Twitter is the best and only place to find out how the fans of a sports team feel about the franchise. Right now, Wolves Twitter is a dismal and despondent place where fans’ feelings have nearly turned the corner from anger and agitation to complete ambivalence. The last thing that a franchise that may be on the brink of relocation needs is a fan base that doesn’t care about the team. What is there to be hopeful about for a team that has been playing as poorly as the Timberwolves?
Well, my friends, “The Prosas” is working, and we’ve got to trust it.
At 5-14, it appears that nothing is working for the Wolves. But, I want to take a step back from wins and losses to examine Rosas’s process thus far. I want to look at the roster transformation that has taken place to figure out where this team is, how they got here and where they might end up.
First, I have to acknowledge that this is a difficult time. We live in it, and so are the people who play and work for the Timberwolves. Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell have played five games together since DLo arrived. The team can’t meet in person for longer than 10 minutes. The players and staff can’t leave their hotel when they’re on the road. So I’m not sure if there are any definitive basketball conclusions from what we’ve seen so far. I have and will continue to speculate, but there are too many abnormalities in the COVID-19/21 season.
The hardest thing to do as a GM is to acquire top-tier talent, particularly in Minnesota. With that in mind, I appreciate that Rosas’ search for all-star talent to surround Towns has been relentless. He has taken some big swings, and the reality is that when you swing for the fences, you miss most of the time.
I have failed to acknowledge that despite efforts to deride Rosas for his decision to trade for Russell, perhaps my understanding of value is skewed. There is a chance that Towns and DLo make each other better in a way that the Towns and Wiggins (Twiggins) tandem never could. Andrew Wiggins has never sniffed an All-Star game. And even though Russell’s lone All-Star appearance was flukey, the flashes he shows are impressive.
If KAT and DLo do elevate each other, then by gosh, the Wolves have found themselves a star. Unfortunately, a tax must be paid to get star-level talent to play for a franchise that has been overwhelmingly awful since its arrival into the league. That tax was paid in a top-3 protected pick and a second-round pick in this year’s draft. If Russell pans out, the trade looks really good. If he doesn’t, the trade looks awful. And if the Wolves keep their pick this year, then Rosas is a fortunate man.
Rosas hasn’t been able to nab a surefire star yet. But, Rosas has really impressed me with his moves around the margins to build some surprisingly promising depth. He has a remarkable ability to make something out of nothing. Do you remember that guy who turned a paperclip into a house? Rosas is like that, but he turns European guys that have never played in the league into actual NBA players.
In his first offseason, he used Bojan Dubljevic and Lior Eliyahu‘s draft rights to acquire Jake Layman, Shabazz Napier, and Treveon Graham. Had I ever seen the names Bojan Dubljevic and Lior Eliyahu before this article? No, and neither have you, I’m sure. Shabazz and Graham are currently not rostered, but trading beans (Euro guys) for NBA minutes is important.
a) Good at basketball
b) Timberwolves fan favorites
c) Good at basketball!!!
Finding talent on the NBA fringes is hard to do, and Rosas has struck gold, or maybe something a little less valuable like copper, more than once.
Next comes what I feel is Rosas’s most impressive move, the Robert Covington trade. To recap, Rosas turned Covington, Shabazz Napier, Noah Vonleh, Jordan Bell, and Keita Bates-Diop into Malik Beasley, Juancho Hernangomez, Jarred Vanderbilt, and a pick from the Brooklyn Nets (No. 17). Napier and Vonleh haven’t signed with a team this season. Bell and KBD have appeared in a combined 8 total games.
Meanwhile, Vanderbilt is making his case to be in the rotation when the team is healthy, Beasley is a fringe contender for the Most Improved Player award and Juancho? We’ll see if he can recover from his cold start to the season once he returns to the lineup.
He used the Brooklyn Nets (Aleksej Pokusevski), along with James Johnson, to acquire Jaden McDaniels, Ricky Rubio, and someday, Leandro Bolmaro. Say what you will about Rubio’s current state; I certainly have, but McDaniels has real star potential. I’ve always liked McDaniels, but I didn’t think he’d be this good this fast. His defense is stellar. In fact, he is a few blocked shots away from wearing the honorary “Chelanga Langason’s best defender on the Timberwolves crown.”
He’s still got a ways to go to reach that potential but let’s all be glad we don’t have to root for this guy:
Even though the Wolves got off to a horrible start, there is hope on the horizon. The seeds of a competitive team have been planted. With time and nurturing and care, the fruits of Rosas’s labor will ripen, and we will feast on his bountiful harvest.
For real though, Anthony Edwards is showing signs of growth, McDaniels is a shot-blocking machine. Reid, Vanderbilt, J-Mac, and even Jaylen Nowell look like they have the potential to be quality rotational players. Beasley is balling. Trust the Prosas and remember…