Minnesota Timberwolves 2022/2023 Season Preview
While the Timberwolves have been the butt of many jokes since the departure of Kevin Garnett 15 or so years ago, it turns out the joke is in fact on us. What everyone thought was a re-build that would focus on Kevin Love and Karl-Anthony Towns was, in fact, a brilliant procrastination tactic designed to tide over Wolves fans until Anthony Edwards entered the league and helped bring the team back to the Playoffs!
Jokes aside, The Wolves took massive steps forward last season, making the Playoffs after having to fight through the Play-In Tournament, and taking multiple games off the much higher seeded Memphis Grizzlies. Now, it appears they’ve decided to go all-in on this current core.
The acquisition of Rudy Gobert is the headline achievement from Minnesota’s off-season. The three-time Defensive Player of The Year winner instantly changes the ceiling of the team heading into the season, and despite his impact potentially being down-played by some, there is no denying he will improve this team. His acquisition actually gives the Wolves a Big 4 (or rather, Big 3.5) in Gobert, Towns, Edwards and Russell.
Other notable additions form the off-season include Kyle Anderson and Bryn Forbes from free agency, as well as veteran depth in Eric Paschall and Austin Rivers. While Anderson and Forbes shape as playing nightly roles on the squad, Rivers and Paschall provide a nice pinch of veteran leadership, something that Patrick Beverley (who was traded to Utah in the Gobert deal) brought an abundance of last season.
The Wolves will be hoping the addition of Rudy Gobert (pictured) will propel them into the upper echelon of the Western Conference. Credit: Star Tribune.
The Gobert and Towns fit is a little perplexing to me. On the surface, you have a three-time Defensive Player of the Year you just traded several first-round picks for, so obviously Gobert will play centre. That then relegates Towns to the PF slot, which makes some sense as he is ‘the greatest shooting big man of all-time’ (self-proclaimed, of course). It means they are huge on the inside and while I expect their minutes to be staggered for large portions of games, the trend of two genuine bigs on the floor is at odds with the rest of the NBA.
That isn’t to say it can’t work however, especially with the rest of the talent the Wolves have collected to put around their two big. The biggest question I have about them though is what happens down the stretch of tight games? Does Gobert sit on the bench as teams have, at times, figured out how to take him out of games defensively, in addition to his overall lack of offensive game? Or do they run with both Gobert and Towns on the floor regardless, hoping an advantage on the boards and in overall size helps them overwhelm physically smaller opponents?
Regardless of who closes games for Coach Finch, the Wolves have swung for the fences by acquiring Gobert, and they have no excuses if they fail to secure a guaranteed playoff berth. I have some questions around the fit of some pieces of the roster and potential substitution patterns, but the potential for success is immense.
Ceiling: 2nd seed
Floor: 6th seed