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Game Preview #60: Wolves at Kings, Part 2

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The Wolves & Kings 3-game April series comes to a merciful end tonight.

Sacramento Kings v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images

DISCLAIMER: This preview is brought to you in part by with our friends, The Kings Herald (For those not in the know, they were squeezed out of their previous SBNation home). Will Griffith provides excellent content for the Sacramento Kings, hosts a podcast with former Kings head coach/GM/Broadcaster Jerry Reynolds, and is my best friend who constantly motivates me in life. I assure you, he will be one of the best follows for you on social media (@WillofThaPeople)! Will is going to toss me an assist by helping with the coverage of these trio of April Kings-Timberwolves games. He’ll provide insight from Sacramento’s perspective with game 1 being our collective pessimistic angles at our franchises, game 2 as optimistic tilts, and game 3 as our most realistic expectations moving forward. Enjoy!

Wolves Outlook by YoLeo:

I once heard that maturity isn’t so much about “adulting,” but about mentality. For example: Thinking about things in spectrums instead of binaries. It’s about never expecting the worst nor the best. Although I’ve been a “hardcore” Timberwolves fan for over 20 years (Damn), it’s been real hard to not always expect the former though. I know that you all understand that better than most, as a Kings fanbase. A little known fact about me was that I grew up in Vacaville as a big Sacramento Kings fan until I was peer pressured by my high school classmates in 2004 that “You can’t root for both the Wolves and the Kings! during the fateful postseason in which MVP KG willed the Wolves to victory in 7 games. Sucker’s choice, eh?

It’s pretty much been darkness for us both since then: Unfulfilled promises. Relocation threats. Draft busts. Bad luck. You name it, we’ve both been there.

However as I’m now well into my 30s (Double damn) and I’ve learned to temper these thoughts. I’ve become more realistic. Things hardly work out the way we expect, for better or worse.

So what do I expect from the Timberwolves moving forward?

An exciting new ownership group, barring another Charlie Brown football moment by Glen Taylor, should truly mark the beginning of a new chapter in the upcoming years. Of course things could get worse, but at least they won’t be the same. Hopefully that means less Country Club retreads in the front office (Shoutout, Kevin McHale). No more illegal contract negotiations that waste away 5 years of 1st round draft picks. No more whacky “If you look me in the eyes and tell me you’re going to try harder, then I’ll give you a max contract” situations. With a GM in Gersson Rosas who appears to have already embraced a modern mentality of running a sports franchise, I expect to see slow, but marked improvement from the suits. Could we become Basketball 4.0? That’s possible too, but I’m not betting on it.

On the basketball court, things can easily go haywire, as demonstrated by the 2020-2021 Minnesota Timberwolves. However I find it unlikely that the Wolves will continue to have hilariously bad luck with injuries/suspensions/COVID that keep a Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards core from developing into something special the next few seasons. I have my reservations of D’Angelo Russell and Malik Beasley being the other 2 core pieces, but also have my confidence in Jaden McDaniels and Naz Reid being building blocks on big time discounts. Regardless, if this iteration of the Wolves can sustain the ~.400 winning percentage that they’ve been on pace for since getting health(ier), then I think it’s entirely possible that Rosas could to trim some chub off this roster to get us within a 5-7 playoff seed in a handful of years. Whether or not we overshoot or undershoot that goal will largely be based off 3 things:

  1. Development of Anthony Edwards: Will he have an *gulp* Andrew Wiggins (Or Willie Cauley-Stein, for reference) development curve, or will he ascend to a higher plane of basketball existence?
  2. Draft pick management: Will our 2021 draft pick go to the Golden State Deathstar with 59.9% odds, or will we win our hometown hero, Jalen Suggs, with 40.1% odds?
  3. Salary cap management: Aka will Rosas ride KAT-D’Lo to the very end, even if it proves to not work on the basketball court, or will he have the cajones to move on for bigger fish as they come available?

Those are my “realistic” expectations as a fellow basement dweller, but no one really knows what could happen. However I do know two things that will be certain moving forward: 1) Will and I will find ourselves on press row together by 2022 while texting each other side bets on whether or not the jumbotron will show Jack Cooley in the 1st or 2nd half of the game, 2) We’ll meet up post game at Broderick’s to talk about how wild it is that our best friendship has survived through a tyranny, a pandemic, and over a decade long.

Will & Leo during intramural ring ceremony, 2011
NBA opening night, 2015

Game Info

Who: Sacramento Kings (23-35) at Minnesota Timberwolves (16-43)
When: 9:00 pm CDT
TV: Bally Sports North PLUS
Radio: 830 WCCO AM Radio


Game Preview

Don’t look now, but the mighty Timberwolves are now 29th in the NBA! This powerhouse is also just 2.5 games out from the dreaded 27th spot (4th in the lotto) so would tonight be the right time to load manage a few players? Why, of course not! Their next 2 games will be against the Jazz, who they somehow defeated in their second game of their season, so losing will not be a problem!

The Wolves did their damnest to blow the game last night, only to have been outdone by Lord Commander Walton. The Kings put on a shooting clinic in the 1st half (11 3PM on 21 attempts), but pooped away a 4-point lead heading into the final period. What happened? The backcourt of De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, and Tyrese Haliburton went 1 for 8 in the 4th quarter while Karl-Anthony Towns posted 15/3/3 in just the final 7 minutes of the game (+10). How did the latter happen, you ask?

Walton trotted out a 6’8”-6’9” tandem of Harrison Barnes & Moe Harkless to guard KAT. He waited until the lead ballooned to 7 before making any adjustments. Although Walton is supposedly coaching for his job right now, he seems awfully aloof.

To make matters worth, we discovered that Fox is dealing with an injury, explaining a season-low in minutes. Are the Kings willing to further injure their franchise player when they are all but mathematically eliminated from play-in contention? If this season has been any indication: Yes.

The “D’Lo as a 6th man” experiment will likely continue. It has been an idea that many of us at Canis Hoopus have long been asking for (myself included) and we’re finally getting it. Even though the results have been somewhat mixed thus far, the 4-5 record so far isn’t too bad.


Injury Report


Predictions

  • Despite going cold to end the game, the Kings still shot an impressive 18/42 from three. Normally, I’d say that’s not sustainable, but against the Wolves... *ahem* “ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!!!!!!!!” Buddy Hield, knowing Fox is ailing, breaks out for 30 points and my fantasy team thrives.
  • Tyrese Haliburton get sick of Anthony Edwards stealing all the rookie shine. He goes full-on Reese’s Big Cup and channels his inner Fox, posting 26 points and 12 assists. Ant finishes with an inefficient 20 points while attempting 14 3PA (PLEASE STOP).
  • We get round 2 of the extremely fun Chimezie Metu vs Naz Reid matchup. Blood will be spilled.
  • Kings fans get the true Timberwolves viewing experience, as Josh Okogie and Juancho Hernangomez combine for 0-7 shooting from perimeter. Oh wait, that just happened last game. Uh... they go 1-8 tonight?
  • KAT continues to be unstoppable, but on the way to his 40th point, Hassan Whiteside shoves him to the ground. No one on the Wolves roster is really mean enough to jump in a fight, but Jarred Vanderbilt “accidentally” elbows Whiteside while attempting to offensive rebound a ball that’s sailing 5 feet out of bounds. Take that.
  • Wolves edge the Kings out once again, 128-120.