Reigning NBA Champions skipping White House visit to prepare for Wolves

Denver Nuggets v Minnesota Timberwolves
Denver Nuggets v Minnesota Timberwolves / David Berding/GettyImages

The race for the number one seed is tighter than ever. Only a game and a half separates the first-place Oklahoma City Thunder from the third-place Minnesota Timberwolves. In between those two squads is the Denver Nuggets whose record is 44-20.

Since franchise stalwart Karl-Anthony Towns went down with a left meniscus injury, the Wolves own a record of 1-2, dropping from first to third place in a matter of days. Minnesota has lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers.

Now without his sidekick, Anthony Edwards has struggled to maintain the once impressive offensive efficiency he displayed earlier in the season. In his last three games, Edwards has gone 35-of-85 from the field and 5-of-23 from downtown.

In the entirety of March, Edwards is down to 39.7 from the floor and 25.6 percent from three. He did have an impressive game against the Indiana Pacers, where he dropped 44 points and recorded the game-sealing block. Other than that one instance, Edwards has scored less than 20 points more times than not this month.

The Wolves All-Star guard needs to step up. Aside from Edwards and Towns, no player averages more than 14 points per game. And the player whose average is closest to the 14-point per game mark recently cost Minnesota a winnable game.

Despite the minor turmoil in Minneapolis, the Wolves are still not to be taken lightly. On the season, Minnesota owns a winning record without Towns. Furthermore, the Wolves roster a special talent on the bench who could fill right in for the injured All-Star.

Naz Reid is averaging 20.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 2.8 triples in games without Towns in the lineup. Although he remains a reserve, he's likely the Wolves' x-factor going forward. And it's all but certain a good Reid performance is required to defeat Minnesota's opponent on March 19.

The Timberwolves play the Denver Nuggets next Tuesday, their first game back in Minnesota after a six-game road trip. Defeating one of the league's best teams is no easy task, but the difficulty amplifies when that team is skipping a visit to the White House in preparation.

Yes, you read that right. The Nuggets, who won the NBA Championship last June, are foregoing their visit to the nation's capital in preparation for the Wolves. Denver may have done this for just about any team, but the game being in Minnesota likely added some extra motivation.

Skipping the White House visit wasn't initially a part of Denver's itinerary. The Nuggets were originally scheduled to visit the White House when they played the Washington Wizards on January 21. However, scheduling confits with President Joe Biden forced the two parties to reschedule.

Despite the adjusted date, the Nuggets still bowed out While the decision was basketball-related, some appeared irked by the decision. TNT's Charles Barkley mocked the decision.

The former NBA All-Star lamented, "It’s an honor and a privilege to go to the White House." He later went on to say, "You should always go" when criticizing Denver's decision.

All in all, it's noteworthy the Nuggets feel as such about the Wolves. Especially after Minnesota's head coach Chris Finch recently said, "I’m not sure anyone in the league fears us..." While it's unknown if the Wolves are feared, it's quite obvious Minnesota can no longer be taken for granted.