When the Minnesota Timberwolves traded four first-round picks, two pick swaps, Walker Kessler, and three more players to the Utah Jazz for Rudy Gobert, it was widely criticized by many around the NBA. Some said they overpaid, others debated whether or not the on-court fit between Gobert and franchise center Karl-Anthony Towns would ever work, and some called it the worst trade in NBA history.
After last year’s disappointing season that was mired by injury, those that ripped the trade began to feel vindicated that their initial reaction was correct and Minnesota made a grave error trading so many assets away.
All of those narratives have completely flipped to start this season as the Timberwolves sit atop the NBA standings with a 15-4 record. All the people that were so negative about the trade are now beginning to wonder if the Timberwolves could win the championship.
The trade that many said would doom the Wolves is now one of the principal reasons for their success this season. Minnesota has the No. 1 defensive rating in the NBA, something that would have been unfathomable before adding Gobert.
But it hasn’t just been Gobert contributing on the defensive end. Towns and Naz Reid have both fit in incredibly well at power forward, showing few signs that guarding on the perimeter will become an issue. Anthony Edwards, Jaden McDaniels and Nickeil Alexander-Walker have all provided fantastic defense out on the wing with McDaniels seemingly shutting down every star player he goes up against.
In the month of November, the Minnesota Timberwolves set the franchise record for wins in a single month with 13.
Many of those victories were truly incredible. They bested the Denver Nuggets and Boston Celtics, giving them both their first losses of the season. They beat the Golden State Warriors in back-to-back games at Chase Center, and they took down the surging Oklahoma City Thunder to protect their spot at the top of the Western Conference.
To cap it all off, the NBA on Tuesday announced that Timberwolves Head Coach Chris Finch earned the Western Conference Coach of the Month award for October/November, the first such honor of his hopefully very long and successful run on the Wolves’ bench.