The Minnesota Timberwolves are learning two things about themselves as this team has evened its record at 22 wins and 22 losses. The first lesson is that the Timberwolves roster is loaded with young talent, particularly in the front court as their young guns Naz Reid and Luka Garza rallied the team in the fourth quarter to outscore the Cleveland Cavaliers by a score of 33-22, after starting center Rudy Gobert left the game with a groin injury.
The second and perhaps more important lesson is that this team is not held ransom by veteran guard D’Angelo Russell. In fact, this Timberwolves roster, without D’Lo on the court, had one of the best efforts of the season.
That is not exactly a great look for D’Angelo Russell right now.
The team needs problem-solvers, not problem makers
The Minnesota Timberwolves have really struggled this season. Injuries not only have impacted the quality of the team’s starting lineup, but the absence of Jordan McLaughlin, Karl-Anthony Towns, and to a lesser extent Taurean Prince and Rudy Gobert, has forced the team to lean heavily into the younger players on the roster. While they have all stepped up, their increased and enhanced roles have required veterans on the team to synch everyone up.
Third-year players like Anthony Edwards and Jaden McDaniels have certainly done everything in their power to step up and fill the void that has often been vacated by injured veterans. But the actions of guard D’Angelo Russell, to back away from his point guard role, and then double down in defiance as rumors over the likelihood of trading him increase in frequency and volume, do not paint him in a positive light right now.
Russell is a gifted NBA player, and while his production is slightly less than his NBA career averages, he is someone who the Minnesota Timberwolves had hoped would be the key cog for this talented roster to keep everyone on track through the regular season and well into the NBA Playoffs.
But there is no denying the increased friction between Russell and the team right now. And, much like the 2021-22 NBA season, the Timberwolves are learning once more that this team can indeed win without D’Angelo Russell, despite his emotionally fueled veiled threats to the contrary.