It’s hard to read too much into any team’s preseason, other than getting a glimpse of the talent on the team as they gear up for the start of the regular season schedule.
Oftentimes, teams play their star and core players on the roster a limited amount of minutes, allowing other role players a chance to prove themselves and play an extended period of time while fighting for a final roster spot.
When it comes to the preseason for the Minnesota Timberwolves thus far, the team has performed well although we still haven’t seen the full strength group on the court at the same time. Wolves fans are patiently waiting to see an improved roster that is one of the more highly-anticipated collections of talent since Jimmy Butler arrived in Minnesota a few seasons ago.
But what can we actually take away from the preseason? And is there any relation to how the team ends up performing in the regular season? Although some may think the preseason is a collection of meaningless games – which isn’t completely wrong – there has been some correlation between preseason results and regular season success for the Wolves over the last few years.
What Can Be Taken Away From Preseason Games
Although the games don’t actually count in the preseason, there are still some things that can be taken away that will eventually carry over into the regular season. Some of those things include the team’s style of play, getting an idea of what the rotations and lineups will look like, as well as the skillsets of each position group’s players.
That has been the case and has been on display for Minnesota in their three exhibition contests, giving fans an exciting glimpse of what type of team President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly will field when the real games begin. Despite only viewing incomplete samples of this Timberwolves squad, all the core players have shown flashes at different points in the preseason thus far.
Anthony Edwards shined in moments of all three games, looking to be on his way to taking another leap this season. Rudy Gobert showcased his dominance on both ends of the floor which will help the Wolves with a stable post presence. Karl-Anthony Towns returned following an offseason health scare as he prepares for a bit of a different role this year, primarily playing the 4. And D’Angelo Russell proved he will be nice pairing to the Wolves’ new-look post duo of Gobert and Towns which will continue to be key in the regular season.
first of many from @rudygobert27. pic.twitter.com/pCG9aMOQpg— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) October 7, 2022
Outside of that, key reserves have also recorded their highlights while looking like nice additions to round out the team; that depth will play a major weapon for Minnesota in the regular season. The Wolves’ front office has done a solid job of filling out the roster that needed improving in the bottom half of the rotation, and those players in the first few contests gave Minnesota an extended look at what they could bring to the team in the regular season.
The games may not count in the preseason, but there is plenty to draw from what has taken place on the court for the Wolves as they continue to gear up for the start of the regular season on Oct. 19.
that's 3️⃣ in a roWWW.— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) October 10, 2022
Naz - 20 pts./ 11 reb./ 2 ast.
KAT - 19 pts./ 6 reb./ 6 ast.
Bryn - 15 pts./ 2 reb.
Ant - 14 pts./ 3 reb./ 3 ast. pic.twitter.com/9v3VTMBqhe
History of Preseason Results Carrying Into Regular Season
Over the last handful of seasons, the Wolves have seen a mixed bag of results both in the preseason and regular season. The up-and-down wave of the season that fans are accustomed to with this team also take place in the “games before the games” during the preseason.
Even though many don’t read into preseason results that much — and for understandable reasons — there exists some recent correlation between preseason results and how that carries over into the regular season.
Over the five years leading up to the 2022-23 campaign, Minnesota finished its preseason slate above the .500 mark a total of two times. In both of those seasons, the team has gone on to reach the playoffs while averaging records of 46.5-35.5. In the other three years, which have resulted in losing preseason records, the Wolves have failed to reach the postseason while averaging records of 26.0-46.7 in the regular season.
So far in 2022-23, the Wolves are above the .500 mark and will finish the preseason slate with a winning record. Although many expect this team to reach the playoffs at the end of the regular season regardless of the preseason results, if history is any indication Minnesota will likely carry that early-season success into the games that count this winter.
Editor’s note: Even preseason data models from expert analysts have graded out well compared to ones that take into account regular season player and team performance.
Scoring against the Basketball-Reference current win projections (https://t.co/xsV5rqDa1t), hilariously, the best model is currently the DARKO "preseason only" model.— Kostya Medvedovsky (@kmedved) December 29, 2021
This model uses no player data at all - just preseason results.
As the preseason concludes, fans will likely start to witness more of the team that will be seen when the regular season slate begins. So far, the Wolves have been a fun team to watch in three exhibition contests and the wins have followed. How that carries over into the regular season is yet to be seen, but Minnesota hopes to continue the recent trend of above-.500 preseason records resulting in a trip to the playoffs in April.