Does a Nuggets NBA Championship absolve Timberwolves disappointment?

Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

The Minnesota Timberwolves were turned back in their second consecutive appearance in Round 1 of the 2023 NBA Playoffs, this time by a well-sculptured Denver Nuggets team that appears on track to have a date with destiny. While the Timberwolves could only manage one victory in their best-of-seven series with the Nuggets, the new-and-improved Phoenix Suns would fare little better in Round 2, being sent home by the Nuggets with that best-of-seven ending in six games, 4-2.

Which now begs the question. Should we hold the Minnesota Timberwolves in a better view should the Denver Nuggets go on to win the NBA Championship? Or does that not play a factor in how fans and bloggers assess the team’s 2022-23 NBA season performance?

On one hand, we know that the team was riddled with injuries throughout the 2022-23 NBA season. That was not the only story, but it certainly complicated and amplified the Timberwolves’ roster, as this was a new group of five starters who had to establish chemistry, communication, and a level of comfort to compete at an NBA Playoff level. The Timberwolves’ roster changed to match the players who could suit up to the lineup in each game, which all but squelched efforts to get the starting 5 into their zone.

More than meets the eye

While the Timberwolves struggled at times, and certainly did not put up a great showing when competing against teams that they should have been able to defeat, this was a team that rose to the challenge of the competition. Despite finishing the season as the eighth seed, the Timberwolves’ record against NBA Western Conference teams was better than all but five conference rivals.

The Timberwolves slipped a bit on the offensive end of the basketball court. But the Minnesota Timberwolves defense improved dramatically and managed to improve steadily throughout the course of the season.

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While it may lighten the mood of some Minnesota Timberwolves fans to learn that the team that halted the Timberwolves progress in postseason play is the team that halted the progress of all NBA teams in postseason play, I would not rely upon that alone. The Minnesota Timberwolves improved over the course of the season. With that ability to overcome adversity, this team is in much better shape to advance in the 2024 NBA Playoffs.