The National Basketball Association’s best teams are usually the Lakers, Celtics, Heat, Nuggets, or Warriors but this year there has been a new wave of teams that have emerged. Teams like the Magic, Thunder, and Pacers have all won at least 10 of their first 18 games this season. However, there is one team in particular that has taken the NBA world by storm, the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Minnesota Timberwolves have historically been one of the worst franchises in sports history as before this season they have the lowest win percentage in NBA history at just over 40%. They had one glory era to speak of and that was the Kevin Garnett era. Garnett and the Wolves were a perennial playoff contender in the late ’90s and early 2000s. They made the Western Conference finals back in 2004 but lost to the Shaq-Kobe Lakers team. The Timberwolves have quickly gone from laughing stock to possibly becoming the next great team in the NBA but how has one of the worst franchises in sports become one of the best?
The T-Wolves heading into the 2020 draft needed some star players to complement Karl-Anthony Towns. Minnesota had two first-round picks, #1 and #17, the Timberwolves used the #1 overall pick on Georgia guard, Anthony Edwards. They traded the 17th overall pick for the 28th and they selected Washington forward Jaden McDaniels. Those two picks may have single-handedly changed the course of the franchise as since those draft picks the Wolves have made two consecutive playoff appearances. Edwards has become a superstar player and McDaniels is one of the most underrated perimeter defenders in the association.
The Timberwolves hired former Nuggets executive Tim Connelly as president of basketball operations and he immediately swung for the fences by executing two key trades, the first was for Jazz big man Rudy Gobert. This trade allowed KAT to move the power forward position where he can then shoot more 3s. The second trade acquired Mike Conley and Nickeil Alexander-Walker. This trade gave the Wolves a true point guard who can distribute the ball to his playmakers and a developing guard who is a really good defender and shooter.
A different approach
Today’s NBA is all about small ball and scoring. Teams are electing for smaller lineups and phasing out big men to maximize space and three-point opportunities. The Timberwolves elect for a three big men approach of KAT, Gobert, and Naz Reid as they might be the best big man trio in the NBA. Each big man brings something different to the table as KAT is a true scorer as his 3-point shooting and driving ability makes him one of the best offensive bigs in the game. Gobert provides such tough defense his nickname is the “Stiefel Tower” as the Frenchman has won three Defensive Player of the Year awards and is on track for his 4th. Reid was a hot commodity last offseason but he thought that something special was brewing in Minnesota so he resigned and that gives the Wolves some depth on the bench in case KAT or Gobert is in foul trouble. Reid is basically like KAT his ability to shoot, drive, and play defense makes him the perfect off-the-bench center.
Beating Quality Teams
The Timberwolves are a great team because of how well they’ve played but also who they have beaten. They have beaten both teams that played in the 2023 NBA Finals in the Miami Heat and the Denver Nuggets, the Wolves have also beaten some of the best teams in the NBA in Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, Boston, and New York. Every team mentioned has won at least 12 games.
The Timberwolves are the best team in the West and by season’s end, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Larry O’Brien Trophy wasn’t in the hands of Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns.