Home Sport Die Minnesota Timberwolves sind die beste Erlösungsgeschichte der NBA

Die Minnesota Timberwolves sind die beste Erlösungsgeschichte der NBA

von NFI Redaktion

The recovery of the Minnesota Timberwolves from their low point in 2023 was the most remarkable redemption story in the NBA. While the league may have discontinued the „Comeback Player of the Year“ award, if it hadn’t, the best of the Twin Cities would have been deserving of recognition. Prior to October, the outlook for the upcoming campaign was bleak. The T-Wolves traded a treasure trove of first-round picks, including the third-best pick Rookie of the Year Walker Kessler, for a version of Rudy Gobert that was deemed flawed and ready to part ways with Karl-Anthony Towns‘ max contract in New York.

However, after Minnesota’s mad scientist regime traded four first-rounders, swapped a pick, and sent five players for Gobert, they were deemed worthy of a straitjacket. The newly appointed President of Basketball Operations, Tim Connelly, was ridiculed for going against the grain and betting the future on a soft Frenchman whose best days may have been behind him. Gobert was regularly criticized for his playoff shortcomings and offensive limitations as a big man who didn’t contribute to complement the league’s increasingly three-point shooting lineups. Meanwhile, the team Connelly primarily assembled in Denver went on to win an NBA title.

The Gobert trade was so widely criticized in NBA circles that the league negotiated a punitive frozen pickax clause. The clause was incorporated into the latest collective bargaining agreement last summer to prevent teams from trading picks seven years out like the Timberwolves did, ruining the trade market.

Minnesota not only lost Towns for 50 games but also failed the vibe check. The spacing wasn’t right, the chemistry wasn’t there, and the Timberwolves limped into the play-in without Gobert, who was suspended for striking Jaden McDaniels during the season finale. Minnesota recovered to beat Oklahoma City but was throttled in the first round in an unfavorable matchup against the Nuggets.

Ultimately, after their disastrous season following the Gobert trade, the Timberwolves landed in the dumpster of the previous season’s standings. Prior to the season, only one out of five analysts at CBS had the T-Wolves finishing higher than fifth place. To his credit, NBA writer Sam Quinn picked Minnesota to finish second in the West. In ESPN’s preseason power rankings, Minnesota ranked 15th.

Towns‘ injury affected Coach Chris Finch’s ability to integrate Towns and Gobert into the lineup simultaneously during their first season together. However, in those 529 minutes sharing the court, the Timberwolves barely achieved a balanced outcome, posting a difference of 0.43 points per 100 possessions.

This season, the Twin City Towers have complemented each other on the court, managing an overall net rating of 8.9. Finch deserves credit for delivering on his promise to successfully optimize his lineup and has earned consideration for „Coach of the Year.“

Minnesota’s contrasting lineup presents a modified version of Finch and former Pelicans GM Dell Demps‘ incomplete New Orleans experiment, which is flourishing for now. The first time Finch coached such a pairing was in Denver with young Nikola Jokic and Jusuf Nurkic. However, Connelly quickly dismantled this pairing for Jokic to thrive as a point center.

The second opportunity came in New Orleans after Demps acquired DeMarcus Cousins to play alongside Anthony Davis. Coincidentally or not, Demps joined the Timberwolves‘ front office before the 2022 offseason. Finch served as an assistant in the Pelicans team and was tasked with integrating Davis and Cousins into the lineup together.

Executing a reverse offense that pushed Cousins into the abyss and behaved like a forward and Jrue Holiday often found himself in shades, throwing back guards, those Pelicans buzzed through their top-10 offense before Cousins‘ Achilles injury. Towns, still a former number one pick, averaging a modest 18.6 points in three playoff appearances, remains a walking meme and only the third-best Anthony Finch has ever coached. But as a sidekick to Baby Mike, Anthony Edwards, he’s finally thriving in his ideal role.

Moving in zig-zags while the rest of the league zig-zags has its benefits but also carries risks. Minnesota has survived a catastrophic season and is reaping the rewards of maintaining continuity instead of blowing everything up. The T-Wolves still have some progress to make in a crowded Western Conference, but the vision for Minnesota becomes clearer with each win.

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