Minnesota Timberwolves: The Denver Nuggets comparisons keep coming

Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves shoots the ball against Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves shoots the ball against Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

Plenty of people think that the Minnesota Timberwolves should take a cue from the Denver Nuggets when it comes to team-building.

We all know the history. The Minnesota Timberwolves have made the playoffs one time in the past 17 seasons.

By comparison, the divisional rival Denver Nuggets have made 12 of the past 17 postseasons, including a stretch of 10 straight from 2004 through 2013. In fact, they haven’t won less than 30 games during that entire span.

Now, we’re not going to compare franchise history throughout this piece; that would be exhausting, quite frankly.

Instead, let’s focus on the current edition of both teams and the similarities between the Timberwolves and Nuggets. Believe it or not, there are many.

Minnesota Timberwolves: The Denver Nuggets comparisons keep coming

Let’s pass along credit where credit is due: yours truly wrote about the need for the Wolves to follow Denver’s blueprint way back in January. You know, before COVID-19 and the hiatus and the bubble and Jamal Murray suddenly blossoming into a superstar.

Please check out the piece in its entirety, but here’s a taste:

"The Denver Nuggets have exactly one player of the top 12 minutes-getters on their roster who was acquired via traditional free agency. Outside of signing Millsap in the summer of 2017, the Nuggets signed Torrey Craig as an undrafted free agent, and the other 10 players were drafted or traded for by Denver.The Nuggets have submitted the blueprint for how a mid-market team in the middle of the country and in a state with income tax can acquire and retain talent.We don’t know Gersson Rosas’ full plan, of course, as he’s only been on the job for eight months. But that doesn’t preclude us from looking longingly at the Nuggets’ front office and their impeccable plan."

Indeed, the focus here is on the actual building of the roster, while the current comparisons have focused on the parallels between the Wolves’ duo of Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell and the Nuggets’ pairing of Nikola Jokic and Murray. After all, Russell wasn’t on the Wolves in January and Murray hadn’t had his dominant bubble performance as of yet.

Since then, our own Kris Norton wrote about team-building in small markets, which included a look at the Nuggets.

Now, The Ringer’s Jonathan Tjarks has penned a feature piece comparing the Denver Nuggets’ superstar duo with the Minnesota Timberwolves’ version.

Tjarks surmises that the Wolves’ Russell-Towns pick-and-roll will be unstoppable, primarily due to the fact that Russell has never played with a star of Towns’ caliber, and Towns hasn’t had a potent pick-and-roll orchestrator or a shooter of Russell’s caliber at point guard.

Defenses will truly have to pick their poison: an open Russell or inferior defenders getting switched onto Towns in the teeth of the defense. Tjarks also discusses Towns’ prowess as the ball-handler in the pick-and-roll, which is something we’ll undoubtedly see more of in 2021 with a healthy KAT.

He also discusses the Wolves’ options with the No. 1 pick but doesn’t come to any real conclusions other than what most of us have already realized: finding a trade for selection is probably best-cast, but it will difficult to pull off.

Next. Wolves Draft Prospect Profile: Killian Hayes. dark

Time will tell, but it certainly can sap some leverage from a front office when everyone agrees that a team’s best move is to trade an asset.