The NBA Finals start this week, and while the Minnesota Timberwolves were nowhere near making it that far, it doesn’t mean they can’t pick anything up from the Warriors and Raptors.
Even though the Minnesota Timberwolves season has long been over, the NBA Finals are here and any real NBA fan has to be excited.
The Toronto Raptors will take on the Golden State Warriors in the Finals. It’s the first time the Raptors have made the Finals and the fifth-straight season that the Warriors have been in the final series of the season.
1. Curry, Durant, Green, Thompson: The Warriors’ stars
The Golden State Warriors continue to have the most star-studded team in the entire NBA.
Steph Curry continues to dominate, averaging 27.3 points per game this season — a mark that he has matched throughout the postseason. We all know how lethal he can be from behind the arc, but he can also penetrate, dish and defend any point guard in the league. This has been been proven time and time again throughout this season when he has taken on elite guards such as Chris Paul and Damian Lillard, both of whom he’s beaten in this year’s playoffs.
And love him or hate him, Draymond Green is a star-quality NBA player and has been crucial for the Warriors’ success over the past few years. He can do it all: rebound, pass, block shots and grab steals, and he may be the key player in this series for Golden State.
Durant is obviously a former MVP himself and is vital to Golden State’s success as he overcomes his recent injury, and Thompson is another X-factor in that if he gets white-hot he can change the course of a game and perhaps the series.
As of right now, the Timberwolves only have one star on their roster in Karl-Anthony Towns. Adding another one would make a world of difference; look no further than the Wolves’ improvement with 66 games of Jimmy Butler in 2017-18 as they made the playoffs for the first time in 14 seasons.
2. Kyle Lowry: A difference-maker at point guard
The area in which the Wolves have the most work to do this summer is at point guard, and the Raptors’ Kyle Lowry is once again proving just how nice it is to have a well-rounded, sharpshooting guard running the show.
Lowry averaged 14.2 points and 8.7 assists per game during the regular season but was even more effective against the Warriors, averaging and 16.5 points and 12 assists per game in their previous matchups.
His leadership and popularity with the crowd could help the underdogs get a surprise Game One win, and his ability to counter Curry will be key.
In terms of the Wolves, they’ll need to try and squeeze what they can out of 31-year-old Jeff Teague, who will be making a whopping $19 million next season after coming off an injury-riddled 2018-19 campaign. If Minnesota can somehow get a solid year out of Teague or trade him away and fill his role with a better shooter, it could make a world of difference for the Wolves.
3. Kawhi Leonard: The Warrior Destroyer
Kawhi Leonard is special. From his series-winning buzzer-beater against the Philadelphia 76ers and his magnificent performance against the Milwaukee Bucks after falling behind two games to zero in the Eastern Conference Finals.
It should also be noted that Kawhi has played very well against the Warriors this season, averaging 37 points per game while shooting 58.3 percent from the field. He will have to duplicate this or even elevate his game to another level in order to topple the mighty Warriors.
It’s the perfect example of how what could be a one-year rental can still make a world of difference if that rental is one of the best four or five players in the league. No doubt Gersson Rosas is paying attention.
Can the Raptors upset the star-studded Warriors and claim Canada’s first NBA championship? Or will the Warriors remain victorious as they continue to build their dynasty?
Wolves fans will watch and enjoy basketball greatness knowing it wasn’t that long ago when both the both the Warriors and the Raptors were in similar positions to where the Wolves are right now.