Former Timberwolf skeptical of Wolves' contending status

Houston Rockets v Minnesota Timberwolves
Houston Rockets v Minnesota Timberwolves / Hannah Foslien/GettyImages

Only six regular season games remain before the postseason begins. The Minnesota Timberwolves' battle for the top seed will likely come down to the final game as the Denver Nuggets are tied with the Wolves for first place.

The Wolves have done a fantastic job of navigating a devastating injury and a slew of minor injuries over the past month. Without All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns in the lineup, Minnesota has gone 10-4.

Fortunately for the Wolves, a more-than-capable replacement has done a fine job of playing Robin to Anthony Edwards' Batman. Since Naz Reid took on a starting role, he's averaged 18.8 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 3.0 triples per game.

Without Towns, Edwards has increased his rebound and assist numbers—contributing in all aspects of the game. And as always, onlookers have taken notice. In an appearance on NBA TV, former Timberwolf Jamal Crawford named Edwards as his, "favorite player to watch right now."

Nevertheless, that's where Crawford's praise ended. He goes on to say, "I'm not sure [the Wolves'] regular season success will translate to the playoffs." Crawford lists numerous reasons as to why Minnesota may struggle come the postseason.

First, the former Sixth Man of the Year alludes to the scoring burden being too much for the young Edwards to handle. Second, he names the Towns' injury as something to monitor. Crawford goes on to say, "Who knows if Karl-Anthony Towns will be back healthy." Surely a reasonable question to ask as Towns' return date may be further out than expected.

As of today, it's likely the Wolves will play either the Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns, or Sacramento Kings in the first round. And of the three, Crawford names the Lakers as the most troublesome first-round matchup.

When asked how Minnesota could remedy its shortcomings, Crawford mentions Jaden McDaniels. He points out McDaniels' fantastic defense before saying he needs to step up on the offensive end to take pressure off Edwards.

The former Timberwolf is onto something. McDaniels can be a lethal scorer, but his inconsistency is maddening. Over his last eight games, he's had as many single-digit games as 15-plus point games. What's more maddening is the lack of aggression he shows on offense.

Over his last eight games, McDaniels has taken 10 or fewer shots in five of them. When he's taken more than 10 shots, he's averaged 18.3 points and knocked down eight 3-pointers. Although it's a small sample size, it shows just what the fourth-year wing is capable of.

Doubting the Wolves isn't new. Minnesota has been to the postseason just four times in the past 20 seasons. Nevertheless, this season feels the most similar to their excellent 2003-04 showing. The Wolves have won 53 games and roster one of the best up-and-coming players in the association.