Our beloved Karl-Anthony Towns has returned! What a night for Minnesota Timberwolves fans. Sure, it felt like your average Wolves choke job after they relinquished a six-point lead at halftime, but the score isn’t important. What is important is what happens moving forward. To briefly touch on the game from last night, there were good feelings:
And there were bad feelings:
Karl may have been rightfully gassed at the end of his first game since contracting COVID on Jan. 15th (and only his fifth game all year), but he still played efficiently, posting 18 points, 10 boards, and three assists on 15 shots despite 2-of-7 shooting from beyond the arc and zero TRIPS TO THE LINE! That will be a problem every time it happens. The bottom line, though, is that he reiterated his irreplaceable stabilizing presence.
The pitchfork-wielders on Timberwolves Twitter overreacted once again, and this time Josh Okogie was the angry mob’s victim. The Los Angeles Clippers begged him all night to shoot, but every time the ball was in his hands, it was noticeably not with KAT, Malik Beasley, and Anthony Edwards. Each second of Okogie dribbling the ball siphons the Wolves’ win probability exponentially, and it worked last night in the Clippers’ 119-112 win. Many are begging for Okogie to be traded, but I doubt he has the trade value of some of Minnesota’s younger, less experienced players. JOko is more valuable to the Wolves than any other NBA franchise.
Jaden McDaniels was incredible once again, putting up a game-leading four blocks (as many as the whole Clippers team), 10 points, three rebounds, and three assists (very intriguing) on seven shooting possessions. The Wolves were plus-three in the 18 minutes with him on the court and minus-10 in the 30 minutes without him. That was good enough to lead the team (Okogie trailed the pack by eight points with a minus-14). The only other player with a positive plus/minus on the team was Edwards (plus-1).
Maybe the clairvoyant armchair coaches can see that replacing the Okogie minutes with McDaniels is the easy fix, but remember, many of these struggles happened against Kawhi Leonard, who can cook almost anyone in the league 1-on-1 when he’s feeling it. On Wednesday, he scored 36 points on 25 shots, including 5-of-6 from deep. With Lou Williams hitting some incredibly difficult shots even more efficiently (27 points on 15 shots), the Clippers, with or without Paul George, will be nearly impossible to beat.
I’d like to think of the season as starting on Friday against the Charlotte Hornets. Without KAT’s ability to practice or even have full-length team meetings, last night was essentially a preseason game for him. If D’Angelo Russell can return from left leg soreness, and Karl and DLo can get some games under their belt, this game marks the true beginning of the Ryan Saunders experiment.
There’s also a rookieweight title fight in Anthony Edwards vs. LaMelo Ball, the two prospects most highly considered for Minnesota’s No. 1 pick, and probably the top two candidates for Rookie of the Year so far. The stakes are high. Let’s hope our beloved Ant brings his steak sauce:
At this point, the Timberwolves are 6.5 games out of the 10th seed Play-In Game. It’s not impossible if the Wolves stay healthy, but it’s a long shot. My realistic goals for the rest of the season are as follows:
- Compete near .500 from here on out. If we can do this, we have to consider Ryan Saunders for another season (sorry, Twitter).
- Stay healthy and get vaccinated. That goes for you and me too. I need to watch the Timberwolves choke IN PERSON, OK?
- Win the Wiggins trade. This can happen if D’Angelo Russell finds chemistry with his homie KAT, if the Wolves win the lottery (to keep their pick) and draft Cade Cunningham or someone else awesome in this deep draft class, or if Andrew Wiggins tortures Golden State Warriors fans (this has to just be a matter of time right? RIGHT?). I know this looks like the least realistic of all the goals right now, but you have to have some reaches.
- And lastly/mostly, PUT JADEN IN THE STARTING LINEUP NEXT TO KAT.
Don’t forget to listen to The CnD NBA Show on all your podcast platforms. Thank you for bearing with us at Zone Coverage and this Timberwolves team for another week. Let’s hope all of the patience pays off now that KATman Returns.