The Minnesota Timberwolves have seen the majority of their roster out due to COVID-19 over the last few weeks. A recent report from ESPN lists the Wolves as the team hit the fourth-hardest in the league in terms of value lost to health and safety protocols.
Exploring the impact COVID has had on the Timberwolves’ record
Over the past three weeks, nine of the 16 players on the Minnesota Timberwolves roster have landed on the COVID-19 health and safety protocols list and missed at least one game.
This includes all five starters, and at the peak of the outbreak, the team only had two members of its regular rotation available to play.
While it’s not trivial to try and measure just how much actual on-court impact the illness has had over the past few weeks, ESPN’s Kevin Pelton took a stab (ESPN Insider subscription required).
The methodology was to take a player’s average minutes per game and multiply them by the number of games missed due to health and safety protocols. Then, Pelton used Wins Above Replacement Player (WARP) to determine the value lost on a per-game basis when considering minutes and games lost.
ESPN: Timberwolves have lost fourth-most value due to COVID
Ultimately, the Timberwolves landed fourth in the entire NBA when it comes to most value lost. The Wolves are No. 7 in minutes lost and No. 4 in WARP lost.
The former number is clearly dragged down a bit by players such as McKinley Wright, who has played in just one game at the NBA level this season, and Taurean Prince, who has had something of an uneven role.
The latter is, of course, impacted in a major way by the absences that the team’s three best players faced; Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell, and Anthony Edwards each missed at 10 days. Towns and Edwards each missed six games, and Russell missed five — provided both Russell and Towns return on Wednesday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder, that is.
The only teams above the Wolves are the Cleveland Cavaliers, who have been hammered both by COVID and injuries yet have maintained an impressive record, the Philadelphia 76ers, and the Milwaukee Bucks.
As of Jan. 5, the Wolves have zero players on the health and safety protocols. Towns and Russell are both listed as questionable for Wednesday night’s game due to return to play reconditioning but seem likely to play.
Hopefully, Minnesota is out of the woods for now. The entire team is reportedly vaccinated and most of the players have received their booster shots, which should help matters greatly moving forward.