When the Minnesota Timberwolves opened their 2022-23 NBA season, this was a group of players who had barely made their introductions. Thanks to the offseason illness of power forward/center Karl-Anthony Towns, and a knee strain to center Rudy Gobert, the Timberwolves roster never took the basketball court altogether until the final preseason game against the Brooklyn Nets.
And that game was not pretty for Timberwolves fans.
The team wanted to walk a tightwire, a narrow path between keeping stars healthy and coordinating players, forging them into a team. By the time the season arrived, the Timberwolves were every bit as dysfunctional and awkward as an NBA team could be. But it would be okay, as the players would learn how to synch up, to compete as a team, simply by going out and playing together in the same jerseys night after night.
OJT? More like MIA
It was an NBA version of on-the-job training or OJT. But the problem is, the players must show up and be available. Of the Timberwolves’ 45 games played this season, only one, Anthony Edwards, has suited up and competed and started in all of them. SG Jaylen Nowell has appeared in all 45 games as well.
But the Timberwolves have been competing with a number of key players absent:
D’Angelo Russell – 3 games missed
Jaden McDaniels – 3 games missed
Rudy Gobert – 6 games missed
Kyle Anderson – 11 games missed
Taurean Prince – 20 games missed
Karl-Anthony Towns – 24 games missed
Jordan McLaughlin – 27 games missed
Right now, center Rudy Gobert is nursing a groin injury, which limited him to just five minutes of play in his last game. Center Naz Reid appeared to be suffering from a back injury in the last game as well. And then there is point guard Jordan McLaughlin and center/power forward Karl-Anthony Towns, two players who have not suited up for the Timberwolves in more than a month’s time.
At some point, the Minnesota Timberwolves front office has to offer head coach Chris Finch some sort of lifeboat soon, right? Whether that comes in the form of a trade before the NBA Trade Deadline, or simply clearing a roster spot and trialing players on 10-Day contracts, something has to give.
The Timberwolves are 22-23 and without some form of reinforcements to the roster, could be stuck at or below .500 for a very long time.