Technical Fouls Are Crippling the Timberwolves

Photo Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

Basketball is a game of emotion. I don’t care what your friends’ progressive parent who was forced into coaching your middle school basketball team told you about having fun and sportsmanship. If you’re on the court, you better be there to win at all costs, especially if you’re getting paid millions to play a game.

All the best players in the game can harness their emotions in the face of adversity to make them better basketball players. Kevin Garnett was a psychopath who could whip himself into a lather before the game started and proved that anything was possible. Kobe Bryant used his passion for beating your ass to win five championships.  And Patrick Beverley celebrated winning last year’s play-in game like the Minnesota Timberwolves just won the NBA Finals.

Passion makes basketball fun, but bad things happen when you can’t control your emotions, especially when things aren’t going your way. Queue the 2022-23 Timberwolves. For a team that’s 25-25 and sits in 8th in the clogged West, you would think this year’s Timberwolves squad had found out that God is real and that God’s sole mission in the afterlife is to punish the Timberwolves on every foul call. Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings. But every time a whistle blows, a Wolves player throws their hands up in disgust and whines like a boomer at customer service trying to return their Target pants at a Kohl’s.

I can’t pinpoint when it started, but I have a hunch it was sometime during the Tom Thibodeau administration, and Karl-Anthony Towns has carried the torch ever since. KAT has become the patron saint of bitching at the refs. Even though he’s been out since November with a quote-unquote calf strain, he’s passed the plague onto his teammates, and everyone seems to be infected. Anthony Edwards is constantly chirping at the refs, Kyle Anderson has never committed a foul in his life, and D’Angelo Russell just likes to argue.

For all the arguing, the Wolves have committed the most fouls in the league this season, and the constant complaining has only compounded the issue. Minnesota’s blowups are starting to cost them on the court and in the standings. All the arguing, the clapping, the complaining, and the ball pounding on the court is finally putting a target on their backs. Referees are starting to call them for technical fouls. They are tied for first in the NBA in technical fouls this season. Their insolence towards the referees is now gifting their opponents free points, which has come back to bite them at the end of games.

It’s interesting to note the other teams that commit the most technicals this season. The four other teams in the top five are the reigning champion Golden State Warriors, the second-seed Memphis Grizzlies, the 29-18 Brooklyn Nets, and the fourth-seed New Orleans Pelicans. They’re good teams. It’s the kind of company that Wolves fans thought the team would be hanging out with more this season. Instead, they’re mediocre and can get a foothold on any kind of sustained success.

My theory is that the good teams are racking up techs because they’re a little arrogant and expect calls to go their way. But Minnesota’s techs come from pure frustration. They think they should be where the other four teams are, but they’re stuck in eighth after trading their future for Rudy Gobert, and their play has not met expectations.

Racking up technical fouls as a team is one thing, but Edwards is dangerously close to missing time later in the season when every game will matter in the muddled West. Edwards is tied with Luka Doncic with the fourth-most technical fouls in the NBA with 12. When a player gets assessed their 16th tech in a season, the league also hands them a one-game suspension. One game doesn’t sound like much, but only three games separate the fourth and 13th seeds in the West, so every game matters from here on out. He can now only afford to get three technical fouls across the team’s last 32 games, which seems doable for sure.

The solution here is the solution for most of the team’s problems this season. They must find a way to put their heads down, focus, and keep their emotions in check for the next three months. That’s a tall task for a team that allowed their emotions to get to them to blow a first-round playoff series they should have won 5-1. But someone has to be the adult in the locker room and get them to stop whining and play basketball. Perhaps it will be Austin Rivers, but he’s shown a penchant for yelling at refs. Maybe Jaden McDaniels’ calm demeanor finally rubs off on his teammates in his third season. Regardless, something must change as we head into the trade deadline and All-Star break.

Minnesota’s fate is in their own hands for the rest of the season. They can keep playing a frustrating brand of basketball, complain about it, and stay mediocre, or grow up, quick complaining and stop doing the stupid stuff that makes them complain in the first place.

Who Has To Step Up In Ant’s Absence?
By Charlie Walton - Mar 20, 2023
Be Like Mike
By Tom Schreier - Mar 19, 2023

Insider Calls Rudy Gobert's Contract Top-5 Worst In the NBA

Photo Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

Bill Simmons had Wosny Lambre and his buddy Joe House on his latest podcast to draft the worst NBA contracts. Naturally, players like Ben Simmons, Bradley Beal, […]

Continue Reading