I know, I know. It doesn’t seem right to pen a positive article about the Minnesota Timberwolves given how their season has gone so far given that their 7-20 record is the worst in the league. But Minnesotans need some positivity right now. It’s -55 degrees right now and there’s a 50/50 chance your car doesn’t start.
After 27 games, the Timberwolves look like they did quite well in the 2020 draft. And this is a team that notoriously has not drafted well, so these are good signs!
While it appears as though LaMelo Ball is the best player out of this draft early — and the Wolves could have taken him since they had, uh, the No. 1 pick — don’t sleep on how Anthony Edwards has played lately.
Over his last five games, Edwards has hit double digits in scoring in each game, eclipsing the 20-point mark three times. Edwards is getting minutes that he needs for development. And while I did think the Wolves should have drafted Ball or James Wiseman, Edwards is the better fit. Given how underwhelming D’Angelo Russell and Ricky Rubio have been thus far, it might not seem like it, but without Edwards the Wolves would be a disaster on the perimeter. Josh Okogie is a fun player, but it doesn’t look like he’ll ever be a positive presence on the offensive end. Oftentimes, he’s unplayable. As for Jarrett Culver, well, the brief blip of success from him to start the season seems like exactly that.
Edwards’ athleticism makes him a real long-term fit for this team. Malik Beasley can stretch the floor. Karl-Anthony Towns can do pretty much everything offensively. The missing piece, along with depth, is steady play at the point guard position.
Ironically, at the beginning of the season, that seemed like a sure thing with Russell, Rubio, and Jordan McLaughlin. Even though Russell and Rubio have been healthy, it’s been clear McLaughlin is the better fit at point guard. While I love McLaughlin, that’s not a good sign for the Wolves.
When looking back on draft night, the Rubio trade doesn’t look as good as it did then. He was supposed to be the leader of the second unit. Instead, he’s been the same point guard we grew to know who can’t shoot and goes through ups and downs from game to game. Sometimes there are reasons that a player jumps from team to team without ever finding a home.
In order to get Rubio, the Wolves dealt James Johnson (the team could use a player like him right now, huh?) and the rights to Aleksej Pokusevski, who is a long-term project. Without that trade, though, the Wolves don’t get forward Jaden McDaniels.
McDaniels, while slight, has moments that makes it pretty obvious he’s just oozing with potential. While his numbers don’t jump off the page (10.8 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per 36 minutes), he is shooting 21-for-56 from the 3-point line this season. That alone makes the 20-year-old an instant rotation player for the team.
The unfortunate reality, however, is that whenever these players are ready to seriously contribute, both Towns and Russell will likely be playing elsewhere.
What defines this season for the Wolves will probably have nothing to do with the 2020 NBA Draft, but the 2021 draft. If the Wolves fall out of the top three, they’ll lose their pick to the Golden State Warriors as part of the Russell/Andrew Wiggins trade. Even if the Wolves have one of the three worst records in the league, which seems likely, they still have a 59.9% of not keeping their pick. We could see some sneaky tanking from Gersson Rosas, but that won’t guarantee anything.
If the Wolves can keep a top-3 pick, even with how bad this season has been, that’s quite the ammo in back-to-back drafts and the future is certainly a lot brighter.