Minnesota Timberwolves: 3 things the Wolves can learn from the playoffs

Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /
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Minnesota Timberwolves, Karl-Anthony Towns
Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Timberwolves may not be competing in the 2021 NBA Playoffs, but valuable knowledge can still be gained.

The first month of the 2021 NBA Playoffs — sans the Minnesota Timberwolves, of course — has been jam-packed with breathtaking performances and superstar shot-making.

From Trae Young quieting Madison Square Garden to Damian Lillard single-handedly forcing a double-overtime in Denver, the playoffs have been a dream for basketball fans around the globe.

Unfortunately, Minnesota fans find themselves watching from their couch once again as their team is left out of the postseason for the 16th time in the last 17 years.

The Minnesota Timberwolves appear to be a team on the brink of a breakthrough and have their eyes fixed squarely on a 2022 playoff berth. Indeed, the Timberwolves organization has an opportunity in the present to set themselves up for future success.

Things the Minnesota Timberwolves can learn: The physical stress of playoff basketball

A major story of the NBA Playoffs has been the physical toll exerted upon the league’s top stars.

An almost non-existent offseason followed by a condensed regular season has resulted in injury-plagued rosters and exhausted superstars. Three of the final four teams from the 2020 Conference Finals were eliminated in the first round as the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, and Miami Heat all succumbed to injuries and fatigue.

Meanwhile, the remaining playoff teams are shortening their rotations more and more in a desperate attempt to match up with today’s star-driven league.

Thirty-five players have averaged at least 34 minutes per game during the playoffs, with four of them averaging over 40. With scoring output and talent level at an all-time high, coaches are pressuring their star players to stay on the court through fatigue in a desperate plea to keep games within reach.

The only way to match fire is with fire — a fact that can be a joy for viewers but tribulation for the team’s star players.

The Minnesota Timberwolves did not have a single player log as many as 34 minutes per game during the 2020-21 regular season, as Karl-Anthony Towns led the way with just 33.8. With the recent announcement of a mid-October target date for the 2021-22 season, the Minnesota trainers must work to prepare their players for a grueling road ahead.

It is important that head coach Chris Finch continues to manage his players’ minutes in a manner that benefits their long-term health while also preparing them to take on a larger when needed for the playoffs.

The regular season may be about consistency but the playoffs are about survival.