We’re at the point in the season for Minnesota Timberwolves fans where we are watching the standings for all the wrong reasons.
Certainly, though, reasons we are used to.
The Wolves currently sit at 15-43, still good for the worst record in the NBA. However, things are getting tight!
The Houston Rockets also sit at 15-43, the Detroit Pistons are 3.0 games back, and the Orlando Magic are 3.5 games back. The Wolves are the most talented team out of this bunch, but there are only 14 games left, and they are certainly in a good place to fall as one of the three worst teams in the league. That would guarantee them a 40.1% chance at landing in the top three in the lottery and keeping their pick.
However, if the team wins a few games down the stretch and the Rockets, Pistons, and Magic are able to finish with a worse record, Minnesota’s percentage to land in the top three dips from 40.1% to 36.6%. Again, not a huge difference, but every ping pong ball counts here!
If the Wolves do get a top-three pick, there’s tons to be excited about moving forward with the prospect of either Cade Cunningham, Jalen Suggs, Evan Mobley, or perhaps a trade for someone like Bradley Beal. But if the Wolves aren’t able to keep their pick, it’s hard to look at this season as anything other than a complete failure. Sure, the team will have its pick next season, but if the team lands in the top five again, well, we’ll have some bigger problems about this team’s future.
I just simulated the Tankathon draft simulator five times. The Wolves kept their pick two of those times, which is about what the percentages tell us.
Expect plenty of weird injuries keeping Timberwolves’ players out over the next month.
Perhaps my favorite “tanking” injury is from 2014 when Flip Saunders rested Kevin Martin after breaking his wrist. Saunders told reporters that Martin needed to get back into shape after not running. A reporter replied, “He could have still gone through conditioning drills, right? Considering it was an upper-body injury?”
Saunders replied with a wink.
If the Wolves aren’t able to keep their pick, it’s really hard to see an obvious way this team improves enough to become a playoff team. Certainly, having D’Angelo Russell, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Malik Beasley healthy will help. Anthony Edwards will continue to improve. But there are so many pieces on this team that simply wouldn’t play on other teams. The team will have more than $21 million invested in Juancho Hernangomez, Jarrett Culver, Josh Okogie, and Jake Layman.
Aldridge Announces Retirement
Last week, power forward LaMarcus Aldridge announced his retirement due to heart complications that he’s dealt with throughout his career. The timing was unfortunate since Aldridge was playing solid minutes for the Brooklyn Nets, a team with NBA title aspirations. But it’s hard to fault a guy for retiring instead of risking his life while playing basketball.
Aldridge’s legacy is a bit muddled. He came into the league during the end of the power forward renaissance led by Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, Chris Webber, and Rasheed Wallace. But to average 19.4 points and 8.2 rebounds per game over more than 15 seasons is remarkable. Nine of those seasons included playoff runs. However, Aldridge’s only deep playoff run came in 2016-17 when the Golden State Warriors swept the San Antonio Spurs.
Aldridge scored 971 career points against the Timberwolves, the third-most against any team he played against.
Will Aldridge be a Hall of Famer? That’s certainly a good conversation.
LaMelo Ball‘s Return?
Reports surfaced Monday that Hornets star rookie guard LaMelo Ball could be back in 7-10 days after making a full recovery from breaking his wrist. Maybe don’t give Edwards the Rookie of the Year trophy just yet.