Minnesota Timberwolves: In Due Time, The Wolves Will Run The NBA

Apr 3, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins (22) high fives center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) in the third quarter against the Dallas Mavericks at Target Center. The Dallas Mavericks beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 88-78. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 3, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins (22) high fives center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) in the third quarter against the Dallas Mavericks at Target Center. The Dallas Mavericks beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 88-78. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports /

The Minnesota Timberwolves just need some time, experience and a player or two; in due time, the Wolves will be running the NBA

The present landscape of the NBA is crystal clear, with Golden State peering down from their perch atop the league, laughing at the competition.

Maybe that’s a little harsh, but let’s be honest. San Antonio and Cleveland are clearly formidable teams, but Golden State may have the best roster on paper, well… ever. So in all honesty, it’s practically more enjoyable to look at the league’s future attractions than the current ones

The recent trend of tanking and stockpiling assets may seem morally ambiguous, but you can’t deny the results. Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Milwaukee are all poised for success in the near future. But, oddly enough the Minnesota Timberwolves stand out above the rest as the league’s next great commodity.

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I say oddly because just three years ago the Timberwolves were coming off an abysmal 31-win season, praying that the return of Kevin Love would propel them to the playoffs.

Now Kevin Love is a washed up role player, and the Wolves are packing the best young core in basketball. Nonetheless, with all of their young talent, and the acquisition of Tom Thibodeau, what does Minnesota really have at their disposal?

Are they a dynasty waiting to happen, or are they a few pieces short?

For starters, they have the best three named player since Kareem, Karl-Anthony Towns. And through the making of this article, I’ve realized he ironically reminds me of Kareem.

Obviously, that’s a pretty lofty comparison, but let me explain. Like Kareem, Towns has been blessed by the Basketball Gods with the perfect build: seven feet, slender, Freddy Kreuger arms, incredibly quick, and deceivingly strong.

Also like Kareem, his skillset is something we’ve never really seen before. He’s a polished post player with the best hook shot in basketball, but has range extending beyond the arch, and virtually everything in between. What’s even more amazing is his striking efficiency – he’s a 54 percent shooter from the field and 34 percent from three. Those aren’t numbers you can scoff at from a big man, let alone a rookie.

Defensively, he’s already one of the league’s premier shot blockers, but thanks to his alien-like athleticism and length he can defend on the perimeter too.

Somehow, it doesn’t stop there though. Towns is already one of the league’s better offensive rebounders (2.8 per game), and he’s been blessed with the passing gift. He may not be Ben Simmons, but with time he could easily become one the league’s better high post passers.

So Karl-Anthony Towns is an alien destined to dominate, got it.

What about the Minnesota Timberwolves’ other future perennial all-star, Andrew Wiggins? Not unlike Towns, Wiggins clearly has overwhelming potential. He’s motivated, physically endowed, and skilled.

Where the line is drawn between Towns and Wiggins in terms of how polished each player currently is. Wiggins is already a great slasher thanks to his pure athleticism and nifty spin move, but he has no real scoring repertoire. He can’t step out and hit the jumper, he isn’t a great finisher, he isn’t reliable behind the arch, and he doesn’t see the floor very well for kicks.

That may seem like a long list of cons, but that’s because it is. Wiggins has a long way to go before he can become the player it seems like he’s destined to be, but he already has the foundation to build upon those skills. Help from Kobe Bryant wouldn’t hurt, but honing his rudimentary skills like finishing around the rim or proper shooting form isn’t rocket science. It just takes time and dedication, and those are two things Wiggins has in spades.

Minnesota’s abundance of blossoming talent is obvious, and there couldn’t be a more perfect coach for the job than Tom Thibodeau

What really puts the Timberwolves over the top is the talent around their dynamic duo of Wiggins and Towns. Zach LaVine has a similar base to Wiggins – lengthy, highly athletic, motivated, and always improving.

While fans may most closely associate LaVine with his life-restoring-exploits in the dunk contest, it’s his spot-up shooting that I find most intriguing. He may not be Klay Thompson off-the-dribble, but as of right now he’s the best threat behind the arch wearing a Minnesota jersey in basketball.

Next, there’s the newly acquired point guard from Providence, Kris Dunn. Confession time: leading up to the draft I thought the Timberwolves would be crazy not to draft Jamaal Murray, a sharpshooting combo-guard out of Kentucky. Why not right? The Timberwolves are a terrible three-point shooting team, and Murray could instantly alleviate their shooting woes.

Boy was I wrong, though. Dunn’s performance in the summer league was phenomenal. Sure he may not be the shooter they need, but he’s still a force of nature on both ends of the floor. Especially when he’s driving to the basket, or making plays as a help defender.

On the other hand, there’s established point guard Ricky Rubio already in the lineup. We all know Rubio. Stout perimeter defender, wildly entertaining passer, but still a jump shot away from a potential all-star appearance.

Sadly, expecting him to magically develop a reliable jumper would be an exercise in futility. So, you’re stuck with a one dimensional point guard who isn’t seen as a scoring threat by opposing defenses. In summation, Rubio isn’t the right guy for the job, but he is however a perfect placeholder for Dunn, and possibly a valuable asset for trade negotiations in the near future.

Minnesota’s abundance of blossoming talent is obvious, and there couldn’t be a more perfect coach for the job than Tom Thibodeau. While most coaches preach communication, complex offensive sets, or motivational-tools, Thibs loves defense. Love may even be an understatement, and it certainly translates on the floor.

Beyond all of the frenetic switching, trapping, and beautiful use of the zone defense, Thibs has all of the right pieces to coordinate an excellent defense in today’s guard oriented league. Especially against the three-ball, which has become a staple in modern basketball.

On the other hand, there’s Thibs’ triangle-centric offensive sets, mainly centered around the pinch post. For the TL;DR version, the pinch post iteration of the triangle is any action initiated by a big man from the elbow, where he’s looking for wings or guards on cuts to the basket for handoffs, or open cutters downlow at the rim.

In laymen’s terms, it doesn’t involve much shooting, and it requires a good passing big. Sounds perfect for the young Timberpups doesn’t it? Towns is a phenomenal passer, and with highly athletic wings like LaVine, Dunn and Wiggins, you have the perfect players to attack the basket off those handoffs. Not to mention you need those engines to handle the constant movement on offense.

Even if everything goes right for Minnesota (knock on wood), what could prevent them from going the distance?

Obviously, their noticeable lack of shooting is terrifying. Sure, Thibs has never shown much of an affinity towards shooting treys, but it’s essential in today’s league. You may not have to be Golden State, but it’s still a necessity.

Currently Towns’ is the team’s official power forward, with Gorgui Dieng listed as the official center. But, the team would definitely benefit more from Towns being named the center, and acquiring a reliable stretch-four who can help space the floor.

Luckily for the Wolves, Zach LaVine has evolved into a incredibly reliable spot-up shooter beyond the arch, and hopefully Dunn and Wiggins will follow suit.

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More importantly though, the Minnesota Timberwolves just need time. The oldest member of their young core is Kris Dunn at 22, and he hasn’t even played his first professional game yet. They really are Timberpuppies, with years left before they evolve into official Timberwolves.

But, when they do become a pack of bloodthirsty wolves, don’t be surprised if their feasting on your team. Or better yet, if their peering down from their perch atop the league, hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy over their heads.