Timberwolves

It Wasn't a Particularly Great Week for the Timberwolves

Photo credit: Dan Hamilton (USA TODAY Sports)

If there’s anything I’ve learned as an adult, it’s that nothing is quite as simple as it should be.

You think if you do things right, treat others with respect and work hard, everything else will fall into place. That’s what you were told when you were young and in general, if everyone followed that recipe, the world would be a much better place.

Spoiler alert: While you should try your best to do those things, sometimes it just doesn’t matter. That’s the reality.

This week was a rough one for the Minnesota Timberwolves, and it wasn’t necessarily their fault. Since taking over, Gersson Rosas has done things the right way. He’s put the players first. He knows relationships with players and their families is huge. Players talk. There is a reason why the only free agents who wanted to sign with the Timberwolves a few years ago were the three or four “Thibs” guys” left in the league. That narrative has changed, and a lot of that has to do with Rosas.

Even with Rosas and his staff doing things the right way, they were on the wrong sides of the headlines last week.

Darren Wolfson reported that another player in the league told an agent that Karl-Anthony Towns is “as good as gone” even though Towns still has four years left on his contract. Wolfson has ears in a lot of places, and I am not doubting his sources at all. But this doesn’t really mean anything at all on a surface level.

With that being said… this chatter isn’t going to stop. That’s how this league works. There’s going to be talk about where Towns could be traded until he signs his next contract or until the Timberwolves prove they can win. Even winning doesn’t guarantee a player will stick around in today’s star-driven NBA.

Fire up the Towns to the Knicks/Lakers/Clippers/big market team trade machine!

Towns wasn’t at the team’s voluntary “bubble” workouts last week, which is fine: He has had a really tough offseason. He lost his mom. If anyone deserves a week off, or a week to get away, it’s Towns. But the way the team went about hiding his absence was weird and only adds fuel to the fire. The team could have led the narrative, saying Towns would be out as he’s taking a mental break from the game or he had a vacation planned before the dates were set. That’s fine. Instead, though, narratives started to build and by the time Rosas said anything to the media, it was too late. People have made up their minds made up that Towns wants out.

To make matters worse, it was reported on Sunday morning that Malik Beasley had been arrested and was in police custody on charges of marijuana possession and concealing stolen property. Beasley was free to go on Sunday evening, and we’ll see if any charges are brought against him. It’s a real bad look for a guy who is trying to get paid this summer as a restricted free agent. It’s not fair for me to speculate on what exactly happened, because I have no idea, but it’s just more bad PR for a team that certainly could use some positivity.

Combine all of this with the The Ringer’s story on NBA owners’ political donations earlier in the week, which wasn’t a great look for Glen Taylor. John Gonzalez reported that Taylor donated $151,600 to the GOP since 2015. That’s fine. That’s his political party. He can donate his money wherever he’d like. The problem, however, was that Taylor donated $2,700 to Iowa Representative Steve King, who has a history of being one of the absolute worst people. The team has done some really good work in the community, especially since the murder of George Floyd in May. It’s hard for all of that work to resonate, though, when your owner supports people on the other side of the fight.

IS THE LATE LOTTERY THE SWEET SPOT IN THE NBA DRAFT?

I’m stealing this a bit from a podcast I listened to last week with Chris Vernon and Kevin O’Connor. Basically, Vernon makes the case that the late-lottery is an underrated spot to be in the draft and a place where guys like Devin Booker, Zach LaVine, Donovan Mitchell, Tyler Herro and Bam Adebayo have gone.

That got me thinking…

The Timberwolves have the No. 17 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, along with of course, the No. 1 pick.

If they keep the 17th pick, which I think is unlikely, what’s the best-case scenario?

I decided to take a look at the best player taken since 2010 from 15-20 in each class.

2010: Eric Bledsoe (No. 18)

2011: Kawhi Leonard (15)

2012: Evan Fournier (20)

2013: Giannis Antetokounmpo (15)

2014: Jusuf Nurkic (16)

2015: Terry Rozier (16)

2016: Caris LeVert (20)

2017: John Collins (19)

2018: Kevin Huerter (19)

2019: Matisse Thybulle (20)

Those are all pretty good players, and two of them are franchise-altering!

The 2020 draft class isn’t the strongest, but there will be a player available at No. 17 that will be a difference maker in the NBA. Right now, the 2019 draft looks like a huge miss for the Timberwolves. They traded up to No. 6 to draft Jarrett Culver when they could have stayed at 11 and drafted someone like Herro or Brandon Clarke.

Of course, hindsight is 20/20. Most people had Culver higher on their boards than either Herro or Clarke, but it just goes to show that teams that are patient and trust their boards can be rewarded.

Who will be the player who falls to this range that will end up surprising all of us? Will it be Cole Anthony? Josh Green? Desmond Bane? R.J. Hampton?

There will be someone.

Will the Timberwolves be able to find him?

That’s all for this week.

Enjoy what should be a great NBA Finals. Also, did you know that Jimmy Butler used to play for the Timberwolves? Fun times.

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