The campaign for the Minnesota Timberwolves to make the playoffs this season is effectively over. With only 17 games remaining in the season, the Wolves find themselves at 30-35, 6.5 games out of the 8 seed.
The Wolves would need to basically go 14-3 and hope that the Clippers or Spurs limp their way to the end of the season to even have a chance. With difficult matchups like the Nuggets, Jazz, Rockets, Warriors, Clippers, Warriors, 76’ers, Blazers, Thunder, Raptors, and Nuggets all remaining, I’m not going to hold my breathe.
There has been one tremendous bright spot in the midst of this underwhelming season and that is Karl-Anthony Towns. Despite playing his fewest minutes per game since his rookie year (thanks Thibs), he is averaging 24.2 points and 12.2 rebounds per game. Throw in a career high 3.3 assists and 1.7 blocks per game, and KAT is on his way to another 3rd Team All-NBA award.
He has been even more impressive the past 6 games. After missing his first career game due to a car crash that put him in the concussion protocol, KAT has been an absolute monster.
Towns is averaging 34.3 points and 14 rebounds per game. Even more impressive are his shooting percentages. Karl is 74/125 from the field which is a gaudy 59.2%. He has also dumped in 19 of his 40 3-pointers for an even gaudier 47.5%.
Although it has only been a 6 game stretch, KAT has really flexed how talented he really is. Every team in the NBA is constantly searching for a #1 guy who is talented enough to lead a team to a NBA Championship. It seems like the Wolves have found the best option they could.
So why is Minnesota 30-35? Why did, despite KAT’s tremendous effort, the Timberwolves go 2-4 in that stretch? The simple answer is that Karl needs help.
Most critically, Minnesota needs their other max player Andrew Wiggins to step up and play like a max player. Over the past 6 games, Wiggins is averaging 10 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists while shooting 43% from the field and 27.5% from 3. I can think of plenty of better ways to spend $25.5 million.
Personally, I’d use that $25.5 million to build a house with a basketball court in it, but that’s just me. I think that’d be more helpful to the Wolves than what Wiggins sometimes is.
Anyway, the reality is that Wiggins is not a max contract player and has shown little to no signs that he can become one. Minnesota will always be facing an uphill battle to fill the roster with talented pieces due to the cap situation they are in.
Many guys on the roster are talented players that can be valuable on a good team. Tyus Jones and Taj Gibson are great role players, Josh Okogie has really improved and could be a solid starting 2 guard, Dario Saric is a talented mystery and I am really excited to see Robert Covington in an extended role next season.
If Minnesota can find a way to dump Jeff Teague and Gorgui Dieng to get their contracts off the books, the Wolves could really come back next season with an improved roster. There will be no more time for excuses as KAT will be entering his 5th season.
Minnesota needs to improve the roster and make the playoffs. They need to grow up and prove they can accomplish something before the time comes to blow it up and start over. They can’t waste any more of Towns’ prime and need to get him some serious help before it’s too late.