The Timberwolves’ Hopes Have Been Sidelined

Greg Miller, staff writer

After making a blockbuster trade at last year’s trade deadline to acquire D’Angelo Russell and then selecting Anthony Edwards at number one overall after winning the draft lottery, the Timberwolves had some rather lofty expectations for this upcoming season. Unfortunately, those expectations fell through quickly. 

Before the pandemic brought the season to a halt, fans were hopeful that the team would be fighting for the playoffs in the near future. With Russell and other new teammate Malik Beasley confidently scoring threes, they were performing amazing offense one after another despite all-star center Karl-Anthony Towns being sidelined due to injury. Now, that hope is nowhere to be found this season as the Timberwolves sit last in the entire NBA with a record of 7-29.

Although you can’t blame this record entirely on injuries, the absences of these players definitely contributed. According to SPORTRAC, Towns has missed a total of 20 games, while Russell has missed 15 already and ESPN reports that he will continue to be absent as he recovers from arthroscopic surgery. These two center players have both missed about half of the season and have only shared the court for five total games since the trade. The tandem combined for roughly 44 points 14.5 rebounds and 10 assists per game while on the court together. This duo has the potential to be a strong foundation for the team if the players around them can learn to compliment their talents. 

Edwards and Beasley have been volume shooters who can be inefficient and both lack defensive prowess. Josh Okogie and Jarrett Culver have been better on the defensive side of the floor, but offer very little on the offensive end. Jake Layman and Juancho Hernangomez are both stretch power forwards who are streaky shooters at best. Jarred Vanderbilt is not the best shooter, but offers a good defender and rebounder next to Towns and Jaden McDaniels compliments him well as a long, defensive, stretch power forward with the potential to be an above-average three-point shooter.

The Timberwolves have a lot of work to do to put together a team around Russell and Towns, but this work cannot begin until all players are healed and on the court.