Minnesota Timberwolves: Why the 2021 season will be better than 2020

Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /
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Minnesota Timberwolves: Why the 2021 season will be better than 2020

An improved Ryan Saunders

Minnesota Timberwolves, Ryan Saunders
Head coach Ryan Saunders of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

At just 33 years old Ryan Saunders is the youngest coach in the NBA.

While there have been some highs during the 2019-20 season, including starting the season 10-8 and dismantling the Los Angeles Clippers in the first game after the trade deadline, there were more lows than highs during Saunders’ first full season as head coach.

The Timberwolves finished the season with a 19-45 record that included two separate double-digit losing streaks this season which included a 13-game losing skid from Jan. 11 to Feb. 5.

Along with the long losing streaks, there were plenty of incredibly tough losses for Saunders and the Wolves.

On Jan. 27, the Wolves gave up a 27-point lead in a loss to the Sacramento Kings after being up by 17 with 2:49 left in the fourth quarter. There was also the bizarre ending to the Dec. 7 Oklahoma City Thunder game where an untucked Jordan Bell jersey led to a technical foul call with 1.1 seconds left that ultimately led the Wolves to lose in overtime.

While all the blame should not be put on Saunders’ shoulders for these losses, he had opportunities to lead Minnesota to success, while also being seemingly unable to motivate Wolves players during the extended losing streaks.

Now that we have the negatives out of the way, let’s look at where the Minnesota head coach has succeeded and why we will see an improved Saunders next season.

First off, Saunders has had great mentors over his 10-plus year in the NBA, which includes his father, the late Flip Saunders. He is great at building relationships with his players, and that in turn helps build trust between coach and player and makes players want to play for Saunders.

As far as actual in-game situations go, Saunders has already become to be known as one of the better ATO (after timeout) play-callers in the NBA. He is able to come up with creative sets, leading to easy baskets.

Now that Saunders has players that fit his coaching style, he is set to lead the Wolves to success moving forward. He also does not have to worry too much about his job status, as Wolves owner Glen Taylor has stated, “[Saunders] is going to get better as time goes on and we just have to give him that time.”