clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2021-22 Minnesota Timberwolves Season Superlatives

Let’s re-live our favorite parts of the Timberwolves season, superlatives style.

2022 NBA Playoffs - Minnesota Timberwolves v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

The 2021-22 Minnesota Timberwolves produced one of, if not, the most enjoyable and memorable Wolves season we’ve seen in the history of the franchise. Over the past couple of weeks, our Canis staff been re-living the season through our season review series. Today we’re continuing the series, superlatives style.

Join the conversation in the comments and let us know your answers!

LA Clippers v Minnesota Timberwolves - Play-In Tournament Photo by Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images

#1 Memory You’ll Always Remember About the ‘21-22 Wolves?

Jack Borman: I’ll never forget the last 7:34 of the play-in victory over the Los Angeles Clippers. When Karl-Anthony Towns committed his sixth foul and checked out with the Timberwolves trailing 93-86, I buried my face into my rally towel. I was in the crowd as a fan that night and truly felt every emotion possible over that final 7:34. My face remained in my towel through both of Jaden McDaniels’ free throws, trying to come to grips with the inevitable pain of yet another let-down at the hands of the Wolves. With a clear mind, I looked up to see Malik Beasley bury the biggest triple of the season to that point, and rode the emotions of the crowd all the way to the finish line. Putting my phone down and just taking everything in over the final minute or so, including Patrick Beverley and Anthony Edwards jumping on the scorer’s table are sights and sounds I will never, ever forget.

Leo Sun: Dang it, Jack! The play-in game was definitely the biggest moment, for sure. That said, I’m going to ride that wave and go with Game 1 of the Wolves-Grizzlies series. After witnessing D’Angelo Russell carry Minnesota to a come-from-behind victory in the biggest Wolves game in the last four years, my confidence was at an all-time high. Though I did believe we could steal a couple games in this series, I wouldn’t have pegged the very first game as one of them. On the road, battling a pumped up Memphis crowd, I did remember feeling a bit of doubt during tipoff. However, with every Anthony Edwards shot and defensive play, I felt my already peak confidence levels breaking new barriers. It all culminated at the 5:17 mark of the third quarter, when Karl-Anthony Towns eviscerated Defensive Player of the Year candidate Jaren Jackson Jr., and every single one of his critics with a monstrous dunk so hard that my consciousness ascended to levels unbeknownst to man. By the time I returned to my physical form on planet Earth, Jaden McDaniels stuck the final dagger in the Grizzlies to clinch the game in clutch time.

Mike O’Hagan: I concur with all of the play-in/playoff answers above, and being at those games at Target Center was special. At the handful of games I was able to attend for Canis, though, there was only one play that made me legitimately forget for a half-second that I was there as an impartial media member.

A close second for me was being in the building the night Malik Beasley set the franchises record for made 3s in a single game, but the Ant windmill legitimately brought me out of my seat.

Gabe Schneider: I’d also say the playoffs/play-in moments, but more broadly I’d say the rise of Anthony Edwards. He obviously played well as a rookie, but he really arrived this season. It was the realization I had that this guy didn’t just have a good first year, he wasn’t just a freak athlete, but that he could sustain his awesome play long-term. That he’s a star.

With that, Ant’s dunk over Gabe Vincent (someone that I definitely do not share a first name with) will come to mind when I think about this season. The reaction from the Target Center crowd was awesome, as everyone knew they had just witnessed something we’ll remember for a long, long time.

John Meyer: I’ll always remember beating the Clippers in the play-in tournament, like you guys have mentioned. That felt like a franchise exorcism, much like Game 82 vs. the Nuggets a couple years back.

I won’t forgot Pat Bev and Ant Edwards jumping up on in scorers table like KG, nor all of the ridiculous backlash from a really sweet moment in the days that followed. Act like you’ve been there before…when you haven’t!

“Take they ass home,” Beverley said after the game in an emotional presser. “Long flight to L.A. Take they ass home. It’s deeper than that for me. I gave my blood, sweat, and tears to that organization. Just to be written off like that, ‘He’s injury-prone. He’s old.’ This, this, that, that. To be able to come here and play them in a play-in and beat they ass, no other feeling, man. No other feeling.”

