Minnesota Thaw


More and more every game, it looks like the Minnesota Timberwolves are finding their way in the NBA.

While their record is just 17-36, the T-pups have played better basketball, and I’m even willing to give Sam Mitchell some credit, even though it took him a long time to figure it out.Minnesota might not win consistently for another year or two, but that’s not stopping Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins from becoming a more prominent duo in their first year together.

Towns has been unbelievable from the very first jump ball in Los Angeles until his most recent, and best, game against the team with the second-best record in the Eastern Conference – Toronto Raptors — where he scored a career-high 35 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, had three denials, and two monstrous dunks. He has nothing but consistent, and his Player Efficiency Rating shows it.

His PER of 23.1 ranks him 14th in the league and 8th among players who have played at least 50 games. His Win Shares stand at 5.6, which is really good-almost-great for a rookie. He ranks 24th in that category, with no one under the age of 24 above him, including Anthony Davis.

Among rookies, he towers over the competition, literally and statistically. He is averaging 17.1 points and 10.1 rebound per game, while shooting 54.4 percent from the field and 85.2 percent from the line. Rookies are considered good if they show potential in their first year. Towns is already yielding results.

Wiggins is coming into his own as a scorer. I wish he would grab a few more rebounds and look more interested on defense all the time, but I understand that he, too, is also 20 years old. He is averaging 20.8 points per game and has shown he isn’t shy when it comes to taking big shots in the fourth quarter. He still has a way to go, but there is no question that he will be very good. His durability is something that I hope stays consistent. I also like that he can get to where he wants on the floor, more so in post-ups than when dribbling.

I like that Mitchell has finally played Gorgui Dieng, Zach LaVine, and Shabazz Muhammad more minutes. Clearly, this should have happened sooner and I still don’t understand his reasoning behind playing Kevin Garnett or Tayshaun Prince, but to each his own.

Dieng has become a very valuable asset. I’m still hesitant with playing him 35 minutes per game, but maybe he could prove me wrong? LaVine is a true two-guard, who happens to have SOME point guard skills. But he is a two-guard, and I hope Mitchell continues to play him at the two. Muhammad is the energy guy off the bench. I have always loved his effort and rebounding, along with his wanting to score.

The team needs a few more pieces. I am still not sold on Ricky Rubio, and I don’t think I ever will be, but he might just be the best fit for this team because of his willingness to pass and inability to score. Bench play really needs to improve, and I’m hoping Minnesota focuses on that in the offseason.

All in all, I am pleased with the progress this team is making. There’ll be no playoffs this year and probably none next year, but the thaw is slowly happening.

After all, we’ve been frozen for 11 years.

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