With the NBA season being suspended for at least 30 days, it’s time to take a look at where the Minnesota Timberwolves sit at this point in the season.
The NBA suspended its season for at least 30 days, and an expectation that it may last much longer than that, the future of the season is still up in the air, but as of now the Minnesota Timberwolves are 19-45 and 14th in the Western Conference.
Depending on what happens this season, the Wolves are in prime position with whatever direction the league goes.
Scenario 1: The NBA regular season ends and resumes with the playoffs
After the Timberwolves drastically changed the dynamic of their roster, the team was finally in a better position to succeed. Minnesota was hoping to implement a modern style of basketball from the start of the season, but that didn’t really come to fruition till after the NBA Trade Deadline.
With the acquisition of D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, Juancho Hernangomez, James Johnson and a few others, the Wolves now have some of the pieces they will need long-term. Minnesota has some salary cap room and multiple draft selections along with the players already on the roster.
As of now, the Timberwolves have the third-worst record in the NBA ahead of only the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors. Because of where they sit in the standings, the Timberwolves have the same percentage chance as the Cavaliers and Warriors to land the number one overall pick.
The Wolves also have the Brooklyn Nets’ lottery-protected first-round pick that they received from the Atlanta Hawks in the four-team trade centered around Robert Covington. If the season ended today, the Timberwolves would have that Nets pick at 16 overall.
Mix in those picks with the revamped roster and more cap flexibility, and Minnesota could be sitting pretty heading into next season.
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Scenario 2: The regular season continues where it left off
The NBA could resume the regular season once it is deemed that it is safe to play. If that were to happen, the Wolves could potentially lose out on getting in the top-three come lottery night.
However, Karl-Anthony Towns could be healthy by that time or soon thereafter. That would allow the team to assess how Towns and Russell fit with each other, alongside other players like Beasley, Hernangomez and Johnson.
While getting a worse pick wouldn’t be ideal, having a better understanding of the roster going into the offseason could pay bigger dividends. Towns has only been able to play one game with Russell, but he has had the time to play with some of the other players the team has acquired.
Minnesota has been struggling defensively and on the boards, even more so since Towns has been out with an injury. Towns isn’t the best on defense, but plugging him back in will benefit the team more than having Naz Reid starting at center.
Towns is also one of the better rebounders in the league, currently averaging 10.8 per game. Not having Gorgui Dieng on the roster has hurt the Timberwolves, but the team will need to figure how to play without an above-average post defender if the roster looks similar heading into next year.
If the season were to end prematurely, the Wolves would have the best chance to land the number one overall pick alongside the Cavaliers and the Warriors. If the regular season continues once it is safe, Minnesota can see how Towns fits in with Russell and their new teammates.
Either way, the Wolves should be able to have an uplifting end to a dramatic season once the NBA comes to a decision on where to go from here.