Andrew Carlson: The feeling I got watching this team. The play-in, the playoff, or any regular season game beforehand. With the 2017-18 team, I always knew they would have a chance to pull out a win due to just playing good, sound basketball. What we didn’t know was that the team hated each other.

This season was the first since then, that I always thought the Wolves would have a shot to win, but instead this team liked each other, and had a way deeper bench. And it’s best players were 26 and 20 years old. And the coach was much easier to root for.

Miami Heat v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images

Best New Wolves™️ Moment

LS: It was a season full of memories, but I have to go with the third answer from our Canis Pulsus “Memories Edition” results: Pat Bev shooting shirts into the crowd out of a t-shirt cannon. The Wolves were about to extend their win streak to five as they were up 40+ points against the tanking Trailblazers. Prior to #NewWolves, when was the last time we saw a Timberwolves team stunt on another team so hard? Not only were the extracurriculars exquisite, but the part about decimating a tanking/any team by 40+ was also a hallmark #NewWolves moment. This would be the second time that the Wolves steamrolled a team by more than that amount, showing me that this was no longer your grandma’s Wolves team.

MO: There are a lot of options here, but I’ll say the win in Miami right after losing in Orlando. It was the perfect encapsulation of this team being able to flush a bad result away and respond with force. That was an awesome win for the team, and made me feel much better about things after a rough outing in Orlando.

AC: Aside from immaculate vibes and a refreshing edge, the defense finally being competent with KAT being a part of it made me say, “yep, this team might have turned a corner”. The ability to cause turnovers, close games, and overall play hard was so damn cool to see.

Also? Organizational stability in he wake of a scandal. That was a pretty refreshing change of pace.

2022 NBA Playoffs - Grizzlies v Timberwolves Photo by Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images

Worst Old Wolves™️ Moment

JB: Blowing three fourth quarter leads of 10 or more to the Memphis Grizzlies took me back to the pre-Chris Finch days when Wolves fans were terrified of the first three minutes of the fourth quarter knowing what was coming. That was what Games 5 and 6 felt like, even more so being in the arena for Game 6. There is undoubtedly a psychological aspect of those meltdowns, and we can only hope it doesn’t carry over into next season.

LS: Amid a six-game winning streak, the Wolves were closing in fast on the Denver Nuggets for the sixth seed. It was easy to believe that the 29th place Orlando Magic team would be next on the chopping block, as Minnesota had just steamrolled similarly pathetic Oklahoma City Thunder and Portland Trail Blazers teams by a combined 126 points in four games. Well, on March 11, the Wolves fell prey to a Mo Bamba led Magic team for the second time this season. This interrupted what would’ve been a franchise-tying 11 game win streak, as they went on to win their next four. Silver linings, I guess?

MO: Yep, the March loss to Orlando is my choice as well. You could see it coming a mile away. The boys must have spent too much time with Robin Lopez at Magic Kingdom the day before or something.

AC: Nothing more to add here, except maybe the 16-point collapse against Memphis early in the season, with the KAT three to force overtime. What foreshadowing that game would turn out to be...

Los Angeles Lakers v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

Favorite Player

JB: I love what Jaylen Nowell brought to the Wolves this season. His instant offense and isolation scoring was a joy to watch in times where the Wolves’ offense began to slip and Old Wolves™ vibes began to creep back in. Nowell averaged 1.033 points per isolation, which ranked him in the 81st percentile league-wide, per Synergy Sports. He created so many fun moments, chief among them his performance in a home win over the Boston Celtics.

LS: I’m sure I won’t be the only person to choose Anthony Edwards as my favorite player here. Karl-Anthony Towns’ strength and humanity off the court makes a good case. Jaden McDaniels’ limitless potential contained in the personality of a mime is hard not to choose. Leo Leandro Bolmaro might soon be my answer. But as of right now, it’s not particularly close. Ant’s explosiveness on the court is paired perfectly with the most charismatic personality in the whole damn league. He’s da one, Jack (Pun intended).

