Are there moral victories in defeat? Perhaps, perhaps not. Even if there are shades of gray between the black-and-white contrast between winning and losing, the Minnesota Timberwolves did not seem to provide much to debate against the Denver Nuggets.
Losing is not final in the NBA, nor is it the end of all things in any professional competitive sport. It’s simply the feedback that no competitor wants to hear: Not enough. And after years of practicing, training, and self-discipline, falling short can be devastating. Or it can be an excellent learning opportunity.
But much of what the Timberwolves faced in the NBA Playoffs could be summarized by an earlier contest between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Phoenix Suns. In that game, the Wolves were having an excellent night. But the game appeared to be called by many as a predetermined outcome to ensure a Suns victory.
And that became the theme for the Timberwolves in several hotly contested games in the NBA Playoffs.
But what about the 2023 offseason? After all, falling short of advancing beyond Round 1 of the 2023 NBA Playoffs translates into changes and improvements ahead. So what are the Timberwolves takeaways?
III: Don’t regress on defense
Until the Minnesota Timberwolves lead the NBA in scoring, the team must remain vigilant on the defensive side of the basketball. And thankfully, that is exactly what this team has managed to do in the 2023 offseason.
The team re-signed wing NIkeil Alexander Walker, who was surprisingly effective on defense in the 2023 NBA Playoffs. He will rejoin SG Anthony Edwards, C Rudy Gobert, PG Mike Conley Jr., F Kyle Anderson, and SF Jaden McDaniels to boast one of the NBA’s stingier defenses this season.
II: Must add more perimeter shooting
One of the key factors to the Timberwolves’ ups and downs course through the 2022-23 NBA season was a direct result of their inconsistency at perimeter shooting.
With the return of NAW, the new additions of Troy Brown Jr. and Shake Milton, plus the return of Mike Conley Jr., the Timberwolves have a quartet of players who all shoot better than 36 percent from the perimeter. And not one of these players was on the Timberwolves roster to start the 2022-23 NBA season.
I: More versatility and resiliency
The Minnesota Timberwolves discovered over the course of the 2022-23 NBA season that they have a need for players who can slide into a number of roles in their rotation and perform well. That seemed to be the theme for the Timberwolves’ offseason, as both free agents Troy Brown Jr. and Shake Milton are well-versed in competing at multiple positions in the NBA.
The Minnesota Timberwolves experience in the 2023 NBA Playoffs was not a wasted effort. From the team’s shortcomings, the Timberwolves front office was able to reset their offseason priorities and shopping list.
Of course, there is plenty of moving parts in the season ahead. And as we know from the 2022-23 NBA season, there are many factors that can derail the Timberwolves over the course of the season. But this year, the entire Timberwolves organization appears to be far more in synch. As a result, the Timberwolves are likely to be more consistent and successful this season.