Can the Conley/Gobert pairing be what the team hoped for?
The Timberwolves were very strategic in their moves at the trade deadline this year. Shipping out D’Angelo Russell was planned meticulously by Minnesota’s front office, and they did not intend to send Russell off without getting back a return that made sense for this team as they look to stay alive in the Western Conference.
Sure, in a vacuum, D’Lo is a better player than Mike Conley. He is quicker, a better long-range shooter, and has all the advantages of being nearly a decade younger than Conley. But when Timberwolves management looked at their roster at the deadline, they saw a need for a different set of skills for their starting point guard.
When Russell joined the Timberwolves organization in February 2020, he was the most lethal scorer in the backcourt by a longshot. With Anthony Edwards’ ascension this season, the need for a scoring point guard had diminished significantly. Wanting to maximize Edwards’ shot attempts, Minnesota opted for a pass-first point guard.
At the same time, they sought out a player that could be more methodical with a rim-running, defensive-minded big man like Rudy Gobert. Mike Conley fit the bill on both accounts.
Now the question becomes: Can Conley unlock Gobert’s offensive game in the same way he did with the Utah Jazz over the last several seasons? Time will tell, but with the Timberwolves’ obvious commitment to Gobert, picking up a player with known chemistry and a track record of success with him bodes well for the future.