MO: Taking Ant off the board, easy choice for me.

GS: Like Jack, it’s Jaylen Nowell for me. Of course, KAT and Ant are up there, but Nowell’s game is just so much fun. His floater/tough midrange fadeaway game is really unique, and is one that we don’t see too often. As I’ve said before, he’s lightning in a bottle, as he has the ability to score from anywhere at anytime.

JM: Anthony Edwards makes the Wolves legitimately cool and fun again. He’s full of explosive, top 10 highlight reel plays, and his media availability’s can be even better. Ant gives the Wolves swag and the confidence they’ve lacked forever and his ceiling is through the roof so he’s my favorite. I also have to say KAT is close. He’s an All-Star and has been disrespected for years. Since that pisses me off, I like to be in the club that defends him and for that reason I’ll say he’s one of my favorites for sure.

AC: Anthony Edwards was popular here, so I’ll roll with my second favorite in Karl-Anthony Towns. His complaining to officials was out of hand, and sometimes embarrassing, but it’s hard to not love the guy. I’m always so amazed when athletes overcome insane odds in their personal life that should hypothetically hurt their professional. That didn’t happen with KAT.

Instead, he turned around and had probably the best season of his career, to compliment a vast improvement on defense in a scheme that suits him well. This will be the first time in his career that things appear to be organizationally stable as well, and a coach that isn’t on the hot seat. He’s either added something to his game or changed the way he’s played every single season. I think sometimes that also gets lost on people. I’m excited to see what surfaces in his bag for another season under Finch.

Minnesota Timberwolves v San Antonio Spurs Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images

Favorite Game

JB: A beautiful drunksgiving sell-out 113-101 victory over Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat.

I was in the arena at Target Center to feel a tangible change in the air. From the constantly loud “Ra-chel Ni-chols!” chants to Edwards sending Gabe Vincent into another dimension, everything about that night was perfect. My five-hour drive to Milwaukee on three hours of sleep on Thanksgiving morning was less than ideal, but boy, was it worth it.

LS: The Timberwolves had been trying to sell this #NewWolves concept and I had been resisting every step of the way. After a 3-1 start to the season, Minnesota quickly fell back into the sunken place, dropping six games in a row. On November 12th, they headed into their third game in a four-game road trip with their tails tucked between their legs. Their reward was a then 7th seeded Los Angeles Lakers team (lol) who had just won two games in a row in overtime, no less.

That said, it was two days after my 30-some birthday and I hadn’t been to a NBA game in-person since pre-pandemic. I missed being able to watch Ricky Rubio’s return last season, so I damn sure wasn’t going to miss Anthony Edwards’ sophomore season, even if I thought we were going to get pummeled. But! My girlfriend (now fiancée) secretly worked to get my best friend and his partner to SoCal to join us for the game. Regardless of the game’s outcome, I was going to be a happy camper. The Timberwolves must have gotten the memo that it was Leo’s return to in-person spectatorship because THEY. BALLED. OUT. Much to my partner’s demise, I might add. The cherry on top?

Canis Hoopus got the best collab of the season, baby!

MO: December 15, 2021 in Denver, where Ant just decided the Wolves were going to win that night. He finished with 38 points and 10 3s made. It was his first real Superstar flash of the season (if I remember correctly). That was awesome.

GS: Game 4 back at Target Center. After going down 2-1 I was worried it wouldn’t go very well, but (thankfully) I was very wrong. The Game 3 collapse was haunting my mind throughout the whole game, as I was worried we’d have a repeat of that in Game 4. The atmosphere in the building was absolutely unreal, with everyone around me in the upper bowl (possibly including me) screaming nearly all 48 minutes. Playoff basketball in Minneapolis is incredible.

