The Minnesota Timberwolves are quietly one of the hottest teams in the West.
Karl-Anthony Towns proclaimed this pretty loudly with a 60-point eruption on Monday night. But the NBA seems to be sleeping on the team as a whole – they find themselves just 12th in the latest NBA.com power ranking despite winning eight of their last nine games.
The Minnesota Timberwolves demand to be taken seriously
The silence about this team is perplexing, given that they are breathing down Denver’s necks for sixth in the West. It may just be that people aren’t used to seeing success from the Timberwolves.
They’ve been building around KAT for seven seasons now, with just one playoff win to show for it. In fact, the franchise has won exactly one playoff game since 2004. The last time the Timberwolves ventured past the first round, shooting guard Anthony Edwards was three years old. Needless to say, this spurt of success has been a long time coming.
Towns has been the driving force behind the team’s success this season. In a league dominated by skilled bigs, KAT stands out as the best shooter among them.
No center has taken more threes than KAT’s 316 so far this season, and only two (Mike Muscala and Bobby Portis) have shot a better percentage than KAT’s 40.8 percent. But neither of those two are taking shots like this:
The electric Anthony Edwards has emerged as the Timberwolves’ second-leading scorer in his second season in the league. He makes for a great fit next to KAT, as he can attack with his slashing or his spot-up shooting off of KAT post-ups. He can also use his explosiveness to drive to the rim himself and draw help, freeing up KAT for easy buckets.
KAT also plays well off of high school teammate and long-time friend D’Angelo Russell. Russell has blossomed as the primary ball-handler for the Timberwolves, averaging a career-high 7.1 assists to go along with 18.8 points per game. He and KAT also show exceptional chemistry, setting each other up for easy buckets whenever possible.
The rest of the Timberwolves roster is largely filled out by versatile wing defenders, who make up a score-by-committee bench unit. Outside of their three stars, seven players average between six and 13 points per game. This plug-and-play versatility will be helpful going forward, though the Timberwolves may need a few of their wings to step up scoring-wise when the bench shortens in the postseason.
The Timberwolves may have trouble in the playoffs with a tough first-round matchup, should they fail to climb out of the seventh or eighth seeds. The West is very top-heavy this season, with the NBA’s three best records in its top three spots.
Regardless of their playoff finish this season, though, the Timberwolves have undeniably arrived. After seven long seasons of building around KAT, the Timberwolves look primed to finally make some noise. They’re fun – and fun to root for.
Star Karl-Anthony Towns posted a touching Twitter thread Tuesday morning following his NBA season-high 60-point outing:
At the end of the day, basketball is about having fun. It’s beautiful to see KAT enjoying the game again and to finally see his unique talent translate into wins for Minnesota. Since the new year, only the Suns, Grizzlies, and Mavericks have posted better records than the Timberwolves. It’s time for the NBA to take the Timberwolves seriously.