Mon. Oct 22nd, 2018

The Sad Truth of The Minnesota Timberwolves (Part 1)

By Eli Yankelevich

In 2016, the Minnesota Timberwolves were slated to become the next young team to burst on to the scene. The core of Towns, Lavine, Wiggins, and Dunn were projected to become a dynasty in just a few seasons. This destiny, however, never came to fruition because of a series of impatient moves orchestrated by the current front office.

Shortly before the selection of Kris Dunn in the 2016 NBA Draft, the Timberwolves hired veteran coach Tom Thibodeau to help develop their existing roster. This acquisition created the following expectations: the team will become a defensive force over the course of a season and also they will immediately compete in the brutal Western Conference. With newly garnered attention, the battle to preform became a feat ultimately unreachable. Although Thibodeau had success as the head coach for the Bulls, his stock was tremendously over-blown. Tibs, at that time, was already known for his unimaginative playbook and running his players into the ground with the amount of minutes he played his starters. From his 2011 Bull’s team, only Jimmy Butler remains fully healthy, and he was a rookie. The motif of player development was one of failure from the start.

These unrealistic expectations dawned over the franchise and when the team failed to reach the playoffs in Thibodeau’s first season, madness began. Little improvement came from that roster. Dunn wasn’t given room to play through his mistakes as a rookie, Lavine tore his ACL, Towns and Wiggins forgot how to play defense even when Tibs calling card was being a defensive specialist. With this “failure” hanging over the front office, the team began to act irrationally. On the night of the 2017 Draft the Thibodeau’s Timberwolves traded half of their young assets in Dunn, Lavine, and a high draft pick for a veteran forward: Jimmy Butler. At first this trade was labeled as highway robbery, but over time this move came to have serious repercussions.

Now with a defined “direction”, the Timberwolves started to sign established veterans to fill out their depleted roster. By sacrificing a bright future, the Timberwolves were able to create a mediocre team in return. Thibodeau had constructed a roster of veterans and young players not ready to compete. Jimmy Butler, Jeff Teague, Taj Gibson, and Derrick Rose were all established players that did not fit into this team’s timeline. With Towns and Wiggins still relatively raw, the Timberwolves should have remained patient and allowed them to play through their woes. What the Timberwolves have ultimately done is created an environment of mediocrity that will end with frustration and utter disappointment.

Young teams need to understand that rushing into today’s bloodbath may not lead to stability and longterm success.

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