Things did not go fully to plan for the Minnesota Timberwolves last season. It became a season riddled with chaos. They had to adjust to Rudy Gobert and swapped D’Angelo Russell for Mike Conley mid-season. Young core players Anthony Edwards and Jaden McDaniels continued to develop, but Karl-Anthony Towns suffered setbacks that kept him from playing to his full potential.
All of that made it difficult to find consistency and play up to their full potential as a team. Every NBA roster is going to encounter adversity they must overcome throughout the 82-game season, some more than others. It’s easy to dwell on those shortcomings given the important decisions the Wolves must make in the future. However, the Wolves have a chance to use this to their advantage. Continuity and cohesion of the roster will only be one of Minnesota’s strengths as they head into one of the most vital seasons on this recent timeline.
The results of this season will ultimately decide Minnesota’s future. After that, a salary crunch will force change. Therefore, it’s vital that the Wolves use this season to its maximum potential. And they have tools and a blueprint to do so. They will still face roadblocks to success, but the Wolves will face them with a familiar roster. They retained eight rotational players from the past year’s team. Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Mike Conley, and KAT are veterans who didn’t play much together last year. However, NAW and Conley adjusted with aplomb as the season progressed and excelled at their roles into playoffs. Furthermore, the Wolves can comfortably rely on Anthony Edwards, Jaden McDaniels, Kyle Anderson, and Rudy Gobert, which is a sturdy foundation.
Minnesota’s platform not only offers dynamic play in each facet of the game, with skills overlapping from player to player. Kyle Anderson and Jaden McDaniels can be Swiss Army Knives. Jaden can lock down on defense and offer shot-making upside while Anderson fully leverages his playmaking and size as a low-usage player. Meanwhile, specialists in bucket-getter Anthony Edwards and defensive mastermind Rudy Gobert carry their own weight. Taken together, you can begin to paint a picture of how more time together will only open up playing to each other’s strengths and finding the best in each other’s skill sets.
It’s always exciting when teams add talented players, but executives who work around the margins of the roster while keeping as much cohesion tend to foster better and improvement. Instead of another roster overhaul, Tim Connelly and Co. opted for more deliberate action.
Minnesota’s offensive playstyle needs some tinkering, but this current unit is capable of doing it. Luckily, the additions that brought success in the final third of the season, Conley and Nickeil Alexander-Walker, offer that stability and fresh outlook, even as tenured players. Their playstyle will only bring out more in the stars of the team and players such as Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns, who need more touches.
You can criticize the front office for looking to build between two eras at once and for how much they traded to get Gobert. But they have hand-picked talent that fits extremely well for the current circumstances. And they still have a future to look forward to with Anthony Edwards, Jaden McDaniels and Naz Reid, with Leonard Miller and Josh Minott waiting behind them.
Continuity is going to be Minnesota’s strength. But it will not be the end of the world if things go sideways. They have the safety blanket of the sheer amount of talent on this roster. This will likely be the most talented Timberwolves roster of the last 10-15 years. A small step back to take another step forward could still be in play if some of the same issues of stagnant offense, rebounding, and KAT and Rudy’s usage stray over from this past season. Nonetheless, much of this season’s success is in Minnesota’s control. It only comes down to how they play the cards that they have been holding onto.