Minnesota Timberwolves: Wolf of the Week, Part Ten

Anthony Edwards of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Anthony Edwards of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

We’re 10 weeks into the NBA season, and the Minnesota Timberwolves are in sole possession of the worst record in the league.

The Wolves are currently mired in an eight-game losing streak ahead of their matchup on Wednesday against the Hornets. 

Last week, the Timberwolves opened the week against the Milwaukee Bucks in new head coach Chris Finch’s debut. Then, they traveled to Chicago to take on former Wolf Zach LaVine. That game ended in an overtime loss.

The four-game road trip ended in the nation’s capital where the Wolves unraveled in the second half and fell to the Wizards. Finally, they traveled home to take on the Phoenix Suns. But the Wolves just didn’t have an answer for Devin Booker as he finished with 43 points and the win.

Minnesota Timberwolves: Wolf of the Week, Part 10

Let’s take a look at the Timberwolves week in a bit more detail and then crown this week’s Wolf of the Week.

Timberwolves lose big to Bucks in 3-point shootout

Milwaukee Bucks 139, Minnesota Timberwolves 112

What if I told you that the Timberwolves shot 54 threes in this game, a franchise record, and still didn’t make as many threes as the Bucks?

Well, it happened. The Wolves shot 19-of-54 from beyond the arc, and the Bucks shot 20-of-42. The Bucks are a good 3-point shooting team, but it seems like they couldn’t miss in this one.

The big headline in this one for Wolves faithful was Chris Finch’s head coaching debut. It was an interesting process, to say the least as the Wolves let go of Ryan Saunders and then hired Finch, who was a current assistant on Nick Nurse’s staff in Toronto, in the same night. The turnaround for Finch was nearly impossible for him to implement anything new for his team.

However, it was no coincidence that Karl-Anthony Towns finished with his career-high in assists in Finch’s first game. Towns had 26 points, 11 assists, eight rebounds, and a steal. It’s evident that Finch wants to Towns to be the center point of this offense, and it will be nice to see how that pairing grows as the Timberwolves can finally get D’Angelo Russell back for an extended period of time.

Timberwolves lose to Zach LaVine and the Bulls in overtime

Chicago Bulls 133, Minnesota Timberwolves 126

This felt like it should have been head coach Chris Finch’s first win as the new coach.

The Wolves battled back late in the fourth quarter to eventually get things to within three points. The Bulls fouled Ricky Rubio on a 3-point heave with 4.9 seconds to go in the game, and Ricky nailed all three to send the game into overtime. The Bulls outscored the Wolves 13-7 in overtime, and that was that. which has not been a strong suit for the Timberwolves.

Since leaving the Wolves, Zach LaVine has sprouted into a star in this league and just received his NBA All-Star Game bid. LaVine also seems to bring his best when he plays the Wolves as he has averaged 28.7 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 2.8 assists in his six games against the Timberwolves.

While a decidedly different player than LaVine, the Wolves will hope that Anthony Edwards has a similar meteoric rise. The No. 1 overall pick finished this game with 21 points, nine rebounds, six assists, and two steals. The Wolves entire starting lineup actually finished in the “plus” column in this game, but with Towns fouling out late in the fourth quarter, the Wolves had no chance of closing this one out.

Wizards hand Timberwolves their seventh-straight loss

Washington Wizards 128, Minnesota Timberwolves 112

Entering this game, the big news for the Wolves was the Malik Beasley would be serving a 12-game suspension stemming from his offseason legal issues. With all the injuries to Towns, Beasley has been the Timberwolves’ best player this season. With him unavailable, the Wolves will be forced to try out a few different rotations and see Anthony Edwards in more of a lead role — potentially a good thing in the long run but damaging to the team’s offensive success for the time being.

The Wolves slid Okogie back into a starting role to match him up against Bradley Beal. That worked for the most part in the first half, but not so much in the second. The Wizards exploded for 44 in the third quarter as Bradley Beal finished with 34 points.

For the Wolves, Karl-Anthony Towns had 23 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, and three blocks.

This game showed how much Beasley impacts the offensive side of the ball, and especially 3-point shooting. He averages 3.5 makes on 8.7 shots, knocking down 40 percent of his attempts.

The Wolves will miss that aspect of his game going forward; Jaylen Nowell is a likely candidate to see some extended time and provide at least a fraction of the shooting the Wolves are missing in Beasley’s absence. The second-year guard finished this game with 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting from the field and was 3-of-4 from beyond the arc.

Timberwolves lose to Suns in Ricky Rubio/Dario Saric revenge game

Phoenix Suns 118, Minnesota Timberwolves 99

The Wolves hung in this one for the most part, but it was more due to the Suns being inefficient from the field in the first half than it was anything the Wolves did well.

The Timberwolves had just three players score in double digits in this game: Anthony Edwards with 24, Karl-Anthony Towns with 21, and Jake Layman with 11. The Timberwolves were 8-of-35 from beyond the arc and really just looked bland on offense.

Two players who have been disappointing of late are Josh Okogie and Jarrett Culver. They finished this game a combined 0-of-8 from the field and each continues to show that they are not reliable scorers from outside. Layman in his few opportunities this season has shown he is a good cutter to the basket, which is something Culver and Okogie need to add to become more efficient players.

After the game, Rubio said, “I don’t feel like this is building something.” He’s not wrong. The Wolves hold the worst record in the NBA and the worst point differential.

Wolf of the Week: Anthony Edwards

Anthony Edwards averaged 18.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.5 steals, and 1.0 block per game over the past week. Edwards shot 35 percent from the field, 30 percent from three, and 83 percent from the line, and while those shooting numbers are not what you want to see on a regular basis, it is evident he is growing as a scorer in this league.

Night-in and night-out, Edwards continues to shoot with confidence as a 19-year-old, and that shouldn’t be overlooked. Edwards is only averaging 2.4 free throw attempts per game, an incredibly low mark for the amount of contact he takes while going to the rim.

In the Phoenix Suns game alone, there were two instances when he was clearly hacked without a foul call: Dario Saric’s slap on the arm that was reviewed to find out who the ball went out of bounds on, and his dunk attempt during which Devin Booker met him with his body and arms extended forward. Certainly, it feels as though if the roles were reversed, Booker would’ve gotten the call.

If Edwards can begin to get calls like some of the stars in this league, he will raise his overall field goal percentage and, in turn, his points per game and all-around scoring efficiency by adding a handful of free throw attempts per game.

Next. 4 Wolves players who benefit from Beasley's absence. dark

Even still, Edwards’ clear improvements and competitive play throughout the week are enough for him to win this week’s Wolf of the Week award.