The Minnesota Timberwolves have won four consecutive games and are nearly healthy. That’s led to a significant rise for the Wolves in power rankings around the basketball world.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Power rankings round-up, Week 12
After weathering the storm that was the team’s COVID-19 outbreak and a parade of players to the health and safety protocols list, the Minnesota Timberwolves are one of the hottest teams in the NBA.
On the heels of losing five of six games during that rough patch, the Wolves have reeled off four consecutive wins and face the struggling New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday night before the schedule turns much more difficult.
Let’s take a look at what the experts and analysts from around the basketball blogosphere are saying about the Wolves in the greater context of the league as a whole.
The stubborn outlier: CBS does not like the Minnesota Timberwolves
CBS Sports released their latest rankings just prior to the Wolves’ victory over the Houston Rockets on Sunday, but still … they made the decision to drop the Wolves a spot for some reason, from No. 18 to No. 19.
It’s incomprehensible that the Wolves are behind a scuffling Boston Celtics team that the Wolves defeated while woefully shorthanded, and a Paul George-less LA Clippers squad whom the Wolves also beat just last week.
Still, Colin Ward-Henninger dropped the Wolves a spot while highlighting how well Anthony Edwards has played of late.
The consensus: Three outlets rank the Minnesota Timberwolves at No. 16
The most common spot for the Timberwolves to be placed in rankings this week was No. 16.
ESPN, who has generally leaned towards the pessimistic side when it comes to the Timberwolves, bumped the Wolves from No. 19 on their last list to No. 16, ahead of the aforementioned Clippers and Celtics, among others.
They also mention D’Angelo Russell’s massively positive impact on the Wolves this year, noting that the Wolves guard is having the worst shooting season of his career but yet Minnesota is 16.7 points per 100 possessions better when he’s on the floor. Plus, the Wolves are 17-12 when Russell plays compared to 2-8 when he doesn’t.
Sports Illustrated also slid the Wolves up from No. 19 to No. 16, noting Towns’ All-Star credentials by saying that Nikola Jokic is the only big man in the Western Conference with a better resume than Towns for the mid-season honor.
The Athletic’s Zach Harper jumped the Wolves all the way from No. 21 on last week’s list to No. 16 this week and the top slot in his “Play-In Tournament Gives Them Life” tier (subscription required). He lauds Jarred Vanderbilt’s play and says that the Wolves appear to have something tangible, despite continued shooting struggles from Russell and Malik Beasley.
Harper is also a realist, of course, and notes that every hot streak for the Wolves this year has been followed by a drastic downturn.
NBA.com is still the most bullish site on the Minnesota Timberwolves
John Schuhmann of NBA.com continues to think just a bit more highly of the Timberwolves than most other outlets, ranking them No. 15 this week, up from No. 20 last week.
Schuhmann gives his weekly update of the “Greatest Lineup Ever;” despite only playing in one game together before Patrick Beverley going down with groin soreness, the Wolves outscored the Oklahoma City Thunder by 17 in just 15 minutes of play last Wednesday.
This week gets a bit more challenging for the Wolves, however. After facing the Pelicans on the road Tuesday, the Wolves take on the streaking Memphis Grizzlies, who are winners of nine straight, on Thursday in Tennessee.
Then the Wolves return home to face the Golden State Warriors before going right back out on the road to see the New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks — two disappointing yet still dangerous teams.