It is no secret that the Minnesota Timberwolves are not exactly the darlings of mainstream NBA media. While most are focusing on the defending champion Nuggets, the star-studded Suns, or any of the four California teams in the Western Conference race this coming season, the Wolves are often forgotten due to their major injuries last year.
In the big picture, this is somewhat understandable. But what is not understandable is completely disregarding Minnesota altogether, which is what former NBA player and coach Avery Johnson did recently.
The NBA champion with the San Antonio Spurs in 1999 sounded off on X (formerly Twitter) and tore into the Timberwolves. He stated that Minnesota’s core of Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Rudy Gobert are “not a big three,” and also said he does not believe the team will take another step forward in the Western Conference.
Avery Johnson’s comments are completely unhinged
There is a lot to dissect here. First, we must look at Johnson’s comments about Edwards, Towns and Gobert not being a “big three.” His defense of this statement is rooted in the accomplishments of former “big threes,” saying that it would be an insult to compare these Timberwolves to groups of players like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
While it is inarguable that Minnesota has achieved as much as a group like that did, they have not even had ample time to attempt to do so. Ant, KAT, and Gobert have played less than 30 games together. Perhaps Johnson’s belief is that Minnesota needs to have more success before being considered a “big three,” but his words were not clear enough to know.
Time could prove Johnson’s words wrong
The more egregious part of Johnson’s statement came when he said that the Timberwolves have “too many weaknesses” and that he does not “see them taking that next step.” Of course, only time will tell if he is correct or not. But there certainly seem to be some context clues here that Avery is missing.
Throughout the offseason, many have talked about the Timberwolves like they did not suffer from some of the worst injury luck in the NBA last season. Chalk it up to people paying less attention to Minnesota than some of the big market teams in the league, but the reality is that things could be very different with all their players healthy this coming year.
Just six months ago, many national media outlets still firmly believed that Nikola Jokic was not good enough to be the best player on a championship team and that the Nuggets would flame out in the playoffs. The Timberwolves have the opportunity to turn all of these hot takes on their head over the next eight months.