Have Timberwolves truly unlocked Rudy Gobert’s offense?

Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

The Minnesota Timberwolves have invested a great deal into their center position over the past two seasons. But whether it was unfamiliarity or injury, the Timberwolves roster left a lot of that value on the basketball court last season. The team has to convert that potential into production this year.

This is not some out-of-the-blue concept. In fact, it was a goal that was laid out for the team a year ago. But with injuries and personality conflicts, it found its way to the back of the refrigerator, where it was neglected for quite some time. Well, it’s back to the front of the shelf now.

There were plenty of elevated expectations that, for one reason or another, simply failed to materialize. The Timberwolves had to endure lengthy periods of time throughout the 2022-23 NBA season without a key starter, and key rotational players. That derailed many of the expected new offensive arsenal that center Rudy Gobert brought to the Timberwolves.  One such example of Gobert’s boost to the Timberwolves offense that never seemed to happen was:

And yet, the Minnesota Timberwolves never really unlocked the offensive upside of their All-Star center throughout the 2022-23 NBA season. Is there hope that will change this season?

You go back, Jack, do it again

I think it’s more than possible. I believe that is the plan for the 2023-24 NBA season. The Timberwolves invested in a rim-protecting center last season, but NBA teams outflanked that move by salvoing the Timberwolves with perimeter shots that sailed over Gobert’s head.

But Minnesota Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly was not blind to that strategy. At the 2023 NBA Trade Deadline, he shipped out D’Angelo Russell and upgraded the Timberwolves perimeter defense by adding veteran PG Mike Conley Jr. as well as SG Nickeil Alexander-Walker. The change was noticeable, and the Timberwolves defense began to cook.

This offseason, the Timberwolves bolstered the perimeter defense with the likes of rookie forward Leonard Miller and veterans forward Troy Brown Jr. and guard Shake Milton. That will force opposing offenses to reroute their scoring options back to driving to the basket, a strategy that will play right into the strengths of Rudy Gobert once more.

But what of the offense? Well, an active and productive Karl-Anthony Towns will be a huge boon to the offensive output of Rudy Gobert. Towns will attract a lot of defense when he gets hot, opening up the option for Towns to get Gobert going as well:

And so it goes. The Timberwolves roster is complementary and productive. The better one player performs, the greater number of opportunities appear for the other players on this Timberwolves team.

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