Spoiler alert: When you lose an All-Star center and your best defender, it turns out it’s hard to win games! Who knew?!
The Wolves have lost four-straight games. The most painful was on New Year’s Day against a Wizards team that was without Russell Westbrook. We went from “can the Wolves make the playoffs?” to “can the Wolves cover the spread?”
The most disappointing part of all of this is how poorly D’Angelo Russell has played. If Russell is the No. 2 star in Minnesota, the Wolves won’t be very good. We knew a lot of that going into the season, but we probably tricked ourselves because we kept comparing Russell to Andrew Wiggins. Is Russell better than Wiggins? Sure, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he should be the second-best player on a team trying to make the playoffs.
When you consider the Wolves also gave up a top-3 protected 2021 first-round pick to the Golden State Warriors, maybe that trade doesn’t look so good. It’s only six games, which is certainly a small sample size. However, with a shortened season, that’s 8.3% of the season. Things won’t get any easier this week with the team traveling to play both the Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers.
Which brings us to…
When Do The Timberwolves Considering Tanking?
You might think I’m overreacting, and I for sure am. We are only six games into the season. I admit I’m being completely irrational right now. But how far are we away from the Timberwolves going into tank mode?
Let’s say Towns is out until Feb. 1 and Okogie is out for another two weeks. What happens if the Wolves are 10-25 at the halfway point? That even seems optimistic with the current roster.
The Wolves’ 2021 pick is top-3 protected.
Let’s say they finish with the third-worst record in the league. That would give them a 40.1% chance to keep their pick.
Now, let’s say the Wolves finish with the fifth-worst record. That decreases their odds to 36.6%.
Really, not much of a different. But you have to imagine it will have to creep into the mind of Gersson Rosas if this team continues to lose. It’s one thing to lose a first-round pick if you’re winning, or at least somewhat in the playoff picture. It’s another thing to lose when you’re in the top-5 territory.
Can The Wolves Trade For Marvin Bagley III?
There’s been some chatter that Marvin Bagley III might want out of Sacramento after his dad tweeted this on Jan. 2:
Now, just because a dad tweeted something, doesn’t mean that’s what the son wants. My dad likes to go hunting, for example. I very much dislike doing that sort of thing. With stuff like this, though, when there’s smoke, there’s usually fire.
Bagley has underperformed in his first two seasons and has struggled to stay healthy, playing in 75 out of a possible 162 games in his first two seasons. It’s easy to call Bagley a bust considering he was taken before Luka Doncic and Trae Young. The truth is he hasn’t been a franchise-altering player. But he’s still only 21 years old.
If Bagley is a candidate to be traded, could the Wolves be a landing spot?
Minnesota could use someone like Bagley, who would start at power forward instead of Juancho Hernangomez who has been downright miserable this season. In 25 minutes per game, he is averaging 11.8 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 1.0 assists. He’s shooting just 37.5% from the field, however, which is a very bad number for a big man. But that would be an upgrade: Hernangomez is shooting 26.7%.
It could give the team upside for the short and long-term.
What could a trade look like?
You could certainly do worse than trying to bet on a former No. 2 pick who has been with a dumpster fire of an organization.
Then again, maybe the Wolves aren’t far behind that classification.
Naz Reid’s Rebounding
Naz Reid can play. We saw glimmers at Summer League last year and that carried into the 2019-20 season.
Here we are in his second year, and Reid has been solid. Only 21, he has averaged 13 points while shooting 55.2% from the field in three games starting for Towns.
That’s pretty good, especially for a player who wasn’t drafted.
My only qualm with Reid is how little he rebounds for his position. Reid is averaging just 6.9 rebounds per 36 minutes. The only centers to have a lower mark per 36 minutes are Ivica Zubac and Brook Lopez.
Again, Reid has been an absolute diamond in the rough and the Wolves are paying him just $1.5 million this season. But you’d still like to see those numbers improve over the course of the season.