As we all await the next 23 Timberwolves games this season, we should take a step back and acknowledge the most exciting season that we have witnessed since 2003-04. There is no hiding the fact that the Wolves haven't been the easiest team to watch since their start in 1989. For those of us who wake up each morning excited to read the latest Jon Krawczynski article, or listen to the most recent Dane Moore podcast, we are all a piece of this tiny, but special Timberwolves community. I sit here writing my first article as a 14 year old, avid Wolves fan. Though I haven't faced the disappointment of this team for as long as many, I still have had the honor of watching a below .500 team each year of my existence, other than the small exception of 2017-18. I've seen the endless mediocrity, the underwhelming hype of Andrew Wiggins, and the fallout of Thibs and Butler who we expected to bring us greatness. This year has been a special burst of freedom and break out of the tight shackles on this Minnesota fanbase. Whether it is the rise of Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns making strides in all aspects of his game, or the fanbase taking action to D'Angello Russell's request, this current Wolves team is undeniably special.
Anthony Edwards is one of the most exciting young prospects in the league. With his unbelievable athleticism, his beautiful footwork in the paint, and his natural dynamic presence in interviews, he is making waves throughout the national media. This young star is just what the Wolves have needed to be rejuvenated in their hopes to breakthrough to the top of the league. In his second year, Edwards is averaging 21.9 points per game on an improved 43.5% from the field. His efficiency has taken a hit over this past month, but poor efficiency shouldn't be too concerning for a 20 year old with his caliber of talent. Over the course of Edwards' short career, we have seen blips where he shifts into another gear and takes over quarters or entire games. Sometimes when he catches fire it is almost as if we can look into the future at the player that he is shaping up to be. He may not be the star of the show yet, but we are just a few years away from him becoming the star of this young and hungry team.
There is no hiding the fact that Karl-Anthony Towns is truly beginning to find himself as a player. Towns being the number one overall pick in 2015, he has faced all sorts of ups and downs as a Minnesota Timberwolf. Throughout his seven year career, he has had the opportunity to be mentored by the greatest Wolf in history Kevin Garnett, witness the Andrew Wiggins catastrophe, and be scolded by former teammate Jimmy Butler. Unfortunately, he also faced the unbearable challenge of losing his mother to COVID-19 which caused an understandable, but minor setback in his player progression. This year, despite him not having a career high in any major statistical category, has been arguably the best of his career. There are several reasons that this year is so different than others. For one, Chris Finch is the first coach to take Towns out of drop coverage, where he has notably struggled. Towns also feels comfortable with the current roster, which is a big reason why Sachin Gupta chose not to make any trades by the deadline. Finally, the biggest reason that Towns is having the best year of his career is because he is actually on a winning team. This is the second year of his career being above .500, and in 2018 there was a notable divide in the locker room. Towns is now coming off of a successful all-star weekend, in which he won the 3-point contest and played in the all star game. While Towns has faced criticism for his flawed post game press conferences, his poor defense in the past, and an excruciating amount of complaining towards the officials, he is truly beginning to flourish as an All-NBA caliber center.
While this year has been a great step in the right direction for this organization, D'Angello Russell still had some snark for Timberwolves fans. In a press conference, Russell made a sly remark on the "sleepiness" in Target Center. While it did come with some minor judgement, Minnesota fans took the comment largely well. I had personally felt that this year had been an improvement in fan activity, but I understand where only being a two and a half year Timberwolf means that he doesn't have a great understanding of this team's past. Jim Peterson then proposed the idea that Wolves fans should now stand until the first made basket similar to the Lynx. To Russell's credit, he met his comment with action and gave away 250 free seats to the Timberwolves vs. Hornets game on February 15th. In response, Wolves fans exceeded expectations and came to that game with brand new energy. The Wolves went on to win that game in overtime led by a 39 point performance by Towns. All sides of the situation came together and produced a big win for this Wolves team with a booming crowd in attendance.
Now the Wolves go into the final 23 games of the season with a record of 31-28 as they currently sit at the 7th seed behind the Nuggets led by Nikola Jokic. After a strange ending to February, the Wolves have had an opportunity to regroup and prepare for the most important stretch of games of the season. With attendance continuing to increase and the Wolves continuing to build up energy, this team is trending in the right direction. After constant disappointment, I think that us Wolves fans can allow for ourselves to embrace this team and hope for the best. Unlike 2018, I truly think that things are looking up for the future of this franchise.