With their draft number 1, Anthony Edwards, the Wolves were hoping for a transition season with their young and talented workforce. The problems were visible: weak defense and an incredible pool of players who needed the ball to exist. Ryan Saunders had to orchestrate a staff provided, in particular on the posts of the backourt. Very quickly, the team enchanted the disappointments. Between the wounds of Karl-Anthony Towns and of D’Angelo Russell, the duo supposed to carry this team, the defeats were very quickly enchanted and the qualification for the playoffs moved away too quickly.
Ryan Saunders got fired, then Chris Finch happened without affecting the results curve. The duo Ricky Rubio (dissatisfied) / D’Angelo Russell was not working. The Spanish playmaker regained his splendor when his team-mate, whose state of mind was questionable, was injured. Some victories were then enchanted although the team had to suffer a new disappointment with the serious injury of Malik Beasley.
In January, there was nothing to play. Anthony Edwards then asserted himself as a future NBA star by multiplying exceptional performances at the end of the season while Jaden McDaniels (the other rookie) has proven to be an excellent defender. They are the two rays of sunshine in a long and irregular season, finished on a decent record, thanks to a practiced style of play, mixing an offensive basketball pleasant to a more virtuous defense. If they remain on the impression left at the end of last season, the flock of Chris Finch will leap forward last season. Watch out for the end-of-season impressions of a team that has lost all year.
- Offseason movements
Arrives: Taurean Prince, Pat Beverley
Dparts : Ricky Rubio, Jarrett Culver, Juancho Hernangomez
PG : D’Angelo Russell, Patrick Beverley, Jordan McLaughlin
SG : Malik Beasley, Josh Okogie, Jaylen Nowell
SF : Anthony Edwards, Jake Layman
PF : Taurean Prince, Jaden McDaniels, Jarred Vanderbilt
C : Karl-Anthony Towns, Naz Reid, Nathan Knight
PG : D’Angelo Russell SG : Anthony Edwards SF : Taurean Prince PF : Jaden McDaniels C : Karl-Anthony Towns
The five major could present certain surprises. At the end, D’Angelo Russell will be the owner of the game. Hoping that he is not as injured as the previous season because his integration into his new team has not been obvious since his arrival, a year ago and half. While he is supposed to form a shock duo with Karl-Anthony Towns, the two players have hardly had time to spend time on the field together and their complicity is not obvious. D’Angelo Russell was an All Star two years ago but wasn’t that a favorable combination of circumstances? Last year the team was doing almost better with Ricky Rubio leading in the five major. His best performances came from the bench. If he arrives in great shape, he must prove that he is an NBA star with exceptional performances. Capable of scoring excessively, it must improve in the distribution but its relation on the pick-and-roll with Towns can cause debate. There were some promising passages at the end of last season. We must hope that it was not fatal. At his side, Anthony Edwards did not stop improving during his first season, asserting himself as an elite scorer despite a selection of questionable shots and random choices. If he purifies his game, causes more fouls, he can flourish as a second ball carrier. It’s up to him to erase all his imperfections. On a few sequences, it creates for the others. Able to take the game on his own, he must continue his progress by showing himself more defensively concerned to erase the faults of a weak Russell on this side of the field.
A l’family, Taurean Prince, freshly arrived, should be tenured. Player of duty par excellence, he has a profile of 3 and D researched. He delivered great Cleveland performances last year. In this team, he will have a dedicated role defending the best opposing attackers. Physical, he is not an elite stopper but he knows his role in a team which will have to collect more victories next season. At his side, it’s a safe bet that Chris Finch starts Jaden McDaniels. The young player, a rookie last season, may be the key to the success of the major five in this franchise. He won his minutes by his intensity and his defense. Still young, he is not afraid to face the best opposing strikers. Able to limit them thanks to his long physique, he sometimes experiences elite athletes. His ability to counter is impressive thanks to his sprawling arms. He must progress to scoring to embody a reliable threat to his opponents. His 36% three-point last season suggests that he can shut the game off. With an inflated playing time, he will have to take more rebounds and limit faults alongside a KAT who owes revenge.
