Minnesota Timberwolves: 5 storylines to watch over final weeks of season

ORLANDO, FL - FEBRUARY 7: Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - FEBRUARY 7: Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images) /
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Minnesota Timberwolves, Ryan Saunders
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – FEBRUARY 08: Head coach Ryan Saunders of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

4. Ryan Saunders’ job as interim coach

Ryan Saunders became the Timberwolves’ interim head coach following a win over the Lakers on Jan. 6. Since that point, the Wolves have gone 8-10 and are in roughly the same spot in the Western Conference playoff picture as they were six weeks ago.

While there are clearly plenty of issues with evaluating an interim head coach who took over a team in January, that’s exactly what owner Glen Taylor will attempt to do in the next couple of months.

After all, it’s impossible to truly install a new playbook during the season. The team doesn’t even have a full practice once a week, and Saunders is left to tweak many things on the fly. Additionally, Saunders only made one change to his assistant coaching staff, and there will likely be more turnover heading into next year regardless of who ends up as the permanent head coach.

Clearly, the players are playing hard for Saunders, and while that’s admittedly an anecdotal observance, it matters. Taylor sits courtside for the majority of games and surely has taken note of the change in overall mood and demeanor from the team.

It seems as though the best way to evaluate the job Saunders does over the second part of the schedule is whether or not the Wolves are in the playoff conversation into April, as well as how the team’s most important players (Towns, Andrew Wiggins, and Dario Saric) play over the coming weeks.

Wiggins has been as equally up and down with Saunders as coach as he was with his previous head coaches, and that needs to turn around in a hurry.

Towns, on the other hand, was on an absolute tear prior to his post-All-Star break car accident that cost him two games over the weekend.

Saric has largely been up and down as well but lately has shown more confidence to shoot the ball from beyond the arc, which had waned back in early-to-mid January.

It’ll be tough to truly evaluate Saunders without a full season to examine, but unless the bottom completely falls out, it seems likely that Ryan will get a crack at the full-time job next year.