The Minnesota Timberwolves were shown the door relatively quickly in postseason competition, as they ran into the buzzsaw that was the Denver Nuggets this season. The Minnesota Timberwolves exited Round 1 of the 2023 NBA Playoffs after just five games, by a record of 4-1, to the Denver Nuggets. Now, we know that this is the same Denver Nuggets team that would lose just four games in the entire 20 games played in heated competition against the best teams in the NBA.
And the Nuggets would end up with a record of 16-4, winning four best-of-seven series with records of
- vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (4-1)
- vs. Phoenix Suns (4-2)
- vs. Los Angeles Lakers (4-0)
- vs. Miami Heat (4-1)
Of the group that faced the Nuggets, the Timberwolves were clearly the most banged-up team. The Timberwolves had to face the Nuggets without starting small forward Jaden McDaniels, one of the best defenders in the NBA. And the team had to make a go of it without backup star center Naz Reid, who would have helped the Timberwolves bench in the series tremendously.
Look out for the little guy
The Timberwolves may have appeared to be quite mortal versus the series with the Nuggets, but Timberwolves star shooting guard Anthony Edwards was no mere Clark Kent. In his series against the Nuggets, Edwards put up Superman-type numbers by averaging:
39.8 minutes | 31.6 points | 5.0 rebounds | 5.2 assists | 1.8 steals | and 2.0 blocks
The only categories that he did not lead the Timberwolves were rebounds, coming in third to Rudy Gobert (12.2 RPG) and Karl-Anthony Towns (10.2 RPG) and coming in as runner-up assists to teammate PG Mike Conley Jr. (6.4 APG).
Let’s call it like it is. Anthony Edwards had a far better series against the Denver Nuggets than:
PF Kevin Durant (29.0 PPG) or SG Devon Booker (30.8 PPG) of the Phoenix Suns
C Anthony Davis (26.8 PPG) or SF Lebron James (28.3 PPG) or the Los Angeles Lakers
C Bam Adebayo (22.0 PPG) or SF Jimmy Butler (23.6 PPG) of the Miami Heat
But what about the Denver team itself?
Well, the post-season stats for the Denver Nuggets show just how good C Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray can play
Nikola Jokic: 39.5 minutes | 30.0 points | 13.5 rebounds | 9.5 assists | 1.1 steals | and 1.0 blocks
Jamal Murray: 40.0 minutes | 26.1 points | 5.7 rebounds | 7.1 assists | 1.5 steals | and 0.3 blocks
The Minnesota Timberwolves are clearly making a wise choice by pivoting the focus of the team from big man Karl-Anthony Towns to star shooting guard Anthony Edwards this offseason. What that will mean in terms of roster moves is still speculation. But it does give two reasons for hope for Minnesota Timberwolves fans. which are?
Some gold Nuggets
For starters, you have to be quite optimistic about the future of the Timberwolves team right now. With a core that regroups around C Rudy Gobert, PG Mike Conley Jr., SG Anthony Edwards, and SF Jaden McDaniels, the Timberwolves should return to the NBA Playoffs in 2024. And unless the team is battered by injuries once more, the Timberwolves should logically expect to advance to Round 2 or better.
The Denver Nuggets’ architect, former Nuggets President Tim Connelly, constructed a team that can compete successfully in the NBA. But now that he is reshaping the Minnesota Timberwolves roster, he is capable of building a team that can beat the Nuggets as well.
Just look at the results. The Timberwolves limped into the NBA Playoffs while still learning how to compete as a team, and performed as well as all of the other competition against the Nuggets juggernaut. Now, if the Timberwolves try again with the same core group that is fully healed, you can reasonably expect the Timberwolves to do much better.
Just a couple of gold Nuggets to consider . . .