Following an offseason highlighted by player movement, the Wolves have decided to stand behind the often-criticized duo of Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert. This comes despite a significant amount of noise from fans and media alike, who believed the pairing would fail to develop chemistry.
Now, the Minnesota Timberwolves have opened the 2023-24 NBA season with a 12-4 record, the best 16-game start to a campaign in franchise history, surely proving many doubters wrong.
For most of the prior season, the Gobert trade was widely regarded as a failed experiment; however, the truth is that the team didn't have a significant sample size with the two big men playing together. Towns only played 29 total regular season games last year due to a calf injury, with 27 of those games being played with the Frenchman.
The NBA is a league now dominated by player movement, and with anything that alters the fabric of a top sports league, there will be positives and negatives. The reason I bring that up is because I believe this has drastically changed fan and media expectations. In this era of the league, it seems there is little patience. If players are underperforming in a fresh situation, there is no grace period to become adjusted to new coaching philosophies, new teammates and even a whole new city.
The new era of Timberwolves basketball is finally here
Now, in their second year together, the “twin towers” seem to be finally meshing in Minnesota. Towns are actively trying to involve Gobert on offense, and the two seem to be truly understanding the spacing they need to maintain when on the court together.
Of course, the two bigs play a huge part in the Timberwolves’ success so far, but Anthony Edwards has taken a huge leap and can now be labeled, in my opinion, as a budding superstar.
Ant has increased his scoring from 24.6 to 26.6 ppg, but more importantly, he has shown tremendous growth and maturity as a facilitator. Averaging a career-high 5.3 apg, Edwards’ growth is displayed even more from the eye test rather than looking at the numbers. The young All-Star has emphasized making the extra pass this season, a mentality that has seemingly trickled down the roster.
With players like Gobert, versatile wing Nickeil Alexander-Walker, and veteran Mike Conley becoming more comfortable embracing their roles, the Wolves have been able to shift into another gear.
When watching, you can see a sense of urgency and togetherness throughout the team, a dynamic that has been missing for quite some time. The players clearly enjoy sharing the court and are playing for more than just a paycheque.
Equipped with a deep bench, a young superstar, and a versatile big-man tandem, the Timberwolves’ championship window is now, and who knows how long it’ll be open.