What is the real level of Karl-Anthony Towns? The question deserves to be asked since his debut in the league. Machine stats, the interior has never won his team despite his immense talent. Capable of doing everything in attack, whether it is scoring from all positions, driver or even passing, he is often too soft and his statistics are done in a vacuum. In defense, he is never very concerned and he can get eaten up in front of players motivated to rebound … To reach this final level, he must gain leadership because observers consider him a star! It’s up to him to prove that he really is.
On the bench, Patrick Beverley arrived to give this young team the benefit of his spirit and his defense behind D’Angelo Russell. Losing speed on the side of the Clippers, the watchdog must prove that he is not finished during the next season. Suffering from many offensive limits, he must show that he can take care of the best opposing leaders while being (for once) exemplary in attitude. Otherwise, he could become the third point guard of the team behind the solid Jordan McLaughlin. Valuable creation since his arrival in the NBA, the player never owed when his coach called on him.
On the rear posts, Malik Beasley, signed at full price two seasons ago, should be on the bench to assert himself as a sixth elite man. Capable of catching fire, he should only come back from injuries during the next season. A real scoring machine, he embodies an incredible offensive added value for a second unit in the NBA. Josh Okogie, always solid will also obtain minutes on posts 2 and 3. A good defender, he brings his scoring thanks to his physique. Jake Layman is the other option on post 3. Exclusive shooter, it is light to face some opposing wingers.
On the strong-winger position, Jarred Vanderbilt, strong scorer, is the main rotation of Jaden McDaniels while Naz Reid, a needy interior is the replacement for Karl-Anthony Towns. The last option is called Nathan Knight, which can cover posts 4 and 5.
- Player to follow: Karl-Anthony Towns
After a 2020 season marked by many events that impacted his performance (and his presence) on the field, KAT’s 2020/2021 season was rather bleak. Injured, then back in a team in the midst of a losing streak, he never managed to find the rhythm despite statistics still so impressive. Always just as fair, he never forced anything offensively.
What if the main criticism to be made was not there? Karl-Anthony Towns walks on many opponents thanks to his panoply at the post and his ability to step aside, without ever blinding the box score. He deserves to be more responsible (or seize opportunities) as soon as he dominates. With him, Minny has an elite offensive player but seems to be underutilizing him. He must gain leadership and prove that he can be a vocal leader on the pitch, able to pull his teammates with him. Finally, it is imperative that he get involved in defense and do the minimum, even if this is not his strong point. Able to be interesting on a few sequences, he forgets himself too many times on this side of the field.
A solid foundation: Between Russell, Edwards, Prince, Beverley, Beasley, Okogie, Prince or Towns, the Minnesota Timberwolves have a solid base. With varying profiles on key positions, they have an interesting bench depth and the workforce seems relatively deep. On paper, the profiles can get along. But the past year has proven that mere paper means nothing.
An offensive armada: With the Russell / Edwards / Towns trio (not to mention Beasley), the Wolves have an exceptional attacking trio. The three players have different qualities which it would be interesting to use effectively. If the three manage to tune their scores without stepping on each other’s toes, some evenings could be complicated for their opponents.
Coaching staff that questions: Chris Finch did a good job with a good streak at the end of last season. But is it really the coach that this team needs? A more experienced coach could have been inducted to fully exploit the potential of this young team. If the year starts badly, it’s a safe bet that the Wolves leadership will blow him off his seat.
The state of mind: In this team, each player seems to think of himself before thinking of the collective. The Russell / Edwards duo are basically a balloon pit, capable of having big blinders on bad nights. With Beasley on the bench, it’s even worse. Towns is not a leader and the others grew up in this gloomy nursery. Does this team have a winning mindset? It has been several seasons since he proved this was not the case.
The Forwards : On stations 3 and 4, the rotation is a little light in the face of armed teams. It will be necessary to rely heavily on the internal progression of Jaden McDaniels but it is soft in the face of certain franchises.
There are two alternate worlds when it comes to Wolves.
That of optimism, in which everything fits together perfectly, the players are found, the style of play is clear and the rotations readable with a new mentality instilled by Patrick Beverley. This one is handsome, Towns is All-Star and Wolves are playing the play-in by asserting itself as a spectacular team around its attacking trio.
In the other, the season started badly with a series of defeats, injured players and unreadable coaching. As a result, there is nothing left to play as of December.
We cut the pear in half with an irregular team able to hang on to the fight for the place in playin much of the season without it materializing.
34 wins / 48 losses