We’re are rounding up the first quarter of the season with a look at some key moments and players for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Let’s take a look at the biggest head-scratching moments of the season so far.
The NBA season is long, exciting, and often strange. The personality of the NBA and the closeness of cameras puts fans right in the mix.
Fans are up close in the action getting a firsthand look at the jaw-dropping dunks, elegant 3-point shooting, and what-in-the-world-was-that moments.
Head-scratching moments elicit frustration, confusion, and often laughter. Some, like the first on the list, can even contribute to a win or loss.
The first head-scratching moment is not chronologically first, but the freshest and most painful for Minnesota Timberwolves fans.
It’s the final second of the Dec. 6 game at Oklahoma City. The Timberwolves were up by two points after Karl-Anthony Towns missed the first of two free throws. For rebounding purposes, Ryan Saunders rushed to check Jordan Bell into the game.
As Bell approaches mid-court, Chris Paul began yelling at the official that Bell’s jersey was untucked. “That’s a delay of game” Paul shouted. The official, following the letter of the law, slapped a delay of game onto the Wolves. As it was their second of the game, the Timberwolves were issued a technical.
Danilo Gallinari had the chance to knock in a free throw to keep the lead to one point. A 95 percent free throw sniper on the season, he justly drilled the shot. Then, it was time for Towns to shoot his second free throw, which he mistakenly sunk. With 1.1 seconds still on the clock in a two-point game, Steven Adams slung a Patrick Mahomes-level bomb to Dennis Schroder, who laid it in at the buzzer to send it to overtime, which was yet another head-scratching moment.
How in the world did the Wolves give up a wide-open layup? The Timberwolves went on to lose the game. The most bizarre second of basketball many of us had seen in a while. Not surprising that CP3 ratted Bell out, as the current president of the players associations.
He is an all time stickler for the rules. That’ll be the last time Jordan Bell goes anywhere with his stuff untucked.
The second head scratching moment isn’t a singular moment, but rather has taken place over the course of the season so far.
As much as I have enjoyed Ryan Saunders schemes, passion, and the way the players seem to rally behind him, I’ve found myself scratching my head at the rotations, and specifically the bench.
Of course, there have been plenty of injuries that play into this issue, but still, minus Towns, Andrew Wiggins, Jeff Teague, and Robert Covington, the rest of the Timberwolves find themselves playing large minutes one night and under five minutes the next night.
Example: in a game against the Heat earlier in the year, Jarret Culver came off the bench and only recorded 13 minutes. Two games later, he played the sixth-man role and notched almost 30 minutes. The pattern is seen throughout most of the bench.
Besides injuries, one explanation is Saunders is testing rotations and trying to identify the right mix and the combination of players that is most effective. As a first year coach, that is a great plan and is warranted. Yet, seeing it play out over the season is rather odd. As we approach and pass the All-Star, we hope to see more defined player roles.
The last head scratching moment is related to Andrew Wiggins, who has been a commonality in our quarter-season round-ups here at Dunking With Wolves, and for great reason.
Wiggins has, on a comprehensive basis, blown his previous seasons out of the water. Statistics, eye test, perceived engagement, and yet, overall success is the most head-scratching.
A cosmic blessing to Minnesota that comes with a slew of questions. Where was this last season? What changed? Why haven’t we seen this consistency before? Wait, Andrew Wiggins can pass?
The primary reason for Wolves fans collective bewilderment is the ease in which Wiggins is producing this year. We can speculate the causes to lackluster performances in the past.
The truth is, there isn’t a single explanation. The addition of Ryan Saunders, maturation, or possibly shedding the weight of lofty expectations are all possible. The fact remains: we are witnessing Wiggins play the way we all thought we could back in 2014. Whatever held him back seems to have dissipated.
Keep your eyes on Wiggins as we proceed throughout the season, hopefully those pesky memories are officially in the past.
Lastly, for all of our loyal readers and Wolves fans, here is a personal bonus head-scratching moment.
I recently attended a concert at the First Ave, 7th St. entrance. It was a hip-hop show, by the artist Jack Harlow. The crowd was having fun and then we all began exchanging puzzled and curious looks as we saw Josh Okogie come onto the stage. Then, mid-way through Harlow’s set, we all had our minds blown as the one and the only Karl-Anthony Towns stepped onto the stage for the last half of the show.
It was a head-scratching moment indeed.