When the Minnesota Timberwolves front office traded a significant package of future first-round draft picks and players to the Utah Jazz for the rights to acquire outstanding veteran center Rudy Gobert, some applauded the move as a well-timed move to upgrade a Timberwolves roster that was shy of veteran NBA stars and bursting at the seams of young NBA contributors.
It was a courageous effort, timed to cover the prime-time of power forward/center Karl-Anthony Town’s best basketball play while setting the stage for the future stardom of Timberwolves shooting guard Anthony Edwards and small forward Jaden McDaniels. It seemed to be risky to the fans, but in terms of Timberwolves roster building strategy, this was a hedged gamble.
The upside for the Minnesota Timberwolves fell into two categories. The first and most obvious track to advance in the NBA Playoffs fell upon the veteran on the team. That meant that point guard D’Angelo Russell, power forward Karl-Anthony Towns, and other veterans like Taurean Prince and newly acquired power forward Kyle Anderson would lead the way.
But there was a baked-in Plan B, where the team could count on the indomitable energy of the younger players on the roster. Players like Anthony Edwards and Jaden McDaniels, but joined by young teammates like the Timberwolves’ power forward Josh Minott, rookie guard Wendell Moore Jr., and even young backup center Naz Reid.
Only one hurdle could derail the Minnesota Timberwolves’ iron-clad Twin Towers two-track plan to improve in the 2022-23 NBA, which was the very scenario that befell this team. The Timberwolves could emphasize veterans, or the team could emphasize a stronger more rapid rotation, but to pull off either track, the team needed to remain relatively healthy. We all know that was not how the Timberwolves’ season fell.