Just as a little more than a week ago brought us rock bottom for the Minnesota Timberwolves, and we’re riding high once again. There is not a single ounce of normalcy possible with this team, but this is a lot better than alternate circumstances.
On the heels of a win against the Houston Rockets that saw H-Town blow a 20-point first half lead, it reminded me of a lot of previous Timberwolves teams that could not find a way to close games out while dealing with the youth they had. So I did a little digging and made some comparisons.
Who Stands Where?
Currently, there’s a pretty high correlation between young teams and fourth quarter average point margin.
Standing that up against average team age this season.
Unless you have Luka Doncic, it’s obviously uncommon to come into the league and be able to easily close games out. It takes time and experience. Wolves teams by the years:
Starting 5: Ricky Rubio, Andrew Wiggins, TayShaun Prince, Kevin Garnett, Karl-Anthony Towns (LaVine off the bench)
Record: 29-53, 23rd in 2nd half average point margin (-1.8)
Starting 5: Ricky Rubio, Zach LaVine, Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns, Gorgui Dieng
Record: 31-51, 6th in 1st half margin (+2.0), 27th in 2nd half margin (-3.0)
Starting 5: Jeff Teague, Andrew Wiggins, Treveon Graham, Robert Covington, Karl-Anthony Towns
Record: 19-45, 19th in 1st half margin (-1.8), 29th in 2nd half margin (-3.1)
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not substituting this point in any form for the utterly horrific basketball we have seen over the years. In a lot of seasons, the first half margin was almost just as bad or worse in terms of league rank for this team, and there wasn’t much of a correlation at all.
But I can’t help but think back to some of the early KAT/Wiggins/Lavine/Rubio teams in watching some of the current young teams that the Wolves are able to navigate these types of comebacks against. The Houston game specifically jogged my memory of that 2016-17 season. Don’t listen to me, listen to Austin Rivers...
Spoke with Austin Rivers postgame tonight. He had plenty of thoughts on Jalen Green, Kevin Porter Jr. and the Rockets’ rebuild.— Michael Shapiro (@mshap2) January 9, 2023
“Somebody needs to teach KPJ and Jalen how to play the right way. … They need those vets.”
Can check out the full chat tomorrow @chron
It has not been a season that has lived up to expectations thus far. But it doesn’t take too long to remember where things were, and I would say that with the youth of some of these teams, things were in a relatively optimistic place. Winning games in the league is pretty difficult, and with the Wolves just a couple games out of even 6th place...it maybe needed to get worse before it got better (this won’t age poorly).
So The Hawks Are Delusional
Report: Atlanta Hawks asking price for John Collins is something in the ‘neighborhood’ of Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell’s trade packages https://t.co/hXnEWqKhVb— NBACentral (@TheNBACentral) January 10, 2023
It won’t happen, but I laughed pretty hard at this report today. I wonder if it’s almost a little tongue-in-cheek of a leak with how much the Wolves had been discussed around John Collins in the months leading up to the Gobert trade.
On the “it could be worse” note, the Atlanta Hawks have been free-falling since their somewhat-recent peak at third in the East. Another team that made a big move this summer involving multiple firsts that just needs a little bit of time to figure things out...except they’ve been on a little more of a decline with the storied questions around Trae Young.
The first meeting between the Wolves and Atlanta will be March 13. I write this now, because it’s impossible to predict where the two teams will be by then given the first 3.5 months of the season.