It’s been almost three weeks since the Minnesota Timberwolves were eliminated from the postseason. Are you feeling the withdrawals yet? Though this season was largely filled with frustration and underachievement, there were still plenty of bright spots to reminisce on.
Let’s take a look at your favorite games, storylines, and MVPs from the season.
The 5th most voted on game was...
KAT dominates OKC in the play-in game to secure a playoff ticket
With their backs against the wall, the Wolves brought the best version of themselves (sans the McDaniels & Reid injuries). It was a win-or-go-home situation in Minnesota and Wolves fans got everything they asked for. Nickeil Alexander-Walker stepping up big to slow down his cousin and All-NBA 1st Teamer and cousin, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Rudy Gobert dominating the paint. A second-half Ant explosion. Kyle Anderson doing it all. Above all else, Karl-Anthony Towns posted an efficient 28 points, 11 rebound, 3 assist, and 3 block line. It was an opportune time for KAT to look the best since his return from a calf injury.
The 4th most voted on game was...
Ant ascends to another level in the game 4 OT victory over Denver
The lone Wolves postseason victory was courtesy of none other than 21-year-old phenom, Anthony Edwards. Minnesota was on the verge of being swept in the postseason for the first time since the NBA implemented the 7-game first round series format. To make mattesr worse, it was announced right before tipoff that super sub, Kyle Anderson, would be unavailable due to an eye injury. That would make it three key rotation players the Wolves would be down, yet Ant refused to acquiesce. He singlehandedly saved Minnesota from another fourth quarter disaster by taking over the game, finishing with an unbelievable 34 point, 6 rebound, 5 assist, and 5 stock night.
The 3rd most voted on game was...
Naz Reid’s coronation game versus the defending champs in OT
Naz Reid. What more can or should you say? The unrestricted free agent has continued to add to his bag of tricks every year which will result in a nice payday this summer. Reid has had a number of standout games and really stepped up in KAT’s absence this season, but none were more memorable than his 24-point, 13-rebound masterpiece against the reigning champs. He had dominated most of the game before missing a couple clutch-time three point attempts, but it culminated in the most important dunk of his career.
NAZ REID WITH THE HUSTLE SLAM— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) February 2, 2023
Wolves take down the Warriors! pic.twitter.com/D4hy18dZJM
The 2nd most voted on game was...
Slow Mo & KAT seal an improbable win in Golden State
As I pointed out in my rivals piece, it feels like every time the Wolves square up with the Warriors, we get a wild finish. It was KAT’s second game back from his long layoff and he had just put the Hawks away with a pair of game winning free throws. You know the one. “This is what movies is made of.” How would he follow that up?
With 54.1 seconds left, the ESPN tracker had the Warriors with a 74.1% chance of winning after a Kyle Anderson miss. Golden State was able to hold Minnesota off, up just 1-point with the ball and just 27.1 ticks left. The Wolves had to, and attempted to, intentionally foul. The officials, with their whistles in their pockets, let the Wolves get away with a few obvious reach-in calls before Slow Mo picked off a pass. He found KAT streaking past half court with just over 13 seconds and in a classic “No, no, no - YES!” moments, Towns cashed in a three-pointer which ultimately resulted in an unbelievable Wolves victory.
Now that was what movies are made of.
The 1st most voted game was...
Ant & Jaden lockdown Kyrie & Luka to put the league on notice
The Dallas Mavericks shocked the league by being surprise winners (?) in the Kyrie Irving trade sweepstakes. He teamed up with Luka Dončić and the then sixth place Mavs, forming an exciting offense two-some. They drew the Timberwolves in just their second game on the court together, but Minnesota was ready for them. The Wolves held an 18-point lead heading into the final 12 minutes of the game, looking like they were in comfortable position to cruise to a victory.
But this is the Minnesota Timberwolves we’re talking about.
The newly acquired Irving would go on an absolute tear, making 11 of his 12 fourth quarter field goal attempts, totaling for 26 of his game-high 36 points. The Mavs would get as close as 121-123 with less than 30 seconds left in the game after yet another Kyrie three pointer. Mike Conley would split a pair of free throws to allow the home team one more crack to tie the game. Behold what unfolded.
Jaden McDaniels + Anthony Edwards game-winning defense on Luka Doncic + Kyrie Irving pic.twitter.com/aFdbZtvnGC— Timberwolves Clips (@WolvesClips) February 14, 2023
The internet and media were buzzing after that performance. Not just how Kyrie and Luka couldn’t seal the deal, but how they were shutdown by the pair of young stars in Minnesota, both who garnered All-NBA defense votes.
The vibes were immaculate.
The 3rd most voted non-basketball memory was...
National media & players publicly recognizing Jaden’s defense
Despite a beautiful campaign by the Timberwolves PR to help get the word out, Jaden McDaniels was still snubbed for an NBA 1st or 2nd All-Defensive team. It was a disappointing result, but it still doesn’t change the fact that many talking heads, and fellow NBA players, acknowledged Seatbelt’s eerie presence on the defensive end. Whether it was Paul George talking about how underrated Jaden is, or Jamal Murray talking about how he’s tired of Jaden blocking his jump shots, this was the year of Big Mac’s reckoning.
The 2nd most voted non-basketball memory was...
Ant makes his first All-Star game and gets selected first by Team LeBron
It was less surprising to see Anthony Edwards snubbed when the first round of All-Star reserves were announced. He was certainly playing at an All-Star level, but the Wolves were just treading water in the standings. Then players started dropping out due to injury and the reality that Ant could get the replacement nod began setting in. Not only did Commissioner Adam Silver pick Ant, LeBron followed suit by picking Klutch Sports Group client, Edwards, first in the All-Star game live draft.
