It has been an arduous start to the season for the Minnesota Timberwolves, and as a result, many of the most prominent NBA media outlets have dropped them in their latest power rankings. Minnesota has not lived up to the expectations that their star core garner. Through 14 games, the Timberwolves sit at 6-8 after one of the more generous opening schedules in the NBA. They are fresh off of an encouraging victory against a shorthanded Cleveland Cavaliers team. But, is it time to hit the panic button?
John Schuhmann of NBA.com appraised the Timberwolves as the No. 24 best team thus far, saying in part:
“The Wolves should hope that Wednesday was the nadir. Their loss to Phoenix was the second straight home game that they trailed by more than 25 points, and it came with a defensive possession on which they had just four guys on the floor. Even when they’ve had five defenders out there, the defense hasn’t been great,” Schuhmann said. “Those big deficits were a result of the Knicks and Suns totaling 145 points on 109 first-half possessions, and, having allowed 119.1 per 100 over their last five games (including 123.6 per 100 with Rudy Gobert on the floor), the Wolves have dropped from ninth to 19th on that end of the floor.”
No. 24 is unsettling for Wolves supporters. Albeit being under .500, and until their triumph against the Cavaliers, failing to defeat a team that had made the playoffs a season before, Minnesota has had some things to hang their hat on. This includes being the eighth-best assisting team in the association. The spacing may take more time to adjust to, but the ball has been moving better than it did to open the season, which is a good sign.
Zach Harper of The Athletic placed Minnesota slightly higher than that of NBA.com’s list, yet had a no-holds-barred evaluation of where the team has gone wrong this year.
“Minnesota has just looked like a mess for most of this season. There isn’t room for Anthony Edwards to dunk,” Harper pointed out. “The Wolves have been outrebounded on the season despite acquiring the best rebounder in the league. Karl-Anthony Towns looks more lost on defense than ever. And their offense has been putrid. The vibes around the Wolves are really bad, and they need to right this ship quickly.”
Rebounding has been perhaps the most eye-opening red flag for the franchise almost 20 percent of the way through the season. There are currently 13 teams averaging more rebounds than the Timberwolves. They are abysmal at minimizing second-chance points, giving up the most offensive rebounds in the league per game (12.6).
Minnesota is also tied for fourth in fouls (22.3), and opponents points off turnovers (20.5) per game, giving their opponents some of, if not the most opportunities to score in the entire NBA.
Minnesota will play four of their next five games on the road. In that span, they will square off against two playoff teams from a season ago, as well as a Charlotte Hornets team that just got LaMelo Ball back from injury. The Timberwolves will look to ride the momentum of a key win, and get back above .500 by the time the holiday season is in full swing.