Minnesota Timberwolves: Reviewing the state of the franchise

Karl Anthony-Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Karl Anthony-Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /
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Minnesota Timberwolves, D'Angelo Russell
D’Angelo Russell of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Timberwolves’ D’Angelo Russell issue

At first glance, D’Angelo Russell’s numbers don’t look bad. He’s put up 19.3 points and 5.1 assists per game, it’s his decision-making in late-game situations that have ultimately cost the Timberwolves a few losses they would like to have back.

Much of Russell’s game is centered on his own shot creation from all three levels. While he has the ability to make dazzling plays and crazy shots, it’s this trigger-happy mentality that has led to untimely threes and step-back jumpers in fourth quarters this season that end up in empty possessions. Far too often, this allowed the opposing team to climb back for the win when the Wolves should have wrapped it up minutes earlier.

These fourth-quarter errors combined with a below-average defensive effort have made Russell a liability at times this season, and especially in those late-game situations. And if it was not bad enough, Russell will be out at least four weeks with knee surgery, just as Towns re-enters the lineup.

This is not to say that Russell can’t rebound once he and Towns are both healthy and potentially recreate some of the awesome chemistry we have seen those two demonstrate in their grand total of …. five (5?!?!) games together.

When the Russell trade happened at last season’s trade deadline, Wolves faithful thought they had easily won the trade by nabbing the crafty former No. 2 pick from the Warriors in exchange for the disappointing Andrew Wiggins. But fast-forward to the present day and Russell’s Timberwolves are 7-29,  while Wiggins’ Warriors are 19-17 and currently hold the No. 8 playoff spot in the Western Conference.

As much as Russell has contributed to the Timberwolves’ downward spiral this season, it is not all on him.