Best Anthony Edwards Moment

JB: It is nearly impossible to pick a “Best Anthony Edwards Moment” given how much fun it was to cover the sophomore superstar on a nightly basis. But dropping 40 points in a highly competitive, back-and-forth road win against the division rival Portland Trail Blazers and then following it up by calling yourself Black Jesus has to take the cake.

LS: Once again, I’m going with the Canis hivemind consensus here: Ant ordering McDonalds during a postgame presser. I’m sure the golden arches are far from being a model of an ethical business or even a somewhat balanced diet, but how does Black Jesus prove he’s any more a man of the people than this?

MO: Ant is genuinely hilarious, but maybe my favorite part of the year was watching him strike the balance between his joy and humor and his leadership role on this team. He’s a good leader, a great teammate, and he’s someone we are so, so, so lucky to have in Minneapolis.

Favorite Tweet

JB: Patrick Beverley definitely fixed Wolves, but this tweet confirmed it.

LS: Look. I’m not the biggest Russell Westbrook hater or anything. But the troll job here is for sure a 10/10.

Los Angeles Lakers v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images

Patrick Beverley Shit Talk Moment of the Year

JB: Bev Light™’s “Take they ass home” moment after being the Clippers. Man, that just had to feel good for him.

Bud Light even stepped in to offer to pay some of the $30,000 fine Beverley received for his postgame comments.

LS: Again, I’m not here to intentionally pile on Brodie. I am simply just answering the questions here. This entire Lakers demolition belongs in the Louvre, but Pat Bev was in rare form that night. I thought clapping in LeBron’s face then spanking him on the butt was the pinnacle, but how can one adult do this to another adult? This video has to be in when someone searches “trash talk.”

GS: Yeah, it’s got to be the play-in game. I thought going from being overcome with emotion right after the final buzzer to going on IG live just minutes later and talking smack was a really fun turn of events. Locker room IG lives are always great, but Pat Bev IG lives are in a tier of their own.

2022 NBA Playoffs - Grizzlies v Timberwolves Photo by Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images

Biggest Surprise of the Year

JB: Jordan McLaughlin solidifying his place as an important long-term piece in the the Wolves’ bench rotation. I never thought that he would play significant minutes down the stretch of the season for a legitimately good playoff team; I can’t remember a time in my life where I was more pleased to be wrong. He’s the king of doing the little things that always matter and that will almost always result in praise from teammates and playing time from coaches.

LS: I believe I was one of only two Canis Hoopus writers to mash the Vegas under on the Wolves season record (Shoutout to my guy John Meyer! You my boy!). To watch the Wolves go from 23-49 to 46-36 with minimal roster turnover was certainly a huge surprise to me. Turning Jarrett Culver and a Hernangomez into Patrick Beverley is something, sure. However, you take Ricky Rubio off a team and expect a positive result? Unfathomable.

MO: Getting Pat Bev to sign just a one-year extension. That was surprising to me, in a good way for the team. Being able to go year-to-year with an aging vet like Bev is good.

Funniest Moment of the Year

LS: Some of the moments we hit on above were definitely awesome. However, one I want to give some more shine to was when Ant, unprompted, rejected the idea of calling Anfernee Simons as Ant. Relive that moment again below. This man is a comedian.

Cirque du Soleil Moment of the Year

MO: I need to thank Jack for including this category, at my request, so I could share this again.

JB: The only other moment that comes close to qualifying for this award is a different, yet equally beautiful Pat Bev sequence.

LS: I was thinking of going with the KAT 3-point heave from near halfcourt against the Grizzlies here, but I’m going to reach way back to when Jaden McDaniels was ascending to stardom in Las Vegas. He capped off an undefeated summer league season with this wild sequence against the 76ers. To setup the scene:

Philadelphia was down 87-88 with 23.6 seconds left and called a timeout. They drew up a play that got Jaden Springer a 3-pointer to push the Sixers back up 90-88. With 13.8 seconds remaining, the Wolves failed to execute their ATO play, resulting in a five second violation. They were forced to send Rayjon Tucker to the line with 10.1 remaining to potentially ice the game. After making the first shot to go up three, this is what happened:

The Wolves won in overtime.