The Minnesota Timberwolves have become regular residents of the middle phases of various NBA power rankings lists from around the basketball blogosphere.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Power rankings round-up, Week 15
Somewhat unbelievably, the Timberwolves have spent much of the season in the bottom-10 of various power rankings from around the various outlets covering the NBA.
Early on, it was justified due to poor play. Then, it was unbelief in a hot stretch. Shortly after that, a December swoon, followed by a few wins and then a couple of weeks largely lost to COVID-19, with as many as seven rotation players ending up on the health and safety protocols list at one time.
Now, with the team mostly healthy and taking on a less-challenging schedule in January, the record sits a game above .500, at 26-25.
It’s important to note that the below rankings were all done at the conclusion of the previous month, prior to Tuesday’s impressive win over Denver. That means that last week’s 2-2 record, including disappointing road losses to the Golden State Warriors and Phoenix Suns, are what was fresh in the voters’ (rankers?) minds.
NBA.com continues to like the Minnesota Timberwolves the most
John Schuhmann of NBA.com continues to think more highly of the Timberwolves than the other outlets.
Schumann had the Wolves up at No. 15 back at the start of January, before it was cool. After ranking them up at No. 14 last week, he’s settled them back at No. 15. In his write-up, Schumann notes the solid job that Anthony Edwards has done running the offense during D’Angelo Russell’s absence, but he also mentions the recent downward trend on defense.
While garbage time of the Wolves’ still-commanding win over the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday won’t necessarily help the overall numbers, Minnesota’s defense was impressive for much of the game. Weirdly enough, Russell’s presence has helped to stabilize the Wolves’ defensive performance this year, and he should be able to return soon from a shin contusion.
The Minnesota Timberwolves’ average landing spot is still settling at No. 17
ESPN has been a bit harder on the Wolves for much of the season. After putting them all the way up at 15 last week, it’s a bit curious that going 2-2 against Portland, Golden State, Phoenix, and Utah (including three road games) would drop them two spots to No. 17, but here we are.
The rankings also included this interesting tidbit: the Wolves have caused at least 10 turnovers in 46 straight games, a streak that was extended to 47 in Tuesday’s win over the Nuggets.
Sports Illustrated has been all over the map in terms of how they’ve handled the Wolves this year — which is probably the most accurate approach for a team that has, in fact, been all over the map with their performance.
Last week, SI.com had the Wolves at No. 15. This week, back down to No. 17. The only note they provide is that Edwards would be a unanimous selection to a hypothetical All-Interview team.
The Athletic refuses to be sold on the Minnesota Timberwolves
Unsurprisingly, Zach Harper of The Athletic ranked the Timberwolves lower than any of the other sites.
Harper has Minnesota at No. 18, which is actually up one spot from a shockingly low No. 19 a week ago (subscription required). The focus of Harper’s rankings this week was All-Star nominations, and he concedes that Towns is “heavily in the mix” for a spot on the team, and the Wolves are “in the mix to be a playoff team, or at worst, a Play-In team.”
Of course, he also concludes that the coaches voting on reserves may prefer Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert over Towns, but that seems to be a tough thing to peg.
With winnable games on the docket for the next week — two games apiece against the Detroit Pistons and Sacramento Kings are coming up — the Timberwolves should continue to rise in the power rankings. If they take care of business, they should be in the No. 12-14 range by this time next week.