It was a dope moment that may signal a soon-to-be changing of the guard as the face of the NBA.
The 1st most voted non-basketball memory was...
Cousins Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) April 15, 2023
Nickeil had 12 PTS, 6 AST, 4 REB, 3 STL, 2 BLK in the win against SGA (22 PTS, 7 REB, 3 AST, 3 BLK) and the Thunder.
KAT: “He’s the reason we won. There’s no other way to put it.” pic.twitter.com/9RjTvDxWh0
NAW outduels SGA in the cousin versus cousin play-in game
Though this was somewhat of a basketball-related “moment,” it was still a really unexpected, but cool storyline to close the regular season. Nickeil Alexander-Walker had shared in various interviews that he whole-heartedly embraced the trade to Minnesota, making feel like he was saved. It was his reaction to fans embracing the 24-year-old, and he repaid them with defensive effort and hustle, timely shot making, and a humble demeanor that was a breath of fresh air. Personally, he’s one of my favorite players on the roster and hopefully the Wolves front office prioritize his free agency.
Is it possible that NAW ascends in the all-time ranks of Timberwolves players to dawn #9? It’s not going to be easy, but I have faith.
the feeling is mutual, NAW. pic.twitter.com/FbAXHU0iID— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) March 5, 2023
(Note: I was surprised that “Macaroni Tony” didn’t pop up here.)
The Most Valuable Player for the Timberwolves was...
Anthony Edwards (86%)
Preseason: Karl-Anthony Towns (57%)
No surprise here, though the preseason majority vote was in favor of KAT. An early injury that derailed Towns’ season quickly showed the world what Anthony Edwards was made of. He dragged the Wolves to a bundle of victories on 29.9% USG% despite battling his own physical ailments. The Wolves often went as Ant went, as evidenced in the playoffs. If there were any doubt about Ant’s ability to be the 1A of a championship team before this season, those shreds of doubt have been firmly eviscerated.
The Defensive Player of the Year for the Timberwolves was...
Jaden McDaniels (75%)
Preseason: Rudy Gobert (94%)
Screw what the All-NBA award voters say. Real ones know Jaden McDaniels is one of the best defenders in the entire
league world. There are endless amounts of defensive metrics you can pull from last season alone that would illustrate just how impactful he is on that end of the court. Most people, not just Wolves fans, believe that they would’ve likely secured the #7 seed or extended the Denver playoff series further had McDaniels had two functioning hands. Big Mac’s biggest days are ahead of him and hopefully he receives a large sum of money in an extension this summer.
The 6th Man of the Year for the Timberwolves was...
Kyle Anderson (69%)
Preseason: Kyle Anderson (61%)
An interesting result here, as Slow Mo garnered nearly 70% of the vote. Kyle Anderson was without question one of the most impactful players on the team (Team-high 2.2 VORP) despite coming off the bench. That said, he started 46 of the 69 nice games he played in thanks to the bevy of injuries the Wolves endured. He battled through season long back spasms and had a fluctuating role all year, yet remains one of the fan favorites for a reason. The Canis Hoopus hivemind rejoices!
The Locker Room MVP for the Timberwolves was...
Mike Conley Jr. (53%)
Preseason: Taurean Prince (44%)
Many players on the Wolves roster would speak to their affinity for D’Angelo Russell, unless their name rhymes with Ruby Nobare. The streaky, swaggy, and “enigmatic” All-Star brought his own type of energy to the team. However, as Jon Krawczynski shared on The Athletic, the chemistry problems were there and Russell was one of the main reasons why. Instead, Tim Connelly shipped him to Los Angeles in a three-team trade, receiving the 16-year NBA vet, Mike Conley Jr. in return. It took him no time to find his role in the locker room, bringing a professional, yet uplifting personality to balance the new faces with the preexisting ones. Most importantly, he’s now Call of Duty buds with Ant and KAT.
Mike Conley: "That's the kind of attention to detail you got to have. You can't just go home and play video games. This is the time to do a little extra work."— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) April 15, 2023
Karl-Anthony Towns: "We playing Call of Duty or what Mike?"
Conley: "Watch some film first." pic.twitter.com/Qyn8cPvLSk
The Most Impressive Player for the Timberwolves was...
Anthony Edwards (53%)
Preseason: Anthony Edwards (62%)
nearly impossible to not be impressed with Anthony Edwards’ third season in the league. Shoutout to the other seven other players that received votes. Despite a underachieving season, there’s definitely a lot of untapped potential with the roster. There’s that dangerous “P” word, but the reality is that Ant is rapidly improving and he alone gives us reason to keep coming back for more. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him as the “most impressive player” for the next handful of years.
My feelings on the direction of the Timberwolves are...
Slightly optimistic (38%)
Previous result: Slightly optimistic (42%)
The chaos which was the 2022-2023 Minnesota Timberwolves season is finally over. It felt like fans, as much as the players, needed a break from an injury-riddled and constantly transitioning year. To walk away with any type of optimism should be cause for celebration. Will this Gobert-Towns duo work? Ant sure seems committed to figuring it out, starting with this offseason. As long as Edwards is optimistic, then we should be too.
Among the things in here ... Anthony Edwards talking about his upcoming extension, his plans to go to France to work with Rudy Gobert this offseason and how Jaden McDaniels can help mold his game more this offseason: https://t.co/E9CdtXIH78— Chris Hine (@ChristopherHine) May 13, 2023
Full voting results: