The Minnesota Timberwolves are atop the Western Conference standings. After defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday night, Minnesota took sole control of the top spot, while the Thunder tumbled down to three.
Minnesota defeated Oklahoma City without a crucial member of the squad, Mike Conley. In games without Conley, the Timberwolves had gone 1-3 on the season, only defeating the lowly Washington Wizards.
The 36-year-old floor general has been essential to Minnesota's sudden rise. Conley ranks third on the team in plus/minus, second in net rating, and win shares.
Last season, several notable trades in the NBA had a significant impact on the teams involved. Among these trades were the moves that sent the veteran Conley and Nickeil Alexander-Walker to the Minnesota Timberwolves and D'Angelo Russell, Malik Beasley, and Jarred Vanderbilt to the Los Angeles Lakers.
The trade was part of a three-team deal that also saw future hall of famer Russell Westbrook to the Utah Jazz. Westbrook was ultimately bought out by the Jazz and would sign with the Los Angeles Clippers.
While both Conley and Russell have since remained with their respective teams, it's safe to say that these trades have paid off for both the Lakers and Timberwolves. Conley has been a valuable asset to Minnesota, providing veteran leadership, solid defense, and reliable scoring.
Meanwhile, upon returning to the team that selected him 2nd overall in the 2015 NBA Draft, Russell helped fuel a Lakers team that was six games below .500 to make a deep playoff run. He averaged 17.4 points and shot above 48 percent from the floor and 41 percent from three in 17 appearances after the trade deadline.
Now, as we approach the 2024 NBA Trade Deadline, let's revisit and re-grade the trade that helped swing two organizations in the right direction.