Minnesota Timberwolves: 2020-21 is a make-or-break season

Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks takes a shot against Anthony Edwards of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks takes a shot against Anthony Edwards of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Timberwolves have a make-or-break season in front of them.

The Minnesota Timberwolves have their key pieces locked in. Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, and Anthony Edwards are all under contract for at least three seasons, and pooled together, are worth about $82 million – which does not give the team much flexibility moving forward.

Betting on the upside of certain individual players is not inherently a bad thing but considering that the current core of players has not played games together and that the Timberwolves have very defined weaknesses, it might look rough this season – and that is going to be really scary, especially from a teambuilding standpoint going forward.

The Timberwolves are essentially all-in on the development of Anthony Edwards and Malik Beasley, although it has been stated by general manager Gersson Rosas that he is always looking at improving the roster – and that can be viewed as a good or bad thing.

Minnesota has an exciting, young group of players. However, if their current core does not perform as expected, things could get pretty rough.

First, there was a pretty sizeable bet placed on D’Angelo Russell being noticeably better than Andrew Wiggins – or at least being more impactful when it comes to winning. The price of that bet was a 2021 first-round pick, and you may or may not be aware, but the lottery of this coming draft is absolutely incredible – with 2-way wings scattered across the board. Not having a top-pick (should the Wolves miss the playoffs) could be absolutely killer – especially if D’Angelo Russell does not play as well as expected. Again, though, if things go absolutely awful, there is still a top-3 protection on that pick.

The Timberwolves also do not have as many locker-room-veterans as most teams. The two oldest players on the roster are Ed Davis and Ricky Rubio (31 and 30 respectively), and the oldest person after those two is Jake Layman, who is 26. While this isn’t a huge deal, it does matter. Having older players to mentor rookie-scale players is something that does go under the radar.

Over the course of last season, the Grizzlies had both Solomon Hill and Anthony Tolliver – both of which helped the various young players grow into a play-in game exit against the Portland Trail Blazers.

This year, there hasn’t really been any talk of any older players taking Anthony Edwards, in particular, and ‘taking them under their wing’. This is different from Charlotte and Golden State where seemingly LaMelo Ball is being mentored by Bismack Biyombo and James Wiseman with Draymond Green. As of what we know, Edwards just simply does not have that.

Player development is a huge part of growing as a young team, and if veterans who have not gone through that process are not present, things could be more challenging. Adjusting to the NBA from the college game is going to be difficult in itself, especially with less help than most.

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And from the Timberwolves perspective, they should be doing everything in their power to help the core talents of their team. While Karl-Anthony Towns is clearly the centerpiece of Minnesota, the players drafted (and brought in via trade) are going to be his core surrounding pieces, and quite simply, they are going to have to perform well this season – one with playoff expectations.