Four games into the regular season and the Minnesota Timberwolves have no better than a 2-2 record. That’s not how many expected the season to begin, is it? Well, not by many, at least. But everyone agreed that this is a season that will begin awkwardly. So far, that is proving true, at least.
So far, Timberwolves shooting guard Anthony Edwards, point guard D’Angelo Russell, and center Rudy Gobert are three players who have stood out during the start of the season.
Edwards has shown significant improvement in his mid-range shooting and field goal efficiency, notching 30 points twice this season and both times shooting above 51 percent from the field. In addition, the 21-year-old is starting to find his rhythm in an in-found offense in Minnesota.
The Timberwolves found some success late in the game against the Utah Jazz with Anthony Edwards leading a small ball lineup, and here he comments on his comfortability playing with smaller units:
"“For me I like to play with an open court because when I get the rebound,” Edwards said, “I like to push and get downhill, get fouls, get to the rim as much as possible. The smaller we go, the better it is for me.” – Per Anthony Edwards as quoted by Star Tribune Chris Hine"
With two bigs at the helm, chemistry is the key to Edwards’s success behind Gobert and power forward Karl-Anthony Towns. He is explosive in one-on-one situations and can be an All-Star in this league. But Edwards has trouble playing consistently well and taking care of his body.
In Game 4 played on Monday night vs. the San Antonio Spurs, Edwards followed up with another poor performance, finishing with nine points and ten rebounds, while shooting only 3-15 from the field. Again, you expect a different outing from one of your star players—his running mates Karl Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell combined for 52 points. Had Edwards hit on eight of those 15 shots, and two of those from three-point range, that would have been an additional 12 points. Sadly, the Timberwolves lost by a score of 115 to 106.
Popeye’s chicken causes a Timberwolves’ loss?
While the loss was on everyone, Anthony Edwards’ performance was particularly disappointing. After the game, Towns aired his grievance on Anthony Edwards’s body performance.
The three-time All-Star is precisely correct. Players like Towns and Edwards get paid the big bucks to go out and perform night in and night out, with no days off. Edwards put in the work over the offseason. Now it’s time to go out and perform.
He voiced his determination for this season before an event linked to a new deal with HEIR and NFT, which allows fans to purchase memberships for “Ant Man’s Army.”
"““I’ve been working on everything, man. Just getting better. I’m trying to take that leap this year and be the best player I can be. Trying to take my team as far as we can.” – as quoted per The Athletic’s Jon Krawczynski"
Trying to take your team far involves something other than fumbling games against teams you are supposed to defeat. But, unfortunately, the clock is ticking, and the Wolves franchise did not complete a blockbuster trade this offseason just to flush another season down the drain.
On the other hand, veteran point guard D’Angelo Russell took the season by storm after a rocky performance in the playoffs last season vs. the Memphis Grizzlies. Russell is determined to prove he deserves a contract extension. He is heading into the final year of his contract, and things are looking up so far.
Playing well consistently pays, and Russell only averaged 18.1 points, 7.1 assists, and 3.3 rebounds per game last season. Solid number but mediocre for a star point guard in this league. The long game is what matters. Can Russell play consistently well for long periods? It will determine if he deserves an extension or not. So far, he is averaging 18.5 points, 5.1 assists, and 4.5 rebounds per game.
Gobert is as good as the brochure
One good thing going for D’Angelo Russell is the Timberwolves bring in 3x NBA Defensive Player of the Year in the form of Rudy Gobert. So far, the Frenchman has embraced his new role on the Timberwolves and is making strides game by game.
Gobert is known for his ability to chase down boards. Sunday night, the 7-foot-1 big man collected 15 rebounds and set a franchise record for the most rebounds by a Timberwolves player through three games to open the season.
Talk about uniqueness. Gobert brings new heights to everyone’s game around him. But, then, a point guard’s dream, two twin towers in the frontcourt, talk about LOB CITY. Instead of trading away their former All-Star, Minnesota has provided him with another big to maximize his game. Curiously, only Karl Anthony Towns has truly capitalized on Gobert’s ability to score at will.
Gobert, Towns, and the Timberwolves fan base are hungry for an NBA Championship. But will the young bulls be able to pull it together, or will the Minnesota Timberwolves find themselves outside looking in at the new NBA Champions again?
Timberwolves head coach Chris Finch and the Timberwolves certainly hold plenty of cards. Now it’s time to see if they run the table and play a winning hand.