Tom Thibodeau tried to instill qualities of toughness, passion, and defense into the young Minnesota Timberwolves last season, but he and the team fell short. This year, Thibodeau has brought in two important players to help him translate the method to his madness.
Tom Thibodeau is highly regarded as one of the best basketball minds in the game today.
The Minnesota Timberwolves possessed one of the league’s most talented young rosters last season.
However, Thibs and crew only amassed 31 victories last year, a paltry two more than the previous campaign.
So, what gives? Did Thibodeau forget how to coach? Were the Wolves not as talented as we once thought? Is he not the coach for the millennial generation?
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I propose that none of the above are true. The fact of the matter is Thibodeau was simply leading like a lone nut throughout all of last season.
Now, I use the term lone nut with as much respect and admiration for the coach as possible; however, he was often ranting and raving, barking and bellowing, jumping and gesticulating all around Target Center’s sidelines last season. And all to an audience, of well, himself.
Sure, the players were listening as best they could. Of course, the fans were watching with evergreen hope. Absolutely, the announcers were commenting about Thibs’ passion and knowledge.
There is no doubt Tom Thibodeau was doing everything he could to teach the players his methods last season. It is clear, however, that the methods were not being learned. There is a huge difference between the two.
That’s why it was of the utmost importance of him to bring in two of “his guys” this offseason — leaders that could speak his language and follow the steps of his dance.
Enter Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson.
Lone Nut to Leader
Butler and Gibson provide Thibodeau, and the Wolves, with two proven veterans that know the coach and his system well. One wing, Butler, to mentor Andrew Wiggins. One post, Gibson, to mentor Karl-Anthony Towns.
To illustrate my point, take a look at the following video:
Imagine Thibodeau, the lone nut, as the first dancer. Rather than jumping and jiving at a music festival, Thibs could be hooting and hollering in front of the Timberwolves’ bench.
At first, Thibs, like the dancer, is out there by himself. This is what happened last year. Clearly, the guy knows how to dance/coach, but no one is following him.
That’s what makes Butler and Gibson so important. They are the first and second followers, the vital links to Thibodeau’s hardwood movement.
Once the rest of the team, especially Wiggins and Towns, sees how they are not only hearing the methods and teachings of Tom Thibodeau but actively joining him in his insanity, they’ll want to be a part of the group as well.
Other veterans like Jamal Crawford and Jeff Teague will know to jump in the mix, and soon, the starting five will all be looking like raging basketball maniacs in the 2017-2018 Western Conference, much like the small group of dancers in the video.
Shortly thereafter, the bench players, the coaching staff, and finally the fans at Target Center will jump in to join Thibs in his basketball boogie. They’ll look back at the remaining few hold outs as if they are the nuts, not them.
Soon Minnesota Timberwolves basketball will not be a lone nut, or wolf if you prefer, dancing alone. Rather, Minnesota basketball will be the raucous mosh pit it was meant to become after the Wolves added back-to-back number one picks, one of the game’s best coaches, and now a slew of veterans to match.
After all, Tom Thibodeau’s Chicago Bulls were tough, aggressive, and passionate, just like their coach.
Minnesota Timberwolves fans saw those attributes in their coach last season, but didn’t see them appear on the floor.
This year, thanks to Thibodeau’s lone nut to leadership strategy, fans will witness the Wolves become the biggest, baddest, meanest team on the block.
And in this era of small ball and three-point shoot outs, the Big Bad Wolves might be the perfect solution in the wild wild Western Conference.