want to check in for the team he’s on! It’s only a matter of time before Sacramento and Bagley move on from each other. He would warrant perhaps a pick and a salary match of a rotational player (maybe slightly more?), but I still am a believer that he has a lot of untapped potential, and his athleticism is there. Would love to see how he would be used. Would he solve the Wolves’ current issues entirely? Probably not, but I think he fills some immediate holes. He has the potential to be a walking double-double just based on his talent alone.
- Don’t break the bank
- Cannot inhibit the ability for the team to be able to get out in transition
I’m talking about Ben Simmons-caliber breaking the bank. I get Turner would cost assets, but in the end his potential impact negates a lot of fears in giving up a Beasley, McDaniels, Bolmaro, etc. in my opinion.
If you can accomplish both of those things in getting size, I’m on board. Let’s hope it happens sooner rather than later.
D’Angelo Russell is kind of important.
The Timberwolves are outscoring opponents by 8.3 points per 100 possessions with D’Angelo Russell on the court.— StatMuse (@statmuse) December 12, 2021
They are outscored by 12.5 points with DLo off the court.
That 20.8 net rating difference is the 3rd biggest in the league only to Jokic and Giannis. pic.twitter.com/L6VEjzSPDc
I don’t think Sunday’s game could have illustrated that any better.
The question I wrestled with for the last few days was - are the Timberwolves better with D’Angelo Russell because he’s D’Angelo Russell, or is a shot-creating guard just the difference between this team floundering and being up-and-down good? I think Sunday night’s game has me drifting towards the latter.
Timberwolves with D'Angelo Russell:— Jack Borman (@jrborman13) December 13, 2021
12-10 (54.5 win % over 27 games would be 6th in West)
Timberwolves without D'Angelo Russell:
Pretty simple. 0 is a difference maker and his teammates respond to his play on both ends.
D’Angelo Russell has always been a shot maker. His strides on the defensive side of the floor, both effort and communication wise, have been not many saw coming.
This Week’s Outlook
Wednesday, 12/15 - at Denver
Friday, 12/17 - vs. Lakers
Sunday, 12/19 - vs. Mavericks
2-1 would be a nice expectation to have with Russell now back in the lineup. Jaylen Nowell is starting to provide nice minutes off the bench as well, giving the Wolves desperately-needed creation off the pine. The Lakers aren’t too scary, and that game will certainly be sold out on Friday. Buckle in.