After the Minnesota Timberwolves were shown the door in Round 1 of the NBA Playoffs by the Denver Broncos in just five games, many have already begun to question whether the team regressed. That answer is not only a resounding no, but the team is actually better on the basketball court now than it was at this time a year ago.
A rededicated effort from Rudy Gobert is key. Well, a rededicated effort from the entire Minnesota Timberwolves roster is a step in the right direction. But let’s focus on one player at a time right now. Right now, the spotlight is trained on Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert.
This offseason, there are plenty of NBA Rumors that mention the Timberwolves as a likely trade candidate. But resetting this roster will primarily reset the entire Timberwolves plan. Much like that Dallas soap opera season that was nothing more than a bad dream by Pamela Barnes Ewing, played by Victoria Principle, any trade that parts ways with a key contributor in the 2023-24 NBA season is like starting over.
A new hope
So if the Minnesota Timberwolves bring back all of the affordable pieces, what might that look like? Well, assuming that the Timberwolves do not trade anyone, that automatically means that the team’s starting five players will return. That is a huge leg up over the 2022-23 NBA season when the team’s blockbuster trade for Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert occurred well after the 2022 NBA Draft.
But with a core returning, knowing what to expect, and already benefiting from chemistry developed in the 2023 NBA Playoffs, the Timberwolves have a much better chance at being better in the 2023-24 NBA season. Even if the only change this year is to get more games out of PF/C Karl-Anthony Towns, the Timberwolves should be able to improve to a 45-50 win team.
From that vantage point, and with a stronger healthier roster, the Timberwolves could and should reasonably be expected to advance into Round 2 of the 2024 NBA Playoffs at a minimum.
Will it matter that the Timberwolves may not be able to re-sign backup center, Naz Reid? Not if the team re-signs Luka Garza, and gets a full season out of Karl-Anthony Towns. And there’s the rub. No matter who the Timberwolves entrust to add or keep on the Timberwolves roster, they must be healthy to help the team succeed.
But I think we have all learned never to discount the team that Anthony Edwards is playing for. He stepped up in a huge way for the Timberwolves last year, and his star continues to rise.
The Timberwolves faced the NBA Champion Denver Nuggets without Jaden McDaniels or Naz Reid and put up a pretty good fight. In the 2023-24 NBA season, the team will at least get Jaden McDaniels back. And, by my estimation, adding McDaniels to a much more cohesive Timberwolves roster will make all the difference in the world.