Minnesota Timberwolves: Towns, Wolves get no respect from GMs

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - OCTOBER 17: Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - OCTOBER 17: Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Timberwolves are accustomed to seeing NBA.com’s annual survey of all general managers levy praise on the organization. This year? Not so much.

The Minnesota Timberwolves will almost certainly be better than they were a year ago.

Karl-Anthony Towns is a consensus top 10 player in the league, and the team landed one of the highest-ceiling players available in June’s draft after trading up to select Jarrett Culver at No. 6.

The Wolves also went out and added plenty of veteran depth on the cheap, only spending above the veteran’s minimum on a sign-and-trade for Jake Layman.

But the Wolves’ objectively solid offseason didn’t land them much praise from general managers across the league.

In NBA.com’s annual survey, the Wolves are only mentioned three times in a questionnaire that Minnesota used to dominate. Of course, the predictions of the survey rarely turned out to be true, save for the anticipated Rookie of the Year campaigns for first Andrew Wiggins and then Karl-Anthony Towns.

Four years ago, NBA GMs picked Towns as the incoming rookie to be the best player in five years, overwhelmingly earning that distinction over the likes of Jahlil Okafor, Emmanuel Mudiay, and D’Angelo Russell. While the GMs got that one right, they also picked Okafor to win the Rookie of the Year award by a 44.8 to 34.5 percent margin over Towns. That one wasn’t close, with Towns easily winning the hardware.

That same year, there were also shoutouts to other young Wolves talent, including Wiggins and Zach LaVine.

The next fall, fresh off Towns’ Rookie of the Year campaign and after the addition of Tom Thibodeau as front office boss and head coach, the Wolves again did quite well in the survey. A whopping 48.3 percent of GMs picked Towns to start a new franchise with.

Towns was not only ranked as the top player to start a franchise around, but as the league’s best center. And all that after just two season in the league.

The Wolves also dominated the 2017 survey related to overall offseason moves following the summer that brought Jimmy Butler, Jeff Teague, and Taj Gibson to town.

Last year, not so much, as the Butler saga was at full tilt and there wasn’t much thought of Thibodeau’s Wolves.

This season? The Wolves were mentioned exactly three times.

First, Towns fell all the way to the “others receiving votes” category of the league’s best center question. Denver’s Nikola Jokic received 48 percent of the vote, with Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid and the Lakers’ Anthony Davis each placing with measurable percent of the vote as well. Towns and Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo each landed an “other” amount of votes.

Surprisingly, Culver didn’t receive any votes in the Rookie of the Year category. The thinking here is that he’ll have plenty of opportunity, likely functioning as a sixth-man of sorts and playing up to three positions on a team with a legitimate superstar.

Instead, Culver appeared in the “others receiving votes” category related to which rookie would be the best in five years. Zion Williamson received 68 percent to lead that vote, followed by Memphis’ Ja Morant, Atlanta’s Cam Reddish. Culver tied with Cleveland’s Darius Garland.

The only other Minnesota mention in the survey was David Vanterpool’s three-way tie for the league’s best assistant coach. He received 11 percent of the vote, along with New Orleans’ Chris Finch and Indiana’s Dan Burke.

It was a disappointing finish for the Wolves in the survey, but it wasn’t all that surprising. They didn’t land any big ticket free agents, and the Western Conference is deep enough that nobody is talking about the Wolves’ revamped front office and coaching staff.

Next. Projecting the Wolves' big man rotation. dark

But, as Karl-Anthony Towns says, that’s okay. Let ’em sleep.