There are a lot of fun things going on in the Twin Cities right now that I could write about. First, we just hosted one of the more exciting Final Fours in recent memory. However, I figured I’d let Kip handle that one since he was able to attend both nights.
Second, the Minnesota Twins were playing pretty well until they walked about 7 straight batters on Wednesday in a loss to the Mets. I have all summer to write about them, so I think I’ll pass this week.
Third, it isn’t sports related, but I could write about this Spring Apocalypse Storm that is crushing us in West-Central Minnesota. Tuesday night I drove by DC High School on my way home and saw all the fields filled with softball games. Thursday on my way to work in the morning I think I saw a Polar Bear in center field and even he looked mildly upset.
But instead, maybe inspired by the snow, sleet and wind, I think I’ll do a recap on the season that was for the Minnesota Wild and Timberwolves. First, let’s start with the Wild.
The Wild had their worst point total since the 2011-12 season (not counting the shortened lockout season) finishing with 83 points. Minnesota had made the playoffs for 6 straight seasons until this year, where they finished dead last in the Central Division.
In the wildcard hunt with a few weeks remaining in the season, the Wild limped to a 3-6-1 finish in their last 10 games and were shut out in their final four losses. So what does this mean for the 2019-20 season?
First, it looks like head coach Bruce Boudreau is returning for another year. I’m not a hockey expert, but in any sport, stability at the top is crucial and Bruce is a proven successful coach. I think he can right the ship.
Getting Matt Dumba and Mikko Koivu back from injury should provide a huge boost to the lineup next season. Also, apart from Zach Parise, Eric Staal and Ryan Suter, the Wild are actually a pretty young team.
If Jason Zucker can have a bounceback year, Joel Eriksson Ek and Kevin Fiala can continue to grow and the veterans can stay healthy, the Wild should be right in the playoff hunt next year. It wasn’t in the cards this year but at least there is hope.
Speaking of hope, or maybe lack thereof, the Minnesota Timberwolves wrapped up their season on Wednesday with a loss to finish 36-46. While the Wild have reason to believe this season was a fluke, I’m not sure the Wolves are so lucky.
This team that was built around our youth isn’t so youthful anymore and the time has come to start winning some games. Andrew Wiggins is now 24 and is on a $146 million guaranteed contract. It is time to average more than 18 points and start being the all-around player that everyone expects from a 1st overall pick.
Karl-Anthony Towns had another great season averaging 24 points and 12 rebounds, but he simply can’t do this alone. The only players under contract next season are: Wiggins, Towns, Jeff Teague (assuming he accepts his ungodly high player option of $19 million, and let’s face it, who wouldn’t?!), Gorgui Dieng, Robert Covington, Dario Saric, Josh Okogie and Keita Bates-Diop. That roster screams 35 wins.
With these 8 players alone, the Wolves are right up against the $109 million salary cap and have very little flexibility to make any big moves. Nevermind the fact that there are still 5 spots to fill and decisions to make on Derrick Rose, Tyus Jones and Taj Gibson. They can’t simply run it back with the same team and expect anything to change, but I’m not sure they have much of a choice.
At least it sounds like they are bringing back Ryan Saunders to be the permanent head coach, which gives me a glimmer of hope. However, I fear that it will be more of the same for our Wolves next season. Glen Taylor has to be wondering… where do we go from here?