I’m not surprised. Sadly, too many basketball fans are. After starting 2-0 to begin the 2020-21 season, the Minnesota Timberwolves have dropped five straight contests.
The slight disclaimer is that Karl-Anthony Towns is recovering from a dislocated wrist and has missed each of the past five games. However, the showing that they have been putting forward has been embarrassing at best.
After a quality win at the Utah Jazz, the Wolves have lost by 36 points to the LA Lakers, 23 points to the LA Clippers, 21 points to the winless Washington Wizards and 16 points to the Denver Nuggets. Tuesday in a slightly better effort, Minnesota only lost to the Nuggets again by 7,
To do the math for you, that is 103 points over five games in total, or an abysmal deficit of 21 points per game.
Again, obviously while losing Towns will mean a drop in production, the bottom shouldn’t fall out quite this badly. Afterall, the Lakers beat the Wolves by 36 without Anthony Davis, the Clippers beat the Wolves by 23 without Kawhi Leonard and the Wizards beat the Wolves by 21 without Russell Westbrook. So what’s Minnesota’s excuse?
D’Angelo Russell, who is supposed to be the other “superstar” alongside Towns has been anything but. Russell has seemed lethargic at times and has not demonstrated yet early in this season why he has earned his maximum deal.
After the first loss to the Nuggets, Russell said “I don’t think we’re ready to win yet. We’re still figuring out how to lose. Sounds crazy, but the way you lose says a lot about the team. Today, how we lost, was a good way to lose.” (Credit to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic).
While Russell sees progress, fans see a five game skid, where the team looks completely outmatched in nearly every facet as they lose by an average of 21 points per game.
Russell, as a leader of the team, is averaging only 16.8 points per game (his worst since 2017 in Brooklyn), 4.5 assists per game (his worst since his rookie year with the Lakers in 2015) and 3.7 turnovers per game (the most in his career). As the $28 million man, that just isn’t going to cut it.
The Wolves are dead last in the league in net rating with -12.5. If you don’t know what that means, that’s okay. Net rating is an NBA analytic stat that takes into account a player or team’s offensive and defensive performance, calculates a rating on a per 100 possession basis and provides a basis for comparison. Minnesota as a team is rated 12.5 points worse than their opponent on a per 100 possession basis. Yuck.
I had them pegged as a 10 seed at best coming into the season. Currently, the Wolves will be lucky to not be the worst team in the Western Conference yet again.
Every year I see the same thing. Timberwolves fans get excited about roster moves, new players, and a new season. Every year they think the ceiling is actually there. And every year they are disappointed.
I’m not saying the season is over. Perhaps when Towns returns, Minnesota will go on an incredible run and surprise me. But after 15 years of terrible play, why would they surprise me now?