Here we are, 15 games into the season, and the Minnesota Timberwolves are 4-11 — last in the Western Conference.
Of course, things haven’t been ideal for the Wolves. Karl-Anthony Towns hurt his hand, and was one of three players to miss time because of the league’s COVID protocols (Towns and Juancho Hernangomez are still out).
That’s an actual excuse that Wolves fans are holding onto in hopes that when Towns returns, the team can inch back to playoff consideration. It’s a reasonable excuse. Towns is the team’s best player and you could make an argument they could be a .500-ish team if he’s healthy. After all, the team is only four games back from the eighth seed.
However, FiveThirtyEight gives the Wolves a 4% chance to make the playoffs. I would probably pick them to have a top-5 pick rather than finishing as a top-16 team in the league.
The optimism time clock is running out. The Wolves face off against the Golden State Warriors twice before playing the Philadelphia 76ers this week. It feels like we talk about this every week, but it seems pretty realistic they lose all three games. Coming back from 10 games below .500 in a loaded Western Conference is a challenge for any team, let alone a team that hasn’t really shown us any heart or any dog at all this season.
Spoiler alert: Maybe the Wolves just aren’t that good. Who’s fault is it? You can point to the roster build and how the Wolves’ gamble at power forward has predictably failed. You can point to the fact that D’Angelo Russell isn’t the star fans had hoped. It would make fans feel better if it felt like there was a plan in place, but with the team’s first-round pick up in the air, it’s hard to feel real confident. If the plan is to win with the core of Towns, Russell and Malik Beasley, well, I just don’t think that’s going to be enough any time soon. Maybe the plan is to wait until Anthony Edwards to be a star, but when that happens, Towns and Russell will both probably be on other teams.
For what it’s worth, the Wolves have the third-worst record in the league right now, which would give them a 40.1% chance of keeping their pick.
The Wolves will play the Cleveland Cavaliers twice next week, which means seeing Collin Sexton twice.
If you haven’t been able to watch Sexton lately, my diggity dang has he been just scorching hot. The third-year guard out of Alabama been on an absolute roll this season, averaging 25.5 points per game while shooting 51.7% from the field and 45.8% from the 3-point line. Watching him go toe-to-toe with Kyrie Irving, who he was traded for, was an absolute blast last week.
And more importantly, Sexton has led the Cavs to an 8-8 record without Kevin Love for 14 games.
The 2018 draft class looks like a historically good one: Sexton, Luka Doncic, Deandre Ayton, Jaren Jackson Jr., Trae Young, Mikal Bridges, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Michael Porter Jr., Kevin Huerter, Josh Okogie … We could go on. It’s been so much fun to watch this group for everyone but Sacramento Kings’ fans.
It was reported on Monday that the league was considering having an All-Star game in Atlanta sometime in March.
That seems like a horrible idea considering multiple games every week are getting postponed. For as well as the league handled COVID in the bubble, the opposite could be said for this season.
Another 10,000 Layups podcast dropped on Monday. In the episode, Julian Andrews breaks down what’s next for the Wolves. You can also hear our live reaction to Julian selling an online card for $700. You never know what you’re going to get.