Let’s recap how well Timberwolves managed w/o Karl Anthony Towns

Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Minnesota Timberwolves had high expectations for the 2022-23 NBA season. But by the end of October 2022, at a record of 4-3, it was clear that those high expectations were not about to be met on the basketball court. The Minnesota Timberwolves’ new roster, featuring All-Pro center Rudy Gobert, was handicapped by the off-season illness of power forward Karl-Anthony Towns and the ankle injury to Gobert from his Team France competition in the 2022 FIBA WC tournament.

The Timberwolves did not have one new player, Rudy Gobert. The team essentially had the equivalent of an entirely new frontcourt, as Towns had to learn how to compete at the 4 spot, and small forward Jaden McDaniels had to learn how to play as a starter at the 3 spot.  But the team simply did not have any time together before the season started.

Timberwolves tested early

And so, the Timberwolves roster was forced to learn on the fly, or as U.S. military veterans have come to learn the strategy On the Job Training (OJT).  While it can prove to be effective, it does not come without a tradeoff. The Timberwolves roster, great on paper, was hampered by the fact that Towns and Gobert instinctively gravitated to the same spots on the court.

That was entirely predictable, and exactly why the lack of preparation before the 2022-23 NBA season was so damaging to the Minnesota Timberwolves. This was not a Timberwolves roster that was built on rookies who were still learning their roles on a basketball court. On the contrary, the initial 15-man roster was loaded heavily with established NBA veterans who knew their roles from experience.

But the problem was, that experience had to be unlearned, and new roles, strategies, and patterns had to be learned. The Minnesota Timberwolves entered the 2022-23 NBA season by being tested without learning the material. It was the NBA’s version of an open-book test, and the Timberwolves discovered just how much of a struggle that would be: