The rebuild has stretched for over a decade, but the Minnesota Timberwolves are finally ready for the big time. Okay, maybe not the big time big time, but it looks like the 13 season playoff drought is about to come to an end. We’re only a month into the NBA season, but the new look Wolves have the makings of a playoff team.
Let’s start with what separates this Wolves team from the teams of the past. First, the team has a bonafide star in Jimmy Butler. Andrew Wiggins is a great young player, and Karl-Anthony Towns is probably already a top 20 player in the league, but they are both young and inexperienced. Butler can score, pass, and defend well. He is the glue that holds the team together, without him, this Wolves team probably looks a lot like last year’s edition. Next, the Wolves actually have a capable bench. The bench has been atrocious for a long time, but this time around it is pretty serviceable. Jamaal Crawford is a great scorer off the bench, Nemanja Bjelica is leading the league in three point percentage, Tyus Jones is helping the ball move, and Gorgui Dieng is better suited coming off the bench. With the starters off of the floor, it’s nice to know that the bench isn’t going to completely choke give away a lead.
Things aren’t perfect for the Wolves, though. Despite adding Butler and Taj Gibson in hopes of bolstering the team’s defense, it’s still pretty weak. There are stretches where all of the starters actually look interested in defending (looking at you, Towns) and are capable of giving a solid effort out there. Then there are times when that motivation isn’t there and they allow back to back buckets in transition. It’s frustrating, and definitely the biggest weakness of the team as a whole. Hopefully as the season progresses, the defense will improve some.
The Wolves are currently sitting at third place in the Western Conference with a record of 11-7. It’s still early in the season, but barring injury, this is a team that should absolutely make the playoffs. The energy around the Wolves is undeniable, and it’s been fun to see the enthused crowds showing up at Target Center, and those fans have been treated to a 6-2 home record. The season is still young, but the Wolves are for real.