What To Watch For
The time has finally come...
While the 2020-21 season for the Minnesota Timberwolves has lacked excitement, consistency, and overall success, there have still been a handful of storylines that have made the current stretch of basketball somewhat entertaining (and has provided even slight glimpses of long-term optimism). Jaylen Nowell’s development, Karl-Anthony Towns’ return, and Jaden McDaniels emergence as a potential star have been *good enough* reasons for fans to keep tuning in on a nightly basis, despite the realization that nearly every contest will undoubtedly end in disappointment.
But no Timberwolves storyline has been more intriguing than the ongoing debate about the 2020 NBA Draft. As many people know by now, Minnesota won the 2020 NBA Lottery, which awarded them the right to pick between top prospects Anthony Edwards, James Wiseman, and LaMelo ball. The Wolves ultimately selected the player known as ANT-Man, and since then the reviews have been fairly mixed, albeit fairly promising (at least in my opinion). Edwards has flashed plenty of upside — most notably his ability to get to the rim as well as his ability to set up his teammates (something I didn’t think he would be able to do early on).
With that said, no rookie — Edwards included — has looked better thus far than LaMelo Ball, who went third overall to the Charlotte Hornets (tonight’s opponent):
Rookie leader amongst these categories:— Overtime (@overtime) February 10, 2021
PTS - LaMelo Ball
REB - LaMelo Ball
AST - LaMelo Ball
STL - LaMelo Ball
Double-doubles - LaMelo Ball
Triple-doubles - LaMelo Ball
As the tweet above states, LaMelo currently leads all rookies in essentially every major statistic, and is quickly demonstrating to many who doubted him that he truly was one of (if not the best) prospects in last year’s draft. I’ve watched a dozen or so Hornets games this year, and Ball’s overall ability has jumped off the screen multiple times, and it appears that his teammates really enjoy playing with him (which was one of the relative question marks surrounding him when he entered the league).
My take on all of this is fairly meaningless, but looking back at the 2020 NBA Draft, and I still believe the top three picks went exactly how they should have. Granted, the 19-year old Ball brother has been far and away the best rookie thus far (Tyrese Haliburton has been a close second), and could finally be a franchise-altering player for a team and city that has lacked one since Kemba Walker departed. But I still have been really impressed with what I’ve seen from ANT (who is 19-years old as well), and I think his upside as a two-way player could slightly eek out the overall ceiling of what Ball could become (again, this is just a BBB — Biased Blog Boy — opinion).
The argument on which rookie was the correct pick will obviously take years to sort out, but for one night (tonight specifically), fans of both teams should be really excited to see both young players go at it in what should be a really competitive and entertaining contest between two (continuously) rebuilding franchises.
Minnesota @Timberwolves Status Report in advance of tomorrow's game at Charlotte:— Timberwolves PR (@Twolves_PR) February 11, 2021
Culver - Left Ankle Sprain
Hagans - G League
Russell - Left Leg Soreness
It was reported earlier Friday morning that D’Angelo Russell isn’t even on the current road trip, meaning he will also be out for Sunday’s game against the
Toronto Tampa Bay Raptors.
As for Charlotte...
The only real noteworthy injury here is Devonte’ Graham, who is currently dealing with a left groin strain.
As always, I hope you all have an enjoyable and warm weekend. Thanks for continuing to stop by and contribute to Canis Hoopus, and please continue to be safe!