The Minnesota Timberwolves have been trying to end their playoff drought for over a decade. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the year.
It’s been 13 years since the Timberwolves have made the postseason.
While some fans had high hopes for this season, the Timberwolves fell short yet again. They finished with 31 wins this season, two more than the 2015-2016 season, but six less than ESPN’s preseason projection of 37.
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With that being said, it’s a sad affair to see this young team miss the mark yet again. Despite another dismal season, let’s take a look at some of the benefits that come with missing the playoffs.
The sixth pick in the draft
In mid-April, it was announced that the Timberwolves won a tiebreaker against the Knicks, earning them the rights to pick sixth overall in this year’s draft.
Finishing with a 31-51 season helped put the franchise in this position.
Without the stress of trying to figure out how they would have beaten a top-seeded team, the front office can sooner turn their attention to the draft.
A wide-open summer will benefit the team’s decision makers, allowing for more time to figure out who they are planning to pick, or even who to trade the pick for.
Rest and relaxation
It’s no secret that Coach Tom Thibodeau plays his players a ton of minutes; he’s been criticized for years about this.
This heavy load of minutes may have caused a lot of the stagnation seen at the end of the season when the team lost their last six games.
Additional rest can only serve to benefit the Timberwolves’ young core. This idea is weighed against the concept that making the playoffs is strictly better than not.
Would the additional minutes against a team like The Golden State Warriors really be better? Some may posit that the high volume of minutes may contribute to an increased risk of injury, which is strictly worse than remaining uninjured.
More time to focus on what’s important
The team has learned a lot during their first year under Thibodeau.
They figured out what was working well, like the LaVine-Dieng pick and roll they experimented with pre-injury.
They also figured out what wasn’t working well, like Cole Aldrich in general.
The team can benefit from the extra time this summer to address those issues and apply fixes where they see fit. The extra time only helps them in this regard.
There are also several notable players who are in free agency this summer. And while Minnesota isn’t a likely destination for superstars like Paul George, there are a few players, like Taj Gibson, that could sign with the Wolves in the offseason.
The team will also have to make decisions with players like Adreian Payne or Brandon Rush, who may not make an appearance in a Wolves jersey next season.