The Minnesota Timberwolves finished the 2021-22 NBA season with a record of 46-36. When the Timberwolves traded for center Rudy Gobert, that became the litmus test for that trade. Match or beat that record, and the trade could be viewed as a success. But fall below that record, and questions would multiply more rapidly than rabbits at a bunny farm.
Here we are, at a point where the Minnesota Timberwolves have played 47 of their 82-game season, and the team has yet to break the .500-barrier. That means that the Timberwolves have just 35 games remaining to play, and with a record currently has 22-23, the team will need to play 24-11 to finish out this season just to be ‘as good,’ as last season.
Right now, I have serious doubts that the Timberwolves roster can put together that type of finish.
It’s not that I don’t think that this team has the players who are capable of doing so. But when you place all 15+2 players on this roster, and then factor in the injuries that have eliminated PF/C Karl-Anthony Towns and Jordan McLaughlin, while rolling through a number of key players on this Timberwolves roster, there just does not seem to be enough time for this team to synchronize, communicate, and dominate the NBA in the way that they must in order to return to last season’s high water mark and earn a berth in the NBA Playoffs.
Can Timberwolves sprint to the finish line?
Even if this team can sustain the pace they have enjoyed so far in January 2023, a 7-3 clip, they will fall short of last year’s record and optimally hope to finish at 45-37. That is the best this team is likely to do.
Even if the team becomes fully healthy, how easy will it be to reintegrate KAT and McLaughlin back into the rotation that has not benefited from either player for nearly two months time? In some ways, if and when they return will be the equivalent of adding them via an NBA trade, with the exception of both players knowing the Timberwolves coaches and players intimately.
But in the cases of both players, it will not simply be a plug-and-play scenario. Even when they are on the basketball court, the other players will need to work that much harder to complement their roles, and they will need to ensure that they too are adding value to the Timberwolves’ lineups.
That’s a lot of work while trying to play to a record of 24-11. Can it be done? Perhaps. But I’m lowering my expectations for the team at this point.