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Altercation Report Card: How Did the Wolves Grade Out?

Five players were ejected Friday evening in the best Timberwolves brawl since Philadelphia in 2019. But just how good was it?

NOTE: The following repercussions were put into place by the NBA after Friday night’s brawl:

  • Mo Bamba suspended 5 games
  • Austin Rivers suspended 3 games
  • Jalen Suggs suspended 1 game
  • Jaden McDaniels fined $20,000 by the league

It’s been awhile since the last good old-fashioned slobberknocker for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Frankly, it had been too long.

Not only for entertainment purposes did I enjoy watching the onslaught of fisticuffs take place on the “city edition” hardwood floor of Target Center, but two main reasons for that stand out.

1). It camouflaged a dastardly pass from Rudy Gobert that would have been sure to be plastered all over NBA Twitter. I happened to be in the building for this game loaded up on Mich Golden and thought I was hallucinating when I saw it happen in front of me. I actually missed the origin of the fight as well because I couldn’t snap out of it. The trade is already polarizing in itself with Rudy stringing double-doubles together and making his impact on defense, but the fight REALLY helped dodge this virtual bullet.

2). Even before the altercation, it was an incredibly weird game and the mood of the crowd reflected it. Up until the fight and subsequent 4th quarter, there rightfully so wasn’t a ton of engagement. The Wolves were missing a lot of open looks, and things were just off overall.

Nonetheless, there were a lot of pieces at play. Just as we criticize and encourage players for their actual basketball performance, it’s only fair we do that same for such a large-scale clash. The report card is as follows.

Austin Rivers: C+

Based on the fundamentals of his scrap with Mo Bamba alone, Rivers would probably grade out much higher, probably around a B+ or A-. He landed a pretty nice haymaker from the side up against a mountain of a wingspan disadvantage. I really think that’s getting lost on a lot of people. Sheer fight-wise, Bamba picked a fight with someone roughly 2 weight classes below him and kind of lost. If that were me, I would try and escalate in the tunnel as well.

What drops Rivers’ grade for me is his instagram story after the game.

This reminds me a lot of when you and your girlfriend/boyfriend break up and you tell everyone “I didn’t even like them that much anyway.” Bamba’s days with the Orlando Magic are probably numbered, and this was a pretty bad look on him...the need to get roped in further is minimal. And it probably cost Rivers an extra game in his suspension.

Mo Bamba: D-

I’ll only do one Magic player because I don’t want to throw too much shade towards Minnesota’s own. The reason Bamba doesn’t get an F here is because all accounts on Twitter say he had some pretty decent lines going towards Rivers’. Tip of the cap if you’re good at talking shit.

Ironic that former 5-star, third-ranked player nationally coming out of high school turned NBA Draft bust Mo Bamba would say that, but it’s still pretty good. And clearly what he said was good enough to get Rivers in his face on the bench, so he avoids a complete failure.

However, as a 7-footer, you should not be letting a 6-foot guard take you to the floor like that. Come on man.

Anthony Edwards: A+

Undoubtedly the funniest part of this brawl was Edwards coming to the defense of Macaroni Toni less than 24 hours after an awesome podcast interview, but furthermore, picking up Cole Anthony like a toddler and setting him aside.

It lightly reminds me of the time Steven Adams put Tony Bradley over his shoulder after he got into it with Ja Morant.

Edwards also gets a further grade bump because he was on the receiving end of the Rudy Gobert pass before the brawl.

Chris Finch: A-

Look at Finch haul ass into the scuffle right off the bat, like a near dead sprint. Him and Micah Nori both activated without a second to waste. If you look at the scuffle continue to develop, Finch keeps Paolo Banchero out of the fray, which would have posed a huge matchup problem against pretty much any personnel the Wolves had in there.

Taurean Prince and Jaden McDaniels: B+

Tip of the cap to McDaniels specifically. I thought for sure he was going to completely detonate once he got into the scuffle. He largely played it pretty cool, but earned the fine with his initial shove.

I was personally a little surprised Prince got tossed, as I thought he was largely a peacemaker. His lack of ramifications reflects that as well. Tossing him may have been a call from the league. The Wolves were 4.5 point favorites, and a lot of the public money was on them.

Rudy Gobert: F

If there were a grade lower than that, he would get it. I won’t even grade his involvement in the fight; Re: the pass, maybe we can blame that on the groin soreness.